WWDC 2009 flashback: iPhone 3GS, iOS 3, Snow Leopard, better MacBook batteries

As we head towards WWDC 2014 we thought it would be fun to look back at Apple World Wide Developer Conferences past, what they introduced, and what impact they made. We're continuing with WWDC 2008, which introduced new MacBook batteries, iOS 3 (iPhone OS 3.0), Snow Leopard, and the iPhone 3GS.

WWDC 2009 happened in June, as WWDC usually does, and it marked the release of iOS 3.0, which was already in developers' hands. Apple had released a beta version of iOS 3.0 (then called iPhone OS) in March, adding a new Software Development Kit (SDK), more than 1,000 Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and 100 new consumer-facing features. But WWDC in June marked Apple's official public introduction of iOS 3, which was released worldwide the week following WWDC.

Key improvements to iOS 3.0 included support for In-App Purchases, peer-to-peer connections, an app interface for accessories, access to the iPod music library, a new Maps API and the first implementation of push notifications.

Accompanying iOS 3's release was a new iPhone - the iPhone 3GS. "The S simply stands for speed," explained Apple VP Phil Schiller when he introduced it.

While it looked the same as previous iPhone models, the iPhone 3GS was very different under the skin: faster silicon for twice-as-fast processing performance, improved storage (up to 32 GB), a much faster cellular radio and other features, like an oleophobic coating on the screen to resist fingerprints, a digital compass and more. The iPhone 3GS was also the first iPhone to support video recording.

Apple also took the wraps off of OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard at WWDC. The software wouldn't ship until later that year, but it was an important step forward for OS X, reworking much of the operating system and its core applications to run in 64-bit mode. Improved performance and reliability were key attributes of Snow Leopard, along with a new version of Safari (version 4) with dramatically improved JavaScript performance and better plug-in crash resistance. Mail, Address Book and iCal gained support for MS Exchange Server 2007, making the Mac a better corporate citizen, all this at a staggeringly low price compared to previous releases: $29.

The MacBook Pro also got an overhaul at WWDC. LED-backlit displays, glass Multi-Touch trackpads, illuminated keyboards, Firewire 800 and Nvidia graphics came standard across the line. The 13-inch and 15-inch models both gained SD card slots while the 17-inch sported an ExpressCard slot. The 13 and 15-inch models also gained new battery technology initially introduced with the 17-inch model earlier that year that netted up to 40 percent longer battery life. What's more, Apple dropped the price as much as $300 to make them more affordable than before.

One other thing made the keynote presentation at WWDC 2009 noteworthy - Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the event's primary keynote showman for years, had already taken a medical leave of absence that started in January of that year. We'd learn eventually that Jobs had a liver transplant. Instead, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, took over Jobs' duties.

Give it a watch and let me know — what do you think of WWDC 2008 and what, if anything, does it make you hope for at WWDC 2014?

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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