May 31, 2011

Steve Jobs to Unveil "iCloud" Service at WWDC 2011 Keynote

Apple PR:

"Apple will unveil its next generation software - Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS X; iOS 5, the next version of Apple’s advanced mobile operating system which powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch; and iCloud, Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering."

(Via DF.)

That last bit will be the "big deal" from this year's WWDC. Apple has sold access to their often-disparaged MobileMe cloud service alongside new machines and through resellers, such as Amazon, for years. Amazon stopped selling accounts in May, and the debut of a new, cloud-based service has been described as "imminent" ever since.

Apple's slowly unfolding technology scheme has involved what I think of as "content everywhere." Your content goes everywhere with you for immediate access, as your mobile device itself becomes smaller, lighter, and more capable. Laying on the beach, sitting on an airplane or by the pool, driving to work, your music, podcasts, audiobooks, and movies are a tap away. Air Play is just the most recent example of that intent. It allows a mobile device to throw playback to a non-mobile output, such as an Apple TV 2 or Sonos speaker system, via WiFi networking.

But keeping multiple devices in sync is a hassle. My devices recharge on my nightstand overnight, but my main machine is in another room. How do I get my content synced between an iPhone, iPad and laptop, while having that content always available to an Apple TV 2, and still have my iPhone and iPad at my bedside for use? iCloud should become the hub containing a user's full content, around which all of his or her activities revolve.

A few items I'd like to see in the forthcoming iCloud service: integrated music and app purchases from what we now call iTunes. If I buy an app, but lose the device on which it's installed, I can just re-download and install on a new device without charge. Not so for music purchased on the device through iTunes, but never synced back to a computer. Make it so.

The rumored music locker service, with a twist. Leave enough of my music on my mobile device to let me start playing a song immediately, while a streamed version of the song buffers from iCloud. Switch to the stream when it's functional. That lets me hop around, song to song, and never have to wait to hear something. Think of how much room will be saved on a mobile device if I only have to store the first ten or fifteen-seconds of each song. Here's a stretch: make that happen for non-copy protected video content, too. Whether it's home movies or ripped DVDs, I want to be able to stream it from my account to my device, anywhere.

Full syncronization of all content among all my mobile devices and laptop, without having to plug my iPhone or iPad into my laptop ever again. Charging can be done with a wall adapter.

Monday, June 6, will see this new cloud service unveiled, a new mobile OS to link to that service, and a new desktop OS to continue the integration of gesture-based computing with non-mobile devices.