A disagreement with Daring Fireball’s take on Apple’s WWDC07 keynote

Jon Gruber’s Daring Fireball is an excellent site, and highly recommended. However, in an article yesterday he posted some thoughts on Steve Jobs’ WWDC Keynote, and I must say I do not agree with many of his comments.

Jon outlines three main points from the keynote:

Leopard’s Feature set

“Apparently, these secret features consist of the new unified window theme and the Cover Flow view in Finder. This is sort of like saying you’re adding a secret new player to your baseball team and then revealing that it’s one of the existing players wearing a new jersey.”

The rumor mill had nearly a year to claim everything and then some for Leopard. Still, wasn’t a revision of the Finder big on everyone’s list? Wasn’t the mix of dark gray and brushed metal themes a thorn in everyone’s side? I sure saw a lot of complaining, yet now that Apple’s done something about it, it’s yawn city? I like the iTunes interface, and think it will work well for the Finder. I like Cover Flow, and see no reason why it won’t be of use to many people.

Jon also says the new dock will be ugly on the side of the screen. OK. Personally, I think the current dock is ugly on the side of the screen. So what? The new dock will still be 3-D, and still mirror what’s next to it; what do you want?

Web Apps as the route for iPhone deployment

Anyone who thought there’d be an SDK for the iPhone was being unrealistic. As far as we know (and it’s likely), Apple is still tying loose ends and busting their asses to get the iPhone out on 6/29 (at 6pm!). There’s no way at the same time they could document an SDK worth its salt they could adequately support. Apple announcing any approved method of putting custom software on the iPhone should have been received as big news. Sure, they’re web apps, but it opens up possibilities where there were none before.

One of Jon’s gripes seems to be that Apple was trying to “fool” them:

“It’s insulting, because it’s not a way to write iPhone apps, and you can’t bullshit developers.”

Actually, you can bullshit developers. They’re not a special class of people who cannot be fooled while the rest of us are gullible morons. Microsoft has proven time and again that developers can be lead and made to believe just about anything if the apparent “prize” is good enough. For that matter, Apple had developers dancing around in the 90’s between Rhapsody, Copland, etc. Anyone can be bullshitted. Sometimes frequently so.

Having said the above, I don’t think Apple tried to bullshit anybody. Jobs was offering something where something had no business being expected. Maybe Apple could have presented the message in the way Jon suggests, but that sounds apologetic, and what is there for Apple to apologize for? What Apple could also have done was offer no method for custom software on the iPhone at all! Which would you prefer? I think that for all those developers “insulted”, there are web developers ready to jump at the opportunity. Perhaps they’ll do so while the rest of the development community is whining.

Finally, what makes you think there’s no SDK on the horizon? Apple didn’t say this was it.

Safari for Windows

Jon believes this is primarily about money:

“But the primary reason is simply money. Safari is a free download, but it’s already one of Apple’s most profitable software products.”

I wrote about Safari for Windows yesterday. Sure, the extra money is fine, but if that’s all they were after they could have ported it to Linux as well. For that matter, they could have ported it a year or two ago. The money will not be significant to their bottom line; I believe there was a bigger motivation.

This could be about preempting new IE-preferred sites. Yes, in the last few years these have become less of an issue, but there are still sites primarily IE-driven even as the popularity of Firefox has more developers testing multiple browsers. Putting Safari on Windows will help ensure an IE-preferred site doesn’t see the light of day. This is especially important since the iPhone runs Safari, and Microsoft could write a “tweak” for IE that would hobble Safari compatibility. With Safari on Windows this will be less likely to occur.

Much like the original intent of the iTunes store was to ensure content for the iPod without relying on Microsoft DRM files from all other providers, Safari on Windows is intended to ensure Safari mind share and compatibility when web 2.0 sites are designed. Out of sight, out of mind; Apple does not intend to remain out of sight in the Windows browser space any longer.

7 thoughts on “A disagreement with Daring Fireball’s take on Apple’s WWDC07 keynote

  1. I’m a long time Mac user (not a developer or techspert), and I enjoy reading some of the blogs and message boards re: Apple, Mac and iPhone. But now is the first time I’m seeing (I’m remedial?) that many Mac developers are such winers and complainers. Many seem to care little about the enduser experience, but a lot about flaunting their expertise/creativity and/or lining their own pocket$.

    There are many great third party developer apps for OS X (and prior)–commercial, shareware, donationware, freeware, loveware– and there are a TON of apps that are little more than crap. Hopefully there are not going to be a lot of the latter on the iPhone, at least at the OS or “real app” level, for the first year or more. KISS and get 40+ million iPhones out here to general consumers. It has great potential, and it is a CE device after all.

    I want an iPhone, and I do not want to sort through a ton of 3PApps in the market place that may seem to be useful from marketing hype only to find them actually useless, buggy, UI-lame, crash prone junk with the associated time/energy/$ wasting issues involved with uninstalling and trashing them. And I don’t want to scroll through a jillion iPhone home screen icons because “real” developers want their apps to live there. Give us a break guys. Patience… one step at a time.

  2. My disagreement with Jon Gruber regarding web apps on the iPhone certainly does not stem from his credentials. Indeed, if I didn’t respect his ability to weigh in on such matters I’d have had no reason to even post a disagreement.

    Nor does my disagreement extend to his concern that web apps aren’t a good enough solution. I don’t think Apple has closed the book on third-party iPhone apps just yet.

    Rather, I disagree with Jon because:

    A) I don’t believe Apple was trying to pull anything on anybody, and certainly not insulting anybody, which he seemed to imply. They had no reason to hang their heads or act apolgetic because there was no iPhone SDK at the conference. No reasonable person should have expected one. Instead, they offered a means of getting third-party apps on the iPhone for now. That was good news, and should have been perceived as such.

    B) I believe using web apps is useful, and that we’ll see some pretty cool things, so writing them off as Jon appeared to do was premature.

    C) Frankly, it sounded a lot like whining. Waah, we want to write “real” apps, not web apps. I think web developers may steal some thunder from “real” app writers while the latter are busy crying in their beer.

  3. As much as I enjoy reading the blogs of Jon Gruber, he is not a programmer. And that’s the failing of so many blogs. They’re opinions of bystanders like you and me.

    Gruber has been a freelance web developer for several years, back to 1997, he also worked for Bare Bones Software. He left his full-time job at Joyent last year.

    He is currently at the conference and if he’s not exactly up-to-date with Ajax and stuff, at least I assume he discussed the matter with developers. We’re not talking about Enderle here, JG wouldn’t make this stuff up.

    Ajax may be great, but Gruber is right when he says that web apps on the iPhone (i) are only accessible over a network, (ii) don’t get app icons in the iPhone home screen and (iii) don’t have any local data storage. And Apple is not eating its own dog food.

    he does not have the expertise.

    During the MacBook wi-fi hack saga, David Maynor and other researchers basically told him that he should STFU since he wasn’t a security expert. And now this? 😀

  4. I usually agree with John Gruber. His blogs are usually very insightful. But in his latest missive, I think Jon has really missed the point. Writing for the Web is no longer what it used to be. With the advent of programming tools like AJAX, developers who understand how to use Web 2.0 tools have formidable power at their disposal. This isn’t your father’s Internet.

    A case in point: the new apple.com update. Say what you will about some aspects of its look and feel, if you have not really delved into its underlying technology and function, as Gruber has apparently failed to do, you will miss the power available in Web 2.0. Play with the interactive scrolling, or the pull-down bars, or the Spotlight-like search. It’s interactive, and requires no screen refresh. That is a fundamental change from Web 1.0. And it is a showcase of what is possible to a programmer who understands the power of AJAX. Likewise, look at Google Maps. Or a host of other amazing new Web 2.0 sites.

    As much as I enjoy reading the blogs of Jon Gruber, he is not a programmer. And that’s the failing of so many blogs. They’re opinions of bystanders like you and me. Gruber might be persuasive in many cases, but he does not have the expertise that a good programmer does, and here, he is speaking out of his posterior rather than his mouth.

    I am appalled at the ready-fire-aim assessments in the past 24 hours by people who aren’t at the WWDC, who aren’t programming experts, and who have not seen the other 90+ developments and enhancements to 10.5. I suspect that many of the most significant advances in Leopard are not things that Steve Jobs showed off yesterday. Hardly any mention was given to Leopard being fully 64-bit compatible, to the code base in the Finder being completely rewritten, and many other things that I do not even know about yet.

    My advice: blow off what Gruber has to say. Ignore many of the breathless blogs and hastily written, badly researched articles. Step back from your browser and wait a week, a month, even until October. We have yet to clearly understand the significance of what Apple is doing with Leopard and the capabilities available to developers to create fantastic third party applications for the iPhone. And remember too, that AT&T will have a say in all this too, as what needs to be developed for the iPhone has to appease the telco giant as well.

    It’s not as simple as a mere blogger might make it seem.

    Sorry, Jon. Love your work. But this time, you got it wrong.

  5. I don’t disagree that Widgets might have made a nicer solution, but I’m not clear they could tap into the iPhone features in the same way.

    Good point regarding the beach story.

  6. I’ve agreed with Gruber’s takes, better than 95% of the time. This time I don’t. Not completely.

    My gut tells me there’s stuff we don’t know. Stuff that Apple CAN’T reveal, yet.

    Also, we need to inform folks that this is a phone.
    2nd, we need to remind folks that this is a phone.
    3rd, did I mention that this is a phone?

    The iPhone’s not MEANT to be a bitchin’ Photoshop rig. Those that want it to be, seem silly to me.

    That said. Other posters on the interweb have posited that Widgets might have been a much better solution.

    I agree. Who’s going to want to pay for airtime to use a little game or dictionary. Widgets could have been downloaded locally via iTunes — thus ‘security checked’. If Safari can be done for Windows, then it seems as tho’ a ‘transparent’ Dashboard could have as well.

    FWIW, someone should repeat — to John — ‘the’ 06/06/07 telling of the story of the grandmother and her grandson at the beach…


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