An Apple Event in the Bizarro World

I’m going to do a “wow, you wouldn’t believe the dream I had last night” post, even though I regard those as the Brazils in the big jar of Blog Topics Mixed Nuts. I think you’ll agree why I’ve chosen to share this one.

It was an Apple keynote/media event. But one in the bizarro world, a strange dimension in which Apple is no good at running media events.

Clearly I’ve both a keen eye for what Apple does so well, and a clear memory of all of the awful media events I’ve been to in the past, hosted by other companies. The lowlights:

  • The check-in process was totally screwed up. One line for everyone and everything. A network camera crew could hold up the whole line because they need a spot in the TV pit and nobody behind the counter knows who has the list of approved media for that location.
  • The venue was a deep, narrow, flat room with a low ceiling, so it was practically impossible to see anything. There were a few live monitors scattered around, but you could barely see any of those, either.
  • The seating was all folding chairs and there weren’t quite enough to go around. So you kind of had to grab one wherever you could find one and move it to where you needed to be.
  • The event started super-late. If you milled around during the delay, it was likely that someone would steal your chair.
  • Tim Cook took the stage, but seemed to have been pushed out there without a rehearsed game plan or a specific message in mind. Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi came out along with him, but just sort of stood around sheepishly with nothing to do, making me wonder why they were out there.
  • A pointless appearance by the CEO of a company Apple was partnering with on a project. And it was via video.
  • The audio wasn’t working for the first ten minutes and they just pushed ahead instead of fixing it.
  • They also forgot to dim the house lights, so the audience’s focus was never 100% on the presentation.
  • They hired a celebrity pro wrestler (in his full ring costume and in character) to take part in a terrible little skit on the stage midway through.

I’m being awfully negative about Bizarro Apple here, so I’ll also say that the WiFi in the room was fast and rock-stable.

I’m sure that this was a dream triggered by my deep respect and gratitude for how well Apple does things, or a musing on how flying 3200 miles and losing 72 hours of productivity and spending $1000 to attend media events on the West coast might be more trouble than it’s worth. I decided to attend fewer of those events in 2015, and it seems to have worked out fine.

This definitely wasn’t one of those “o no its final exams and i never attended any of the classes and i have to write all of my test answers with a blade from a ceiling fan” dreams. The only Fail on Dream Andy’s part was bringing a terrible mobile keyboard for his iPad. It folded for pocket storage, but it wouldn’t lay flat, and the keys were mushy and terrible.

In fact, that’s what pulled me out of the dream. Even before I saw “Inception,” I noticed that my dreams usually end when something I see somehow gooses my rational brain back online. “This is impossible. Oh, wait…so this must be a dream, right?”

Still, it’s quite odd that the thing that took me out of the dream was “I had chosen to rely solely on an untested new mobile keyboard for live note-taking during an important event.” It wasn’t “Apple decided that the best way to introduce a new product would be for Tim Cook to talk about it with a pro wrestler in a huge feathered cape, reading everything awkwardly off of a prompter.”

I think this should give you an idea of just how bad some of the product introductions I’ve covered have been.

Nothing Left To Take Away

Keynote window, showing a slide of Steve Jobs holding up an iPhone

Greetings from the Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Thanks to the 5624-foot altitude, EVERY night is two-for-one drinks night to anybody visiting from sea level, at least in terms of the effects of the alcohol.

I don’t know for sure how many years I’ve been speaking here. I think my first was in 1997, and I’ve missed only one of them since. That’s 14 years. Which is absolutely absurd, so I dismiss this as just another agenda-driven fiction of the Liberal-controlled basic math.

Actually, the scary thing is my realization that (oh, for the love of God) I’m now part of the Old Guard here. During my first years as a speaker, I was impressed by those people who seemed like they’d been coming here forever. They’d show up at the first party of the week and they’d immediately continue conversations that have been going on for ten years, picking them up right from where they’d left off at the previous Conference, it seemed. There I was on Monday evening, sitting on the steps of a patio with a plate of buffet food on my lap, talking with the same group of friends I’d been chatting with at the same party in the same place last year.

It’s great to feel so at ease, don’t get me wrong. The situation just makes it very difficult to maintain my self-image as The Dangerous Young Upstart Whose Radical Ideas Will Ensure His Early Ouster. It was hard enough when I was still in my Twenties.

(Jeez, I am old. I find myself walking through the U of C campus and thinking “in MY day, we didn’t need longboards. We rode skateboards, like normal people!” Please note that I road a board for exactly one year of my life and I would have traded my twitchy thirdhand deck for a longboard in a heartbeat.)

Speakers at the Conference on World Affairs contribute to seven to ten panels that cover a wide range of topics. Tuesday was fairly typical for me. In the morning, I talked about alternative definitions of journalism and in the afternoon I was on a panel about interstellar space travel. I write about space and I’m keenly interested in those subjects. But I know I’m just a dabbler. Two others on the panel were an astronomer and a physicist. After my ten minute contribution (which leaned heavily on my knowledge of history) I was smart enough to just be quiet and let those guys handle the audience Q&A.

During my solo ten minutes, I stumbled on the term “manned exploration.”

I asked my pal Seth Shostak (fab astronomer and educator) “Is there a gender-nonspecific way to express the concept of sending people, as opposed to probes, into space?”

“Crewed space exploration,” he replied.

“Crude? Who are we sending up there? Ricky Gervais and Seth Macfarlane?”

This got a laugh from the crowd. Which made me happy.

When a session ends, people often come up to the stage to start up conversations with the speakers while we’re packing up our pens, papers, and iPads. A group massed around Seth and the other Guy With Credentials, asking questions about dark energy and solar sails and space elevators and the imperatives of human exploration. A woman skipped past them and made a beeline for me.

“Every time I try to email my friend,” she said, thrusting an iPad forward, “It tries to FaceTime her instead. What’s wrong?”

I happily fixed her iPad. We’re all just here to serve.

I had a new responsibility this year. The organizers gave me a plenary session…one of only a handful of slots in which a speaker has the stage all to him or herself for the whole time. Panels are casual by design; the conference explicitly tells speakers that we’re meant to speak as extemporaneously as possible. Usually, all I do is prepare a rough, five-item outline of the major points I want to cover.

But this was a different thing. The audience was going to be stuck with me and only me for the whole 50 minutes. So I went ahead and wrote a whole new show for the event. I prepared for this just as I do when someone pays me to fly out and give a keynote.

The title of the plenary was “Steve Jobs and Apple.” I built the talk over a course of about a month. First I just kept jotting down thoughts and topics that seemed relevant. Then, I shaped those notes into a rough outline with some sort of beginning, middle and end trimming out anything that seemed irrelevant. Finally, I turned the outline into slides and started thinking about the best way to communicate all of this stuff.

I spent a lot of time reflecting on Steve’s philosophies. Item after item in my OmniOutliner file contained quotes about his design ideals. Each of them said “Simplify, simply, simplify.” One item was my observation the iMac’s power button is hidden away on the back, so that nothing superfluous can mar the face of the screen. I had Apple’s PR photo of the original iPod: it’s a stark whiteout.

I created another new slide, and pasted in a good quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that I wanted to use:

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but nothing left to take away.”

This was the first presentation in which I’d used so many direct quotes. I changed my custom template and created a new master slide, basing “Quotation” on an existing master that I call “Statement.”

I looked at the new slide.

The font for the quote was Comicrazy, which is probably my single favorite Comicraft font. It was yellow. The attribution was in the same font, in white. At some point in life I’d come across a list of presentation design tips that suggested putting your identity on every slide, to encourage people to connect with you later. So my name and my Twitter handle were at the bottom of the slide, in a different font, on top of a dark box.

I re-read the “nothing left to take away” line.

Then I flipped back and forth, clicking through all of Steve’s quotes about the importance of saying “no” and simplifying things. I clicked through the slide which represented my cue to talk about Steve’s single-window design for iDVD’s user interface. My presentation contained image after image of Apple products, each with their clean, serene lines.

Well, goddamn it. Steve had shamed me from beyond the grave.

So in the days before my plenary, I built a whole new presenation template. It uses only one font (Futura) and there’s only ever one color on the screen, red. And I only use it for hairlines, to call the audience’s attention to a note). If there’s ever more than one thing on a slide, there has to be a very good reason. I try to use Magic Movies to redirect the audience’s attention instead of just slapping up a thick pile of stuff and hoping that I can steer through it.

I like the new template a lot. My next talk after Boulder is in Dublin, Ireland for Úll and I bet I’ll tweak this a little more. I’ll probably switch Futura for something just a little more interesting.

But, yes. From now on, every time I build a presentation I’ll look at each slide and ask myself “Does this screen look clean enough to contain a quote from Steve Jobs about his design ideas, or a photo of an Apple product, without making me look like a clueless idiot?”

Even when a slide contains neither of those things, it’s a good question to ask.

One More Thing…remember “Back To The Mac”?

Oh, and one more thing:

(This wouldn’t be a column about a Steve Jobs keynote if there weren’t One More Thing, yes?)

Let’s not forget that Apple’s whole message during their last (and first) Mac OS X 10.7 demo was “Back To The Mac.” A stated goal for the future of the Mac is to take some of the technologies they developed for the iPad and some of what they’ve learned from a year’s worth of apps and users and bring them into Mac OS.

Many worry that this means that Apple will do away with MacOS entirely. Naw, it means that they think “my computer wakes from sleep in less than a second” and “multitouch gestures enhance the vocabulary of a GUI” are good things to keep in mind when figuring out the Mac’s next step.

Another lesson Apple could have learned from iOS is that “syncing data” is less powerful and handy a concept than “your data is just there.” After more than a year with my iPad I can state that I rarely put data on the thing via iTunes. It’s always a process where I decide “I want to use that file I was working on this morning with my Mac” and after a brief detour through Dropbox, bango, I’ve got that file I was working on this morning with my Mac.

So when I say that I suspect that Apple’s overall plan for iCloud is to make the device irrelevant, I’m not saying “It doesn’t matter if you have a phone or a tablet: all of your desktop files will be available to you.” I mean that your desktop and your notebook will be no different from anything else. It’ll just be another device that can access and articulate your data in a manner that makes sense for that specific kind of device.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple minimizes MacOS’ whole file system in some near release. Not 10.7, of course. But it’s becoming more and more clear that most of the accepted rules for desktop operating systems are now…well, off the desktop. Even such quaint 1980’s concepts as “windows where you drill through directories filled with files.”

Keynote Day

I have a little travel ritual. The night before a trip, when I’m pulling clothes out of the dryer and rounding up cables and chargers and finishing up the writing I need to do before I go and pulling together the files I need so I can continue to write once I’m there and trying to decide which camera to bring and nervously eyeing the clock and wondering if I have time to clean the kitchen and also losing my optimism that this will finally be the trip in which I actually get a reasonable night’s of sleep before I have to haul ass for the airport, I repeat the following phrase:

“My life would be sooooo much simpler right now if I weren’t leaving tomorrow.”

I spend a few moments fantasizing about that parallel world in which I’m spending this same evening getting a little work done, watching a little TV, doing the dishes, and then sleeping for six to eight hours.

Then I’m snapped back to reality.

You can tell that I’m not in San Francisco right now. One, I didn’t start this post with “Greetings from San Francisco, where I’m holed up for a few days to attend the keynote that kicks off Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Secondly, I seem to be clear-headed and rational and I actually have time to blog this morning.

Mind you, I’m resenting my clear-headed, rational thinking. That’s what led to my staying home. If I can line up someone to cover my travel expenses, or if I get a vibe about the event early enough that I can book an affordable flight, or if I think that I’ll miss out on a lot of the story by staying home and following the liveblogs, then whoosh! Off I go. That’s why I’m a regular at these events.

But this time:

  1. No such luck;
  2. Apple didn’t even announce any kind of WWDC keynote until less than a week ahead of time…and while I could be pretty sure that they’d do a keynote, I could only be “pretty sure” that it’d be open to the media, which added up to “book a flight and book enough nights in a hotel to cover any likely keynote day, based on your hope that there’ll be something you can attend”;
  3. I’m 95% sure there won’t be a hardware announcement today (so: no chance to get early hands-on impressions of some new thing) and Apple can give me a briefing over the phone.

In the end, I flipped ahead to the end of the book and saw myself shuffling out of the keynote hall at Moscone West and thinking “I could have stayed home, read three liveblogs simultaneously, phoned some sources in San Francisco, and written the exact same column I’m about to write in the next two hours.

“Only I’d be writing it on the brand-new 11″ MacBook Air that I paid for with the money I otherwise would have spent on airfare and two nights of meals, hotel, and transportation.”

No, I didn’t buy an Air. But that’s the principle. The other thing is that I’m up to my neck in work on the new book and the water’s rising. Plus, it’s E3 week and Microsoft will be delivering their own Interesting Keynote, which I’ll need to write about. It’s a terrible week for me to take off and close my office.

Just because I’ve decided not to fly out for WWDC doesn’t mean I don’t think Apple will show off anything important, o’course. This will clearly be Apple’s biggest announcement since they showed off the original iPad.

Though from what I know and what I suppose, I’d probably rank it closer to Apple’s original iPhone keynote. Today, Apple’s showing off MacOS 10.7, iOS 5, and iCloud, a new service that glues everything together. Overall it feels less like “we’re coming out with the next version of an existing thing” and more like “Here’s how we’re defining the direction of the company for the next five years.”

I’ve dabbled with and abandoned a couple of different columns about what iCloud will be. I think the only smart call is to wait and see. The more I hear about iCloud the more certain I am that any comparisons to Dropbox, or to Amazon or Google’s cloud music services, will seem laughably clumsy when Apple turns over all of its cards. “The glue that holds everything together” will sum it all up, methinks.

Cloud music will be its most visible and most easily demonstrated feature but in reality, I think iCloud means that a new Apple service will manage all of the information you deal with on a regular basis and make sure that anything you need can be projected into any device you’re using.

The strongest clue in this direction came last Tuesday, I think. Apple released new iPhone and iPod Touch editions of Pages and Keynote. Previously, they were only available for the Mac and the iPad, where (frankly) they make clear sense. Are you terribly likely to want to write a 1000 words on your iPhone? Or build or even edit a presentation on that tiny screen?

(Though, yes, the idea of flying somewhere to give a presentation and boarding the plane with just your iPhone and a VGA adapter in your pocket has a definite Bell Labs “The Miraculous World Of 2000” filmstrip quality about it.)

Beyond that? I’m hoping that iOS 5 incorporates better systems for app switching and alerts. I want to see better voice control.

Last week, I ended a column on Windows 8 with a warning directed at Google’s Android team. “When a new version of Microsoft Windows hands you your ass in the category of user-interface clarity and simplicity,” I said, “It’s time to sit down and seriously think about the choices you’ve made in life.”

I now say the same things to Apple. Android’s voice commands are insanely good. You want to go to the nearest Outback Steak House? You hold down the Search button and say “Navigate to the Outback Steak House.” It finds the nearest one and off you go. Speech-to-text dictation is also quite solid. You wouldn’t want to dictate a whole email with it, but it’s perfectly serviceable for text messages.

Notifications aren’t perfect in Android, but they’re better than what we’ve got in iOS. Tap the menubar and a list slides down. There it is: everything that any piece of code has recently wanted to tell you. Did that podcast finish downloading? Yup: your podcaster left you a note. Cool. I had a hunch that there was a way to improve upon iOS’ “I’ll block the screen with a dialog box that has to be dismissed by the user” approach.

I also think it’s time for iOS to have some sort of high-level mechanism for interapp communication. There are ways for one app to pass information to another, but usually it requires a lot of coordination between the developers of those two apps. TextExpander, for example, isn’t terribly useful as-is. It expands keyboard shortcuts into large blocks of text, which is lovely, but you then have to cut the text from the TE app’s pasteboard and then switch to the destination app and then paste it in.

TextExpander works natively inside many third-party apps without any need for cutting and pasting…but only because the TE code is baked right in. I’d love for Apple to come up with some kind of a mechanism where an app can “receive” the functions or information of another app without having to incorporate its code directly. I’d love it if my car GPS app could pass the text “Next turn: right onto Exit 29 in 23.8 miles” to a big, friendly music player app, which could then discreetly display it in a tile.

Well, we’ll know soon enough. The keynote kicks off at 10 AM Pacific. I’ll be sitting here, twitchily eyeing three liveblog windows at the same time, and then I’ll be joining a special edition of MacBreak.

But yes, I’m well-rested and I’ll be in a comfortable chair with a cold beverage nearby. I can’t get that at the Moscone Center. And you know what I did last night? I baked goddamn blueberry muffins, that’s what I did.

So far, I’m certain that I made the right choice. I’m on my sofa and I’ve breakfasted on a fresh muffin. We’ll see if this good feeling lasts through the afternoon. Suffice to say that if Steve Jobs pulls an Oprah and leaps around the stage shouting “YOU get a MacOS tablet! And YOU get a MacOS tablet! And YOU get a MacOS tablet!!!!” while Apple Store workers file out from backstage and into the aisles bearing heaping trays of devices…I shall be disappointed.

I will probably have another couple of muffins. It won’t make me feel much better, but hey, they’re really good muffins.

Apple WWDC 2010 Keynote Liveblog

11:37:08 AM
Number 8: iAds.

“We’re doing it to help our developers to make money so they continue to make affordable and free apps.”

(Interesting: positioning it as both a dev bonus and a user bonus. Smart.)

He pitches it to devs as a way to keep the user inside your app instead of “hijacking [user] out of your app.”

(Lists the high-end brands that are advertising in iAds. No ads for shady home-refinancers or “we pay pennies on the dollar for the scrap-metal value of your heirloom gold antiques”tfits. Let’s see what the experience is like in practice. I’m annoyed AS HELL by these sort of fleecey ads on TV. These ads on my iPhone would actually hurt my iPhone/iPad experience.)

Demo: iAd for Nissan Leaf. Very slick, very entertaining. But again I ask: how soon until cartoon leprechauns are farting clouds of dollar signs to get me to sign up for a payday loan at 500% interest?

Brands have bought 60M in iAds for second half of this year.

(Journo to my left shows me a news item: AT&T has already issued a press release to say that Steve’s Internet problems during the keynote weren’t their fault.)

One More Thing…

“Are your WiFI Devices off? I really want them off.”

Stage lights up with spots that ring the entire front of the stage.

“I’d like to call Jony Ive right now…”

“FaceTime,” says the iPhone. Yes, it’s video chat on the iPhone. He seemed to have just placed a call.”

Video freezes for a half a second. Jobs chides audience for not leaving the WiFi devices off.

But it seems to work great. Looks like it’s reduced framerate — maybe 12 FPS? but very clean and clear.

“We call this ‘FaceTime Video calling’.”

iPhone 4 to iPhone 4, anywhere there’s WiFi, no extra charges or setup. Just dial and it works.

(So it doesn’t work via 3G?)

Workd with front or rear camera, portrait and landscape.

“WiFi only in 2010, “we need to work with providers to make it happen over 3G”

Will ship “10’s of millions of FaceTime devices in 2010.”

(Inteersting: “Facetime Devices”? There’s more coming?)

11:18:48 AM
“This month we will sell our 100 millionth iOS device…there is DEFINITELY A MARKET for your applications.”

iOS was #6.

Number 7: iBooks.

“We’re bringing it to the iPhone with iOS 4.” Says it’s the same features, same bookshelf, same PDF support, everything. You can get a PDF in a mail message and it goes into iBooks on the bookshelf; “you can have it, store it, flip through it whenever you like.”

“We’ll have iBooks on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. What can we do with all of these products together? [These are are wireless devices]”

1) Purchase and download a book.

2) Download the same book to all of your devices at no extra charge. iBooks will automatically and wirelessly sync your current place, bookmarks, and notes across all of your devices.

11:15:00 AM
“You’ll be able to buy this [iMovie 4] for $4.99…if we approve it,” Steve says, getting a laugh.

“Our guys have been running around like crazy. We’ve there are 500 WiFi base stations operating in this room. We have two choices. I have more demos to show you. We either turn them off, or I show you the demos. WHich do you want?”

(Applause)

“Please turn off all of your MiFis, turn off your aptops, put them on the floor.”

Wow! Only Steve could make this happen.

Renaming iPhone OS 4 to iOS 4.

“And we’re going to give it some metal,” and the logo transitions to chrome.

1500 new developer APIs.

(I’ve turned off my MiFi and turned off the WiFi radio on my MacBook. Only because I don’t want to be Shamed…plus my battery is now at 35% and I think there’s another half an hour to go.)

100 new user features.

“Software running in the background, that sort of exhausts the battery qwuickly” — Larry Page, May 18.

Added folders, “a whole bunch of other things” that were shown a few months ago.

Demos a few things.

Launches Pandora. Music keeps playing.

“Now I’ll launch a web browser and see if everybody really DID turn off their WiFi devices…”

Annnnd it loads in INSTANTLY. Behold the power of Jobs (and having 570 MiFis in one room (according to Steve and the guys backstage)

Swipes, and the controls for Pandora playback (a standardized audio control) appears.

Unified Inbox, with threading…tap one message and you can read the whole conversation. Lots of applause for this.

Folders. Words as we’ve seen: drag an icon onto another icon, and a new folder is created that contains those items. You can rename it, drag more in, etc. Can even drag folders into the Dock. Very slick little interface. Uses the “slide the current view up a little to reveal a bank of buttons” behavior.

“Multitasking. Folders, Retina display integration (“We’ve enhanced all of your apps for you”). Mail, enhanced camera and photos apps. Deeper enterprise support. New features everywhere.”

Enterprise — Better data protection mobile device managhement, wireless ap distribution, multiple exc accounts, ex server 2010, SSL VPN support.

Bing is now a third option for search…Googler is still the default. “Each takes a unique approach to how they find and present their results.”

“Microsoft has done a great jonb on this; it’s an HTML5 presentation.”

Golden Master Candidate of iOS 4 in developers’ hands today (cheers from crowd). “It will be out [for users] soon.”

11:03:36 AM
Ken Burns effect on photos. Music from iTunes library. Titles. Recording video straigt into the timeline or using clips from the library and timeline.

A theme that even incorporates geolocation. This really feels like a desktop app…very full featured, yet slick and simple.

Export 360p to 720p.

Shows a movie in SF created completely one phone. It really is a WOW presentation, notjh vifdeo qwuality and the quality of these edits, titles and effects. I wonder who shot that video…it seems to have neemn done by someone who really knows how to do a shoot, getting the right shots.

(Wonder if it does image stabilization, too?)

AWESOME demo.

10:58:26 AM
(I’m very excited to see how developers exploit it. It seems like it really proves itself in the app.)

This iPhone has sensors out the wazoo…light sensor, proximity sensor, compass, accelerometer, 3-axis gyro.

Fourth thing: “A whole new camera system.”

“We tend to ask the question ‘How do we make better pictures?'” rather than megapixels. “Its about capturing photons and low-light photography.”

Gone from 3-megapixel to 5 mega.

Added a backside-illuminated sensor (“which is used in many cameras”). “We’ve gone to 5 mp but stayed with 1.75 micron pixels; we haven’t made them smaller.”

Shows off some pictures taken right from iPhone 4 — they all look incredible on this big screen. Possibly a kick-ass feature; I’ve tried two 8 MP phones and none of them took great photos.

Camera also records HD video. 720p at 30 FPS.

5x digital zoom in app, and LED flash. Tap-to-focus now works in video, too. LED flash will illuminate video.

(If these specs hold up in testing, this is going to be one of the best capture phone out there.)

iMovie for iPhone! Applause!

Randy Ubillos, chief architect video appliocations comes up to demo.

10:52:38 AM
“We think it’s maybe the most important single component of the hardware…it’s the best window on the planet.”

Third up: the iPhone 4 is powered by the A4 chip. Same chip as in the iPad.

Take the back off. “First thing you notice is that the iPhone 4 is packed to the gills. “Biggest single component is the battery. We were able to make it a little bigger.”

“We were able to imprive the battery management. 7 hours of 3G talk, 6 hours of 3G browsing, 10 WiFi, 10 hours of videio, 40 hours of music, and 300 hours of standby.”

“Arsenic free, BFR-free, mercury-free, and glass and stainless steel are very recyclable.”

Up to 32 GB of storage, Quad band HSDPA/HSUPA, 7.2 mb down, 5.8 up (“Not everyone supports it now”) Dual-mic noise suppression.

Fourth up: “We’re adding a gyroscope.” (Cheers!)

A three-axis gyrop, pirch roll and yaw, rotation about gravity, Gyro and accelerometer prives 6-axis motion sensing.

New CoreMotion APIs to get precise positioning info.

“It’s perfect fot gaming; one becaue you know it’s built into every iPhone 4.”

“And because this demo does not require the network…I should be OK.”

Demos a Jenga game. Stage rotates in three dimensions. WIth accelerometer. Switches on hyro. and suddenly becomes way more precise as he rotates in place. Gets absorbed in game.

10:46:23 AM
“Scott, you got any suggestions?”

“Switch to Verion!” someons shouts. “Oh, no, you DI-INT!” laughs audience.

“Actually, I’m on WiFi.”

He moves on. Good.

800:1 contrast ratio — 4x better.

Retina Display has 78% of the pixels of an iPad. (Good, but is that just “iPhone screen, higher def” or “more screen real estate”?

iPhone audomatically renders all text and controls at higher rez; developers get that for free.

“But if you do a little more work, and add higher-rez artwork, apps are stunning. So we suggest that you do that.”

10:43:23 AM
Second thing: “Retina Display.”

Four times as many pixels in the same amount of space. Uses fonts as an example of the advantage of this.

(OK, but is “Retina Display” your way of saying “the iPhone 4 has a higher-definition display than the old one”? I was braced for “The front camera does eye tracking.

Display has 326 pixes per inch. WHooooaaaahhhs from audience and applause. (Wow, that’s higher than the original LaserWriter printer…the one that invented desktop publighing.

“This is at the human limit of the eye’s ability to differentiate pixels. 300 is the limit. We’re over it. It’s extraordinary.”

Puts side by side examples of the difference in resolution, which frankly doesn’t really come across.

Makes the point that it’s particularly a big win with Kanji and other picto languages.

Photo side by sides: colors look way more natural on the iPhone 4.

“I have an iPhone 3GS which has a widely-praised display, and an iPhone 4.”

Hmm! Yes, I do see the difference. “We had to get special projectors because the ordinary kinds can’t show you the difference with the pixel display.”

This is nice; not just sharper (I think) but also more subtle color and shading, which really comes across in Springboard. But remember I’m just looking at a projector.

Embarrassing: he loads up NYTimes website, and it’s SLOOWWW loading in.

Says “You could help us out if you turned off your WiFi” (like the Google guys) but I _think_ he was kidding.

Announces that he’s going to switch to a backup.

Embarrassing! 4G says “Could not activate…you are not subscribed to a data network”

“I’m afraid that I have a problem and I can’t show you very much here today.”

Wow, this is unprecedented, practically. Jobs is now showing photos as people kill themselves backstage using awesome Jonny Ive-designed sepuuku knives.

10:36:14 AM
24% thinner than iPhone 3GS. “Thinnest smartphone on the planet.”

Buttons: bol up, vol down, and mute.

Yes, a front-facing camera.

Micro SIM tray (light boos)

Camera and an LED flash.

Bottom: Mic, 30-pin connector and speaker.

Top: Headset, a second mic for noise cancellation and a sleep-wake button.

“Because there’s been a few phoeot around, people have asked “What’s this?””

Points to “lines” at bottom, says “Many people jhave said “This isn’t very Apple.”

There isn’t jsut one, there’s three. The stainless-steel band is part of the structural element of the phone. Those three slits are part of the engineering that uses the band as part of the antenna.

Bluetooth, wifi GPS is the smaller band; larger part is UMTS and GSM. “This has never been done before.”

“Uses stainless steel for strength. Uses glass for optical quality and scratch resistance; integrated antennas; extraordinary build quality.”

10:33:01 AM
Back to Steve.

“We just crossed 5 billion downloads from the App Store. This is my favorite stat from the whole show.”

How much have we paid developers? Here comes an animated graphic: “A few days ago, we’ve crossed a BILLION dollars.”

(Again: carefully curating the message. “The app store is the most vibrant app community on the Internet. It’s a healthy ecosystem not just for users, but for developers.)

“And now, I’d like to talk about the iPhone.”

(Applause!)

“I’d like to give you two pieces of data so you can make upyour own mind about market share:”

Neilsen says US smartphone share of iPhojne is 28%, behind RIM, in Q1 of 2010. Says that iPhone share is 3x Android.

Mobile browser usage in US, iPhone us 58.2%, more than 2x Android at 22.7%, says Jobs quoting Nielsen.

Presents timetable:

2007: iPhone reinvents the phone.

2008: iPhone 3G and the App Store.

2009: iPhone 3GS is twice as fast.

2010 “the biggest leap since the original iPhone.”

WHOOPS and HOLLERS in audience!

Reveal: iPhone 4 (official name).

“This is really hot. There are well over 100 new features. I get to cover 8 of them.”

1) All new design.

“Stop me if you’ve already seen this…”

(applause, laughter, hoots)

“Believe me, you ain’t seen it.

“Glass on the front and the rear and stainless steel all around…its closest kin is a beautiful old Leica camera.”

10:26:32 AM
Cute: on the iPhone edition of Farmville, you can acquire Snow Leopards as farm animals. I wonder how the chickens and the pigs and hell, the farmers are going to feel about that?

“No way!” a media person behind me says, as they demonstrate how the tractor works. Um…really?

Next up: Activision. Guitar Hero! Karthik Bala, Senior VP takes the stage.

“Brand new GH experience for iPhone and iPod touch”

Interesting: GH in a vertical orientation. Tapping mechanics, but also fdelivers a richer guitar mechanics: strumming, with multitouch with stuff like bends and slides.

(Looks interesting. Wonder why they didn’t just replicate the neck. A little hard to get a sense of gameplay.)

Available now in App Store.

10:20:32 AM
Next up: Zynga. Steve starts to explain it, but then says, er, let me allow Mark Puncus, Zynga CEO to handle that. Must have been a prepared line but yeah, a tech company with a made-up name like that typically lasts about three months past its VC angel funding.

(But seriously, folks: yes, it’s the company that does online gaming communities.)

Introduces Farmville for the iPhone. Troubling to me that this got more of a response than Netflix!

10:18:36 AM
Quotes eBay CEO, says eBay app did $500M in its first year and will do 1.5 to 2 billion next year.

Brings up the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings to talk about Netflix for iPhone.

(This is how you keynote: talk about YOUR strengths, not your competitor’s weaknesses. They’re hammering the point: iPhone and iPad is where the money and the stability and the “heat” is.)

Free Netflix app for the iPhone coming this summer. (Hmm, expected some applause. Glad to see that people are a little calmer at this keynote than at others. Or maybe they’re just too busy blogging.)

Demo of Netflix app. Nice, but I wonder how much fun this will be with AT&T’s 2 gig data cap?

10:15:09 AM
Onward to App Store.

“We support two platforms,” says Steve. Starts talking about HTML 5, descrtibing it as a gfully open uncontrolled platform forged b widelu respected standards bodies.

“It’s fully open. Anybody can write HTML5 apps and put them on the iPad, the iPhone and the Mac.”

Describes the App Store as Apple’s “Curated platform.” Interesting positioning; smart move, I think.

Talks about the approvals process. Wow, no boos!

15,000 apps submitted every week, in up to 30 different languages.

“Guess what? 95% of apps are approved within 7 days. What about the 5% that aren’t?”

Lists three top reasons:

1) App doesn’t function as advertised by the developer.

2) Use of private APIs. “We’re very clear on this…because when we change the OS, the app will break and we’ll have an unhappy customer.”

3) “Because they crash.”

10:11:26 AM
“I was sitting in a cafe with my iPad and it got a girl interested in me. Now that’s what I call a magical device!” — Email to Steve. Man (or woman) probably slightly mortified.

iPad in 10 countries, will be in 19 by the end of July. Video montage of newspeople of the entire world getting all excited about the iPad. Sort of like the end of “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey” when Wyld Stallyns’ music is heard by the entire world and ushers in a new era of peace and prosperity for the entire planet.

8500 native apps in iPad store. 35M downloads.

Whows off Pulse, Walla, WebMD, eBay, Iron Man, Avatar, newspapers and magazines,

“I earned more 0nsales of The ELements for iPad in the first day than from the past 4 years of Google ads on periodictable.com” — Theo Gray, Wolfram Associates. Whee! Let’s see if this turns into a Google catfight (I hope note but it’s fun to watch).

iBookstore. Downloaded 5M books, 2.5 books per iPad. 5 of 6 publishers, they report that iBooks has 22% of all eBook sales.

(Nice, but doesn’t that mean that people have new iPads and want to play with them by buying books? Let’s see how that holds up once the novelty wears off).

New iBooks feature: you can make notes. New control to add a visual bookmark. TOC lists all pages that are bookmarked and all pages that have been highlighted.

(Whoops, we’ve moved on to “new iPad features.”

Now has native viewer for PDFs in iBooks. PDFs have their own separate bookshelf. This gets applause; it’s hard to appreciate just how many people live their info lives around PDFs. Big plus.

Update up later this month.

10:02:26 AM
Cheers from the back of the room. Their giant video screen is getting different things from our giant video screen (the one on the stage.

Lights dim, and here’s The Man.

It’s hard to tell the difference between a standing ovation and just 1000 nerds trying to get their cameras above everybody else’s heads.

“We love you, Steve!” someone shouts.

“Thanks…I think.”

9:49:52 AM
Am seated in Moscone West and listening to Louis Armstrong.

Every big industry keynote makes me grateful that I’m credentialed media. Huge crowds — not lines, crowds — of people on the sidewalks around Moscone. The marshaling area on the second floor was packed with humanity and developers. I worry, before discovering that I can just motor right to the top and take a seat.

I’m a bit late — T minus 45 — so instead of taking a middle seat up front I grab an aisle in the second cluster. I’d love to sit with my pals at Macworld and Ars, but you can’t even have two people liveblogging side by side, let alone seven!

Already a small bit of tsurris. I’m seated next to the forest of video cameras. A producer failed to snag an aisle seat and she truly needs one; she needs to keep running information between her cameraperson and her journo. Well, I need elbow room. After promising me up and down that she’s barely going to be in the seat, I do the courteous thing.

Attendees are wearing athletic-style WWDC 10 letterman jackets. I think there’s a risk that this might create battlefield stress disorder reactions in other attendees. Some nerds see hordes of people in identical team jackets and have flashbacks to pantsing, wedgies, swirlies, and such. I’m bracing for shrieks and freakouts.

8:37:11 AM
One last test before I pack up the MacBook. The new MarsEdit has a little bit of a twist in it. It’s not enough to mess up my scripts but enough that I want to remind myself how everything needs to go.

Let’s also see what happens when the text hasn’t been converted to HTML by MarsEdit 3 before I trigger the script.

Push the button, Frank…

8:25:33 AM

Hello, sensation-seekers!

So let’s give this a shot: one-man liveblogs can fail unexpectedly for any number of technical reasons (up to and including “Oh, ****…I forgot to turn down the screen brightness. Steve’s only just finished talking about the new Apple Store in Kyzyl and my battery’s already at 28%.”

As I write this, I’m still in my hotel room. MarsEdit appears to be working. The liveblogging script I wrote for the Oscars seems to be working. The MiFi seems to be working, and because it has nothing to do with the AT&T network, I’m pretty sure that it’ll <em>keep</em> working.

But who knows what’ll happen at 10 AM.

Just in case this is the first and last post to the liveblog: Steve talked about stuff. He released some new stuff. Apple’s making money. Google sucks, but you had to work out that this was actually the subtext of these three specific announcements. HTML5 good, Flash bad. The engineer who lost the iPhone 4 is still working for Apple, but now has a curiously-fresh stump in place of his right thumb.

Onward.