WWDC: Apple goes to the mattresses

Something about Apple’s presentation at its 2011 Worldwide Developer Conference in June reminded me of mob movies. No, I’m not likening Steve Jobs to the Godfather. But Apple’s keynote presentation addressed so many longstanding Apple weaknesses and took the company in so many ambitious new directions, that I was reminded of the relentlessness of movie tough guys.

Old business

Not the Godfather. But settling old business.
In Martin Scorcese’s “GoodFellas,” there’s a scene that shows every member of a criminal job being found dead after the boss in charge decides they’re all liabilities that need to be liquidated, all while "Layla" plays on the soundtrack. (If you're in a “Godfather” frame of mind, recall the bloodbath ordered by Michael Corleone during his godson's baptism.) It’s a massive clearing out of old business, and we got a lot of that in this keynote. Except with very little blood.

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Apple Design Awards recognize excellent iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps

Each year at its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple hands out Apple Design Awards (ADAs) to recognize outstanding developer achievement. It’s like the Oscars, but nerdier, and with a far lesser chance of Ricky Gervais showing up. While last year’s event shut out Mac apps from consideration, the 2011 ADAs once again honored both Mac and iOS developers alike. Apple says ADAs go to developers who demonstrate excellence in the areas of design, innovation, and technnology. The award itself—a coveted cube—was accompanied this year by a MacBook Air, iPad 2, and iPod touch.

At Tuesday’s event, Apple presented awards in four categories: Student, iPhone, Mac, and iPad. In the Student category, Apple recognized Grades 2 by Tapity, Pennant by Vargatron, and Pulse News Reader by Alphonso Labs.

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Weekly Wrap: Macworld's top stories for the week of May 29, 2011

It feels like we kicked off our first-ever Weekly Wrap just a week ago, and that’s because it has been precisely that long. And we can imagine that—what with the Memorial Day holiday, and the catching up at work, and the alluring sunshine out your window—maybe you missed a few stories here on Macworld.com. Because every last word we publish here is nothing short of life-altering genius, we’re happy to help you catch up on the goods from the week gone by.

What Would Developers Conference?

Apple announced that Steve Jobs would indeed deliver WWDC’s keynote address, and even told us what Mr. Jobs would focus on: relaunching eWorld. Actually, the keynote will focus on unveiling Lion (the next iteration of the Mac OS), iOS 5, and something called iCloud. Since Apple hasn’t yet told us just what the heck iCloud is or does, we chose to guess instead. Chris Breen considered media in an iCloud, while I dreamed about the wonders iCloud might mean for syncing. If it turns out iCloud is a new iPhone game, we’re both going to look pretty daft.

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Why Windows 8 fails to learn the iPad's lessons

Wednesday at the Wall Street Journal’s D9 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., the big news was about Microsoft. The company’s Windows Division President, Steven Sinofsky, appeared on stage with the Journal’s Walt Mossberg, and he unveiled Microsoft’s official response to the iPad’s massive success. And there was a lot to be impressed by in the demo, but in the end it seems like an approach that is utterly poisoned by Microsoft’s old ways of thinking.

Now, I work for Macworld, and so it’ll be easy for people to write this article off as the ravings of a demented Apple cultist. But I’ve also covered Apple since before it was doomed, and have seen it execute a series of product decisions that have made it the top tech company around. I’d like to think I’ve learned some things about how Apple has done what it’s done, and perhaps I can apply those lessons to other companies that are trying to record similar successes.

What Sinofsky showed Wednesday was a sneak peek at Windows 8 (code-name: Windows 8), a forthcoming version of Windows that will work on traditional desktop and laptop PCs as well as touchscreen tablets. Rather than creating a new operating system for tablets, or use the existing (and intriguing) Windows Phone 7 as the basis for a Microsoft-powered tablet, the company will instead use an update to the traditional Windows PC operating system.

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D9: Google's Schmidt talks Apple partnerships, competition

This week I’m at the Wall Street Journal’s D9 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The event features a series of tech luminaries interviewed by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, of the Journal’s All Things Digital Website. Last night’s kick-off interviewee was Eric Schmidt, formerly CEO of Google.

Schmidt, who now sits on the Google board and deals with external issues relevant to the company—“deals, evangelism, government,” in his words—had a lot of fascinating things to say, and if you’ve got time I recommend watching the video. But I thought I’d call out a few of the things he said—mainly about Apple, because that’s how I roll.

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Skinning Twitterrific for Mac

I’ve tried a lot of Twitter apps in my day, but after spending time with the official Twitter Mac client and Victoria Wang’s $14 Hibari, I’m back with The Iconfactory’s $10 Twitterrific 4.1.

It was a bit of a bumpy ride, however: The new default color themes in Twitterrific didn’t really work for me. The normal-sized text was slightly too small (especially on my MacBook Air), but the large-sized text option was too big. The app’s dark color scheme appeals to me, but the light gray text on a dark gray background didn’t provide me with enough contrast to read comfortably. Like Goldilocks, I was searching for a bowl of porridge that was just right.

When I complained about this on Twitter, the Iconfactory’s brain trust let me have it. Those guys think a lot about this stuff, and the choices they made in their UI design were for very good reasons… they just didn’t work for me. While designer David Lanham did offer that he might try to lighten the dark text slightly in the app’s next revision, he suggested that if I really was bugged by the color schemes and font sizes, I could take matters into my own hands.

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Introducing Macworld's 100 Things ebook

Macworld's collection of 100 things every Mac user should know is now available in Apple's iBookstore as a $0.99 e-book.

We all like to think we’re pretty savvy when it comes to using our Macs. In the case of the typical Macworld reader, that’s usually true. (You’re all unusually handsome and have wonderful singing voices too.) But there’s a funny thing we’ve noticed when we talk to Mac users, even the supposedly savvy ones: There’s often some essential information—basic things that would make their Mac use easier or more efficient—that they’ve either forgotten or never learned.

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