WWDC 2011 Preview

WWDC 2011 Preview

June is typically Apple’s biggest month for product news, and this year is no exception. Steve Jobs will take the stage at 10 am Pacific today at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center to deliver the company’s keynote address for the Worldwide Developer Conference. WWDC 2011 is all about software.

We already know Apple will take the wraps off Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud. Read on for a summary of what we think these products will do and what, if any, the “one more thing” may be.

Mac OS X Lion

Snow Leopard was the last major desktop OS release nearly 2 years ago in August 2009. It was mainly a refinement of Leopard, the previous version, in order to make the big cat leaner and more nimble. However it offered very little in the way of new features, so expect Lion to roar. I expect to see a merging of iOS and OS X, with Lion getting more iOS gesture capabilities by way of the integrated or Magic Trackpad. As we pointed out months ago, Lion will include:

  • Mac App Store – already launched for Snow Leopard.
  • Launchpad – a full screen grid of apps with a carousel. Similar to the iPhone
  • Folders – create folders of apps that are similar to one another
  • Full Screen – Better handling of going proper full screen
  • Gestures – Mouse gestures are better integrated with the OS
  • Dashboard – revamped dashboard gets its own dedicated window
  • Mission Control – Exposé view of all open apps and windows
  • Auto save & resume – all apps will auto save and auto resume from last interaction

iOS 5

The next-generation mobile OS from Apple should be a big update. Apple will highlight the benefits of software improvements, especially since the consensus seems to be that we won’t see a new iPhone until at least this autumn. A big improvement I’d like to see is an updated notification system. Apple seems to be working on that since they recently hired an iOS jailbreaker for his work on MobileNotifier. The current notifications system looks dated, because it is. And more good news on this front came this morning with the leak of a screenshot showing a new notification bar with deep Twitter integration.
It also appears that we may be getting over the air software updates, perhaps even system updates, in iOS 5. Apple may finally be cutting the cord, ushering in the truly post-PC era. No more activating iPads on a desktop just to get it working out of the box.


Speaking of cord cutting, iCloud is on its way today. Apple paid big bucks to the record labels to give users of its cloud storage offering remote streaming of an iTunes library to anything with an Apple logo. But iCloud will be so much more than music streaming. Expect deep integration of iCloud in OS X Lion to offer document backup and synchronization across all your devices. Apple recently updated the iOS iWork apps to function on iPhone and iPod Touch. The service is expected to be offered as a free trial with the purchase of Lion, then available as a $25 annual subscription. New Time Capsules with A5 processors running iOS 5 that act as a local iCloud server may be on the way.

One More Thing

Despite this year’s WWDC being all about software, Jobs may still pull a few rabbits out of his hat. There have been rumors of a new MacBook Air with Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt, recent low stock of iPhone 4s at AT&T may point to the next-gen iPhone in July or August. We shall see.

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