Apple’s Magnum Opus

It’s been a few days now since Apple’s epic WWDC keynote, I have been sick everyday since that keynote so I have been passively following all the reactions from my RSS reader.

Here’s two things going on right now:

  1. Apple’s keynote message was loud and clear: iOS 5, Lion, and iCloud are not feature bumps — they are revolutions in how consumers are to think and use computing devices. They are game changers. This is very clearly the message Apple wanted to send, and it seems that many people received this message, but some missed it.
  2. The tech media’s response has been to talk about what these new things are “killing” (e.g. text messages, Instapaper, et al.), while completely ignoring what looks like a bigger issue.

What Apple may or may not kill isn’t the big news. What is the big news is how Apple is cleverly shifting the consumer mindset — all without asking the consumer to lift a finger. Ok, maybe only asking them to lift one finger.

It is about more than things that ‘just work’ or things that ‘push’ or “clouds” — it is about a culmination of a vision finally starting to come together. That vision is, I believe, called magic.

I think the entire tale is summed up with the iWork suite of apps, where Apple states that with iWork and iCloud:

Documents you’ve written, presentations you’ve prepared, spreadsheets you’ve made — your iWork apps can store them in iCloud. Which means you can view and edit the same document, in its latest state, on all your devices. And since iCloud automatically updates any changes you make, you don’t even have to remember to save your work.

Don’t read the above from the mindset of the savvy geek that you are — read that and think of how it will change computing for your mom or grandparents.

I don’t know of a single other way to take a document I am working on with my iPad and jump to my Mac having the document up-to-date and the cursor in the same position without pressing an extra button — to me, that is magic. It’s magic because logically that is how everything should have always worked, but in reality it is how nothing works.

You need to press this, turn this sideways, move two feet that way, reboot that router, no wait the modem first — what was I doing?

Apple introduced a lot of little nice features: notifications, camera volume shutter, wireless syncing and so forth — but the biggest thing they introduced was a magical system.

Not a magic OS, or magic device, but magic interconnectedness. This is something that will change computing for not just geeks or moms, but for everyone.

What Apple has done here is to sit down and say: “what bugs me and ideally how should it work”, then they turned that into WWDC’s announcement. These changes don’t feel like bug fixes or feature upgrades, they feel like a rethinking of computing.

A look at the way things should have always been done, but weren’t for one reason or another. That starts with all devices (PCs, Macs, Phones, Tablets) being seen as equal — what it ends with I have no clue.

I’m not saying that this is all bug free — that it is all perfectly implemented — but the idea, the core premise, is all there neatly in place. It feels like Apple just penned their magnum opus and iOS 5, Lion and iCloud are phase I of implementation.

Can you imagine what phase II will be?

Apple can still fall flat on their face with all of this, it could all fail miserably and never take off. At least they are trying…

Originally posted for members on: June 9, 2011
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