In a two-hour keynote in San Francisco on Monday, Apple showed off the next versions of its iOS and OS X operating systems, and revealed its much-anticipated iCloud online storage and synchronisation service.
Steve Jobs took the stage for a brief introdution, relinquishing it for Phil Schiller, senior VP of Marketing, who demonstrated gesture and touch integration on Lion, the forthcoming new version of OS X edition. These were foreshadowed by the video Apple released of gesture and touch integration in February: quick launching and positioning of apps, pinch and zoom, multiple simultaneous full-screen apps that are swipe-switched, and so on.
More new features include Reboot Resume, which puts windows and applications back where they were before you rebooted, which is one aspect of Lion's new fondness for autosaving, allowing basic versioning, saving multiple checkpoints of a document or other work file, and reverting to old versions. Other demonstrated or declared features included AirDrop, peer-to-peer file sharing over wireless; threaded, searchable email; Windows migration aids and 3000 new APIs.
Schiller said there were 250 new features in Lion, ten of which he was showing in the keynote.
Lion will only be available in the App Store, and will cost £20.99 for five machines.
Scott Forstall, in charge of iOS, then took the stage to talk about iOS 5, which now has an Android-style Notification Center that swipes down from the top of the screen, notifications on the lock screen, Android-style Twitter integration with the camera and browser, Newsstand app for periodical e-publishing, a Safari feature that can automatically combine multipage stories on the Web into one page, quick-activate camera from the lock screen, in-phone picture editing, and more mail features like search and address dragging.
iOS5 also has over-the-air syncing and updates, eliminating the need for iTunes on a local PC. A new service, iMessages, swaps text, pictures and videos between iOS users over WiFi or 3G.
iOS5 is in beta now for developers, and will be available in the autumn to all for free.
Steve Jobs reappeared for the grand finale: iCloud. This syncs content a user puts on one of their Apple devices to all the rest of their Apple devices - music, photographs, documents, calendar entries, apps and so on. It replaces MobileMe, and adds an automatic daily backup of music, books, apps, device settings and app data to the cloud.
Because pictures are big, Jobs said, iCloud will store those for 30 days. The last thousand pictures will be stored on iOS devices, and connected desktop or laptop computers will store everything. An API will make iCloud available to PCs as well as Macs.
Finally, iTunes has gone into the cloud. Music purchased in the iTunes store will be pushed onto all devices. Another feature, iTunes Match, will scan existing music collections, no matter what their origin, and download the iTunes version of every track if it's in iTunes' 18 million song database, for $25 a year.
iCloud will be free to use, have 5GB of storage for mail, and will be available in beta to developers immediately. It will be generally available in the autumn. iTunes in the Cloud is available today in the US in beta for all, but no European date for availability has been given.