Next week, while I’m occupied at HP Discover in Las Vegas, Steve Jobs and company will be busy with their annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. And, as confirmed by Apple PR this morning, Jobs and Co. will be unveiling the latest iterations of its operating systems, Mac OS X Lion and iOS 5, as well as a new cloud service, iCloud. The inclusion of iCloud in the press release confirms months of rumors about the name of the new cloud offering, though what the service actually includes is still a mystery until 1pm on Monday.
Websites, such as Silicon Alley Insider and AppleInsider, have been reporting that iCloud will include a streaming music offering and have followed speculation and anonymous confirmation from music industry insiders that Apple has struck deals with three of the big four music companies for its cloud offering. What is yet to be seen is whether the iCloud offering will consume MobileMe, compliment it, or replace it all together. Speculation has run rampant that MobileMe will move to a reduced rate, free even, though all will be seen after the keynote.
Mac OS X Lion was previously demonstrated and a partial list of features and upgrades were shown at last year’s “Back to the Mac” event. Lion is touted as the release where many iOS features were incorporated back into the Mac platform which gave birth to iOS, including autosave, instant-resume, full screen apps, the launchpad, and the Mac App Store which launched in January. Lion also bundles the Mac OS X Server features formerly released as a separate software package, opening new possibilities to power home and business users at no additional cost.
Latest rumors indicate that Lion will be released through the Mac App Store, though that is still to be confirmed. In addition to new distribution, the new release also appears to include a number of UI refinements which has been the case in each iteration of Mac OS X since its initial release.
Much of what is known about Mac OS X Lion has been divulged from developers who received pre-release versions of the software through the Apple Developers program. On the other hand, iOS5 and its features should be surprise for attendees and watchers. The new version of iOS has been kept under close guard and very little concrete information is available about what it may include. But, with the launch of iCloud, its easy to speculate that both iOS5 and OS X Lion will have deep ties to the new service.