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As per usual, the hours, days and weeks leading up to a large Apple event, rumors and speculations tend to skyrocket as fans try to guess what Apple will bring to the table. Heading into the WWDC 2011 keynote, we had a pretty good idea of what to expect: iOS 5.0 and iCloud. However, it's always good to assume there will be at least one surprise as Apple – in all their sly and secretive glory – always has a few tricks up their sleeve.

Apple began the keynote giving us some numbers: 200 million iOS devices sold, 25 million iPads sold in the first 14 months, 90,000 apps made specifically for the iPad, 130 million books downloaded via iBooks, Apple has paid out over $2.5 billion to iOS developers, and over 225 million accounts with credit cards. All very impressive, to say the least.

The changes brought in iOS 5.0 are much-needed, but mostly minute. That said, they come in the form of 200 new features. Although we did have a few ideas of what to expect from iOS 5, some unexpected features of iOS were also introduced. Some of the 200 changes Apple announced for iOS 5 are:

  • Newsstand (newspapers and magazines)
  • Single sign-on for Twitter
  • An overhaul to Safari (focus on sharing and saving content for later)
  • Reminders (location aware to-do list)
  • Changes to the camera app
  • Mail (rich text formatting, gestures, S/MIME, search, dictionary, etc.)
  • A split keyboard for those who type with thumbs (Nice!)
  • PC Free
  • OTA Software "Delta" updates (only downloading what has changed)
  • Changes to Game Center (online turn-based multiplayer)
  • iMessage (essentially BBM for iOS users)
  • Wi-Fi sync to iTunes
  • Multitasking gestures – I figure they would have elaborated on this
  • Purchase history in App Store and iTunes
  • Photo Stream (iCloud sync to all devices, stores last 1000 photos for 30 days)

The notification system has been entirely revamped and is now considered Notification Center. Countless speculators have composed their own renditions of how Apple should approach the notification system overhaul, and a good portion of these predictions were pretty accurate. To access notifications from anywhere, swipe your finger down from the top of the page, just like Android. Imagine that. The lock screen has also been changed. Notifications are viewable and accessible from the lock screen. They display on the lock screen and sliding one from left to right, like the slide to unlock, will take you to the selected notification.

One of the bigger changes was within the camera app. The iPhone 4's camera has always been regarded as one of the better mobile cameras around. Apple added the ability to access the camera from the lock screen and the option to swipe-up on the touchscreen to take a picture. Also added were native photo editing tools.

Rumors have spread of widgets being included in the newest version of the OS for months now. Unfortunately to those of you who were expecting and praying for this, there was no mention of widgets at all. Sorry, guys and gals!

Apple's upcoming iCloud service, which many believed would replace MobileMe (and it will ... for free), was announced. iCloud will give you a completely wireless experience, allowing you to access your music library, documents, photos, and essentially all other content from any iOS device, anywhere. It is an automatic sync service that saves and pushes content to all of your registered iOS devices. Again, nothing groundbreaking here. Cloud services have been around for quite some time now and Apple is (fashionably) late to the game. Services like this have already been released and available for some time now. They're just making it native and consolidating several services into a single entity.

We were also told not to expect a new or groundbreaking device from Apple. Predictions here were correct. Being a developers event, this was primarily about software. Sorry folks, no new devices ... yet.

You can expect to receive your iOS update sometime this Fall: iOS 5.0 will work on the iPad (both models), iPhone 3GS and 4, and iPod Touch (3rd and 4th gen). Ouch. Since this keynote was extremely long and full of features, it wasn't easy to include every minute detail. For a play-by-play, check out Aaron's live blog of the event (now finished).

Another feature (not mobile-related) of the WWDC keynote was the new version of OS X, Lion. Unsurprisingly, OS X is becoming more and more like iOS. The Mail application on Mac now looks and acts much like the iOS version. Could this possibly be a tell-tale sign for an OS convergence in the not too distant future? Maybe. Keep your eye's peeled, folks.

In light of all of the other chaos that is constantly happening in the mobile realm, Apple is sort of playing catch up for the first time. They still have a stranglehold on the tablet market and will for some time. But when it comes to their phones, the specifications, and the operating system itself, they are slowly aging. I will admit though, that some of the changes they touched on today were impressive – not innovative in the least.

Maybe these announcements seem less impressive due to being leaked and rumored for months now or that they don't necessarily bring anything truly new. But they are running in their own direction, still focusing on software over hardware; or letting the software catch up with hardware. They are also looking to cut the cord since we live in a wireless world.

In my book, refining and playing it safe is usually better than being daring and releasing a device with hardware it can't use to its full potential. What say you? Are you impressed by the changes Apple is bringing in iOS 5 and with iCloud? Or was this a yawn-inducing keynote?

Image via This is my next


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