In a press release this morning, Apple said that CEO Steve Jobs and “a team of Apple executives” would give the keynote at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Jobs’s appearance comes despite his medical leave of absence, which is good news, and although this is the first time Apple has specifically called out the “team of Apple executives,” the reality is that nearly every keynote of recent years has been a tag-team effort.
More interesting is Apple’s statement that the keynote will unveil not just Mac OS X Lion, but also iOS 5 and iCloud. iOS 5 is of course the next version of the mobile operating system underlying the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, and although it was obvious that Apple would be updating iOS 4, this is the first public mention of iOS 5 from Apple. Although Apple said nothing about the iPhone 5 — and has yet to mention the next version of the iPhone in public — it’s likely that the iPhone 5 and iOS 5 will ship simultaneously.
And lastly, though the term “iCloud” has been much bandied about since it was learned in late April that Apple had acquired the icloud.com domain name from the Swedish firm Xcerion, this Apple announcement is the first public confirmation of the rumors that iCloud would be the name of Apple’s upcoming cloud-services offering.
Speculation has run rampant regarding exactly what iCloud will offer, with many suggesting that it will be an online music service along the lines of Amazon’s Cloud Player (see “Amazon Puts Your Music in the Cloud,” 2 April 2011) and Google Music, with the big exception being that Apple has reportedly signed licenses with most of the major recording labels such that users will not have to upload all of their music, as is necessary with Amazon’s and Google’s services.
We’re more hoping to see iCloud knit together new features in both Lion and iOS 5 such that file transfer between Macs and iOS devices becomes as easy as using Dropbox. (Not that we wish Dropbox any ill will at all, of course, just that Apple’s file transfer approach with iOS has been so bad that it makes one long for the interface of Font/DA Mover.)
But there’s no point in speculating further — we’ll all know more next Monday, 6 June 2011, at 10 AM Pacific time, when Jobs and the other Apple executives take the stage at WWDC. Until then…