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Apple developer's conference: What to expect for iOS, cloud services

Apple iOS 5 and iCloud will be unveiled

By , Network World
June 03, 2011 10:38 AM ET

Network World - Apple this week sketched out the main announcements for the company's annual Worldwide Developer Conference, which starts Monday in San Francisco. It's all about software, but many of the details are still not known, so there's plenty of speculation.

In a brief press release, Apple said the Monday keynote will focus on three main areas: the next release of the desktop/laptop platform, Mac OS X Lion, about which most is already know; iOS 5.0, for its wildly popular iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad mobile products; and iCloud, apparently the first foray into cloud-based services.

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Overall, there's less expectation that Apple will show off, let alone announce, the iPhone 5, but some are still hoping that the company will offer a glimpse of the new hardware.

iOS and iCloud are generating the most speculation because little is known about either one, and much of the most interesting speculation is how these two platforms might interoperate.

Many are expecting that iOS 5, and the Apple devices that will run it, will be much more "cloud-friendly," that is, facilitate smooth use of a range of Web-based services and features.

One example is "over the air" software updates, meaning connecting your phone to a cloud service instead of using iTunes via a cable connection to your Mac or PC.

Other expected or at least longed-for changes, as outlined by InformationWeek's Eric Zeman, include:

- Improved but still limited use of widgets, which can be thought of as "mini-apps" that show a range of constantly updated information, such as weather conditions, without having to first start and open an app. It might not be as easy as it sounds for iOS: "This would be tricky for Apple to accomplish given the current architecture of iOS, but it's not impossible," Zeman writes.

- Improved email: You "should be able to reach into files stored locally on the iPhone or iPad and attach them to emails after the email has been written."

- Improved notifications: Currently, Apple's iOS notifications interrupt whatever task you're doing with a pop-up bubble. "It's an extreme hassle," Zeman says." Related: an unlock screen that provides, at a glance, information about missed calls, emails, text messages and the like.

- Local file handling and management: "As someone who uses the iPhone and iPad for work, one of the most frustrating aspects is the inability to manage local files on the device," Zeman writes. "Granted, iOS does allow users to sync select files from the device back and forth to a computer, but the process is clunky and requires iTunes on a computer to function."

A recent rumor is that iOS will offer some kind of Twitter integration. TheNextWeb's Brad McCarty unpacks that. The basic rumor describes something simple, McCarty says. In fact, too simple: "Twitter integration will allow you to have a 'Send to Twitter' option for your [iPhone] photos. This would use the still-to-come Twitter-owned photo service."

But, McCarty argues, "If you have full Twitter integration then it opens the door to have social hooks built into every single application that ends up on the iPhone. ... Instead of having to rely on third-party services to make your app social, direct integration could completely change the game."

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