Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference has recently been the event for iPhone announcements, but we knew going in this year that today’s keynote would focus on different things. Steve Jobs took a break from his leave to show gathered developers, and the rest of the world, Apple’s newest stuff. With no new iPhone yet, the focus shifted to software and first on the hit parade was the new version of the Mac operating system.
OS X Lion
The new OS X has over 250 new features and 3000 new APIs, and the influence of the iPad is evident in many places.
Full Screen – A major addition is a standard method for running apps full screen. This ties in with new gesture controls that allow easy moving between windowed and full screen modes.
Mission Control is now the one stop shop to see all your open apps and all the things you’re working with. It takes the concept of Expose and builds on it.
The Mac App Store, which has now surpassed Best Buy and Walmart for selling Mac software, is now built into OS X.
Launchpad brings all your apps in front of you in a full screen view. You can rearrange icons and create folders, as in iOS.
Resume remembers where you were in an app when you quit, and returns you there when you relaunch.
Auto Save runs in the background and regularly saves your work so you don’t have to remember.
Versions of your document are automatically retained so you can return to an earlier draft if something goes wrong. Rather than saving the whole document as many versions, only the differences are saved, making it easier on storage.
AirDrop makes moving files between computers part of the OS with a dedicated P2P network running through Wi-Fi. AirDrop shows up in Finder as an option.
Mail has been completely redesigned, based off the way it looks and works in iOS with an inbox list in a left column and each email displaying for reading on the right. Search in Mail has also been improved with search suggestions and the ability to discern between searches for people or subjects. Conversation view gives a threaded look at your discussion by subject rather than having to hunt through your inbox to find all the parts of the conversation.
No physical discs here, either. OS X Lion will only be available from the Mac App Store, sized at about 4GB. And the price will be $29.99, available in July.
Apple always likes to let you know their stats. For iOS they claim 44% of the mobile OS market with 14 billion app downloads to date, and iOS 5 adds over 200 new features and over 1,500 new APIs.
Notification Center gathers all the push notifications that would normally pop up on your screen and interrupt what you’re doing with a single place to check. The lock screen shows all your notifications and you just slide your finger along any one of them to go to that app.
Newsstand is the place to get any digital magazine subscriptions you might have, collected in one place for convenient reading, with the iBook shelf interface design.
Twitter integration has been added, with a single sign on that can be passed to any app dealing with your Twitter ID. There’s also in-app access so you can easily tweet articles you find on the web or videos from YouTube.
Safari has seen a number of updates, also. Reader, the simplified text-only view which has been available on the desktop for a while is now on iOS. Reading List is Apple’s take on letting you gather articles as you browse for later reading, like you can with Instapaper and other services. Tabbed browsing is now available, as well.
Reminders will let you put all the little notes to yourself in one place. These notes can be location-aware, popping up when you leave or arrive somewhere.
Camera has seen some improvements as well, with better speed and a shortcut from the lock screen. The volume up button will now work as a shutter release, and pinching the screen will give you digital zoom. Also added are auto focus and exposure changes during panning and some in-app editing tools.
Mail on iOS also gets some love, with rich-text formatting and better searching. Enterprise users will be glad for added S/MIME support. There’s also a built-in dictionary with the ability to define words in emails. On the iPad, the keyboard can be split to left and right sides of the screen for thumb typing.
Cutting the Cord – A huge complaint in this touted “post-PC world” has been how reliant on a full computer with iTunes all iOS devices have been. Setup is now independent of a computer-based iTunes installation now and updates are over-the-air. Also updates are just on what’s changed, so you don’t pull down the whole huge OS file each time.
Game Center is Apple’s online gaming community platform. Additions allow photos of gaming friends to be added, as well as recommendations of both friends and games.
iMessage is a new messaging service that can run on devices like iPads and iPod Touches that do not have phone service. It will carry text, photos, and videos and show you when the other person is typing a response. It will also be automatically pushed to all your iOS devices, making it easy to continue a conversation when switching from one to another. This will work over 3G and Wi-Fi, with everything sent encrypted.
iOS 5 will be available in the fall, with support for iPhone 3GS and 4, both iPads, and iPod Touch 3rd gen and later.
Apple’s long awaited and anticipated cloud-storage service got it’s official interaction, as well. When a contact, calendar, or email is created on one device it’s sent to the service and automatically synched to all your iOS devices. The service provides 5GB of storage for contacts, mail, and backups. All folders are kept up to date and there is no advertising. Existing apps that have been brought under the iCloud banner include iBooks, the App Store, and backup. Everything purchased or generated from these are available from the cloud for all your devices. New versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote will also share the files they produce on iCloud, so they can be accessed by all your iOS devices.
There are also new cloud storage APIs, that will work for both iOS devices and Macs and PCs. Photo Stream puts your pictures in the cloud, accessible from any of your devices, including Macs, PCs and Apple TV. Since cloud storage of photos is resource intensive, iCloud will limit storage to your 1,000 most recent pictures.
iCloud is a free service, turned on by default when you upgrade to iOS 5.
Obviously what everyone was expecting was iTunes in the cloud, and that’s here as well. A single button will allow all your iTunes purchases to be available to all your devices. This is for iTunes purchases, not MP3s you’ve uploaded yourself. For that there is a matching service that will tie tracks you already have to their duplicates on the iTunes store. This matching service will cost $24.99 per year.
How do these new features and services appeal to you? Are you eager for Lion and iOS 5? Will you use iCloud for all your connected storage needs? Let us know in the comments.
UPDATE: You can watch the entire keynote here.