Yesterday morning in California (About 1PM here on the East coast), Apple showed off their newest desktop and mobile operating systems. The feature sets that were shown off for iOS were heavy on ‘catch up’ or fixed features. Notifications, reminders, and more, but there were a few new features announced which will make iOS 5 even more competitive.
OS X Lion got a much greater overhaul in terms of added functionality, and that in itself would require a dedicated post. I’ll summarize it with this: Amazing overhaul of Safari, they finally added support for fullscreen applications, they added ‘LaunchPad’ which looks like an iPad interface, a crap-ton of gestures, complete iCloud integration, and it’s a $29 upgrade (From Snow Leopard ONLY) that is only available on the Mac App Store. The $29 upgrade will however work across ALL of your authorized Mac computers, which is something that someone else would never do. Those were only some of the features shown, and the rest that they did show, completely sold me on moving from Windows 7 to Mac. I’ll be buying a Mac Book Air when they release the next version with the i5/i7 and thunderbolt ports.
So that’s a quick summary of OS X Lion. Now onto iOS 5 and iCloud (which go hand in hand, so the two will be discussed at the same time).
iOS 5 promises to change a lot about how people use their iDevices. No longer will you need a computer. At all. Ever. This means you don’t NEED iTunes. All of your syncing and backups can be done wirelessly over the internet to iCloud. All of your music and application purchases can be accessed (right now on 4.3.3 actually!) through the on-device iTunes and AppStore stores. Pages, Numbers and Keynote are also iCloud enabled RIGHT NOW and all of your documents are synced across your iPhone, iPad, and Mac automagically. Another thing that the iCloud integration has added to the current 4.3.3 iOS is the Automatic updates of songs, apps, and books with the option of turning on or off cellular-based updates (for those who do not have unlimited data plans).
And as for future software updates to iOS 5? They’re all ‘delta’ updates which means that the entire operating system isn’t being updated, just new features being added, current feature sets being patched, etc. And they’re all done over the air.
So yeah, no more iTunes NEEDED on your PC. Hooray for that. But wait… what if you want to put all of those CDs you bought a dozen years ago on your phone or iPad? Rip ’em, and if they’re in the iTunes store, Apple already has a copy of them, so you don’t need to upload anything. All of the syncing will happen automatically. Anything that isn’t in the store will be uploaded to the cloud. Everything that you have in your current iTunes library will be uploaded to iCloud, and you get a 5GB online locker that DOES NOT include your songs, books, apps, etc that iTunes identifies as items that Apple has sold or can sell to you. The 5GB is used for your backups (documents, etc), photos, and any songs that Apple does not identify as being available through iTunes. And at $25/year.. this is a bargain.
Now, that’s a good portion of what makes iOS and iCloud unique, but they’ve added other features to iOS 5 as well. Firstly, they are now syncing photographs across all of your devices via iCloud. Take a photo on your iPhone, and it shows up on your iPad, iPod, Mac Book, Windows PC (via iTunes into your Windows file system) and also on your AppleTV. Import a folder of photographs into your MacBook or Windows PC, and they’ll show up everywhere else. They demonstrated this on stage and it worked beautifully. I’d like to see this API used in other devices such as Nikon or Canon cameras, or, at the very least, compatibility with EyeFi SD cards.
iOS 5 adds a completely new notification system. Notifications come in at the top of the screen. They are non-invasive. They do not interrupt your current actions, do not require input, and are all accessible by swiping down from the top of the screen like you would on an Android device. If you have a jail broken iPhone and are using one of the many notification applications that are available like LockInfo, you’ve got a great idea of what to expect. All reviews I’ve read thus far about the notification manager and new notification style have been very positive. I’m considering signing up for a developer account just so I can get iOS 5 BETA 1 on my iPad 2 and start working with all the new features.. I’ll mull that over this week :)
Other stuff they have added include Location-aware reminders, ‘NewsStand’ for self-updating magazines and newspapers, a and revamped Game Center which adds achievement points, the ability to view the friends of friends, adding photos to your profile, turn based game support, game discovery and more. These features are nice, but not groundbreaking and seemed more like they were geared more towards the developers in attendance at WWDC than the people watching the events unfold on Skype, uStream and Qik videos illicitly hosted on iPhones from the keynote – video streaming is strictly frowned upon.
Features like the new camera app with built in cropping and photo editing, fully integrated twitter accounts, new thumb-friendly keyboard for the iPad, and the new mail app are more in line with what people who buy iPhones, iPads and iPods are looking for. (To be fair, I should probably move Reminders into this group as well, but I have a feeling that one or more of the 3000 new APIs are going to deal directly with this new system)
But none of these features means more to Apple than the next one. Apple has LONG been eating up market share from Research In Motion (RIM) and their flailing blackberry lineup. And one of the only things that blackberry users cite as their reason to stay BB is Blackberry Messenger (BBM). The service that allows people with blackberry devices to chat and know when someone has read their messages.
That feature ceased to matter yesterday. Apple announced iMessage which is like MMS messaging on steroids. It’s a secure texting platform which allows photo, video and document sharing, with read receipts, the ability to see when someone is typing and more. This service will work on all iOS 5 devices, and the Mac Book, uses your data connection and is delivered via Push Notification. In short: Game over RIM.
[opens flame suit box]
Other features that were announced but not shown included iPad AirPlay display mirroring (!), Wireless Sync, Personal dictionary, alternate routes in maps, setting tones for voicemail mail and calendar alerts, Text to speech, a new iPad music app, swipe to delete songs and playlists, emoticons, Exchange tasks, better FaceTime quality, Multitasking Gestures, weather forecasts and much more. In fact, they say there are over 200 other features that they have added and not mentioned yet. So to say they didn’t do anything to iOS 5 vs. iOS 4 would be a mistake. If anything they’ve solidified iOS beyond anything else on the market. The feature set is very strong.
iOS 5 will be available this fall (likely with the launch of the next iPhone). OS X Lion is available for download next month. iCloud features like apps, music and book syncing as well as iWork document syncing are available now for 4.3.3 users on iPhone 3GS, 4 and the iPad 1 & 2. The rest of iCloud’s features will be available with iOS 5 in the fall.
Now… I have my opinion as to what I think this will mean for Apple, and it’s this: Apple will sell another 100 million iOS devices over the next year. 100 Million. 1 year. That’s insane right? I don’t think so. And here’s why.
14 months ago, they released the iPad. They updated it to the iPad 2 in March. In those 14 months, they’ve sold over 25 Million of them, and iPad sales are INCREASING. If they can sell 40 Million iPads (and that’s probably conservative) over the next year, I don’t see why they wouldn’t sell 60 million iPhones and iPods in the same time period. 100 Million devices in 1 year. Ambitious prediction? Sure. But I think it’s totally possible. Buy your Apple stock now folks. And in the infamous words of Doug Simmons : SHORT RIM.
Mango vs iOS 5? That’s not even a competition. WP7 isn’t even in the same league as iOS at the moment. If anything, Android’s upcoming “Ice Cream Sandwich” update vs iOS 5 will be more of a debate. Mango is sadly little more than a myth at this point. You can get iOS 5 right now if you’re a dev. Can devs use Mango right now? No. They have the tools to do development though…. Nothing like optimizing your user experience on an emulator…
iOS makes up more than 50% of the mobile operating system market. That’s across iPhone, iPod and iPad. And to say that an iPad or an iPod shouldn’t be included in those figures is ridiculous. It’s the EXACT same software running the exact same apps and will make choosing an iPhone over anything else a bit easier now that everything will sync automatically between the iPad, iPhone, iPod and PC/Mac.
My opinion? Microsoft may have had a strong showing with the Mango release, but people stopped talking about it once it was found out that the market share of Windows Phone has actually DECREASED since then. Apple is worth more than Microsoft and Intel combined, and will probably one day be the single most valuable company in the world. Right now they’re second only to Exxon. Do I think that Mango will impact Apple enough to change these facts? No. Do I think Mango adds many unique and useful features to an operating system that REALLY needs them? Yes. Will I ditch my iPhone for a WP7 device… ever?
[puts flame suit on]
Tl;dr? Apple just kicked MSFT in the junk with their announcement yesterday. They revealed less and gained more.