Apple WWDC07, Safari For Windows, iPhone Dreams

Steve Jobs’ keynote address this morning at WWDC2007 either delighted or disappointed, depending on one’s expectations. Jobs announced several major changes to the OSX user interface, including updates to the Finder, which has many Mac fans saying, “finally.”

You can see all the cool stuff (and believe me, it looks cool) on Apple’s redesigned site, but there’s one thing I want to comment on:

Apple released a version (still very much Beta) of its Safari web browser for Windows.

While ostensibly about extending its market-share, this release is huge for one reason: cross-platform iPhone development. While traditional desktop application developers will no doubt be furious at the insistence that anything running in a web browser is an application, and they will fiercely deny the possibility of web-based apps being the future - well, they are and it is and the announcement today that folks will be able to code full-fledged programs to run in Safari for iPhone just as they do for the regular old web is a major catalyst for this future.

Think of what Google and 37 Signals and all of the great web developers will be able to do with the iPhone. Think about what it would mean to run real GMail, real Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Basecamp, Campfire, Facebook, Twitter, internet video and TV. While local, downloaded (or installed) apps would be a swell addition - I won’t deny that - there is really precious little they can do that can’t be done with the tools we’ve been given. And not having to install programs leaves more space for data - like photos, movies, music, and...well, this is where my personal wishful thinking comes in...stuff you download from the web using Google Gears.

It hasn’t been mentioned, but Google Gears could be the thing that bridges the gap and ushers in a new age of programming, in which it won’t matter what’s in the cloud and what’s on the device, or when or where or how you are or are not connected to the Internet.

Think of the possibilities that iPhone opens up. Think of the things that this device could do with no more than an innocuous software update.

Think of the future. Indeed, it has already begun.