A look at Apple’s new software unveiled at WWDC
Apple has outlined the most ambitious software updates in the company’s history.
Steve Jobs kicked off the keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco to take attendees through the multitude of new features in OS X Lion – the next operating system for Mac – and iOS 5 which powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
You can watch the Apple keynote from WWDC here.
But the biggest announcement was the introduction of iCloud which is a service which can store your content and wirelessly push it to all of your devices.
This means all of your music, apps, content and documents can be accessible wirelessly on any computer or Apple mobile product.
OS X Lion will be available for $31.99 in July via the App Store in a hefty 4GB download.
iOS 5 has some other impressive enhancements which make it easier to stay up to date with apps, the latest content and stay in contact with your friends and family.
Steve Jobs pointed out that Apple positioned the Mac a decade ago as the hub for our digital lives but since then the company introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad and everything changed.
These other devices could access content and even create their own content but sharing that content between products was often a time-consuming and difficult experience.
iCloud can change all that and it can do it wirelessly.
Basically iCloud can store all your content – apps, music, videos, pictures – and wirelessly deliver them to your computer or other Apple products.
With iTunes users can buy any song or album this purchase is recorded on the device it was made on and them stored in iCloud as well.
Now when automatic downloads is selected all of your new purchases are pushed to your other devices.
It should be noted that this service was only mentioned for music at this stage and not TV shows and movies.
Hopefully these will be addressed closer to the release in a couple of months probably because they are much larger files but also because of some digital rights management issues.
iTunes Match was another new feature introduced at the WWDC keynote which lets users store their entire music collection using iCloud – including those that were ripped from CDs.
iTunes Match finds those songs which are a good chance of being among the more 18m songs on iTunes.
And added bonus is that iTunes matches the playback quality at 256Kbps.
Photo Stream utilises the iCloud connectivity so that any picture taken with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch are stored in the cloud and then shared into the camera roll of your other devices and also on your computer.
So now you’ve got access to the last 1000 pictures you took on any computer or Apple mobile device.
Photo Streaming even pushed your latest pictures to Apple TV to make it easier to showcase your photos.
With apps there will be a new section on the App Store which stores your purchase history. So now when any of your devices connect to the App Store it will reflect the identical purchase history.
This makes it easier to download them to your other devices without having to connect physically to iTunes on your computer at no extra charge.
New apps which are downloaded can then be set to automatically be pushed to your other devices.
Same thing in iBooks where purchased books can be accessed on any other Apple device and read on several devices at the same time while still remembering the page you were up to.
So now if you’re reading a book on the iPad at home and leave to go to work on the bus or train you can pick up reading exactly where you left off on your iPhone.
Documents can also be treated the same way. Anyone using iWork apps like Pages, Numbers or Keynote will be able to access on any other device with those same apps thanks to iCloud.
And now every time a change is made to that document, the latest most current version will be pushed to your device.
Of course iCloud can also act as a back and it will keep a record of your purchased music, apps and books along with your photos, device settings, app data, your home screen organisation, ringtones and even your text and MMS messages.
This can come in handy if you lose your device and want to set up the new device in the same way.
Apple’s MobileMe service will now cease to exist and instead iCloud will look after your mail, contacts and calendar.
Now it’s easy to share calendar entries within a family or a business, for example, so new calendar entries automatically appear in their devices.
Apple senior vice president for worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller was introduced to anchor the keynote to explain the standout features of the new OS X operating system for Mac which will be released in July.
He highlighted 10 main features including:
1 Multi-touch gestures
The iPhone and iPad have introduced touchscreen interaction which the devices where scrolling, zooming and moving page to page is done with your finger.
That same interaction is being introduced with OS X Lion so scrolling pages, zooming in on pictures and moving back and forth between open apps and web pages can be done with the MacBook’s trackpage or the separate Magic Trackpad on the desktop Mac.
2 Fullscreen Apps
Now it’s easy to use every inch of your display with your apps so there are no distractions and you have more room to work.
It is also possible to have several apps like Safari, Mail, iPhoto, Pages and Photo Booth open fullscreen and then be able to switch between them likes pages on a book using multi-touch gestures.
3 Mission Control
Here’s a feature that makes using your Mac even easier.
Mission Control give you a top down view of your desktop to make it easier work with several applications and documents open at the same time.
A swipe of the trackpad takes users into Mission Control mode and displays your desktop app by app with all of the open windows tiled behind them.
4 App Store
The App Store has been a hit with the iPhone and iPad and will continue to be a key feature of Lion to make it easier to search, discover and buy new free and paid software.
Like the iPad and iPhone screen OS X Lion will present a place to display and access all of your apps – Launchpad.
And like the iPad and iPhone users can arrange the apps however they like and also create folders.
Any app downloaded from the App Store will automatically appear in the App Store.
Mac users take a lot of time setting up their desktop every time they turn on their computer and when they shut down that is all lost.
Not anymore thanks to Resume – a new OS X Lion feature that can pick up right where you left off without even needing to save your work.
7 Auto Save
Anyone who has ever created documents knows that you have to save it early and save it often.
If you’ve ever lost a document chances are it is because you didn’t save. Now with OS X Lion that task is taken out of your hands and done automatically in the background.
This feature builds on Auto Save and allows users to access different versions of the document you’re working on which is easy to browse in a Time Machine-like timeline.
Now you can look back at older copies of the same document and even choose to resort to an earlier version and make it the current version.
And when you’re happy with a version, users can lock it down and save it as well.
Sharing a document from your computer with a person with you usually means either emailing that document or saving it to a USB and handing it off to the other user to save on their computer.
Now with AirDrop it is possible to create a peer-to-peer wireless connection between the computers without the need for an external wi-fi network.
A Mac running OS X Lion with AirDrop can automatically discover other users within 10 metres and share a fully encrypted file quickly and easily.
Mail has had a decent makeover in OS X Lion and when viewed across the entire screen gives messages a larger presence.
This new version will also make it easier to follow conversations with separate for each earlier email which makes it easier to follow the long track of colour coded threads on one email.
It is also easier to search within emails rather than just for names and subjects.
IS X Lion will be released in July through the Mac App Store for $31.99.
Scott Forstall, Apple senior vice president for iOS software was given the honour of taking WWDC attendees through the new features of iOS 5 which powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Like Schiller, Forstall highlighted the top 10 new features.
1 Notification Centre
No matter what iOS product you’re using there are usually a lot of notifications for missed calls, emails, text messages and from social networking apps.
Now these notifications can be accessed in one place – the Notification Centre which can be accessed with a single downward swipe of the screen.
This reveals of the notifications app to app and users are able to act on all of them by pressing each one and heading straight into the corresponding app.
Another aspect of the old notification system was how it interrupted what you were doing with a big pop- up window in the middle of the screen.
Now a subtle animated message appears at the top of the screen which can easily be glanced without stopping the game or whatever it was you were doing.
In a similar way that BlackBerry users use the free BlackBerry Messenger to contact each other for free, Apple has created the same thing with iMessage.
iMessage, built into the messages app, allows users of iOS devices – iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch – to chat with each other over wi-fi or 3G.
And you’re not limited to just text. It’s possible to send photos, videos, contacts and locations.
iPad and iPhone users have really embraced reading newspapers and magazines on their devices.
Now Newsstand can organise all of your subscriptions in one place and download the latest issues in the background so the latest edition is waiting for you.
This new feature can set up reminders based on time and location.
You can still get the alerts to remind you at a certain time to do something but now reminders can be set based on your location.
So now of you need to make a call or send a message when you arrive or leave a certain location, the iOS 5 device can detect when you are in the area to do that.
Twitter has been even more deeply integrated into iOS 5 so performing tasks like taking photos or surfing the web it is even easier to share those things on Twitter right from the device instead of only within the app.
It is also easier to add your location to a tweet and also include your Twitter information on your contacts list.
Browsing on your mobile device is an even more enjoyable experience in iOS 5.
There’s tabbed browsing like the desktop version along with Reading List – a place where stories can be stored and read offline.
The new Reader function also allows stories be displayed in its own windows without distractions in one long easily scrollable format.
Accessing the camera to capture that special moment from the lock screen is a lot easier in iOS 5 thanks to a camera shortcut key.
The improved camera functionality also includes being to hold the iPhone like a camera and use the volume up key to activate the shutter instead of tapping the onscreen icon.
Users can also pinch the screen to zoom in on a subject and even edit the picture in the camera to crop, rotate, enhance and remove red eye.
The iOS Mail application has been improved for easier text editing, flagging important messages and adding and deleting mailbox folders.
It is easier to search based on the actual contents of the email along with subject and senders.
Mail users will also discover the new iOS 5 keyboard which can be split in two and pushed to either sode of the screen to allow easier thumb typing especially on the iPad.
9 PC Free
One of the things holding back users diving into buying an iPhone, iPad or an iPhone is the fast they need to be activated and synced using a computer.
Not anymore. Devices can be activated, set up and synced wirelessly.
Even software updates can be done over the air and it can also be backed up wirelessly using iCloud.
10 Game Centre
Since Game Centre was introduced nine months ago there are now more than 50 million members. In comparison Xbox Live which has been operating for eight years has 30 million members.
The new Game Centre can make it easier to meet your match with new friend recommendations and enjoy even more turn-based games.
Users can also add pictures to their profiles and also purchase games from within the Game Centre app.
iOS 5 will be available in July.
* Stephen Fenech travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Apple.