Apple confirms iCloud, iOS 5, OS X Lion unveils at WWDC

wwdc-2011-appleApple confirmed in a short press release today plans to unveil its long-rumored iCloud feature at this year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, which is set to take place in San Francisco on June 6. The Cupertino, California-based electronics giant will also debut its next-generation mobile operating system, iOS 5, as well as OS X Lion for Mac PCs.

In addition to the big software unveils is the confirmation that Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, who has been on medical leave from the company since January, will appear at WWDC, presumably to make the keynote address. But as with all things Apple, even that detail remains enigmatic, with the press release only saying that “Steve Jobs and a team of Apple executives” will “kick off” this year’s WWDC. We’ve contacted Apple to clear up Jobs’ role at the conference, but haven’t yet heard a response.

Of course, the details about iCloud and iOS 5 remain equally unclear. Last we heard, iCloud will be a kind of combination of MobileMe and iTunes. Users will be able to store their digital media files, like music and videos, in an online database. This media could then be accessed using an iOS device, like an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, which could stream the media over a wireless network, including both Wi-Fi and 3G.

As far as iOS 5 goes, the details remain even less solid, but here’s our educated guess as to what we might see on June 6: First, rumors out this weekend indicate a complete overhaul of iOS notifications, which have long been considered a weak point in an overall strong mobile OS. It’s not clear what form the new notification system will take, but some believe it will integrate all message notifications, from texts to Twitter mentions, into a single window, similar to the design of the popular third-party Push Notification app, Boxcar. We may also see the introduction of OS X Dashboard-style widgets to iOS, as well as voice-recognition capabilities, like text-to-speech and speech-to-text functionalities. (As Android fans will surely note, these are all capabilities that Google’s OS has had for some time.)

Our knowledge of updates coming to Mac OS X are the most solid. They include the addition of a new feature reportedly called Mission Control, which is a kind of Dashboard-Spaces-Exposé combo that features full-screen application capabilities. Another addition, LaunchPad, will make finding and running apps easier. Lion will also make greater use of the Magic Trackpad for multi-touch gestures, which will give Macs a similar feel to the touchscreen iPad line.

Make sure to check back on June 6 for our full coverage of WWDC.

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