Today’s WWDC Keynote was a full two hours long, and introduced two major upgrades, and one significant new product for Apple. However, whenever this many features are laid out on the table, there are bound to be tons of questions, and a few loose ends here and there. Let’s take a look at some […]
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Omissions and Questions in the Wake of the WWDC Keynote


Today’s WWDC Keynote was a full two hours long, and introduced two major upgrades, and one significant new product for Apple. However, whenever this many features are laid out on the table, there are bound to be tons of questions, and a few loose ends here and there. Let’s take a look at some of these omissions and lingering questions from today’s festivities.

1. Voice Integration Enhancement

There were a few stories over the last couple of weeks about possible deals between Apple and Nuance, the market leader in voice recognition technology. Add in the fact that the Siri app that Apple purchased last year, which many analysts and tech writers thought was a sure thing to be integrated into iOS 5, is also powered by Nuance’s voice tech, and it looked like this story had legs. Considering how out of date iOS’s current Voice Control feature has fallen, I also felt pretty certain that voice tech was on the agenda. Unfortunately, if there is an upgrade coming, we didn’t hear about it today. However, I wouldn’t completely rule this one out yet. It is possible that Apple is holding it for their iOS hardware announcements that will come closer to the Fall. As much as I am on the road for work, I certainly hope so.

2. Video

Nothing was more conspicuously absent from today’s announcements than video. There were some rumblings about Apple trying to get movies and/or TV included in their initial iTunes in the Cloud announcement, but I think most viewed that as a longshot. I definitely think we will see them in the future, but not before the service is released. What was more surprising was the lack of any mention of video backup off of iOS devices to iCloud. I went back over the rundown on the Photo Stream service on Apple’s website, and there is absolutely no mention of video files anywhere on it. The only thing I could find was the assurance that they would be backed up to your Mac or PC via WiFi Sync. However, as of now, it looks like video has no place in iCloud.

3. Cloud access to iCloud

This seemed like a no-brainer to me, especially considering Apple’s now late MobileMe service. However, Apple didn’t provide any specific details today about being able to access your documents or photos from the web. Everything we heard about specifically mentioned the synchronization of data to computers or devices. It remains to be seen if there will be anything close to iDisk available when the dust settles.

4. UI Refresh

I didn’t really expect this myself, but I read where other iOS and tech bloggers were hoping to see a new spin on Apple’s very familiar mobile UI. Considering that Apple seems to be taking more and more of the iOS UI to Mac OS in Lion, I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one. They seem more married to the current static-icon motif than ever.

5. Music Locker

Considering that this is the direction that both of Apple’s main media competitors, Google and Amazon, went, I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Apple decided to go their own way. Instead of going with a similar storage solution, they have leveraged their huge iTunes music library and connections with the labels to pull off another industry first- making already purchased music available for re-download. Still, there are gaps in the current offerings of iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Matching that a cloud-based storage locker, even a small one, would fill. It would be nice to see them address that issue in the future. If they don’t, someone else will.

6. Apple TV’s place in this new landscape

Other than the brief mentions of Photo Stream integration and the iPad 2’s new Video Mirroring over AirPlay, Apple TV seemed like the odd man out today. I guess we will hear more about it as Fall draws nearer, but other than the mention of Photo Stream, we don’t know exactly how it will fit with all of the iCloud services. However, being a streaming-only device, it seems to be a natural fit with Apple’s new service. We just don’t know exactly how it will all tie together, especially on the video front.

While it was way down the list of iOS 5 announcements, and not given much importance, I thought the addition of iPad 2 Video Mirroring over AirPlay was significant. This feature cuts the cord and brings iOS apps to the big screen without the tether of a cable. Hopefully other devs will follow Firemint’s (what’s left of them when EA is done, at least) lead and use this capability to the fullest. As soon as I played Real Racing 2 HD with the Digital AV Cable in full 1080p, I wanted to to be able to do the same thing with AirPlay. If it becomes a widely used feature, then i finally have a reason to get an Apple TV.

There is another door that wireless Video Mirroring may possibly for the Apple TV. It now has the potential to become a projector killer. Who needs bulky and expensive projectors when you can wirelessly connect to and stream presentations and other content to a small, $99 device that will connect to any HDTV? Think of how many HDTVs are popping up in presentation and conference rooms in place of projector screens. Think of how much cheaper they are becoming in comparison, and how widely available they are. Sure, you can do the same presentation using Apple’s Digital AV Cable, but the wireless capability gives you the flexibility to run a presentation in any location or situation. That’s worth the $69 difference between the two to me.

7. App and Game Save Synchronization

This is a feature that I have really been wanting to see for a while now, but I’m not completely sure if Apple really delivered it today. While we got confirmation that iCloud will back up our iOS devices and their app data once a day, and that it can restore those files to a new device, we don’t know if we will have a level of control that will allow us to push a game save from an iPhone to an iPad. I had assumed that we see this included under Game Center, but there was no mention of it. It is possible, however, that Apple will allow developers to handle the situation on their own. During his discussion of iCloud’s Cloud Storage APIs, Steve Jobs mentioned that developers can sync documents and “key value data” with this feature. Only time will tell exactly what this phrase actually includes. A few developers, such as Gamespot and Firemint, have already chosen to do game save syncing using their own web servers, but Apple giving devs free access to iCloud to make it happen will mean much wider adoption in the future. As more and more users adopt tablets, this will only strengthen the iOS ecosystem on the all important gaming front.

Are there any questions that I missed?  Was there anything Steve skipped over that you were interested in hearing about? Let us know in the comments.

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