Briefly: Mossberg provides early iPhone review, WWDC "underwhelming"

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The Wall Street Journal's well-known technology writer Walt Mossberg has already received his iPhone and has weighed in with some early opinions. Also, at least one analyst has called this year's World Wide Developers Conference a mild disappointment for investors, and Apple's Leopard site has revealed more about the new OS than was shown onstage.

Walt Mossberg comments on iPhone at forum

Speaking at The Chronicle of Higher Education's Presidents Forum in Washington, D.C., the journalist revealed that he had just received his sample of the Apple handset the same day. A quick public display of the device in his pocket had been enough to draw admiration from the crowd, according to one report.

Mossberg was comparatively guarded about the iPhone, saying he would reserve final judgment on the device until prolonged use had given a clearer impression.

"I can already see some things I don’t like about it," he told the audience. "[But] I see some other things that I do like a lot about it."

For him, the real focus in coming weeks would be gauging the use of a touchscreen for typing, which eliminates the tactile feedback that some demand for messaging. The predictive typing and correction work "a little better" than expected, he said, but the small amount of time spent with the finished phone was "not a very fair test" and would need more supporting evidence to verify Apple's claims about its ease of use.

Still, Mossberg has already said the iPhone would promise a real improvement over current cellphone technology because of its full Mac OS X groundwork rather than using mobile-only code.

It will succeed "not because it’s better or necessarily better than your Blackberry," he said, "but this [phone] runs a real computer operating system."

WWDC disappoints analyst

Gene Munster of financial analyst group PiperJaffray remarked that the keynote by Apple CEO Steve Jobs was a "little bit underwhelming" for financial experts keeping track of the company's product introductions, observing in an interview with MarketWatch that the event "wasn't much of a surprise" for regular followers of Apple's progress.

Investors frequently expect major new introductions at Apple's rare formal presentations, he said, but few of these were delivered in the Monday speech. It instead covered familiar territory with a few conspicuous additions.

While most attention has centered on the surprise news of Safari for Windows, which Munster agreed would be a "Trojan horse" similar to iTunes, the real focus was said to be on the integration of Boot Camp into Mac OS X Leopard. Including the Windows dual-boot support provided integration with the non-Mac world that wasn't possible in the past, he noted.

A second highlight for the analyst was Jobs' figure of 500 million iTunes downloads, which Munster said would point to as many as 200 million iTunes jukebox users instead of the 130 million PiperJaffray has estimated in the past.

Leopard site reveals extra features for Boot Camp, no ZFS

Regardless of the impact of the Jobs presentation, a few noteworthy enhancements in Mac OS X Leopard have been revealed through Apple's pages describing the software.

Significantly, in addition to Jobs' revelation Boot Camp will no longer require a separate driver CD, the dual-boot technology will include a menu option in each OS to restart in the other — an option that will freeze the system state for each OS before rebooting, letting users pick up where they last ended rather than relaunch all their programs.

The new version of Front Row is also a near-match for the Apple TV interface, adding top 10 lists from the iTunes store as well as quicker access to TV shows and podcasts.

Other important changes include backdrop and video capture support in Photo Booth, better full-screen modes and a timeline navigator in DVD Player, and a macro recording function for Automator.

Absent, however, was Sun's ZFS file system. Company chief Jonathan Schwartz had touted that the file structure would be included, but no mention has so far been spotted in Apple's mainstream or developer feature lists.