Apple CEO Â Steve Jobs will be at Apple’s yearly Â Worldwide Â Developers Â Conference (WWDC) next week, and will kick the event off by giving the keynote next Monday. While keynotes and press conferences are typically surrounded with rumors for weeks before, in this case we know to some extent exactly what Steve and his entourage will be be talking about.
Thanks to a press release this morning from the company, we know the keynote will cover: Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS Â® X; iOS 5, the next version of Apple’s advanced mobile operating system which powers the iPad Â®, iPhone Â® and iPod touch Â®; and iCloud Â®, Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering. Â
While features of OS X Lion were already know back in October 2010, when the Lion preview was released.
Lets sum up the features of OS X Lion via GigaOM
- Launchpad. Basically, this is a home screen for your Mac apps that works just like the one on your iPad or iPhone, in that you can scroll through pages of apps on a grid, remove and move apps by clicking and holding down until the icons wiggle, and create folders for storing similar apps together. Apps downloaded from the Mac App Store go directly to Launchpad instead of to the Dock, as they do currently in Snow Leopard.
- Mission Control is like ExposÃƒÆ’ Â©, but supercharged. Mission Control provides quick access to your various desktops if you use Spaces, full-screen apps, all your open app windows, and your dashboard and dock in one easy top-level view.
- Full-Screen Apps. Another trait borrowed from iOS is the ability to run apps in a distraction-free full-screen mode. Official Apple apps like iCal, Mail and iPhoto support this in early Lion builds, but third-party developers will be able to take advantage as well. Apps that are in full-screen mode can be cycled through with a multi-touch swipe gesture.
- Auto Save, Versions and Resume. Lion is a great step forward for document and information management. Auto Save automatically saves changes you make to a file, while Versions allows you to look at and revert to older iterations quickly and easily. Resume means that Â every time Â you restart your Mac, you go back exactly to where you left off with open apps and documents, so there’s no reason to put off that crucial Software Update that requires a restart ever again.
- Mail 5, iCal and Address Book. These are three examples of built-in apps that get a visual and functional makeover in OS X Lion. Mail 5, especially, is a significant change, bringing the desktop client more in line with the iPad version. It has threaded conversations and a columnar layout for greater usability.
- AirDrop. Share files instantly between computers on your local network. This is a bit like having an automatic, login and signup-free Dropbox for use with those around you. Sounds like it’ll be a great time saver.
- Server for All. OS X Lion now ships with Lion server built-in, so anyone can set their Mac up as an OS X server. One more way Apple is collapsing the distinction between professional and consumer categories of products.
- Many more small changes, like easy access to accented characters, and the Â disappearance Â of scrollbars.
iOS will have the following features according to GigaOM
- Better Notifications. According to Â TechCrunch, Apple is planning on rolling out a completely revamped Â notifications system in iOS 5. Many users, my colleague Kevin C. Tofel included, find the current implementation of iOS notifications to be clunky and annoying. A change in the way those work is a likely target for Apple, since it’s one of the more obvious areas where small changes could represent a big improvement in the way the OS works as a whole.
- Widgets. At the same time as it reported new notifications were in the works, TechCrunch also said widgets were planned for iOS 5. No details regarding how they might work were included in the report, but they could look like Apple’s Dashboard widgets for OS X, which provide live updating information at a glance without having to be opened. Android features home screen widgets that work in much the same way, providing at-a-glance weather information, for example.
- Nuance Voice Recognition Tech. Makers of Dragonsoft Naturally Speaking and voice recognition technology leader Â Nuance has been rumored to be in discussions with Apple regarding the licensed use of its tech in Apple products. One reported use of the tech is in iOS 5, where it will supposedly be available for developer use via API. This is probably the least definite feature on this list, but if true, it would make speech-based apps that much more powerful on iOS devices.
- Media Stream and Photo Stream.Evidence for new integrated device-wide streaming galleries and media libraries has been found in iOS code, indicating that we might see the features introduced in iOS 5. These could tie in to iCloud, the other big product being unveiled at WWDC
The iCloud on the other hand, Â has been an open secret since it was reported that Apple Â acquired the trademark in April of this year. The service is likely to replace MobileMe as the company’s latest i Â product and as a service that Apple will be paying much more attention to than the unloved MobileMe.
MobileMe had a rocky start and its team faced the wrath, which reportedly resulted in a replacement of team members and some firings. Even if its issues were fixed, the $99 per year service never lived up to its promise to establish a cloud community among Apple users.
Some of the iCloud features include via GigaOM
- Cloud Syncing and Control. Like MobileMe, expect iCloud to handle your email, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes and more across computers and Apple devices. That should include some cloud file storage like that offered by iDisk now, and the Â Back to My Mac feature that provides full remote access to any Mac computer associated with your account.
- Media Stream and Photo Stream. The synced gallery and media library features hinted at in iOS 5 will likely extend to any Mac devices connected via iCloud. That should make it very easy to share and edit your photo galleries and home video collections on any Apple device you happen to own, from anywhere you have a connection. Think Facebook photos, but with much better hardware integration.
- Cloud Music. While other differences between MobileMe and iCloud will exist, the one that should likely stand out most will be Apple’s cloud music service, so long as Â negotiations go well and the company can secure licenses in time. Recent reports suggestApple will allow user library scanning and syncing instead of uploading, something Â streaming music service LaLa allowed prior to its purchase by Apple.
We might even get a Â surprise, as Apple is known for it. We will know it in a about a week.