Apple yesterday announced major overhauls of three of its key services – Mac OS X, iOS which powers its iPad and iPhone products, and its cloud based MobileMe service which is being reformed into a new iCloud offering.
Powering the Mac and MacBook lineup, a new version of Mac OS X will be released exclusively via the Mac App Store in July, retailing for just £20.99 in the UK.
The new ‘Lion’ edition offers more than 250 new features including Multi-Touch gestures, system-wide support for full screen apps, auto version saving of documents and a resume feature which restores programmes back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an programme.
The new touch gestures use the built-in touch pad on MacBooks and the Magic Trackpad for desktop computers. Using their fingers, users will be able to navigate through web pages and switch between applications.
“The best version of OS X yet, Lion is packed with innovative features such as new Multi-Touch gestures, system-wide support for full screen apps, and Mission Control for instantly accessing everything running on your Mac”, said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing in a statement.
iPads and iPhones are set to get a major overhaul this autumn when Apple releases the free iOS 5 upgrade which brings a number of enhancements to the popular mobile devices.
One of the biggest changes is the new ‘PC Free’ feature which ends the need for buyers to already own a computer to activate and set-up the device. In future users will be able to set their new gadget up right out of the box.
Another key change is to software updates, after version 5 all future updates and upgrades will be delivered wirelessly – as is already the case with Google’s Android – and in smaller, incremental versions.
iDevices are also gaining a new iMessage instant messaging system which allows chats between iOS users. The new feature could see the use of SMS between iPhone users decline and brings native instant messaging to the iPad and iPod TOuch for the first time.
There’s also the introduction of tabbed browsing and a new Newsstand app for digital newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
The biggest announcement was the axing of MobileMe and the launch of a new iCLoud service which will store songs and documents plus app data on the cloud and allow restores of data to existing or new devices.
Apple says purchased music, apps and books, Camera Roll (photos and videos), device settings and app data will all be backed up and kept secure for users.
iCloud members will get 5GB of free storage for their mail, documents and backup and music, apps and books purchased from Apple will be excluded from the 5GB total.
The service will be free to all users although additional storage can be bought.
Customers with music purchased from stores other than iTunes will be able to subscribe to iTunes Match which will replace ‘ripped’ songs in your library with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version where Apple also sells the same tracks.
“iCloud keeps your important information and content up to date across all your devices”, said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
“All of this happens automatically and wirelessly, and because it’s integrated into our apps you don’t even need to think about it — it all just works”.