Monday, June 11, 2012

WWDC event unveils a ton of updates, but very little that will put a charge into new media pros; no Apple TV 3rd party apps for now, no new authoring tools unveiled

Apple's CEO and a series of executives previewed major updates to the Mac OS and the mobile OS, introduced updated laptops, including a fantastic new MacBook Pro – but in the end, this WWDC may be remembered for what didn't get discussed.

The rumored opening up of the Apple TV to third party apps did not happen. It will be left to others to parse the meaning of this – maybe it is because Apple wants to continue to hold back until the company releases either a new Apple TV or an actual television, or maybe its because they simply don't want to go there – but for now, the anticipated revolution to the television will have to wait.

Apple also did not introduce more authoring tools such as iBooks Author. No surprise, I suppose, since the rumor mill did not include this one.

But because of these two omissions, I found this WWDC keynote to be the least important to publishers in a long, long time.

That is not to say that there weren't lots of great announcements. No, there were plenty. But very few will really impact the media world.

The new MacBook Pro with 'retina' display
To recap:

Apple has launched an updated line of both MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros. The updates are impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the brand new top end MacBook Pro which will sport a new, slimmer design, and a high resolution (retina) display. The machine looks to be killer – but since sales of the top end laptops are so small, it will impress tech writers far more than consumers. The real impact of the new MacBook Pro will be minimal until the specs start to migrate down the product chain.

Apple reviewed both the next version of the Mac OS, dubbed Mountain Lion, as well as the next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6. Both have fantastic upgrades and new features, including the much rumors new mapping solution.

Consumers will love the new features such as FaceTime calling over cellular, Twitter and FaceBook integration, enhancements to Siri, new maps with turn-by-turn navigation, etc.

But what I found interesting was how little of all this got developers excited. Most of this was the creation of internal Apple development teams and didn't seem to excite those in attendance.

But developers will have new betas to work with now, and lots of new APIs. Over time, this WWDC may appear to have been more important than my first impression of it have been. But, for me, all these great new features seem to be only for the benefit of Apple, making their money making mobile devices that much better and more desirable.

Here is are two examples where little things may add up to bigger things down the road for developers – and possibly media companies developing apps. First, a new Apple app called Passbook will be a gathering place of boarding passes, store cards, movie tickets and the like. Think of it as a Newsstand for transactions. A second area involves social media integration. The new OS updates will deeply integrate FaceBook and Twitter in ways that publishers may be able to take advantage of (think article sharing, etc.)

WWDC continues for the next few days, but it is clear that nothing, other than new hardware, will go live this week. Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned that Apple is basically shutdown this week. Other announcement are possible, such as updates to both the Mac Pro and mini line – both of which were rumored. (In fact, Apple quietly released Mac Pro updates when the Apple Store went back online. The update is very minor, however, only a processor change.)

This year's WWDC keynote has had more than enough introductions and previews to keep the tech sites writing or a while. But as for enhancements for publishers, or opening up new areas for development like the Apple TV, that is for the future. For now, this is what you get – a lot of great new stuff to play around with, but no revolution. (Investors weren't very impressed either, Apple stock is falling in late day trading.)