Apple’s Steve Jobs took the stage at his company’s Worldwide Developers Conference today and, along with several other senior Apple officials, showcased what’s coming from Apple’s desktop operating system, Mac OS X Lion; the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, iOS; and the long-rumored “iCloud” online storage system.
Here’s what we’ve got.
Mac OS X Lion
A $30 upgrade due in July, Apple’s latest version of its desktop operating system, OS X Lion will be installable on any and all Macs you own for one price. That’s a wheel of a deal if you own more than one Mac.
The software will only be available through Apple’s new Mac App Store, though. It’ll be a four-gigabyte download—which is a big, big file—but it’ll install in place without needing to reboot.
Features include the ability to run apps in full screen, multi-touch gestures for trackpad-equipped computers, and automatic saving and versioning of documents (close out of your programs without saving first).
iOS 5 (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch)
Apple’s next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 5, will be available this fall for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, iPad 2, and third- and fourth-generation iPod Touch devices. Here’s a look at some of the new features.
– Notification Center: You’ll be able to swipe down from the top of your screen to see a list of app-specific notifications (Facebook updates, text messages, etc.). You’ll also be able to view notifications from your device’s lock screen and swipe on a particular running app to go directly into that application.
– Newsstand: Subscriptions to periodicals will all live in the same place and new issues will be downloaded automatically in the background and placed in the Newsstand for offline use.
– System-level Twitter integration: You’ll be able to sign into your Twitter account right from within your iPhone and iPad settings menu and then use the service with any app that supports Twitter features.
– Safari web browser: You’ll be able to e-mail an entire story you find online to someone, not just a link to that story. There’s also a new feature called “Reading List,” which lets you save articles to read later. Furthermore, you’ll be able to send out Twitter updates and site links directly from Safari, too. Finally, Safari has added tabbed browsing so you can have multiple web pages open at the same time and instantly switch between them.
– Reminders: Apple’s version of a to-do list will allow to you set reminders for yourself and, more impressively, let you set up location-based reminders. For instance, you can set up a “geo-fence” around your office that reminds you to call your spouse when you leave the office.
– Camera updates: You’ll be able to launch directly into the camera app from the lock screen and use the volume hardware buttons to snap photos. There are also basic built-in editing features now, too, such as cropping, rotating and red-eye reduction.
– Mail: New features will include rich-text formatting (bold, underline, italicize, etc.), message flagging, and a revamped search function that scours the messages both on your device and on your e-mail server. The iPad version of Mail also includes the ability to split the keyboard into two halves for easier thumb typing as well.
– No computer needed: You’ll no longer need to connect your iPhone or iPad to a computer to activate it first. Updates to the operating system will be delivered over the air as well—no need to download them to iTunes and then synchronize your device to get new updates.
– Game Center: New features will include the ability to see friends of friends, and get recommendations for game downloads and new friends to connect with. You’ll also be able to download games from directly within Game Center, and there’s built-in support for turn-based games coming too.
– iMessage: Apple’s new iMessage app brings iPhone-like messaging features to iPad and iPod Touch users and adds a few new bells and whistles to boot. It’s compatible between all iOS devices and you’ll be able to see when someone’s typing you a reply as well. Everything’s encrypted, too.
– AirPlay mirroring: If you have an AirPlay-enabled device, such as Apple TV, hooked up to your television set, you’ll be able to see and use your entire iPad 2 interface on the big screen.
– Wireless iTunes synchronization: You’ll finally be able to synch the stuff on your phone with your computer over your Wi-Fi connection.
“We’re going to demote the PC and Mac to just be a device. We’re going to move the hub, the center of your digital life, to the cloud,” said Steve Jobs.
Jobs then referred to Apple’s $99-per-year “MobileMe” service as “not our finest hour,” before adding, “But we learned a lot.”
So with iCloud, certain data on all your Apple devices is uploaded to Apple’s servers and then downloaded and synchronized with all your other Apple devices. Apps such as Mail, Calendar and Contacts will all be iCloud-enabled and you’ll be able to do things like share calendars with other Apple users.
You’ll also be able to download any of your previous apps, music and books to your newer Apple devices and any new content you buy will be immediately available to all your other compatible Apple devices. Backups happen once per day.
Documents created in Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps will also get full iCloud integration so that they’re available to other Apple devices. Photos you take with camera-equipped Apple products will get pushed to the cloud and made available on all your other Apple handhelds, as well as to your Apple computers and Apple TV.
The iCloud server will store your photos for 30 days, the last 1,000 photos downloaded to your Apple devices will be kept, and photos downloaded to your PC or Mac will be stored indefinitely.
iTunes in iCloud
Apple’s iTunes software now has a new “Purchased” tab and anything you’ve purchased through iTunes will be available on up to 10 of your other Apple devices. You can set your other devices to automatically download newly purchased music or you can download it manually.
Being able to download purchased music to all of your Apple devices is available now with iTunes 10.3. The rest of the other new iCloud features mentioned above will be available this fall-all of which are free. You’ll have five gigabytes of storage space for free, but purchased music, apps and books don’t count against your storage limits.
As rumored, Apple will scan the music files on your hard drive and match them against an online database of music. The songs that match will be available in iTunes for you to download to any of your Apple devices—you won’t need to upload anything first.
Matched songs will be “upgraded” to Apple’s 256Kbps AAC standard and will be available without DRM, but you’ll have to shell out $25 per year for the privilege. This will be a divisive idea: Pay for access to your own music?
You won’t have to upload anything, which is nice. And any songs that don’t match will get uploaded instead. And you’ll theoretically get access to any music you’ve downloaded illegally (not that you would do that) for $25 per year.
You’ll be able to sign up for iTunes Match this fall.
No new iPhone this time around. Not even the rumored, spec-bumped iPhone 4S. So it looks like we’ll hopefully see something at Apple’s September event that’s historically been held for announcing new iPods.