>WWDC Wrap Up: Lion Details, iOS Becomes Android, iCloud isn’t a Cloud

>Today, Apple’s big keynote at the World Wide Developer Conference happened to much fanfare. That is at least before the event happened. As was promised there was no new hardware announced and only covered Mac OS Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud. Here’s a wrapup of all three!

Lion: The newest version of Mac OS will have 250 new features, but only 10 were really talked about at length. The highlights include multitouch gestures with the touchpad, Versions, which autosaves your progress in documents, Keynote, etc. and allows you to see all previous versions in addition to the latest one, and the Mail app very closely mirrors the iOS version with conversation view. Lion will be available only through the Mac App Store (as a 4GB download) for only $30, due out in July.

iOS 5: This was really the high point of the keynote. iOS 5 will bring a total of 200 new user enhancements, but again only a small number were featured. Apple started, as usual, with some numbers. They claim that iOS is now the #1 mobile platform with 200 million iOS devices sold. This is a little deceptive since they included not just the iPhone, but iPad and iPod Touch, but impressive none the less. iOS 5 brings a ton of improvements. They redid the notification system, now called Notification Center, so there aren’t pop ups, but a panel of notifications accessed by swiping from the top of the screen. Notification Center is also shown on the lockscreen. Swiping to the left dismisses them and swiping to the right unlocks the screen and zooms you right to that item. Safari got a bunch of improvements. The iPad version looks just like the Mac version, but all iOS devices will have Reading List, which allows you to save articles for later and also pulls all text from multi-page items, but without the ads. iMessage was announced, allowing people on iOS devices to communicate with other iDevices through text, picture, video, and even send contacts. The camera got some extra features, like being accessed from the lock screen, being able to use the volume buttons to take pics, and editing features within the app. The best part of all is that the thin white cable has been cut. iOS devices will now be able to completely sync over WiFi and you won’t have to plug in to activate your iPhone. OS updates will now download over the air as well. iOS 5 goes out to developers today, but don’t expect it on your device until Fall.

Does any of this sound familiar? How about all of it? Every single feature mentioned in the iOS 5 unveiling has been featured in other operating systems, mostly Android. The notification system is almost identical to Android’s. They are both located at the top, showing each item, available in any app. Some builds of Android even have similar lockscreen notifications. iMessage is a direct attack on BlackBerry Messenger. Apparently Apple didn’t get the memo that people who love BBM don’t leave BBM, and no one else cares about device-specific messaging. Accessing the camera from the lockscreen is on HTC’s newest version of Sense, and Windows Phone can bypass the lockscreen all together by just holding the camera button. Android, Windows Phone, Zunes, and BlackBerry all sync over WiFi as well, and the iPhone was the only phone that needed to be plugged in to activate in the first place.

iCloud: This was definitely the low point of the presentation. “The Cloud” has been in existence for some time, but has recently hit its stride with services like Amazon’s Music, Google Music, and Dropbox. iCloud syncs your most important content across all of your iOS devices and Macs. Pictures are done through Photo Stream, a service that hosts all of your pictures (from iPhoto, your iOS devices, etc.) on your Mac, the last 1000 are stored on your iOS device and are hosted for 30 days on iCloud. iCloud also goes to your iTunes, allowing you to redownload music to your iOS device where ever you are, and purchasing a new song or album will push it to all of your devices. Same goes for the App Store. iCloud will replace MobileMe and will be free, starting today, for all who want it. It will be available on your iDevice when iOS 5 hits this fall.

The problem with iCloud is that its name is a bold-faced lie. There is nothing cloud about it. The cloud allows you to host your content, stored in a server God knows where. But iCloud doesn’t do that at all. It uses your devices’ memory as the host and there is no streaming whatsoever. You must download all your content before you do anything with it. Apple made sure to point out that this makes the whole process take hours instead of days. I have Google Music and I’ve used Amazon’s cloud service, and I can testify that it does take quite some time to upload all of that content. But the end result is that I don’t have to waste space on any of my devices to hold my content. My phone gets access to my entire library through Google Music without requiring any of it to be on my device at all. iSync is a far more accurate name.

I saved the best for last. Apple realizes that you might have music you didn’t get (legally or otherwise) through iTunes. But they have a solution for you! Their first idea was to rebuy the same tracks. Not buying that? Fine. Their iTunes Match service will comb through your library of “other” music and if it matches with Apple’s library music, you get the same benefits of iCloud as if you bought them. For $25 a year. You have to PAY to sync the music you ALREADY BOUGHT. This isn’t an editorial (for the most part), so I won’t rant too much. If you like that service, great. I just don’t see how Apple can say that you have to pay for music again with a straight face.

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