Apple has just given an early glimpse of what’s going to be announced at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference. CEO Steve Jobs is going to take the stage and give the world its first official look at iOS 5 and iCloud.
Despite today’s announcement, Apple is still keeping its cards close to its chest. For example, all that they are saying about iOS 5 so far is that it will be “the next version of Apple’s advanced mobile operating system which powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch”.
The rumor-mill, on the other hand, has been more forthcoming. According to information that has leaked out ahead of the official unveiling, one of the major new features in the upcoming version of this operating system will be voice recognition. Apple has supposedly made a deal with Nuance, the maker of Dragon Naturally Speaking, to integrate speak-to-text technology into the iOS. This will allow users to create emails and other content simply by speaking to their smartphone or tablet.
Today’s announcement was equally vague about iCloud, which is described simply as “Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering.” Still, this is a significant step, as the company has never before officially acknowledged that its prepping a new online service.
According to unconfirmed reports, iCloud will allow users to store their music library online and then stream songs to their Mac, handset or tablet. On the plus side, this would reduce the need to have large amounts of storage on mobile devices. On the other hand, streaming services like this require tremendous amounts of data to be transferred, and most wireless carriers are phasing out service plans that include unlimited data transfers. This would mean that iCloud would need to run primarily over a Wi-Fi connection.
If this report is true, then Apple’s online music service will have to compete with similar offerings from Google and Yahoo.
It’s not clear if Apple intends to merge iCloud with MobileMe, this company’s existing consumer-oriented service that lets users synchronize their emails, contacts, and calendars with an online database. MobileMe has never been as popular as Jobs had hoped it would be when it launched back in 2008.
iPhone 5: MIA?
The press release Apple put out today makes no mention of a next-generation smartphone. Despite the fact that Steve Jobs has used the last several WWDC keynote address to unveil successive iPhone models, this year will reportedly by the exception.
Numerous reports for analysts and tipsters alike point to the launch of an iPhone 4S coming late this summer or in early fall. A follow-up to that, which may or may not be called the iPhone 5, will supposedly be coming next year.