Despite the breathless coverage we, and other outlets, have provided for iCloud, there were other things talked about during today WWDC 2011 keynote speech. Today, Apple outlined some key features we can expect to see in OS X Lion and iOS 5. Though iCloud will bridge iOS and OS X devices, those platforms are seeing some major changes in their own right.
Read on after the break to see what changes we can expect in the latest versions of Apple’s mobile and desktop operating systems.
OS X Lion
Apple’s new operating system is a powerful upgrade, giving users whole new ways to interact with their computers. As many have predicted, multitouch and iOS-like features are becoming a large part of the OS X ecosystem. With the addition of the iCloud service, Apple seems to be aiming to provide a centralized, streamlined computing experience.
In Lion, Apple has united the existing Expose and Spaces experience together in Mission Control. Spaces and Expose are already powerful tools on their own, but Apple seems keen to get more users actually using them.
- Accessible by multi-touch gesture. Swipe three fingers upward to activate.
- Shows all windows currently in use, grouped by app.
- Spaces currently in use appear across the top of the screen, and new spaces can be created by dragging and dropping apps in this area.
- New full-screen app views will appear along the top of the screen as well.
Several apps will now support full-screen modes, for a more immersive experience. In order to keep the flow between fullscreen apps and other workspaces simple, users can switch out of full screen mode by clicking a button in the top right, or with a three-finger swipe to the left across a multi-touch trackpad.
In addition to Mission Control, Apple introduced Launchpad to access your apps faster.
- Accessible by an icon click, or a four-fingered pinch on the trackpad.
- While it sounds similar to the Launcher for OS 7.1, in looks and functionality it is much more like home screen of an iOS device.
- Group apps into folders, which look and act like iOS folders.
- Apps can be quickly deleted from the Launchpad view.
Beyond app interaction, Apple has included powerful new auto saving tools into Lion. Auto Save, Versions, and Resume may give users more confidence that their data is safe.
- Lion will automatically save your documents while you work.
- Versions of your documents can be browsed in a Time Machine -like interface.
- Revert to auto saves, or pick and choose portions of auto saved documents into a final version.
- With Resume, apps will remember the exact state you last used them. Also reverts to the state you left your computer after a restart
Apple also announced Air Drop, which provides built-in peer-to-peer file sharing between Mac users.
- Exclusively uses Wifi to send files. Claims it will require no set up.
- Automatically discovers users nearby. Reminds me of Bonjour.
- Dead-simple drag-and-drop interface.
Lion will also have a new version of Mail with improved search features, and borrows heavily from the look and feel of iOS. It also supports a conversation view for messages.
While Lion is bringing many powerful improvements to the OS X experience, one of the most notable aspects of this release is the price point and method of delivery. Lion will only be available through the Mac App Store, and will be launching in July with the alluring price of $29.
There are over 200 new features coming to everyday users, and 1,500 APIs to developers, in the fifth iteration of Apple’s highly successful mobile operating system. Apple’s Scott Forstall highlighted ten of them during today’s keynote, and announced that it would be available for download sometime this Fall. How the system handles notifications is one of the areas in which the OS is seeing major changes
- Notifications will be completely revamped. Pop-up windows are going away, replaced by more subtle alerts that appear at the top of the screen. The goal is to make the alerts more noticeable, but less intrusive.
- All notifications will be accessible from Notification Center, which can be accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen.
- Notification Center gives users access to all their notifications in one space, some of which will function like widgets. ESPN, for example, will scroll sports scores in the Notification Center.
- Notifications will now appear as a list in the lock screen. Swipe across the list items to access the notifying app directly.
One of the biggest announcements of the keynote was that iOS devices could now survive with a PC.
- Small “delta updates” to be pushed to users over the air.
- Phone activation carried out in the phone itself, and without an additional computer.
- Users can now create new calendars and mailboxes all in iOS.
- Thanks to iCloud, your iOS device will back up most of its contents automatically to iCloud.
In an interesting move, Apple has launched an iOS messaging system similar to the Black Berry Messenger. It’s called iMessage, and with it users can communicate with other iOS users.
- Fully encrypted messaging.
- Can attach pictures, contacts, videos, and locations
- iMessage conversations are synced across all devices. Start a conversation on your iPad and continue it seamlessly from your iPhone.
- Includes delivery receipts, and notifies you when your message’s recipient is typing a response.
To compliment iBooks and the associated bookstore, Apple is launching Newstand to handle newspaper and magazine subscriptions. This will organize subscriptions into one space, and also handle automatic updating.
In a not-unexpected move, Twitter is seeing deep integration into iOS.
- iOS will now store your Twitter user information, accessible from an options panel in the Settings app.
- Twitter information will be available systemwide, so you no longer need to re-enter your loggin information for each app.
- Twitter now integrated directly into apps like Camera and Photos.
- The Twitter information of your friends can be pulled directly into Contacts.
iOS Safari, Apple’s workhorse browser, is seeing the largest update since it launched. Apple is rolling out a slew of new features for their browser, some of which users have been clamoring for since its launch.
- Safari Reader will pull content from a page you’re reading and present it in a more reader-friendly, iBooks-esque format. Sick of multipage articles and tex-blocking pop up windows? Reader aims to cut through all that.
- Reading List lets you save articles you want to read and acces them from any device later. Similar to Instapaper, but across all devices. Syncing between devices will be handled through iCloud.
- Safari will now boast tabbed browsing.
In addition to the refresh of their Calendar app with iCloud power, Apple unveiled a related app: Reminders.
- Reminders are Apple’s built-in to-do list.
- Includes alerts, as well as date and place information.
- Integrates with iCal and Outlook.
- Location-based alerts remind you to do things based on where you are. Pull into the grocery store, get a reminder to buy eggs.
- Integrated with iCloud, to keep your reminders synced across all devices.
iOS 5 will bring new speed and features to the Camera and Photo functionality of their iOS device.
- Camera app will now launch much faster, so you don’t miss the perfect shot.
- You can now directly access the camera from the lock-out screen. Pictures can be taken while phone is locked, but other pictures cannot be viewed.
- The volume button can act as the shutter control.
- In the Camera app, zooming is now handled with multitouch pinching and spreading.
- Users can now lock the auto focus and lighting settings while taking a picture.
- Photos will now have in-app editing power, including a “one touch” automatic improvement and red-eye reduction tools.
- Also supports crop and rotate.
The Mail app now has added composition tools, like rich text editing, and indentation control. Mail search has also been improved, and now searches both locally stored mail and server-side mail; users can also search the entire text of emails, not just subject lines or senders.
The Game Center app will also see some improvements, making it smarter and more social.
- Users can now change their icons in the game center.
- Game Center now recommends friends and games to users.
- Users can now see friends of friends.
- Apple will now supplying turn-based games to all game developers.
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