Let’s start with Mac OS X Lion: not a whole lot new to report on, feature-wise. Apple mostly covered the stuff they’ve covered before, and I’m not going to repeat all of it. Two very interesting tidbits: it will only be available through the Mac App Store (boo!) and will cost a mere $29.99 (yay!). It installs without any reboots (yay!), and will be available in July (yay!).
As for iOS 5, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary going on here, but it does bring some very, very welcome features to Apple’s mobile operating system. Most importantly: Apple finally implemented a decent notification system – by pretty much copying Android’s notification system pixel-by-pixel, with a dash of Samsung’s TouchWiz. Like I’ve said before – I applaud copying good ideas, so this is great news for iOS users.
Another new feature is an instant messaging application for iOS users that works on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It’s basically a copy of the many messaging applications available, like WhatsApp – except, of course, it’s iOS-specific, unlike the cross-platform WhatsApp.
The most significant feature? No more PC required. Yes, you read that right: iTunes, the world’s most horrible music player, is no longer required. You can activate straight from the device, syncing is wireless, and updates will be over-the-air, in delta form. Again – not revolutionary, but about damn time.
There’s some other stuff in there as well, but nothing really worth mentioning at this point. It’ll be free, as usual, and will arrive for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and 2, and iPod touch 3rd and 4th generation somewhere this autumn.
The final big thing is iCloud, which is really what its name implies: a service to synchronise all your iOS devices and computers (Mac or PC) via the internet. This includes things like backup to the internet, document syncing via the internet, and all the other things that make sense to be synced over the web. iCloud is free, and signals the death of MobileMe.
Music-wise, every song you buy in the iTunes Music Store can be re-downloaded for each device without any additional costs, and your existing, ripped collection (from CDs or vinyl or whatever) can be added to iCloud as well – this requires iTunes Match, a $24.99/year service that matches your ripped songs against iTunes’ database, and turns the songs it can match into iTunes songs, while songs it can’t match will be uploaded.
Just as with competing services from Amazon and Google, I’m very wary about sending any ripped content to Apple, Google, or Amazon, because for all we know, the RIAA is watching. Even if they aren’t watching every upload, a simple court order might be all that’s required for these mafia organisations to peer into your data. Caution advised.
That’s it for now. At E3, Microsoft also held its keynote which can be summed up as KINECTKINECTKINECTKINECTKINECT (hell, even Mass Effect 3 (!) gets the Kinect treatment, for god’s sake – How To Ruin An Epic Franchise 101), and later tonight – 1 a.m. CET – HP’s CEO Leo Apotheker will keynote at HP’s Discover event in Las Vegas, where he is expected to announce the release of the TouchPad – rumours suggest it will have a worldwide release on June 12. I will probably not be able to report on that until tomorrow morning due to me being, you know, asleep.