Apple announces OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud

We use affiliate links. If you buy something through the links on this page, we may earn a commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Apple held its 2011 WWDC today and debuted quite a few new products, including: OS X Lion, an update to the operating system aboard their iMac desktops and Macbook notebooks: iOS 5, the mobile operating system aboard their iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices; and the long-await iCloud online storage and sync system, which Steve Jobs himself introduced.  Loads of new stuff!  Below are just the highlights and I’m sure there will be more detailed info and discussion all over the web in the coming weeks.  Special thanks to Engadget for the fantastic live event feed coverage!

Mac OS X Lion

Loads of new features, only a portion of which are listed below.  Download an update for $29.99.  Available in July.

  • Multi-touch gestures – for Macbooks with touchpads
  • Full-screen apps
  • Mission Control for desktop app management
  • Built-in
  • – In-app App Store purchases
  • – Push Notification
  • – Delta Updates (only what is updated, not the entire system)
  • Launchpad
  • Resume
  • Auto Save
  • Versions
  • AirDrop
  • updated Mail

iOS 5

200+ new features, including the following.  To ship this fall.  Supports devices starting with iPhone 3GS, iPad and 3rd/4th gen iPod touch.

  • Notification Center – way improved notification management
  • Newsstand – electronic subscription manager
  • Twitter – integrated right into the OS and into many apps
  • Safari
  • – new ‘Safari Reader’ button for streamlined page viewing in the browser
  • – Reading List – simply way to read pages later
  • – Tabbed Browsing
  • Reminders – a built-in app that syncs across devices
  • Camera updates
  • – new camera button on the lock screen
  • – use the ‘volume up’ button to take pictures
  • – in-app pinch zoom
  • – one-tap exposure optimization
  • – in-app editing – crop, rotate, red-eye, etc
  • Mail
  • – rich-text formatting
  • – indent control
  • – address drag
  • – flagging
  • – search entire message
  • – S/MIME for security
  • – built-in dictionary
  • – splittable keyboard
  • PC Free
  • – setup and activate your device right on the device
  • – software updates Over The Air (delta updates – only what’s changed)
  • – Sync iTunes library over WiFi (more on this below under iCloud)
  • Calendar – set up and delete right from iOS
  • Game Center
  • – Achievement points
  • – Friend discovery
  • – Friends of friends
  • – Game discovery
  • iMessage
  • – works between all iOS devices
  • – send texts, photos, video, contacts, group messages
  • – get delivery receipts, read receipts, and real-time typing notification
  • – works over WiFi or 3G


MobileMe is gone, with its functionality incorporated into the new FREE iCloud with 9 apps.  Will ship concurrent with iOS 5 this fall.

  • Stores your content in the cloud and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices
  • Integrated with your apps, so everything happens automatically
  • MobileMe re-written from group up to work in iCloud
  • No ads
  • MobileMe is gone; Contacts, Calendar, Mail will be free to use via iCloud
  • updated AppStore
  • back up devices to the cloud – WiFi only, including purchased music, books, photos and videos, device settings, and App data
  • Documents in the Cloud
  • – store documents in the cloud and share across all your devices
  • – works on all iOS devices, as well as Mac and PCs
  • Photo Stream – photos taken on any device are pushed to the cloud, then sent automatically to the other devices via WiFi
  • iTunes –
  • – no charge to multiple downloads to different devices
  • – new ‘Purchased’ tab shows everything you have in the cloud
  • – download a song on one device, it downloads to all without having to sync
  • – runs on iOS 4.3 beta
  • 5GB of storage for Mail, Documents and Backup plus “other storage too” but Photo Stream and iTunes don’t count again it
  • For music you’ve ripped from CDs, three options:
  • – sync devices over WiFi or cable
  • – re-buy the songs, but from iTunes
  • – use iTunes Music Match – $24.99 per year for as many songs as you want
  • – software will scan your tunes and match it up with those songs in the store – takes minutes to scan, not weeks to upload
  • – any songs that don’t match will be uploaded for you and anything that’s matched is upgraded to 256Kbps AAC, without DRM

No mention of iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 or whatever it will be called, but even still, perhaps one of the biggest WWDC unveiling events yet.  Anyone besides me stoked for this?


5 thoughts on “Apple announces OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Daniele Carmagnola

    As for iCloud, Google and Android have been playing the cloud-sync game for years. Apple’s implementation will probably be more elegant, but is still a me-too

  3. Randy DeLandro

    I agree. Time will tell if iCloud will follow the history of the iPod which was a latecomer to the world of mp3 players but pretty much stole the market.

  4. Cloud music is great and all, but — and this is not Apple’s issue alone — what about those of us whose music doesn’t fit into the devices that can sync with a cloud service? I suppose eventually flash memory devices and cards will catch up (64GB microSD is about $1/GB so we’re not far off), but right now this is what is keeping me from ditching my iPod Classic. Streaming from the cloud might be a solution of course, but then that introduces issues of data caps and the like.

    Or is it just that most people only have a few GB of music so this isn’t an issue for anyone else?

    On another subject, I’m kind of underwhelmed by Lion. Maybe we can convince them to turn the full screen stuff into a tiling window manager with vim-compatible keyboard shortcuts? 🙂

  5. Personally, I’m a bit excited about the updates. I love it when Apple gives my devices a little breath of fresh air. I’m especially looking forward to wifi sync and the new notification system in iOS. Those have been two of my biggest desires for quite a while now…

  6. Great updates. I’m excited about the syncing stuff. Fulfills the promise of the true potential we wanted years ago. You could limp by with using Google to sync calendars and stuff (which we do now), but it wasn’t a native or elegant solution. iMessage will be super useful for our family. My kids can send us messages without relying on third party solutions like textplus. Notifications updates are appreciated too. I even thought the Lion stuff was pretty compelling (more so than Snow Leopard). Mission Control and the gesture based controls. I actually prefer the trackpad of my Macbook Pro to the mouse. Mail updates were pretty nice as well.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.