Apple's WWDC keynote as seen through the eyes of a Windows/Android guy

Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference opened yesterday with a keynote hosted by Tim Cook, among others. I don't consider myself an 'Apple guy' in any way, but since I recently refreshed my tablet collection with a 3rd generation iPad I decided to tune in and see what they had to show us.

It's no wonder Apple is such a polarizing company. They really have their own way of doing things. The keynote dragged on for two hours and as a warm up we got all kinds of random stats, like the fact that they've sent out 1.5 trillion push notifications to iOS devices. Apple fans apparently can't get enough of facts like this; I guess to love Apple is to love statistics?

Then Apple rolls out a new laptop, a new version of the MacBook Pro with a Retina display (2880 x 1800, 220 ppi). It starts at $2,199 for a 2.3 Ghz quad-core i7 model with 256 gigs of flash storage, or you can spend $2,799 for a 2.6 Ghz model and 512 gigs of storage. Now these are nice laptops but my jaw hit the floor at the idea that anyone would spend $2,200 for a laptop in this day and age. But the reaction from the Apple anointed was overwhelmingly positive. These people are used to spending premium amounts of money for the Apple hardware they love. More power to them.

I was still reeling from the price of the MacBook Pro with Retina Graphics when the presentation moved on to the new version of OS X: Mountain Lion. I have to be honest and say I didn't pay close attention to this portion of the event. I guess the new OS X version is getting Gamecenter support, Facebook integration and, on certain hardware, can do some nifty syncing and backing up while the system is asleep. But what did catch my attention is the price. An upgrade is $19.99 and you only need buy one copy.

The Mac world is really the inverse of what this Windows user is used to. Expensive hardware and cheap software from Apple vs cheap hardware and relatively expensive OS updates from Microsoft.

Anyway the presentation finally got to what I was interested in as an iPad owner: iOS 6. Let's get the bad news out of the way up front. If you were an early adopter and bought the original iPad (like I did), you won't be upgrading to iOS 6. Ditto third generation (or earlier) iPod Touch owners. Apple thinks it's time you upgraded your hardware. Now I'm glad I snagged a third gen iPad a few months ago.

For me the big news was probably the combination of Siri coming to the iPad, and Siri being able to act as an app launcher. No more flipping through home screen pages and drilling into folders. I can get Siri to launch the apps I want to use. Siri in general has been beefed up but since I've never used it I'm not quite as excited about that news.

The other highlights that caught my eye were that iOS 6 will have built-in Facebook integration (Facebook is like a cancer spreading through all our computer systems, isn't it?), that Facetime will now work on a cellular signal and that Apple is replacing Google Maps with its own homegrown map system that the Apple fans seem to really like. This is all probably great news to iPhone owners but since my only iOS device is the iPad (and I'm not a heavy Facebook user) I wasn't as riveted by them. I do look forward to being able to challenge Mac owners to a game via Gamecenter integration.

Overall I didn't get a clear sense of what it'll be like using iOS 6; I guess I'll have to wait until it's release this Fall to find out more. Presumably it'll roll out with the iPhone 5, but Apple didn't mention anything about future iPhone hardware yesterday.

So there you have it. The WWDC keynote as seen through the eyes of a Windows laptop, Android cellphone toting geek. I think what impresses me most about the Apple community is that it really does seem like a community. I can't deny a desire to be part of it. Maybe I should buy some black horn rim glasses and sell my car in order to buy one of those new MacBooks. Maybe then the Apple faithful would embrace me as one of their own.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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