Apple's plans for Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5 -- and iCloud

At the WWDC, CEO Steve Jobs reveals what's next for its desktop and mobile OSes; plus, he previews Apple's new cloud service

Apple CEO Steve Jobs took center stage at the company's WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) today to unveil the forthcoming iOS 5 operating system that powers its iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches; to provide more detail on the new Mac OS X Lion operating system shipping next month; and to reveal what the new iCloud service is all about to 5,200 developers.

The next Mac OS X: Lion
Jobs had already detailed many of Mac OS X Lion's expected features in a preview made last October, and the company has posted more details on its website. Among Lion's key new capabilities of interest to business users are whole-disk encryption for both the startup and external disks, a wipe capability for all data, full-screen applications, a capability app developers can use so that documents autosave intermediate versions within them and that automatically locks documents from unintentional saves after two weeks of nonuse, a revamped Mail client that offers enhanced message threading, the ability to open applications and their documents where you left off when you restart the Mac, support for iOS-style gestures throughout the OS and applications, and a navigation tool for applications and documents called Mission Control. Apple marketing VP Phil Schiller demoed these capabilities at WWDC today.

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Developers can create sandboxed apps for greater security, as well as add in-app purchases to programs delivered through the Mac App Store. Schiller says Lion comes with 3,000 new APIs.

Mac OS X Lion Server is also to be made an optional install of Mac OS X Lion (essentially, you download the Server apps into Lion, Schiller said), no longer a separate product. Furthermore, Lion Server will add the ability to create configuration profiles for both Macs and iOS devices that can be delivered to users over the air.

Lion, which will ship in July, will not be available on disc -- just from the Mac App Store, with as many as five installs allowed. (For commercial and educational license, the Lion download covers all Macs that a specific individual uses in that organization or a single Mac if it is used by multiple users.) Lion will cost $30, a discount of $100 to $170 over previous versions.

The next iOS: 5
iOS VP Scott Forstall revealed a new notifications capability for iOS 5 that does not interrupt users with a confirmation dialog box. Instead, an auto-dismissing animation appears. The new Notification Center and revised lock screen show all notifications and open the relevant app for any notification with a gesture.  

A new Reminders app is coming to iOS 5 that is location-savvy and syncs with Exchange and iCal's CalDAV protocol. The camera app will be available from the lock screen; it can also edit photos, such as for red-eye correction. Mail gains mailbox creation, rich text formatting, draggable addresses, flagging, full-content searching, and support for S/MIME certificates. iCal adds calendar creation. Safari adds improved tabbed browsing plus two recent additions from Mac OS X: The Reader view that strips out everything but the content you are reading, and Lion's Reading List feature to save stories to be read later (it will sync with other iOS devices and Macs, so the list stays updated on all devices).

Apple's goal, Forstall said, was that users could rely solely on an iOS device as their computer and do on it for applications such as the iWork suite, iTunes, Safari, Mail, iCal, and Address Book, whatever they could do on a Mac.

Twitter will be integrated into iOS 5, and a revamped messaging app (called iMessage) promises to keep a message streams in sync across devices and also let you confirm message receipt and, optionally, whether it has been read. A new store called Newsstand for magazine subscriptions will debut in iOS 5, automatically downloading new issues of your subscribed periodicals as they become available. Also new, for iPads only, is a new onscreen split keyboard option meant for thumb-typers.

The big news, though, is the elimination of the need to sync apps, data, or media from or to a PC or a Mac, as well as over-the-air updating. iOS devices also auto-sync and automatically back up via Wi-Fi to iTunes -- syncing via cable is no longer required.

iOS 5 will ship this fall for the same devices that run iOS 4.3. The developer preview is available today.

The next MobileMe and iTunes: iCloud
Jobs announced that MobileMe is being replaced as of June 30, 2012, with iCloud, a service that keeps all devices and Macs on the same account automatically updated via a cloud service, so syncing between devices through iTunes or other mechanisms is no longer required. MobileMe had cost $99 per year; iCloud will be free for iOS and Mac OS X Lion users. MobileMe users' email addresses will be preserved for use with iCloud, but no one else may sign up for a MobileMe account as of today.

iCloud for Mail, iCal, and Address Book syncing are included, as is over-the-air installation of apps purchased through the App Store; the same is true of books purchased via the iBookstore (similar to Amazon.com's Kindle Store). A daily cloud backup feature via Wi-Fi will also be bundled. iWork documents are synced automatically, using the 1.4 versions that shipped last week. Apple has iCloud Storage APIs so that developers can use iCloud storage and syncing for iOS devices, Macs, and to some extent PCs.

iCloud's Photo Stream service likewise keeps the latest 1,000 photos from the last 30 days synced across as many as 10 devices, including Apple TV, Macs, and Windows PCs; all the photo files remain stored on PCs and Macs tied to the same account. It too uses an API available for developers.

As widely expected, iCloud includes iTunes music storage and syncing. iOS 5 will be iCloud-savvy and allow 5GB of free storage (iTunes music, iBooks, and Photo Stream photos don't count against the 5GB). It's unclear whether Mac OS X Lion will support iCloud before iOS 5 ships; a query to Apple has not as yet been answered.

This article, "Apple's plans for Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5 -- and iCloud," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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