Apple iCloud, iOS 5, Mac OS X Lion Aim to Boost Google, Microsoft Competition

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2011-06-06 Print this article Print

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A new Reminders app lets users keep track of their individual tasks; if a task is linked to a particular place, the iOS device's geolocation feature and Reminders will link to remind you about the task while in that place.

For compulsive shutterbugs, iOS 5 will offer a camera shortcut accessible via the lock screen. In many ways, that echoes functionality already present in Microsoft's Windows Phone, which lets the user take images without needing to unlock their device and manually access the camera app.

Apple has long promoted a vision of a "post PC" world, one in which mobile devices like the iPhone take precedence in users' lives over the traditional PC. The company is taking that vision one step further with iOS 5, ensuring that iPads and iPhones no longer need a PC for initial setup or sync, with over-the-air software updates.

Apple will ship iOS 5 sometime this fall. Current rumors suggest that Apple will release the next version of the iPhone during that same timeframe.

Near the end of the presentation, Jobs took the stage again to whip the curtain back from his company's long-secret cloud initiatives. Apple's free iCloud service will sync user content and push it to various devices via the cloud; it is integrated with apps, ensuring automatic updates; it will keep folders automatically updated. In Apple's new world, contacts, calendar and mail are now cloud-centric features, with new messages and updates pushed to associated devices. As expected by some pundits, this service effectively replaces MobileMe.

Apple is also offering Documents in the Cloud, which automatically uploads any documents from Apple's productivity software (including Pages, Numbers and Keynote) to the Apple's cloud; from there, the document can appear on other devices loaded with Apple's software. Photos will be uploaded to the cloud, as well.

Apple users' music has also been given the cloud treatment, via a revamped iTunes. A single click will download a particular song or album to all the user's devices. For those with lots of music not purchased via iTunes-i.e., music burned onto your Mac from CDs-a new service, iTunes Match, will allow access to those songs via Apple's cloud for $25 per year. 

Apple's iCloud will apparently ship along with iOS 5 sometime this fall. And with that range of features, increased conflict with virtually every other competitor in the ecosystem-from Microsoft to Amazon-is inevitable.


Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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