Apple announced a dizzying amount of new software updates and services for its computer and mobile devices today at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Many of the new features challenge existing services from other companies and, in a few cases, could kill off entire classes of technologies entirely. Here are some things that Apple targeted today:
Apple CEO Steve Jobs today announced that the company's much maligned MobileMe service, which stored and synced users' contacts, calendar appointments, photos, and other content, is no more. Taking its place will be iCloud, which will do all the things that MobileMe did and more, including syncing documents and apps.
Apple's decision to release the new version of its desktop operating system, Lion, exclusively on its Mac App Store is the final nail in the coffin for optical drives, at least for Macs. The majority of Mac users will no longer have any need for a CD/DVD reader on their computers. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can now download software for your computer, and even update your computer's operating system, over the air, or OTA. Eliminating optical drives will also pave the way for slimmer portable computers, so don't be surprised if the next Macbook Pro models follow in the footsteps of the Macbook Air and come without the CD/DVD SuperDrive.
Dropbox, Sugarsync, etc.
iCloud will come with 5 GB of free storage for users to store content such as pictures, documents and music on Apple's servers. Like the cloud storage services Dropbox and Sugarsync, iCloud will also sync the files, so that changes made to a file on one device will automatically be updated on other devices that are linked to that account.
Apple took on BlackBerry today with the announcement that iOS5 will also include a new feature called iMessage that allows iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users to send instant messages to one another. Messages can be pushed to multiple users at once and, like BlackBerry messages, will be encrypted.
Kindle users have long been able to sync their bookmarks and notes on their e-books using Amazon's Whispersync service. Apple's iBook app will now be able to do the same thing via iCloud.
Until now, iPhone and iPad users had to connect to a computer and fire up iTunes to activate their devices and to update iOS. No longer. Jobs announced today that with iOS5, iPhone and iPad users will be able to do these things over the air. Users finally have the option to "cut the cord" with their Macs and PCs and use their portable devices as their sole computers, Jobs said.
Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations created using Apple's iWorks software suite — which includes Pages, Numbers, and Keynote — can now be automatically synced to multiple Apple devices. That means you can start on a document on your Mac, and then open up the same file on your iPhone or iPad and continue where you left off. However, unlike with Google Docs, this approach doesn't allow multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously.
A new Apple sevice called iTunes Match will allow users to store copies of all their songs on Apple's servers and access them on multiple devices. The service will cost $25 for up to 20,000 songs. Unlike similar services from Amazon and Google, iTunes Match will not require users to upload their songs to Apple's servers before they can access them. Instead, iTunes will scan the music collection on your hard drive and if it finds a match, it will add that song to your iCloud music library, where it can be accessed from any device running iOS5.