Yesterday was the much anticipated keynote speech by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, launching the World Wide Developers Conference for 2011. For the past four years, Apple has used this event to launch new iPhones, beginning in 2007 with the original iPhone. Each year the audience of developers has oohed and aahed over the major advances in both hardware and software.
This year, so far, has been different. The conference runs until Friday so there still could be an announcement about the iPhone 5. But no news about hardware was announced during the keynote address yesterday and the Internet is buzzing with speculation about when the next iPhone will be launched.
But getting back to what was announced, Apple had plenty of news about software that evoked oohs and aahs from the audience. Here’s the rundown:
OS X Lion – Mac Operating System
Apple announced a new operating system for Mac computers, OS X Lion, that will be available from the Mac App Store for $30 beginning in July. This software update will only be available to download, no CD’s will be sold. The new operating system will bring the experience of using a Mac closer to the experience of using an iPad and iPhone with app management and a new mail setup similar to how mail appears on iOS devices.
OS X Lion also will introduce Air Drop, which will allow users to share files between two Macs running Lion.
Versions is a part of Lion that will save documents automatically so you never have to remember to do it yourself. You can also open different versions of a document and copy and paste between the versions.
Apple also included Mission Control in Lion, which allows the user to view and control apps using touch and gestures on a track pad.
iOS 5 is the new operating system Apple will launch for its mobile devices in September. This update is a major overhaul and contains many improvements over the current operating system. Over 200 improvements to the operating system will be introduced in iOS 5. Here are some of its key features:
Have you ever been in the middle of writing an email, tweet, Facebook post or text when you received a Push Notification about something that you could not have cared less about? Currently, when you receive a Push Notification a pop up window appears on your screen and you can’t do anything until you deal with it. Annoying? Definitely, except for the rare occasions that the notification was actually important.
Apple has put a lot of effort into making this experience more pleasant while making sure you don’t miss anything important. With iOS 5, a notice will appear in a toolbar in the upper part of your screen letting you know that you have a Push Notification. Also, iOS 5 will include a Notification Center app that will tell you what you missed while you were away from your phone or otherwise occupied (playing Angry Birds, perhaps).
This notification system will be much less intrusive yet still will alert you to the important notices you need. The Notification Center app will be very helpful in checking on everything you might have missed without having to check messages, email, Twitter, etc.
Apple is introducing iMessage, a service similar to Blackberry Messenger that allows anyone using iOS 5 to send other iOS 5 devices unlimited messages with text, photos, video, location, and contacts. You will be able to start a conversation on one iOS device and finish it on another. You can also see whether someone has read your message and if they are currently typing a reply.
Anyone reluctant to switch to an iPhone from Blackberry because of Blackberry Messenger will no longer have that issue.
Borrowing from the brilliance of Kindle, Apple has introduced automatic delivery of your subscription newspapers and magazines directly to your iOS devices. You will be able to wake up in the morning with the latest issues of your favorite periodicals residing on your devices, without needing to download them. (This will be a handy feature for commuters whose trains regularly traveled through dead spots.)
The Newstand app will also be a place where you can find all of your subscriptions so you don’t have to hunt for them in different apps.
You will also be able to save articles you find using your Safari browser for reading later through Reader. Reader will eliminate the need for an Internet connection so if you find articles you want to read later, such as during a plane flight, this app will be very handy. Reader also eliminates ads so people may end up using Reader even when they have an Internet connection.
If you are a fan of Twitter, you will love that iOS 5 allows you to log in once to Twitter on your device and remain logged in for all the apps that use Twitter. No need to log in individually every time you want to tweet a blog (such as The Wonder of Tech!), leave a comment using your Twitter ID, etc.
The iPhotos app will also have a Twitter button so you can tweet your photos, though be very careful of doing this if you are a US congressman.
Safari will have tabbed browsing. Very cool on the iPad. I don’t know how much this will be used on the smaller screens of the iPhone and iPod Touch.
I have mixed feelings whether this is overdue or cool. I think it’s a little bit of both. The overdue part of Reminders is a To Do list. You will be able to organize your tasks, including making grocery lists, calendar reminders, etc.
The cool part is the location feature of Reminders. Using the GPS feature of the devices, Reminders can remind you of a task based upon your location. Say you’ve been meaning to pick up a prescription refill at the pharmacy. You will be able to set your iPhone to remind you about the prescription when you are near the pharmacy.
Better yet, you can set the Reminder to alert you when you arrive at or leave the location. Say you need to go by the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up Aunt Millie’s birthday cake. Reminders can alert you as you leave work that you need to pick up the cake. Simply amazing.
Apple has learned that when people take pictures with their iPhones, they don’t want to swipe, enter a passcode, open the camera app and wait for it to load before taking the picture. So with iOS 5, you will be able to open the camera app from the lock screen and press the Volume Up button to take the picture, speeding up the process tremendously.
Apple will also help you line up the shot by adding a grid to the screen so you can see if you have the iPhone level.
After you take the picture, you will be able to add special effects to the image with iOS 5.
In March when Apple announced the iPad 2, Steve Jobs called this the post-PC era. With iCloud, that statement will become true. iOS 5 eliminates the need to sync your iOS devices with a computer.
iCloud will automatically sync your content to your devices so that your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch will all have the same content. When you purchase a new iOS device, you will be able to download all of your previous content within minutes. No more hours of syncing before your new device is ready to use. If you lose or break your iPhone, your content is available in iCloud so you won’t have lost any of your content.
iCloud will sync your apps to all of your devices as well. You will be able to see your purchase history and download an app to any or all of your iOS devices. If you have already purchased an app, you won’t be charged again. Your content within apps can be shared with your other devices over iCloud as well. Start an Angry Birds game on your iPhone and finish it on your iPad.
Apple follows Kindle’s lead again by imitating Whispersync features within iBooks. iCloud will allow users to sync iBooks between their devices, including the last page read, notes and highlights. (See, Tech-Knowledgy: Kindle Whispersync, uʍop ǝpısdn buıʇıɹʍ and Playing iPhone Music when Driving to learn about Kindle’s Whispersync feature.)
The Documents feature of iCloud allows you to sync your content between all of your devices so you can start drafting a document on your iPad and edit it from your iPhone. This feature will work within apps as well so you could begin creating a work of art on your Magic Brushes app on your iPhone and finish it on your iPad.
Your contacts, calendar and mail will all sync with iCloud.
iCloud also includes iPhoto which will send a picture you take with your iOS device to all of your other iOS devices instantly. iCloud will store your most recent 1000 photos for 90 days. (No word on if this service includes video storage as well.)
Apple is also moving iTunes to iCloud. All of the music you have purchased from iTunes will move to iCloud. If you have purchased music from places other than iTunes, you can move that music to iCloud through iTunes Share. iTunes will try to match your music from the 18 million songs it offers with a service called iTunes Match. If there is no match for the song in iTunes, you will be able to move it to iCloud anyway and iTunes will upgrade the quality of the recording.
How much for iCloud? iCloud is free for everything other than iTunes Match. If you were so foolish as to purchase music from a venue other than iTunes, you will have to pay $25 a year to keep your non-iTunes music in iCloud. (I predict that Apple will also expand their photo storage service to allow storage of more than 1000 photos for over 90 days, for a fee.)
Apple introduced lots of exciting developments yesterday that will make it much easier for people to move their content between iOS devices. Notifications and Reminders will be huge improvements as well. Mac users will feel more like they are using an iOS device and be able to share documents more easily.
As iOS 5 isn’t launching until September, chances are the iPhone 5 will launch then as well. Whether the excitement over the new features of iOS 5 will keep iPhone owners from migrating to new Android devices until then remains to be seen.
In case you did not attend WWDC yesterday, here is a summary of what you would have heard:
Okay, that wasn’t from yesterday’s keynote speech, but you get the idea…
Are you excited about the developments that Apple announced yesterday? Which of these will be the most useful for you? Are you disappointed that the iPhone 5 hasn’t been announced yet? Let us know in the Comments section below!