iCloud! iOS! iOhMy! Liveblogging Apple's WWDC 2011

Will there still be big news to be had?

Credit: Source: BENM.AT Live Coverage/Flickr

Apple's annual dog-and-pony show, the Worldwide Developers Conference, kicks off today, with Steve Jobs slotted to deliver the keynote address at 1 pm Eastern Time. We've had an unusual amount of information released officially in advance -- we know iCloud is coming, though not exactly what it will entail, and we know that we'll see iOS 5 info -- but these events generally have a surprise or three up Jobs's black turtleneck sleeve. Check back here at 1 pm for liveblogging (or really metaliveblogging, as I'll be aggregating the best of other liveblogs) and see what shiny Apple-y goodness the fanboys will be begging for in the next few months.

3:01 And we conclude with some pictures of Apple's enormous, terrifying data centers! So, to wrap up if you came in late: Lion is only $30 and coming next month via download from the Mac App Store; iOS 5 coming this fall; and iCloud is free for almost everything except for backing up music you didn't buy from the iTunes store. Scroll down for details in reverse chronological order, as is the LiveBlogging Way. Thanks for tuning in!

2:57: "It takes minutes, not weeks" -- slam on Amazon and Google -- and even at that price is still cheaper than Amazon. If nothing else, I have a feeling that this is all going to teach me how many of my songs are bought from iTunes and how many are ripped from CDs -- and will discouraging me from buying alubms through the Amazon store even if they're a buck or two cheaper.

2:54: Oh snap, there's a "one more thing!" iTunes Match -- it auto-detects music that you didn't buy and gives it the same iCloud privledges as the other stuff. Except this costs $25/year. Enh.

2:53: This all just comes automatically with iOS 5. You get 5 GB for free, but that doesn't count the photo streaming and the purchased music backup, which is of course most of what you'll be using this for.

2:50: All of these devices -- all of them! Holy cow, Google and Amazon and their cloud services just got burned.

2:47: You can see a list of your purchased music from anywhere, download it to any device. Buy music and pushes down to all your devices (up to 10).

2:46 And now iTunes in the iCloud! This is the thing that Apple spent the most money on, so you better believe they're saving it for last.

2:41: Push photos from your iPhone to your iPad, your Mac's iPhoto ... or your PC. Yes, all this cloud business will work on Windows. Will be interesting to find out what the foundation for this tech is -- did they use some kind of pre-existing standard protocols?

2:39: Oh yeah, and the APIs to store data in iCloud will be available to all app developers. Huge sighs of relief from all third-party devs in the audience.

2:37: Steve admits this is part of a 10-year plan to get rid of the filesystem (or at least hide it from the user completely). Those of us who like to compulsively create elaborate hierarchies of folders of documents shift in our seats nervously.

2:34: New versions of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers automatically back docs up to iCloud -- across devices and platforms. Nifty! These are the versions that have already been released, so maybe iCloud ... already exists?

2:31: Your iBook purchases are similarly available from the cloud. And that's where your phone backs up, too -- once a day, automatically over Wi-Fi, including purchased music, etc.

2:30: This functionality, which as part of MobileMe was crappy and cost $99 a year, is now awesome, and free. Free! You can also see your app purchases via the App Store and reinstall them on your devices.

2:28 "You might ask: why should I believe them? They're the ones that brought me MobileMe." Ha ha, ouch. Calendars, contacts, etc., get synced without you knowing it. Mail does too (if you have me.com domain, which, who has those?)

2:25 iCloud stores all your stuff and pushes it automatically to your devices. There's nothing new to learn about how to do this. Did Steve say "it just works?" Yes, of course he did.

2:23: Now it's time to "demote the PC to just another device." Your new hub is ... the cloud! Perhaps you've heard of this "cloud" concept over the past few years?

2:22: Steve Jobs is back, and he's talking iCloud! He modestly notes that 10 years ago he foresaw that your computer (he says "Mac") would become the hub of your digital life -- music, videos, etc. Apple made lots and lots of money based on this insight! But lately that's started to break down.

2:20: Developers get this today, users in the fall. Will work on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, iPad 2, third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. (AND ON THE IPHONE 5 EXCEPT IT SEEMS THEY'RE TOTALLY NOT ANNOUNCING TODAY, SO MAYBE THAT DOESN'T EXIST.)

2:17: Can we use this to replace text messaging on the iPhone? Good way to save money on texting charges. I'm sure Apple's carrier partners will love that idea!

2:15: New iMessaging app! Like the existing Messages app on the iPhone -- only it works in iPad and iPod Touch as well. Oh, and you can start and stop conversations on different devices. This again strikes me as something you need a cloud-based backend for...

2:13: Enhancements to Game Center. More social stuff. Communication services for turn-based games built right into the OS, for easier taunting.

2:10:Your iPad can be your only device. Your iPhone can be your only device. And you can download iOS updates over the air. Again, they're just diffs now.

2:08: Next big thing: "PC Free." Untether your iOS device from the tyranny of a particular computer! This is no doubt a segue into the iCloud business they're saving for the end.

2:05: Tweaks to the Mail interface, nothing super-exciting from my viewpoint, though I do like the ability to flag messages.

2:04: Some basic photo-editing tools now available as well.

2:02: Ooh, new camera feature: shortcut on lock screen takes you straight to the camera, bypasses any password you have set, and you can take a pic with the volume up button. The best camera is the one you have at hand, and I can definitely think of many times when I missed a chance to take an interesting pic because I was fumbling to unlock the phone.

2:00: New Reminders app tells you to do something at a certain time, which, yawn, but also when you arrive at a certain place, which, wow. I.e., "Remind me to call my wife when I leave the office."

1:59: Also, genuine tabbed browsing now available on the iPad version of Safari.

1:56: Mobile Safari will now feature Reader (text-only browsing) and Read It Later (what it sounds like) -- which sounds more or less like a direct attack on the multi-platform multi-browser Instapaper service. Should be interesting to see how that works out.

1:54: Also new: as promised, deep Twitter integration. You can now tweet directly from Photos, Safari, etc. I'm a big enough Twitterer that I find this appealing, but I always wonder about tying yourself to specific services. Imagine if someone had done this with MySpace in 2005? Leaving those hooks in your OS can be an embarrassment later. Wonder if under the hood they can be easily plugged into other similar services.

1:51: Another new feature: Newsstand! Apple is really partnering up hard with the dying magazine industry, hopefully to make it not-dying. Background downloads, browse by latest issue, etc. Audio and video features maybe take us an infinitesimal way towards explaining why you'd read a paid magazine app on your iPad instead of just surfing its website.

1:49: Notifications appear on the lock screen too -- just swipe across each individual notification to access it. Slick!

1:47: Now you just swipe your finger down from the top menu to get your notifications in one place, the Notifications Center. The crowd goes wild! Searches and notifications: the way to the heart of any Mac dork.

1:46: And now new features in iOS 5. Notifications! Crowd goes wild for notifications! You don't want to be interrupted by them, right?

1:42: Also bragging on the number of books and songs and videos sold through the various Apple online sales channels, which isn't just an iOS thing, but it's pretty telling that they're pitching that as part of the iOS experience/ecosystem.

1:41: And now we move on to iOS. Start with the usual numbers boasting -- 200 million devices sold, etc., blah blah.

1:37: Lion will only cost $29.99, will only weigh in at 4 GB, and will only be available from the Mac App Store! Holy cow. And will be available next month!

1:37: There will also be a Windows migration assistant, which seems like a smart idea. I've always thought the Mac migration assistant is one of the best features OS X has. I haven't started with a fresh OS X install since I bought my G4 tower and the OS X public beta in 2000.

1:36: You can, for instance, search on a name, a subject line, and a month. I admit I will not grumble about that.

1:31: And a revamped Mail UI. Since Mail is the app I spend the most time in outside the Web browser, and I hate change, this should cause me a full week of grumbling. Supposedly better searching, at least, which apparently generated a big wave of applause? Everyone likes searching!

1:31: Next up: Airdrop, yet another attempt to slay sneakernet. Autodiscovery of other computers running it, easy file transfer. This has been promised a lot by a lot of different networking protocols, so we'll have to Wait and See. Security implications should be interesting.

1:29: You can copy and paste between versions, which, whoah.

1:24: Ooh, here's something useful: Resume, Versions, Auto-Save. State of applications is saved and restored upon each close/open. You can browse through previous versions of all documents through a Time Machine-like interface. All throughout the system, everywhere. Versioning apparently based on diffs so that it doesn't take up insane amounts of disk space.

1:21: Now demonstrating LaunchPad, a previously revealed way to make all your apps appear on-screen (via a pinch gensture) in an iOS-style grid, which should be great for people who like hunting through dozens of tiny icons to find what they want.

1:19: Now Phil's talking up the Mac App Store. Selling more software than WalMart! He talks about everyone who's made millions off the store, discreetly glossing over the fact that Apple has made 30 percent of those millions.

1:16: It all looks very flashy and exciting (I'm sure I'm not the first to compare it to Minority Report) but I wonder if it isn't a little too much info-overload when all you want to do is switch apps. Not that the app-switching paradigm doesn't need to be shaken up, but it just seems like there's so much craziness, with the windows floating over an outerspace background and whatnot. But I'm old and stodgy! And it's not like I turn off the genie effect when I minimize windows on my Mac or anything...

1:13: Next up is Mission Control, which seems to be the unholy spawn of Spaces and Exposé. Your windows from related apps all kind of float together on screen, and you can grab them and swipe them around. Looks not unlike app switching under BlackBerry's new Tablet OS!

1:11: These gestures dovetail nicely with the new easy-to-implement fullscreenable apps. This is definitely a merging of the tablet and computer experience -- I am a bit dubious on how natural it will feel.

1:09 Phil will rattle off some of the 250 new Lion features. First up: Multitouch! Your trackpad (and he noted that 70+ percent of new Macs shipped are notebooks) will let you interact with the OS the way you can on the iPad. Pinch to zoom, swiping, etc. No scrollbars unless you're scrolling! You don't need to see them! You're swiping!

1:05: Phil Schiller takes the stage, says OS X Lion is all about the Mac, and the Mac is doing "incredibly well." Over the last year, the PC market has shrunk 1 percent, while Mac sales have gone up 28 percent.

1:04: Steve says he'll be talking about "OS X Lion, iOS 5, and some kind of interesting new cloud stuff."

1:02: Steve Jobs, still technically on medical leave, takes the stage. Huge standing ovation.

1:00: Annnnd Ars Techinca's servers buckle under the strain.

12:47: Jacqui Cheng at Ars notes that "The media folks did indeed trample and push people over, just like usual." Ha ha, I am not sorry to be metablogging this from Starbucks!

12:46: For what it's worth, there are still banners over at Moscone Center that are shrouded, indicating that this thing has some secrets left in it.

12:43: In case you're wondering, I'm getting my info from our IDG siblings at Macworld, as well as from Engadget, TechCrunch, and Ars Technica.

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