Apple's WWDC announcement: Lion, iOS and clouds

David Phelan reports on last night’s Apple keynote

The Apple World Wide Developers’ Conference, for the last three years, has been the platform for Apple to announce its latest software and, more excitingly, the latest iPhone.

But yesterday, a packed house of over 5,000 software developers watched as Steve Jobs introduced nothing but software: the latest operating systems for the Mac computer and for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. There was also a new service, iCloud, which stores content on remote servers and makes synchronisation of multiple Apple devices, Macs and PCs simple and wide-ranging.

It was a long keynote – around two hours – and with so many new features and tweaks announced that by the end it was almost bewildering. The latest Mac software, called Lion, is a handsome beast which seeks to take the most appealing aspects of the iPad and apply them to the Mac. So among the 250 new features (told you there was a lot to take in) were full-screen apps. Instead of programs which can stretch to take up most of the screen, these fit the whole display naturally and neatly to make the most of the screen real estate.

Then there’s Mission Control, which arranges all your live programs neatly so you can see exactly what’s where. It’s a handy system which is launched by swiping fingers up the computer trackpad and is one of many new gesture interactions that mimics the touchscreen intimacy of the iPad.

Even more interesting was the pricing and distribution. When the Lion is unleashed, it’ll be not on a DVD but by download through the Mac App Store. What’s more, the price is highly competitive: £20.99, and if you have multiple computers in your household it can be installed on all of them for this price. The lion leaps onto computers next month.

In the autumn, though, comes a radical update of iOS, the system which runs Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Apple calls these “post-PC devices” and at last they will be. Currently, before you can use your shiny new iPurchase, you must connect it to a computer to activate it. With iOS 5, it’ll work without you having to attach it to a computer. Ever.

Some people want an iPad instead of a laptop, Apple said, and iOS 5 is designed to make that possible. System updates can be downloaded over the air, too. The update addresses one of the most resented features of the iPhone, that notifications appear on screen and stay there until you dismiss them. Now, they’ll appear at the top of the screen and you can swipe your finger down the screen to show them all – rather like Android phones, but slicker looking.

When the screen is locked, extra information like weather and stock prices are shown on the display and a double tap on a locked iPhone reveals a camera icon so you can instantly unlock the handset just to take the picture – even if you have a passcode set.

But other Apple announcements seemed based on other apps: Instapaper is a service which lets you save onscreen content to read later. Apple now has its own app to do this. And iMessage is an instant messaging service which seems designed to steal BlackBerry Messenger users – the quick, free service many text-crazy BlackBerry users enjoy – over to Apple’s camp. There’s also heavy Twitter integration so you can sign in and then tweet from a series of apps with added Twitter functionality. Internet browsing, already a strong feature on Apple products, is more elegantly implemented.

But the big news was iCloud, a series of remote services available for free. Cloud computing, where documents, data and more are stored remotely so you can access them from a connected machine like an iPad or a computer, is going to be important this year. Apple already has a cloud service called Mobile Me which keeps your calendar, contacts and email synchronised. It’s a great system: type a calendar event into your Mac and within minutes it magically propagates the entry on to your iPhone, iPad or other subscribed device.

Mobile Me has been controversial (Jobs described it as “not our finest hour”) but the new service is a redesigned version which will be free, instead of Mobile Me’s £59 a year, which will be phased out.

But iCloud goes further. If you buy an app from iTunes, with iOS 5 the app is automatically downloaded to all your gadgets. And every night, iCloud will wirelessly back up your iPhone, say, so that all your hardware is current. It’s a simpler task than now where you must connect by cable.

And there’s a service so you can upgrade your music library. Music you’ve ripped from CD can be replaced with higher-quality tracks from Apple’s library. The iCloud service is rich and wide – so much so that the wider implications of how it will change how we listen to music are still not clear.

It’s due to arrive in the autumn, with iOS 5 and, though Apple’s not saying anything, one might presume that perhaps the next iPhone is set for then, too. What has been spelled out, though, is that when it arrives the new iOS 5 will work with earlier products, going back to the iPhone 3GS as well as the latest ones.

Steve Jobs was subdued for some of last night’s announcements, but when he came to iCloud the glint in his eye, that one he gets when he feels he’s delivering something quite new like the iPad, was as piercing and animated as ever.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.Net, ASP.Net - Kingston, Sur

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.N...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker