Ex-Apple Designer Predicts “Huge Changes” From iCloud at WWDC

Ex-Apple Designer Predicts “Huge Changes” From iCloud at WWDC

When Apple reveals iCloud at WWDC on Monday, it’ll have the kind of impact the iPod has had, predicts Kevin Fox, a Silicon Valley software veteran who’s worked at Apple, Yahoo and Google.

“The rumblings are huge,” says Fox, lead designer at Mozilla. Fox worked on Newton software before designing Yahoo’s chat service and then software for Google (including Gmail 1.0, Google Calendar 1.0, and Google Reader 2.0). He continues:

… given the complete failure of MobileMe over the last decade there’s no way Apple would introduce [iCloud] on such a pedestal unless it’s incredible. My guess is that iCloud is to MobileMe as iPhone was to Newton: a complete, deep, polished solution after an underwhelming market failure.

In a post on his fury.com blog, Fox says he doesn’t have any inside info (“I make a point of not trying to pry secrets from my friends who work at Apple”) but expects the trifecta of technologies to be unveiled on Monday — OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud — will signal a fundamental change in Apple’s computing strategy.

At its core, Apple will use Lion and iOS 5 to make the shift from building computers that access the Internet to building a global computing service that lets people use any number of physical devices to access it.

Among the things he’s hoping to see:

  • Seamless access to any data kept in your Documents folder, and synchronization across machines
  • Universal login using your Apple account: Walk up to any Mac, sign in as a guest using your Apple account credentials and you’ll be brought to the same desktop you get on your personal machine. Files will be downloaded from the cloud (or your home network) on demand, and you’ll have access to all the apps you’ve purchased via the Mac App Store, downloaded and installed on-demand, and removed securely, along with your data, upon logout. (This is actually coming, according to a source. We exclusively detailed this last year.)
  • Realtime, continuous syncing of iOS devices will mean never having to plug your iPhone or iPad in to your computer again, or even the need for a computer for syncing at all.
  • Built-in screen sharing of Mac OS to the iPad, to do lightweight actions on your Mac from your iPad.
  • Continuous media play across devices: Play music on your mac, then with a tap shift the music to your iPhone when you’re on the go.
  • A major theme will be the concept that a task doesn’t reside with any particular device, but instead with the person, so shifting devices doesn’t mean you have to shift or restart tasks. Devices will simply be windows into what tasks you’re currently doing.
  • The only new devices announced at WWDC will be updates to facilitate the new software functionality. Some have speculated on new Airport base stations built around iOS to make VPN easy and mainstream. This seems very likely. It will be important to have one device that is always on and available, and Airport is a sensical bet.

Fox’s full list of hopes and dreams for WWDC are here.

Via Apple 2.0: Kevin Fox’s WWDC wishlist

Related
  • prof_peabody

    ” … the kind of impact the iPod had in 2001.”  

    The iPod had almost zero impact when it was announced.  It was panned by the tech press on arrival and only sold very slowly at first.  

  • Edgar Rios

    awesome! can’t wait for monday :D

  • lkahney

    good point — it took a couple of years to take off. i’ll revise…

  • markps87

    universal log-in sounds awesome, god Apple, stop making me such a fan-boy.

  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    Yeah, the iPod was definitely considered a major failure at the beginning.  Who the hell actually needed to carry 1000 songs on a $400 device when you can buy a Sony Walkman for $70?  The know-it-all knucklehead pundits said “Nobody” and “Apple is going out of business, so why bother?”  This is usually the outstanding vision of jackasses who are unable to see past their noses that Apple has to contend with.  Wall Street will quickly dismiss iCloud as a useless service despite consumers liking it.

    So, naturally, even now, iCloud is being looked at like every other cloud venture over the past ten years.  The know-it-all knucklehead pundits will be yawning and claiming that Apple knows absolutely nothing about cloud services which should be left to companies such as Cisco or HP.  You know, real enterprise companies.  Definitely not a “toy” company.

  • Hampus

    Let’s hope you’re right and we’ll Apple creating a revolution in cloudservices.

  • ShortApple

    Hmm….  This makes me nervous.  The last long employment this guy had was at Google.  I’ve also seen this article reported by at least 3 sites already.  Seems to be getting lots of traction.  

    I’ve noticed a technique that I think some of Apple’s competitors have started using lately.  Right before an upcoming Apple event, start predicting at great length a whole bunch of exciting and plausible sounding things Apple is about to do.  In reality, this list is way beyond reasonable expectations, and the actual event, fo course, falls short of this long loftly list.  Including a couple ultra-geeky cool whiz bang things that the geek crowd has been blogging about excitedly.  After the even, the geek crowd walks away disappointed, and blogs about it.  

    Coincidentally, there’s also a nice dip in Apple stock for a short time after the event.  

    How likely is it that everything on this guy’s list is really going to happen on Monday?   Just sayin’… 

  • Paulo Dekkers

    The real continious desktop if this is true.

    I hope so.

  • Kevin Fox

    You think I’m part of a secret Google plan to get ex-Google employees to write aspirational articles about Apple as a master plan to make Apple look bad? That’s seriously crazy.

    Still, maybe it’ll help if I point out that I’ve been writing glowing predictions about Apple for years before I ever worked at Google. For example, here’s me predicting the iPad back in 2001: http://fury.com/2001/05/apples

  • Kevin Fox

    Hi Leander, thanks for the nice article. Just to clarify though, I’ve never worked for Apple. I wrote Newton software for several years and at times worked on the Apple campus, but I never got a paycheck from them as an employee or a contractor or any other fashion.

    Thanks!

  • Guest

    What a HOOT! Sounds like Sun Microsystems’ Sun Ray (1999). Can’t wait for Larry Ellison to chine in on “his” Sun Ray Platform CLOUD strategy!

  • Edgar Rios

    lets say, the kind of impact the iPhone had on blackberry on 2007

  • mahimahimahi

    No syncing? Sign me up now!

  • baby_Twitty

    Good or bad, i just know that whatever services launched at WWDC 2011 will be copied by all of Apple’s competitors in just a few months time. So hopefully by then , iphone 5 would have been released in around September so as to have some advanced hardware making best use of this iCloud backbone. And early in 2012, ipad 3 + new lines of Macs. If these new hardwares are delayed, this iCloud thing is going to be made a mockery.

  • alex

    any number of physical devices as long as they’re apple, you mean. which isn’t bat at all. i might add. and neither wlil it be the best, it never will.

  • ShortApple

    p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica}
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    OK.  Maybe I deserved that.  I want to follow up Monday after the announcement.  If I was out of line I’ll come back and apologize.  

    My first response was hurried (my son’s birthday party) so I didn’t have the chance to research you much.  

    I stand by the statement that there are tons of people that make apple “predictions” or “announcements” with shoddy information.  Particularly  at times of high apple hype, like before an announced apple event.  Anyone that hasn’t noticed this isn’t paying attention.  In most cases the goal is just to drive page hits, but as an on-and-off-again apple stockholder I’ve often found the timing to be a bit suspect.  For example the famous (infamous?) Jim Cramer has already been busted.  Here’s just one article that discusses this phenomenon in detail.  http://www.appleinsider.com/ar…  There are many others.  Gotta love those hedge fund managers…    

    One thing I will admit is that I shouldn’t have extended this practice to you personally.  I assumed you may have been just another vulture attempting to ride the apple media wake, and collect page hits.  In my defense, I tried to learn a little about you by checking Wikipedia first (no entry).  Then I googled your name and found your blog, where I found your resume.  It shows your last employment as Google, with what appeared to be a only distant contracting relationship with apple in the 90′s (you confirmed this later in your posts).  You write well, and you have a good looking resume.  You probably don’t deserve to be thrown in with all the other “page hit whores” that feast on apple speculation.  But there are so many.  Who has time to research every hack in detail?    

    I’m guessing one of two things will happen Monday.

    1.  Apple will announce a slough of products, and your predictions will turn out to be a reasonable representation of what was announced.  If so, I will return and apologize.  

    2.  Apple will announce some new products, but the list will not be nearly as lofty as your predictions.  If so, I will still be wondering “Why would someone who admits they have no inside information want to raise unrealistic expectations right before an apple event?”  

    I hope you’re right on all points.  I own almost every Apple product.  I’ve been waiting for years for some of your predictions to materialize, and I’d love to see all these products announced.  I hope I get to come back Monday night and apologize for ever doubting you.  See ‘ya Monday.  

  • Fme

    sensical?

  • S. Mulji

    This is an apple rumors / fanboy website.  Apple fanboy & seriously crazy have a tendency to go hand-in-hand.

  • ADimensionOfMind

    oh man I feel like a kid on Xmas eve! Have to calm down, Monday’s event can’t possibly live up to all this hype : )

  • Aj Tk427

    You are the one raising your expectations, he clearly states he has no inside info. These are just his dreams, ideas with a little bit of past knowledge, how you disseminate that info is totally up to you. I dream of apple releasing a free to the people iPhone 5*** disclaimer I have no inside knowledge. Exactly the same as above take the info and do with it as you please.

  • martinberoiz

    @lkahney:disqus I saw you in the movie Welcome to Mac yesterday.

  • cheesy1

    is icloud a revolutionary change from itunes, hopefully it is

  • Mark F

    I’ve been with MobileMe from the start. As a consumer, i don’t consider it to be a failure. I feel it’s giving me something for my money.

    I hope to see more from iCloud than a music storage. That would be useless to me. My music fits on my iPhone. I would end up filled with anxiety if I could not access music in areas of poor reception. Buffering pauses or freezes; I don’t understand how that could be a benefit. How about bandwidth issue if you stream music all day at work, everyday. I just hope there is something else I can get excited about with icloud.

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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