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Monday, June 6, 2011

Apple's new toys

The elusive and frail Steve Jobs made a rare appearance today at the Worldwide Developers Conference — or WWDC — to introduce the next batch of head-turning Apple consumer products.

And while the WWDC is usually a launching point for Apple’s latest hardware products, such as the iPhone, this year’s conference focused solely on software: iOS 5, Apple’s handheld operating system; OS X Lion, Apple’s desktop operating system; and iCloud, a new Internet-based storage method, which will replace Apple’s MobileMe service.

And while today’s announcement amounts to one of the biggest software developments in Apple’s history, I will try to summarize as briefly as possible in a few paragraphs. If you want more information, visit Apple’s website at and read more about these new features.

iOS 5
Some of the newest features of Apple’s mobile operating system include a rework of the alert system on the iPhone and iPad. Alert messages and push notifications will now appear at the top of the phone and disappear quickly instead of in a window in the middle of the screen. Many have complained that the current system was annoying, interrupting users and forcing them to quit what they were doing to deal with the message. Other new features include the ability to take pictures with the volume up button and better integration with Twitter. Also, the new version will conveniently upgrade over the air, with no USB connections required.

OS X Lion
The big news with Lion? The price. The latest version of the OS X operating system will cost $29.99 and can be shared among all of a user’s devices. Some new features of the operating system include a sequel (so to speak) to Exposé called Mission Control. Once activated, it brings your Dashboard, desktop spaces and full-screened apps into windows spread across your desktop. Another new feature called Airdrop allows users to send documents to friends over the web without having to use email or FTP. It is peer-to-peer file sharing on a small scale. Anyone you share with must be within your WiFi network, however.

And finally, the big announcement that many have been waiting on is iCloud. iCloud lets users put files (photos, video, music, etc.) onto a centralized server so that it can be accessed anywhere in the world via the Internet. For example, any songs you purchase from the iTunes Store can be placed into the cloud for you to access from your desktop computer, iPhone, laptop, iPad, etc., as long as you have a connection to the Internet. The purchased songs will no longer take up space on your hard drive, unless you want them to. The great thing about iCloud is that the basic service will be free. Other services, such as storing personal songs or those bought from other companies, will be available for an annual subscription fee of $25.

Again, I have just scratched the surface of all the new changes contained within these three software releases. For much more information, visit Apple’s website at