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Apple's big week: the good, the bad, the ugly

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The Bad

5. Secrecy at WWDC Aside from the keynote presentation on Monday morning, each and every session at WWDC was a secret affair, with attendees warned that what goes on in San Francisco's Moscone Center West convention hall stays in San Francisco's Moscone Center West convention hall.

Why? You'll have to ask Apple. We asked some of our developer friends, but they couldn't figure it out. Last year, well, yes, OK - Snow Leopard had just been announced and trade secrets needed to be protected. But this year? Nope. For reasons somewhat unfathomable, Apple doesn't want you, dear Reg reader, to know what it's telling its developers.

4. Snow Leopard is Intel-only It's inevitable that an operating system will drop support for older machines at some point - try running Apple's System 6.0.2 on a Mac Pro. But limiting Snow Leopard to Intel machines means that the oldest Macs able to run it are the original MacBook Pro and Intel iMac announced in January 2006. The last PowerPC G5-based Power Mac sold in August 2006 - less than three years ago.

There may be quite reasonable technical explanations as to why Snow Leopard requires an Intel processor. Perhaps OpenCL requires Intel's SSE SIMD scheme and can't hack the PowerPC's AltiVec. Perhaps GCD understands Intel's threading but not Freescale's. Perhaps the reasons were discussed behind closed doors at WWDC. But one thing's certain: it's a marketing bonanza for Redmond.

3. No flash in the iPhone 3G S If you want to take decent photos, you use a decent camera - and that's not the one tucked into your cell phone. However, sometimes a moment arises that you want - or need - to capture, and a cell phone is all you have.

If you spring for a new iPhone 3G S, that important moment had better take pace in daylight, or you're S.O.L. Despite the iPhone 3G S's touted improvements in low-light shooting, chalk one up for the Palm Pre.

2. No Flash in the iPhone 3G S Despite reports earlier this year that Apple and Adobe were busily collaborating on moving Flash to the iPhone, Adobe's ubiquitous web-graphics standard still hasn't appeared. Surely the upgraded processor and graphics specs of the iPhone 3G S can handle Flash's processing demands, so what's the holdup?

Is it Steve Jobs' public disdain for Flash? Is it because the EULA for the iPhone SDK states: "No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple's Published APIs and built-in interpreter(s)." The EULA would leave out Flash (and another no-show, Java), but rules are mode to be broken, right?

1. No excitement This is, admittedly, both the biggest downer of WWDC week and the most childish one to report: we fanboys are spoiled. Sure, the new iPhone's nice and all that, but it's not a sock-knocker-offer. Snow Leopard is still rumbling along towards completion this fall. The new MacBooks have decent prices and features, but only fanatical granolaholics are dancing in the streets about EPEAT Gold ratings.

Steady progress, maturing product lines, brawny enabling technologies - but nothing that even approached a bracing blast of shock and awe. And, no, it wasn't because Steve Jobs' reality distortion field was hanging out with him down in his Silicon Valley abode, and not suffusing the corner of Fourth and Howard in San Francisco. It was a week of evolution, not revolution; of incrementalism, not boldness.

To paraphrase author and broadcaster Garrison Keillor: it was a quiet week in San Francisco, my home town.

But although it was a solid-if-somnambulistic week for Apple, one of Cupertino's prime partners managed to step into a steaming heap of odiferous ordure.

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Next page: The Ugly

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