Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) is coming up on June 6. Products that are showcased at WWDC give developers who are going to the conference a chance learn how to incorporate them into their applications. Usually, Apple has come out with iPhone hardware about this time of year, so developers can add the new hardware features to their applications.
This year, Apple has not shown off the new iOS version yet, so don’t expect new hardware. This would mark a change in Apple’s annual iPhone update cycle. With the iPhone hardware rumored to be delayed until this fall, what is Steve Jobs going to announce during this keynote at WWDC?
This year’s keynote will not be about hardware, but software. Steve will talk about three big software products that will be coming out this summer and they are:
Mac OS 10.7 Lion: While mainly developers will be busy learning to add support for Lion at WWDC, Steve will announce a release date that should be within the next month. It will be available as either a box copy or from the Mac App Store. Mac OS 10.6.8 should be released soon which brings support to the OS for system upgrading from the Mac App Store. Most of Lion’s new features have already been previewed, but one new feature in Lion will be Air Drop, a way to share files over a local network. I talked about the need for a feature like this in a previous article and hopefully this Air Drop will be something close to Dropbox.
iOS 5: Little information about iOS 5 has been leaked from Apple headquarters, except for a few ideas. The rumor is that Apple will revamp the notification system and add widgets like dashboard on the Mac. Apple should also add Air Drop to iOS 5 so files can be transferred between not just Mac, but any Apple device. An earlier rumor indicated Apple will add a voice recognition system with their purchase of Siri and agreement with Nuance. Apple is unlikely to announce their own map service at WWDC as some old rumors suggest.
iCloud: Rumors have been swirling about a music cloud service from Apple since both Amazon and Google announced their cloud products more than a month ago. Neither Amazon or Google have made any agreements with the record industry, which limits their service. An industry source also says Apple’s service, rumored to be called iCloud, will be much better. Apple needs those record industry agreements to really move past other services and it looks like they have those agreements. The rumors is Apple’s iCloud will scan and store a music library on their servers and let you stream that library to any device. The rumors also suggest that iCloud will allow users to stream not just music, but also photos and movies as well.
It will be interesting to see how Apple handles the storage limits as media libraries can get pretty big. It is likely Apple will give 5 GB away for free while charging for larger storage amounts. If they can incorporate iCloud with Air Drop to create the Dropbox style service that is tightly integrated into the OS, it will be a huge feature that brings the Mac and iOS closer together. Most of the rumors talk about music, but this iCloud service will be even better for photos. Apple can integrate the service into iPhoto and Aperture and allow streaming of photos to mobile devices and the web.
Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud will be the big news at WWDC this year. Apple will be adding new features to each of the operating systems, bringing them together in look and feel, and tie them together with iCloud. iCloud will be the glue that bonds these operating systems together and provides features no one else is even coming close to. At WWDC, Apple will show the rest of the industry how to use software to sell hardware.