Apple to Detail OS Updates, Cloud Service at WWDC

Apple is set to talk details on the next versions of both its major operating systems, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and iOS 5, at its Worldwide Developers Conference on June 6th. On top of that, the company is also set to unveil specifics about its cloud computing service, officially dubbed iCloud. These announcements were previously rumored, but Apple made it all official in a brief statement released today.

Apple has publicly discussed OS X 10.7 before now (and has released several developer previews besides), so it’s the software we know the most about: it will integrate iOS features like a Home Screen and additional touch gestures, the Mac App Store (already available to OS X 10.6 users), user interface changes, and will combine the client and server versions of OS X into one product. The Apple enthusiast press has dissected every developer preview extensively, so all that’s really left to reveal is the price, release date, and any last-minute surprised the company has up its sleeve.

iOS 5 gets a bit murkier – an overhaul of the notifications system and the ability to update the device without connecting it to an iTunes-running computer are commonly cited rumors (and ones that make sense, since these are both areas in which Android and Windows Phone 7 are arguably superior). Reports on any other features will have to wait until Monday – the rumors are just too conflicted.

Last and most mysterious is iCloud, Apple’s new cloud service, which is rumored to integrate tightly with both OS X 10.7 and iOS 5 – this would make sense, given the timing of the announcement. It’s highly likely that it’s a streaming music service – Apple is rumored to be making deals with all the major music labels – and Apple is also rumored to be working on streaming video as well. iCloud will likely also absorb most or all of the functionality of MobileMe, including online file storage and syncing of contacts. The release date and cost of the service are, like most other aspects of it, a mystery at this point.

So! That’s all we know, and most of what we think we know, about Apple’s responses to Windows 7, Windows Phone 7, and Microsoft’s various cloud computing initiatives (including SkyDrive, Office Web Apps, and a host of others). Look for rumors to be separated from facts at Apple’s WWDC keynote on Monday.

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