June 5th at WWDC in San Francisco, Apple announced their latest updates to Mac OS X, and iOS for mobile devices, as well as the new iCloud service that replaces MobileMe and further integrates all your computing and mobile devices. I was again glued to my MacBook watching each update roll in from the guys at MacWorld.
Mac OS X Lion
So, the features to Lion weren't any great surprise as most of them had been rumored at some point or another, but the July release and the $29.99 upgrade price tag was a huge surprise! It was nice to hear about the demos and see some still shots of the keynote to understand more fully how these new features, like Mission Control and LaunchPad, actually function. Then there's Full Screen Apps - no more scrollbars? Really? That's an interesting concept and not one I'd ever really thought of. I mean, how many times do you sit at your computer and say, "gee, I really wish I could swipe my fingers across my trackpad and move the pages like I do on my iPad instead of using a scrollbar." Not too exciting for me, personally.
Now, how about AutoSave and Versions? Those sound like really useful new features! Versions actually gives you a Time-Machine-like interface for browsing through all the versions of a file using a timeline. However, if you want to send that file to someone, it will only send the latest and greatest. So, no fear of sending the draft of what you REALLY wanted to say in your annual review.
AirDrop is another feature that seems like it could be extremely useful. It allows you to drop files to other users on a peer-to-peer based wi-fi network. It uses auto-discovery and requires no setup. Files are also encrypted for security. There are also updates to Mail that may be of interest, if you are a fan of that app.
Here's the list of the top ten new or improved features (out of about 200) that were covered in the keynote address, just in case you missed it:
You've probably heard of "cloud computing" before, and knew that MobileMe was Apple's first attempt at cloud computing, but did you use it? Not me. Not going to pay for that service, no thanks. Enter iCloud. Apple's new iCloud is a completely revamped approach to cloud computing and replaces their current MobileMe service. And, it's FREE. That's right, completely free. There's some speculation that they may come out later with additional server space as a paid option (the free service includes 5GB of space and does not count the space used for Photo Streaming), but for now, there is no cost. The iCloud service is integrated into apps like Contacts, Calendar, and Mail so that your changes are automatically saved 'to the cloud' no matter which device you make them on, and pushes them out to all your other devices. Their comments stated that this relegates the computer to the role of "just another device" rather than your main hub of information. Apple calls this "more than just a hard drive in the sky." With features like Photo Stream and the ability to share your iTunes purchased music across all of your devices, I'd have to agree. It's more like "your genie in the sky." But, you knew there would be some catch somewhere, right? Okay, you're right and it shows up in iTunes. You get to share all of your iTunes purchased songs across your devices via iCloud, but what about that extensive library of ripped songs? Out of luck? Well, not entirely. There are some options, including manually uploading each and every song. Or, you can use the iTunes Match service (here's the catch) for $24.99 per year. iTunes will then search your entire music library and match up your songs to the upgraded iTunes 256kbps AAC DRM-free version and put it in your library in the cloud to share across all your iCloud-enabled devices. Similar services announced by Amazon and Google can take weeks to upload all your songs, they do not upgrade the music to the better version, and Amazon's service costs twice as much for up to 6,000 songs, and jumps to $200 for up to 20,000 songs. Apple's price is $24.99 no matter the number of songs. Google has not yet announced their pricing.
Additionally, there is a document feature built into Pages, Numbers and Keynote that allows you to make updates to a document that is saved to iCloud, on any of your iCloud enabled devices, and immediately see the changes on all of your other devices. It's a simple click of a button in any of those apps. This can all be turned off, of course, if you choose not to use the iCloud service, but why would you? Okay, yes, there are the potential security risks or, maybe you are just paranoid, but come on, it seems pretty cool - in theory. Plus, they built that great new building with all those servers just waiting for your command.
iOS 5 for Mobile Devices
The other announcement involves the iOS for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. This version of iOS is slated for a fall release, and a developer seed was released the day of the announcement. The new features of this version include:
There's a lot here, I know, and more will be coming out throughout the summer, you can be certain. So please be sure to check our articles area frequently, or better yet, sign up for RSS notifications. http://www.quepublishing.com/articles/index.aspx