Apple has kept its words till yesterday and delivered today a Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote that was focused on software. There was no surprise form for the new iPhone, nor even, as I had expected, an iCloud version of the Time Capsule. Instead we were treated to a thorough upgrade of iOS, the operating system that powers Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, more detail on OS X Lion, the new version of the operating system for Apple Macs, and iCloud, the online storage service.
It’s the latter that has gripped the headlines, allowing music, photos, documents, emails and more to be kept in sync on mobile devices and computers seamlessly, thanks to cloud storage. “It’s the fact that iCloud brings all of these compelling features together in a compelling, easy-to-use and intuitive manner – rather than the features themselves – that makes the iCloud proposition,” said Giles Cottle, of Informa. “It was always going to take someone like Apple to really educate mass market consumers about the value of cloud-based services.”
The new features of iOS 5 address many of the weaknesses of Apple’s iOS compared with Google’s Android and add some new ones that will challenge Apple’s rivals. Alex Buttle of Top10.com said: “With Android improving monthly, the battle to own the mobile space is relentless, but today’s release gives Apple a huge lead. Android phones may now be outselling iPhones, but Apple’s software is in another league.” However, the closed nature of Apple’s services remains a point of criticism for some. Ben Drury, chief executive of rival music service 7digital, said: “The new services from Apple are a step in the right direction but only if all your devices are Apple devices. Their platform is essentially closed and proprietary – customers are forced into choosing Apple for all their devices. 7digital’s approach, through our open APIs and partnerships, is to offer cloud functionality that is independent of device.”