Mac blogs and news sites are filled with hot predictions about what will and what will not be announced at next week's Apple World Wide Developer Conference. Televisions. iOS stuffs. Some are gaining more traction than others. But there are plenty of interesting guesses coming from the actual target audience: developers.
Of course, many Apple watchers are focused on the Mac hardware announcements predicted by 9 to 5 Mac, including new generations of iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook, Mac mini, and especially the Mac Pro, which is long overdue for a refresh.
Developers expect details for iOS 6 and Mac OS X Mountain Lion. And then there's all the talk about Apple replacing Google's mapping technology in Maps with its own home-grown version.
Developer Oliver Drobnik starts off his predictions with an analysis of this year's WWDC banner already hanging at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. He identifies some 40 icons, all of which he says are iOS apps. Again, the dueling dynamic between iOS and Mac platforms can be seen (what was once a Mac-only conference is now the Apple platforms conference with iOS getting most of the time and mindshare).
Drobnik reads a lot into the banner. It's his WWDC Ouija board. He derives all kinds of predictions from the icon mix, including an embedded version of iOS 6, greater integration of social media through the OAuth API and third-party server-side applications for iCloud.
Many more apps are basically acting as windows to the proprietary data silos of the likes of AirBnB, Evernote or all the social networks. All of this tells us that the future of mobile apps will still require some business logic and data storage in the cloud. Two things that are – in my humble opinion – also still missing from iCloud.
Which brings me to my final prediction: as soon as Apple is satisfied with the general stability and scalability of iCloud they will begin to offer to developers a backend system using the iCloud servers. The kind of system that companies like Stackmob or Parse are offering right now. Or what many small companies are building on top of Amazon EC2 or Google Apps. Phase 1 was cloud-backup and -synching. Phase 2 will be to run server-style applications on iCloud, possibly written in Objective-C. (One can dream)
Programmer Clark Goble at Clark's Tech Blog made a number of predictions. With developers so concerned about sandboxing, he expects some new inter-application scripting or communication technology, similar to that of Android or Windows Phone.
I honestly think the big thing coming is inter-application communication as the replacement for Services, Applescript and much of the Open/Save dialog box. Surprisingly while some have mentioned Windows Phone for this I think Apple’s aiming much more deeply and that it’ll be surprisingly robust in conception. (If perhaps half baked in implementation — see last year’s iCloud announcement for a parallel) My bet for simple inter application communication ala Android or WinPhone is 85 percent. A robust solution that’ll make many of the sandbox complaints somewhat moot is probably 60 percent.
Sandboxing is the big concern for developers, especially those targeting Mac content professionals, Mac consultants and in the enterprise. More about this in an upcoming post.
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