Steve Jobs Unveils iOS 5, iCloud, and Mac OS X Lion and Possibly the Future of Cloud Computing
Steve Jobs and his Apple executive cronies just finished unveiling what could possibly be the biggest leap into cloud computing yet. Fresh off the stage from this year’s WWDC 2011 in San Francisco, the company has taken the wraps off the iPhone and iPad’s latest operating system, iOS 5, which is deeply integrated with their brand new iCloud service. Below we will explore what we’ve learned about iOS 5 and exactly how the iCloud service will integrate with your existing devices and content.
What’s new in iOS 5?
iOS 5 is a major update to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch operating system slated for release “this fall”. The update brings over 300 new user features, more than 10 of which were demoed during this morning’s keynote. Here are some of the more notable features that will change or enhance the way in which you use your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch in the future.
1. Notification Center- A new notification system can be accessed by swiping down from the top of any screen. When you receive a notification such as a push notification from an app or a text message, a small bar is displayed along the top of the screen. This is similar to the green notification bar used to return to the phone app when on a call. Ignore the notification and access it later in Notification Center, or click it to go right to the app its associated with. You can also see some recent notifications from the lockscreen and access them by swiping.
2. iMessage- A new messaging app known as ‘iMessage’ will replace the SMS app on iPhones and bring text, video, photo, and group messaging to all iOS 5 devices over WiFi and 3G. New features include message delivery and read confirmation allowing you to know when your messages have been read, typing indication, and push to all devices.
3. Camera- A couple highly requested features have been added to the camera app. Firstly, you can access the camera app directly from the lockscreen by double pressing the home button followed by a new camera icon. Secondly, the volume-up button can now be used to take pictures. There are also new pinch to zoom controls, and autofocus and autoexpsoure gestures. The new photos app (which is highly integrated with iCloud, see below) also features Edit and Crop, Auto-Enhance, and Remove Red-Eye editing features.
4.Newsstand- A new section of the App Store will be dedicated to newspaper and magazine subscription apps and a new app called “Newsstand” will let you store and manage them (think of it as iBooks for subscriptions). This will not only allow you to discover and subscribe to publications, but also provides background downloads, allowing you to have new editions ready for offline viewing.
5. Reminders- iOS 5 brings reminders native, allowing you to create, manage, and edit reminders and to do lists from one central location. These will presumably be integrated with push and synced to all devices, like the rest of the features announced this morning. An interesting aspect to Reminders is the ability to set a geofence, allowing you to receive reminders based on your location.
6. PC Free- (OTA Updates, Wireless Syncing)- A group of features labeled by Apple as “PC Free” include over-the-air updates and wireless syncing, allowing you to receive software updates and sync your iTunes library wirelessly. This will essentially allow you to bypass the need to ever tether your device with your desktop or laptop computer.
7. Twitter- As expected, Apple has integrated Twitter natively into iOS 5. This includes the ability to share to Twitter via a number of apps including Safari, YouTube, Camera, Photos, and more. You can now sign on to your Twitter account via the Settings app.
8. Multitask Gestures- New multitouch gestures allow you to navigate the iPad using four or five finder swipes to do things like pinch to return home, reveal the multitasking bar, and cycle between apps. The iPad also received a fancy new split keyboard for typing with just your thumbs. Two new buttons on the traditional keyboard allow you to break the keyboard into two smaller halves and move them into a comfortable position on the screen.
9. Safari- Enhancements to the mobile Safari app come in the form of true tabbed browsing, a “Reading List” that syncs automatically with all devices (iOS, Mac, PC), and a “Reader” that isolates the text and content of a webpage for easier viewing.
10. Mail- The iOS 5 Mail app also received some welcome improvements including bold, italic, or underlined fonts, the ability to create indents, support for dragging names and addresses between address fields, and add and delete folders within the app.
What is iCloud?
Apple’s new iCloud service is actually made up of nine apps and a paid feature called “iTunes Match”. Three of those apps include the iCal, Mail, and Contacts apps from MobileMe and iOS but completely rewritten for iCloud. The six other apps that make up the service include the App Store, iBooks, Backup, Documents in the Cloud, Photo Stream, and iTunes in the Cloud. All of these nine apps basically handle the task of keeping your content in sync between all of your devices including your iOS devices, Mac, and PC. The free service also provides 5GB of cloud storage for content such as mail, documents, settings, and camera roll. Your Photo Stream content, music, apps, and books don’t count towards your 5GB, however.
iCal, Mail, Contacts- The three rewritten MobileMe apps are essentially updated versions of the existing apps with the capability of keeping your content pushed between all devices.
Documents in the Cloud & iTunes in the Cloud- Documents in the Cloud allows you to keep your documents from Pages, Keynote, and Numbers synced between all your devices automatically. iTunes in the Cloud does the same for your music, and also provides a “Purchased Tab” in the iTunes app that provides a purchase history and the ability to download music you’ve already purchased at no cost.
Backup- This feature of iCloud essentially does everything iTunes does when backing up your device, but instead of tethering to your computer, it backs up your purchased music, apps, books, camera roll videos, device settings and app data automatically to the cloud daily.
Photo Stream- Photo Stream is directly integrated with the existing Photos app and allows you to store each photo of the device’s last 1000 photos on the cloud for 30 days. Like everything else, it will also keep all your photos synced to all your devices.
App Store & iBooks- Both these apps are getting the iCloud treatment with purchase history and the ability to download from the cloud to any device at no charge. Bookmarks also get pushed between devices.
iTunes Match- Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the iCloud service is a paid feature called iTunes Match. For $24.99 Apple will scan up to 20,000 of your illegally downloaded songs and match them to high quality 256kpbs AAC DRM-free versions from iTunes.
What’s new in Mac OS X Lion?
Much of what was shown off in terms of Mac OS X Lion we already seen during its original announcement back in October, 2010. The majority of the more notable features in Lion are clearly inspired by iOS.
The biggest example of this is the new multi-touch gestures that bring all the familiarity of swiping and pinching to navigate the interface. For example, getting back to the desktop, launching applications, and accessing the new Mission Control feature are all accessible via gestures.
Launchpad is a new feature of Lion that is essentially an iPad like homescreen on your Mac displaying all of the apps you’ve downloaded from the Mac App Store. You can also manage apps from Launchpad similar to on your iPHone or iPad by creating folders, and multiple pages and configurations.
Mission Control essentially replaces Expose´, Spaces, and Dashboard by brining all of their features into one central location. Create and manage new desktop spaces, quickly navigate windows grouped by app, and access currently running App Store full-screen apps.
Another noteworthy feature is Auto-Save. This is a real game changer in terms of how desktop operating systems handle saving files. Apps in Lion have the ability to autosave, allowing you to flip through past “Versions” in a Time Machine-like interface, edit between those versions, and even lock the current version to prevent autosaving. This in combination with a new “Resume” feature, which resumes your desktop where you left off after rebooting, truly has the potential to change the way in which you use your Mac.
Lastly, a new AirDrop feature provides peer-to-peer sharing over WiFi directly through the Finder. Simply drag and drop files to other users running AirDrop on your network. This is a welcome feature for users who find the Macs current peer-to-peer sharing features cumbersome.
Mac OS X Lion will be available exclusively through the Mac App Store for $29.99 in July, 2011.
If you want to check out the full keynote address, head over to the Apple site to get the Quicktime stream.
image via Engadget
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