Steve Jobs' Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote session was packed with attendees, all of whom undoubtedly had high expectations. It's impossible that any of them will go away disappointed; everybody gets a copy of the Leopard Beta on DVD. What they won't get is a software development kit for iPhone, a disappointment that I'll discuss in detail in another post to my Enterprise Mac blog. On that score, suffice it to say that iPhone is closed to developers except for the Safari Web browser. Jobs' boast that iPhone runs OS X has a hollow ring given that developers can't get at any of it. You can tell that I'm frustrated about that, but I won't dwell on it here. Instead, I'll wrap up the keynote as a whole and devote other posts to iPhone.
[ Special Report: WWDC 2007 ]
Apple showed off two substantial wins for its consumer markets. First, Electronic Arts has decided to return to the Mac platform after a long absence. It will release Command & Conquer 3, Battlefield 2142, Need for Speed Carbon and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as Mac-native games. EA demonstrated Harry Potter, which rendered in gorgeous detail, but in the demo motion was noticeably choppy in those areas that required repainting large portions of the display. EA will now do simultaneous releases of its sports titles, like Tiger Woods Golf, for PCs and Macs.
Apple's second consumer win came from John Carmack from id Software. He previewed an absolutely incredible new 3-D game engine in a non-interactive demo. Carmack praised the Mac as a game development platform, saying that artists have "...unlimited ability to change [texture-mapped] surfaces with no impact on performance...[id] can have six artists working on a world at the same time." Carmack said that he'll be demonstrating the new engine at E3 Expo in July and that in August, at id-sponsored Quakecon, he'll have another Mac-related announcement that he "...can't talk about now."
Endorsements from a couple of gaming software companies seems a small thing for non-gamers, but the fact that EA and id are betting development resources on the Mac indicates that Intel-based Macs are now considered mainstream platforms, on-track to achieve volume success. These vendors' engagement also suggest to me that Apple has taken on the task of updating its implementation of OpenGL, which one leading gaming vendor at MacWorld described (on background) as "completely broken."
I found Jobs' demonstrations of Leopard positively riveting with regard to features not yet demonstrated, or inadequately demonstrated, in public. Core Animation, Apple's automated pseudo-3-D real-time animation technology, has clearly pervaded Leopard. A new, previously unannounced feature of Leopard, Stacks, creates icons for folders (directories) that are directly accessible from Leopard's Dock. The Dock is a strip of click-to-launch application icons. Stacks lets users place any directory in the Dock, creating an icon that, when clicked, pops up a transient overlay (not a window) containing rich tumbnail-like previews for all of the files in the folder. Clearly, Stacks relies heavily on Core Animation both for motion effects and layout.