Just an hour ago Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) concluded its much-anticipated presentation at its WWDC event in San Francisco (check out the transcript of live coverage here on Wall Street Cheat Sheet). CEO Steve Jobs was featured as the keynote speaker, splitting the majority of stage time with fellow Apple Exec. Philip Schiller (Senior VP of Apple Worldwide Marketing), while Scott Forstall and Bruce Sewell also made brief-appearances.
The event featured the introduction of three new Apple products, Macbook operating system “OS 10 Lion,” mobile phone and tablet operating system, “iOS 5,” and the mega-hyped, “iCloud.” We will break down the details of Apple’s latest innovations as well as the new features and services available through them.
1) OS 10, Lion. Apple’s latest upgrade to its Macbook and Desktop operating systems is loaded with new apps, tweaks to existing apps, and improvements to the user interface. For starters, Lion will come with improvements to touchpad functionality, such as “momentum based scrolling,” “multitouch taps,” and “pinch to zoom” add-ons that will make browsing between on screen windows much less painful. Flipping between apps will also be easier on Lion as swiping the touchpad will allow users to move between open full-screen apps and the desktop. “Mission Control” is a brand new feature that will allow users to view a panoramic display of all open windows on the desktop and select between them.
Also featured on Lion will be built in “Mac App store” tab, with a feature called “Launchpad” which will allow users to view purchasing history in app store on desktop. Improvements to App functionality include “Resume,” (not the type you send to job applications), which will automatically save progress and data from working apps in the event on crashes, closes, or shutdowns. “Autosave” will automatically save backups of working documents, “versions” will save each individual new versions so you can compare and select the changes you like best, and “Mail” will be upgraded to include “search suggestions,” allowing users to search for people, conversations, email history, and more.
Perhaps the most controversial announcement of the day is OS Lion’s new file sharing utility “Airdrop,” which is essentially an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) sponsored peer-to-peer file sharing network. Airdrop will allow users to take files on their desktop and place them in an airdrop folder where they can be shared with other users on the network.
“Lion” will only be available for purchase through the Mac App Store, but will be affordably priced at $29.99 (compared to new operating systems in past years which cost $129.99).
2) iOS 5. Apple’s new operating system for mobile devices and tablets is slated for release this fall, but the following innovations were showcased this morning. iOS 5 boasts 10 new features, some of which are really newer then others. The first is “notification center” which will aggregate updates on apps stored on your mobile device to one central feed to help reduce clutter. Second is “News Stand” which will store all your subscription news content in one place. Third is “Twitter Integration” which will allow for mobile tweeting from individual apps, photos, videos, and games. Four is a revamped safari mobile, which will feature tabbed browsing, “reading list” which saves open articles, and improved safari reader to remove background clutter on websites.
Five through ten were less exciting, but include interesting features such as “PC Free” which will eliminate the need for syncing of mobile devices to desktops or laptops, improved mail, and “GameCenter,” which will offer personalized gaming recommendations (on the App Store) and better social capabilities for gamers.
3) iCloud. This one was the real biggie, as developers, investors, and customers were all eager to hear what unique innovations Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) planned to bring with the implementation of its cloud network. The details were somewhat disappointing, as much of the content that Jobs introduced is already available via Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) existing cloud services. iCloud’s primary function will be to provide a mobile means of updating and syncing information across devices (ie editing contact information on your iPhone will automatically update that information on your Macbook, iPad, iPod touch). Music, Apps, Calendars and Photos will also benefit from the cloud service mobility, and will be updated automatically across devices.
Jobs’ “one more thing” announcement was “iTunes Match,” a music service that will utilize cloud servers. The key feature of “Match” is that it will use the iTunes library (which has over 18 million songs) to scan for copies of songs on users mobile device libraries. “Match” will allow users to listen to any of the songs they have stored on Apple devices (regardless of whether or not they purchased the song through iTunes) for a flat rate fee of $24.99 per year. This means that users can access all of their music (even if it it was downloaded, ripped, or shared illegally) through the iCloud network if they subscribe to the service. At $25/year iTunes Match will offer the same service currently available via Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) for half the price.
iCloud will be partially available on iOS 4 phones and tablets starting today, with a full release to come when iOS 5 hits markets this fall.
For all the details of today’s event, here’s the transcript of our live blogging coverage: Apple WWDC: Live Coverage.