Special: WWDC 2011 Keynote Coverage

Posted on June 6, 2011

WWDC11

Just a reminder, we’ll be over on SchwarzTech.info or on @schwarztechlive with complete coverage of the WWDC keynote starting at 1PM Eastern/10AM Pacific. Afterwards, be sure to come back here for a complete wrap-up, along with a special edition of SchwarzTech Radio.

After our live coverage, we decided to have a “team coverage” write-up in a more refined version of Apple’s newest projects, including OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud. If you’d rather watch a video of the keynote yourself, Apple has posted it.

OS X Lion

Apple announced that OS X Lion will be available in July at a surprisingly pleasant price of 29.99. Perhaps a little more surprisingly (and maybe a little less pleasant) OS X Lion will only be available through the App Store. While the delivery method raises some important questions, it is in line with the theme of Apple’€™s announcements yesterday and a shift into a post-PC world lesser dependent on physical media.

Apple demoed and provided new developer preview of OS X Lion though very few new features were showcased. Apple did provide more information and features like AirDrop, Multi-touch gestures, and the Mail app looked much more impressive this time around. Overall, the new developer preview appeared to be much more polished.

OS X Lion will require a one-time purchase through the App Store and can be installed on all computers registered under a users Apple ID running OS 10.6.7.

iOS 5

Although developers already had a good idea of what was to come with Lion, iOS 5 remained a huge question mark. Due this fall, iOS 5 includes a number of new features and refined ones. Some of the major changes were demonstrated, including:

  • Notification Center: After much complaining, Apple finally consolidated notifications into a function called Notification Center. Besides some changes to the display, they are no longer intrusive, and you can see numerous ones at once, either on the home screen, or by swiping downward from the top status bar.
  • iMessage: Essentially Apple’s version of BBM, but better in that it integrates with the SMS/MMS functions of the iPhone, and also works with any device running iOS 5. Obviously RIM and the phone carriers aren’t going to be happy, but we certainly are.
  • Newsstand: Essentially iBooks for periodicals.
  • Reminders: A to-do app that is also location-aware. It also syncs with iCloud and Microsoft Exchange, so you can now have all your work features in your hand.
  • Twitter Integration: Twitter is now included within iOS, allowing you to sign in once and forget about it. Once signed in, you tweet from just about anywhere.
  • Camera / Photos: Easier access from standby mode (double-tap the Home button and then tap the Camera icon), some basic controls for picture-taking, and the volume up button now doubles as a shutter. Photos now includes basic editing, such as crop, rotate, auto-enhance, and red-eye removal. These two app updates may put a dent in products such as Camera+ and Photoshop Express.
  • Safari: On the iPad, Safari gets tabs, while on both it gets the Reader function from OS X/Windows and a feature called “Reading List” to save things for later.
  • Mail: Mail received some updates to make it more complete, including rich-text support, flags, and dragging contacts. Also, the iPad version gets a mailbox list in portrait mode.
  • PC Free & Wi-Fi Sync: Although not the same feature, iOS devices can now be set up without a computer and back themselves up to iCloud. Updates are now pushed out over the air, and if you still do sync with a computer, it can happen over Wi-Fi whenever you plug your iOS device in to charge.

There are a number of other minor changes, as well, but Apple has really worked on making the whole experience better. It will run on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, both iPads, the third-generation iPod touch, and the fourth-generation iPod touch. No word on if all the features will make it to all the devices, but it should ship this fall.

iCloud

Apple announced their new cloud-based solution called iCloud at WWDC. The cloud-based service will be free to users and will included applications similar to those found in the current MobileMe as well as 3 new features including:

  • Documents: Documents will now continuously store all of your iWork documents on the cloud, meaning when a document is updated on your computer, the same document is accessible on your iPod, iPad, and iPhone using iOS 5.
  • Photo Stream: Photo Stream will now take evrey photo you take with your iOS devices and store up to 1000 photos for 30 days on iCloud. Photos will automatically be stored in your iPhoto/Aperture Photo Stream album and accessible on your AppleTV. On your PC, the photos will appear in your Pictures folder. If you want to keep the photos, you can drag and drop them into a more permanent album.
  • iTunes in the Cloud: iTunes in the Cloud will now automatically make all of your purchased media available to all devices. It includes features that allow you to access all of your past purchases as well. Meaning, you buy a song on your computer, it is automatically put on your iPhone and other devices. Or, if you have bought a song on iTunes in the past, you can re-download it to you iDevices.

In addition, Apple announced iTunes Match. The $24.99 a year subscription will allow you to stream your entire music library to your devices. In addition, if the song is available on iTunes, it will be automatically upgraded to 256Kbps AAC for streaming. Both Music and Photos do not count against the users 5GB iCloud allotment. Apple even has a comparison chart show how iCloud measures up to Amazon and Google.

Apple is no longer accepting new MoblieMe accounts but will keep the service running until next June.

Obviously, there will be more hands-on experiences with these products as developers start using them, and we start seeing builds closer to public-release. Until then, it looks rather promising.

Matt Bloomingdale & Eric Schwarz contributed to this story.

This post has been filed in Articles, News and Special Coverage