For years Apple has managed the ‘Apple Worldwide Developer Conference’ – or WWDC for short. My nice little Google Reader feed has just told me (yeah, I only just logged on) that Apple are going to be announcing some exciting new features. To quote, we are going to see ‘Mac OSX 10.7 Lion’, ‘iOS 5′ and ‘iCloud’. Interestingly, the only one that we really know much about is Lion, because Apple has been teasing us with the developer previews since last Autumn (it was really that long ago) and there is no doubt that we will probably see the polished version of Lion at WWDC, there will probably be very few features before it goes out to the general public later this summer.
iOS 5 could be an interesting one. In the past Apple has always announced iOS versions in around March, and then showing off the new iPhone at WWDC, however this year seems to be different: we are only seeing iOS 5, no mention of the iPhone 5. This is perhaps because the iPad is now launched in the early months of the year, and it is unreasonable for Apple to release one product with the old version of iOS before releasing the newer version of iOS just a few weeks later. In fact, it has been quite clear that the iPhone 5 will not be announced at WWDC, will probably just get a gist of what it might be like based on iOS 5 – but frankly the hardware probably isn’t going to be very different, there might be a dual-core processor, a little more battery and it might be a bit thinner, but I doubt that Apple are going to want to make to many changes, especially considering that the iPhone is rapidly becoming one of their bestselling products. There are talks that we may not see that iPhone 5 for another year, and that the guys in Cupertino are actually just developing the iPhone 4S – a faster, slimmer version of the current iPhone.
Before considering what iOS 5 might entail, I think it is worth considering the mystery of the iCloud. Apple have made obvious hints at this before – they’ve bought a massive new data center and put in a few patent applications related to how it might work. Suggestions at the moment are that it will allow users to store their music in the cloud and have it streamed to their computer – or more importantly, iOS device – rather like Spotify. This will be interesting from the perspective of saving space on our computers – though I doubt that Apple will be storing all 30GB of the iTunes libraries of people I know – I should imagine parts of the iCloud service will be related to how MobileMe has always worked, there will a be fee – however this shouldn’t be an issue for Apple – it has the credentials of millions of music purchasers, and if they stick a few massive ads on the iTunes store they’re bound to make a bit of cash.
But iOS 5 might work differently with iCloud. It might not just be a storage facility for our media, it may well not only be the storage space for our apps, but also work as the processor for them to. There have been rumors that the iPhone 5 will be considerably cheaper than the iPhone 4 because it will have far more basic components because it will only need to be faster at getting data from the iCloud, it won’t need anything else. This idea interests me, and I also see it as likely, though perhaps not now due to the lack of 3G and even 2G connection across the globe. I doubt that Apple would want to see their stock prices drop dramatically either if the iCloud were to fail.
Ultimately, there is little to be interested in iCloud 1, iOS 5 and Lion. We need to be interested in the next version of the products, where they will converge. Perhaps iOS and OSX will be forced to evolve into one another – the same OS on our computers and phones shouldn’t be an issue provided that Apple get the cloud – the iCloud – right.