Apple WWDC 2011: iOS 5, Mac OS X Lion and iCloud

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Wow. This will take some time to get our heads around, and believe me, they are spinning!

Here’s the super-high-level summary of what was announced today at the WWDC keynote presentation:

OSX Lion (much of this was previewed before now, but today it’s official)
$30 upgrade from OS X Snow Leopard – available in July, only from the Mac App Store (no physical disc option)
– A strong focus on full screen apps
– Deep multi-touch support for MacBook users or iMac users who have the Magic Trackpad
– App store, which BTW is now the most popular place for PC software purchases, beating bricks and mortar stores too, is now embedded into the OS
– When you buy new apps, they automatically appear in the Launchpad, which is essentially the iPad home screen interface – with apps displayed as icons on a grid
– Resume function brings an app right back to where you left off working – even if you quit the app completely
– AutoSave (the OS saves docs in the background for you, regardless of which app you’re working in)
– “Versions” lets you go back to previous document states to see older versions and even cut & paste between them
– AirDrop: peer to peer Wi-Fi sharing of documents (if you ever used IR sending to move files between two laptops, you already know how this works)
– Mail has new conversation and message preview modes, with better search
– Open windows can now be resized from any edge, not just the bottom right corner
– Safari has a “reading list” option which lets you send web pages to your other devices for reading at a later date/place

iOS 5
available this fall, for free, for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and 2, iPod Touch 3 & 4
200 new features including:

– Notification Center app now puts all notifications in one place
– available from within any app by swiping down from the top of the screen (Android users will find this VERY familiar)
– includes weather and stock displays
– Notifications will no longer interrupt what you’re doing
– The lock screen has been enhanced, with notifications listed and direct access to apps that sent the note

– one location in the appstore for all subscriptions (newspapers, magazines)

Twitter Integration
– single sign-on
– integrated into apps like camera, photos, contacts so you can tweet directly from any of these apps without switching to a dedicated twitter app

– Reader integration (from OS X)
– Email whole stories not just links
– reading list – sync’d across all devices
– tabbed browsing

Reminders App
– basically a very smart to-do lists
– syncs with Exchange
– auto-remind with geofencing

Camera App
– Shortcut to camera from lock screen using an icon or a volume button, even if the iPhone is locked
– Grid lines option for easier composition
– Pinch to zoom instead of slider
– New Auto Focus settings
– Photo adjustments on the device  (red eye, crop, rotate – 1 click enhancements)
– Volume-up button acts as a shutter button

– Rich text formatting
– Search entire message
– Flagging
– S/MIME support
– Encrypted email option
– Dictionary service throughout OS – any app can use it
– Address dragging from field to field e.g. move a recipient from the To: field to the BCC: field
– Enhanced keyboard with a thumb-oriented split-keyboard option (presumably intended for the iPad in portrait mode)

PC free
– iOS updates over the air (no need for iTunes on a PC or Mac)
– “Delta updates” download just what has changed

Game Center
– Addition of photos, achievement points, recommendations
– Buy games from within GC
– Turn based games support

– Unified message service across all iOS 5 devices, not just iPhone
– delivery and read receipts, typing indicators, encryption
– iMessages appear at the top of the screen so visible, but doesn’t interrupt your current activity
– Embed photos, video
– Works over Wi-fi and 3G

Airplay mirroring lets you view your full iPad 2 /iPhone screen on your TV via Apple TV (not just select apps)
WiFi syncing to iTunes
Custom vibration patterns

Free, Available with iOS 5 in the fall
Steve Jobs basically kicked MobileMe, insulted it, killed it and announced its successor: iCloud
The idea behind iCloud is the three core apps of MobileMe (iCal, Mail and Contacts) are now joined by 6 new apps, and all of them keep your digital content automatically (and wirelessly) synchronized across all of your iDevices and your computer (be it a Mac or PC)
Every time you take a photo using the camera app, send an email, update a calendar or a contact, the iCloud service grabs those updates and then pushes them back to any other device that shares your Apple ID (the account you use for iTunes).

The 6 new apps are:
App Store gives you access to your full app history (any app that you have previously purchased or downloaded) so you can re-download it with one click instead of searching the app store, and going through the existing re-download process)
iBookstore is the same concept as the App Store, but with the addition of bookmarks, so your books are now truly synced across devices the same way Amazon and Kobo work.
iCloud Backup backs up all of your major content. In the event you lose your iDevice, you can bring all of that information back to your new device instantly. Backups happen automatically over Wi-Fi when your device is charging.
iCloud Storage is a service that is essentially trying to do away with the file system that all computers use. Instead, any document created in any app, will be “owned” by that app. Changes to those documents get automatically sent to iCloud and then pushed back down to any other device that is running the same app. At launch, the iWork suite will take advantage of the service, but other apps will be able to use it too. Users get 5GB of free Storage space, which doesn’t include photos or music or apps. Extra space will be available for purchase.
iCloud PhotoStream creates an automated and synchronized way of sharing your photos between devices. Any photo taken with the camera app is automatically streamed to your Mac, or your iPad or other compatible device. Works with PCs too. You can also do this with imported pics. PhotoStream will keep your most recent 1,000 photos for 30 days from upload and you can permanently keep any of them by moving them into albums.
iTunes in the cloud is the first time you will be able to re-download purchased music from iTunes to up to 10 of your devices. One more thing: iTunes Match will look at all of your ripped music in iTunes, find the same tracks in the iTunes store and give you access to the iTunes versions on any of your devices for $24.99 USD per year.

Oh, and if you’re really curious about iTunes in the cloud, you can try it right now. iOS 4.3 only.

So what does all this mean?

OS X Lion:

Apple takes the desktop operating system to the next level by cleaning up a bunch of things that needed improvement e.g. any-edge window resizing and then layering on top of that some new features that make you say “why doesn’t every OS do that?” such as remembering what you were working on when you quit an app, and bringing you right back again when you open it the next time. Lion also shows that when it comes to touch interfaces, it’s all about the track pad, not the screen. So many Windows machines are trying to emulate the iPad experience on the PC, and yet fail to understand that touching a vertical screen is a horrible user experience. PCs  – and Macs for that matter  – are not tablets. So Apple is doing the next best (and logical) thing: importing the components of the iOS experience that *do* work on a PC, namely multi-touch and app stores. Lion represents the first really fundamental shift in the Mac OS paradigm since OS X debuted over 10 years ago, and these latest changes are arguably the most profound.

iOS 5:

If you’re an iOS developer you’ve got reason to celebrate: there are over 1,500 new way to make your apps work with Apple’s mobile OS. You’ve also got reason for insecurity: iOS 5 shows that Apple isn’t afraid to take some of the most popular features from the 3rd party apps and embed those directly into the OS. There are dozens of great camera apps out there, but they’ll have less of shine on them in the fall once you can re-touch and perform other edits right in the existing camera app.

If you’re an Android user, you don’t get to snicker about the iPhone’s terrible notifications – in fact, they look a LOT like Android’s notifications now.

If you’re a Blackberry user who has clung to their device because nothing really beats BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), you’re now one reason shorter for staying: iMessage will likely eclipse BBM as the worldwide favourite mobile messaging app as it appears to do all that BBM does and then some.

If you own an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch you will want to download this update as fast as you can get your hands on it. It’s easily the most feature-rich iOS release since the first version.


iCloud seems like both more and less than we had expected. The suite of 9 services is easily the most compelling of the cloud services to-date, including the products from Google and Amazon (plus you can bet it will work in Canada as soon as it launches which is more than we can say for the other companies). The “free” adjective works on several levels: The cost (it’s free), it’s worry-free and it’s restriction-free (pretty much). And while it looks like it’s going to do a great job wirelessly and automatically syncing data from device to device, there was no mention of movies or TV shows, which are both central to Google and Amazon’s cloud services. Perhaps Apple’s research indicates that while these would be nice, they aren’t as high on consumers’ wish lists as photos and music. They’re probably right. And if they’re wrong, I’m guessing that their brand-new eco-friendly and downright monstrous data centre in North Carolina will be able to tackle movies and TV shows without breaking a sweat.

If you have an extra 2 hours and you’d like to sit through the entire keynote, here’s the video from Apple.



    • herb

      Doers the phrase “The network is the computer” sound at all familiar? Coined by Sun Microsystems long long before Goggle existed (or was merely a search engine) Cloud computing is almost ancient. It’s what Apple have done with it that’s truly breathtaking – interoperability across multiple hardware devices each one being best in class. Keep buying their stock:)


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