Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference is tomorrow, and I think it may be one of the biggest game-changing events from Apple since the introduction of the iPhone.
Apple has already told us three main points of focus for the keynote address: Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud. We know a fair bit of Mac OS X Lion already from a previous demonstration and leaks from the developer community. Its focus is to take what Apple has learned from iOS back to the Mac. Things like Launchpad and expanded gesture support via trackpads will be the foundations to bridge the gap between traditional computers and touchscreen devices.
My brain tells me iOS 5 will just add on a few more features to what we currently know as iOS, but part of me can't help but feel that something really big may come with the latest version. A lot of talk is swirling around the topic of Apple moving away from the USB sync cable in a big way. Personally, I'd love to see day-to-day syncs occur over my home network, updating music, photos, movies, and apps without needing to physically connect to my Mac. However, for iOS updates in and of themselves, well, that's something I don't think I'd mind still needing the cable for if need be.
Where I think the big news for both Mac OS X Lion and iOS 5 will really be is iCloud. We don't know much about iCloud. What can be said with a fair amount of certainty is iCloud will be able to stream your iTunes music purchases. Apple's recent deals with music publishers have all but guaranteed that.
I'm hoping iCloud will be more than just music. I want it to take the promise of MobileMe to the next step. I want iCloud to be the new syncing hub for my iDevices, and to take much of that weight off of iTunes. MobileMe currently does a nice job of handling my personal email, and syncing my contacts, calendars, and bookmarks. The area MobileMe still lacks in is handling my files. iDisk is terrible. Contrast this with Dropbox, which is seamless and amazing.
I'd like iCloud to be Apple's Dropbox. One place I run into this desire is iWork. It is so hard to keep a Pages document up to date between my Mac and iPad. Both integrate with iDisk, but crudely just makes duplicates of the file. The user has to keep track of which one is the newest. Throw in iWork on the iPhone now, and it is an even bigger mess.
It'd be great if a Pages document could be put into iCloud, and that one file can be accessed from my Mac, iPhone, and iPad, with changes saved to iCloud automatically. And giving the file versioning support would be even better. Just. Like. Dropbox.
I really think iCloud will be the defining announcement tomorrow. The clock is ticking.