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Bill Loguidice's picture

E3 2011 Viewpoints: Apple iOS and Macintosh at WDC

OK, it's actually the Worldwide Developers Conference (WDC), rather than E3, but the timing is the same and I like to keep the headers consistent, so kindly deal with it. After starting off with Microsoft and Sony, it's now Apple's turn (leaving only the elephant in the room to cover, Nintendo). Here goes:

  • I'm honestly not that interested in Mac stuff, but of the many updates via the upcoming OS X Lion, I most appreciate the fact that apps will finally be able to go full-screen. I always found the lack of that feature bizarre. The updates still won't get me off of the Windows standard, but at least Apple can still sometimes admit when they're wrong with interfaces.

Now, for the big iOS stuff (On a side note, I think all but one of the AA staff has iPhones at this point, and at least three of us have iPads, so, while Apple's mojo hasn't worked on us from the MacOS side of things, it sure has on the iOS side.):

  • The new system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users reportedly includes over 200 new features and will be available to consumers as of this Fall.
  • By storing user's content in the cloud so it can be automatically pushed to various devices, iCloud will let users sync apps, media, documents, calendars and more between their various mobile iOS devices and a Mac or PC wirelessly. iCloud, which can be turned on after upgrading to iOS 5, will provide 5GB of free storage for mail, documents, photos and backup data including device settings and app data. Thankfully, music, apps and books purchased from Apple won't count towards the 5GB, nor will the storage required for the new Photo Stream service that automatically uploads photos taken or imported on any device and wirelessly pushes them to all devices and computers. Extra storage will be also available for purchase at prices to be announced when the service goes live. Daily iCloud backup for iOS devices will occur automatically over Wi-Fi when they are being recharged so as not to drain the device's battery or the user's mobile data quota.
  • Part of the above was iTunes Match, which finally utilizes the scan and match technology Apple gained with its acquisition of Lala in late 2009. Previously, if you bought music on your iPhone, you had to use the "Transfer Purchases" function of iTunes to pull the files back into iTunes, and then sync them onto your other devices. Now, up to 10 of your devices can be configured to have new music purchases pushed directly to them, or you can finally use a purchase history to do so manually. For $24.99 a year, iTunes will scan all the music in your library (up to 25,000 files) and give you DRM-free 256Kbps AAC versions of those files. There's 18 million songs in the iTunes library, so most of your library should be in there, and you can upload the ones that aren't.

The press release goes into some of the other features, many of which brings iOS to parity with competing mobile operating systems:

  • Notification Center provides iOS 5 users with an innovative way to easily access all notifications, text messages, missed calls, calendar alerts, app alerts and more, all in one place, from anywhere in iOS 5. When they arrive, notifications appear briefly at the top of the screen without interrupting what you're doing. With one swipe you can see all your notifications, and a simple tap will take you right to its app for more detail. Notifications also appear on the lock screen, with the ability to be taken to the notifying app with just one swipe.
  • Newsstand is a beautiful, easy-to-organize bookshelf displaying the covers of all your newspaper and magazine subscriptions in one place. A new section of the App Store features just subscription titles, and allows users to quickly find the most popular newspapers and magazines in the world. If subscribed to, new issues appear in the Newsstand and are updated automatically in the background so you always have the latest issue and the most recent cover art.
  • Safari is the world's most popular mobile browser, and with iOS 5 it's now even better. New features include Safari Reader, which gets all the clutter out of the way and sets the right font size on a web page, so you can easily scroll and read through a story; Reading List, so you can save articles to read later and they automatically show up on all your iOS devices; and Tabbed Browsing, which makes it easy to flip between multiple web pages on iPad.
  • iOS 5 includes built-in Twitter integration, so you can sign in once and then tweet directly from all your Twitter-enabled apps, including Photos, Camera, Safari, YouTube and Maps with a single tap. New APIs give third party developers the ability to take advantage of the single sign-on capability for their own iOS 5 apps.
  • iMessage in iOS 5 brings the functionality of iPhone messaging to all of your iOS devices: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Built right into the Messages app, iMessage allows you to easily send text messages, photos, videos or contact information to a person or a group on other iOS 5 devices over Wi-Fi or 3G. iMessages are automatically pushed to all your iOS 5 devices, making it easy to maintain one conversation across your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. iMessage also features delivery and read receipts, typing indication and secure end-to-end encryption.
  • The new Reminders app helps you manage your tasks; create and group related tasks together; and set time or location-based reminder alerts, priorities and due dates, so you can be reminded of a task as its deadline approaches, or when you arrive or depart a given location. Reminders can also be viewed in iCal and Outlook and are updated automatically.

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