Apple confirms iOS 5, iCloud to launch at WWDC 2011
Apple confirmed speculation it will introduce the next version of its iOS mobile operating system as well as its forthcoming cloud services initiative during its annual Worldwide Developers Conference event, which kicks off June 6 in San Francisco. In addition to iOS 5 and iCloud, Apple also will unveil Lion, the eighth major release of its Mac OS X platform. The computing giant did not divulge details on new features or enhancements.
Oddsmakers forecast iOS 5 will herald the introduction of over-the-air software updates, bringing the platform in line with rival mobile operating systems. Citing multiple sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, 9to5Mac.com reported earier this month that Apple will unveil OTA update functionality in iOS 5, meaning the new operating system itself won't arrive over-the-air but all subsequent iOS updates will. Products like the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad have long required consumers to plug the device into an iTunes-enabled computer to download and install new iOS releases. Another likely wrinkle in iOS 5: A location-enabled friends and family finder tool.
Media and analysts have anticipated the introduction of iCloud for years, giving consumers the flexibility to store their digital media libraries on Apple servers for streaming access across connected devices. CNet reports Apple has completed cloud music licensing agreements with three of the four major record labels: EMI Music, Warner Music and Sony Music. Insiders say Apple is also close to finalizing an agreement with lone holdout Universal Music Group.
The iCloud launch follows on the heels of rival cloud music services introduced by rivals Amazon.com and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Neither effort launched with major label licensing deals in place, however, meaning consumers must spend hours or even days uploading their digital libraries directly to each company's respective servers. CNet reports that Apple's licensing agreements afford it the flexibility to offer features and capabilities Amazon and Google presently can't--for example, scanning user hard drives to determine which songs they own and then offering streaming access to master recordings, a process popularized by Lala, the streaming music service purchased by Apple for $85 million in late 2009. The music industry is counting on Apple's service quickly eclipsing Amazon and Google, effectively forcing both to consent to the labels' licensing terms.
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