If you want to know whether Apple’s going to continue its remarkable growth in the next five or more years, there’s two things you need to look at: Siri and iCloud.
Kyle makes a very good case for why iCloud and Siri are so crucial to the future of Apple, as a company, and will be key anchor points on all of their flagship products for the foreseeable future.
If you have $25 to spend, you’re about to free up a lot of storage space on your iOS devices. On Monday, Apple officially released iTunes Match to the masses, with an update to iTunes for Mac and PC. The company missed its initial deadline of a late October release, but a note to developers last week indicated the feature’s launch was imminent.
iTunes Match, part of the iCloud suite that launched earlier month, stores the entirety of your music library in the cloud, at a cost of $25 per year. Unlike competing cloud storage music services from Amazon and Google, iTunes Match saves a lot of bandwidth and time in your initial synchronization, because Apple can identify which songs in your iTunes library are already available in the iTunes Store. If Apple can positively match a song in your library with any of the 20 million tracks for sale in the iTunes Store, it won’t bother uploading that song; only unmatched songs get uploaded to the cloud.
Once iTunes Match is finished indexing your library, you can connect to your music from other computers, along with your iOS devices. Any matched music you stream from iCloud plays back at 256-Kbps quality—even if your original copy was encoded at a lower quality.
As an Apple Developer, I've had access to and have been using iTunes Match for about 3 months now. There were some bugs early on that were duplicating my playlists - but it looks as if they've fixed those. I haven't seen any problems like that for weeks now. Still though, with the sometimes shaky stability that iCloud has had so far, I wouldn't be surprised if the initial rush of users doesn't create problems of some type for the short term. Long term though, I see this service as being a winner.
You need to download the new version of iTunes in order to use iTunes Match. I recommend you do so.
CUPERTINO, California—October 17, 2011— Apple® today announced it has sold over four million of its new iPhone® 4S, just three days after its launch on October 14. In addition, more than 25 million customers are already using iOS 5, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, in the first five days of its release, and more than 20 million customers have signed up for iCloud®, a breakthrough set of free cloud services that automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and push it to all your devices. iPhone 4S is available today in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK, and will be available in 22 more countries on October 28 and more than 70 countries by the end of the year.
Today was Apple's largest simultaneous software rollout, ever, or at least for as long as I can remember. In no particular order, these items were released in the past 24 hours:
* OS X 10.7.2 - adding iCloud support & other fixes.
* OS X 10.7.2 - recovery partition update
* iTunes 10.5 - adds iCloud support and is required for iOS 5
* iOS 5.0 - for iPhone 4S, 4, and 3GS
* iCloud 1.0 - go to me.com to convert your MobileMe account. I highly recommend you read Serenity Caldwell's iCloud article which should answer any questions you may have about the new service and the transition over to it.
* iOS iWork apps: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote - adds iCloud document storage support
* iPhoto 9.2 - adds iCloud integration with Photo Stream
* Aperture 3.2 - adds iCloud integration with Photo Stream
* Cards app - new iOS app
* Find Friends app - new iOS app
* Airport Utility app - new iOS app
* iTunes Trailers app - new iOS app
* Newstand store - new iTunes component to support iOS Newstand feature
* iMessage network - adds support for iMessages in iOS 5
* Safari 5.1.1 - adds iCloud support and fixes bugs
* AppleTV update - adds AirPlay mirroring support & iCloud support
And while not released today, some customers have reported as to already having received their iPhone 4S devices early, despite that they were to be delivered on Friday. As a result, retail customers (not just review journalists) are now making use of the new Siri servers with their new iPhone 4S handsets.
Whew. Did I miss anything? That is an impressive list.
What other technology company has recently pulled off a software rollout on this scale and can report the only complaint from customers has been that downloads were slower than usual (because everyone is downloading the updates currently)?
This is the easiest product review I’ve ever written. The iPhone 4S is exactly what Apple says it is: just like the iPhone 4, but noticeably faster, with a significantly improved camera, and an impressive new voice-driven feature called Siri.
Want to see Siri in action? The Editorial Direction at Macworld, Jason Snell, posted a demo video last night:
This is listed above in the iCloud bullet point, but again, I highly recommend you read Serenity Caldwell's "Getting Started with iCloud". Even if, like me, you feel you are a know-it-all asshole who doesn't need to read anything that begins with the title "Getting Started..." suck it up and do it anyway. Serenity includes a few useful tidbits that even I didn't know about.
Also, today's Talk Show episode over on 5by5 with Dan Benjamin and John Gruber dedicated almost all of its time to discussing iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S.
iPhone 4S Upgrade Eligibility
On the subject of the iPhone 4S: I do not plan to buy the 4S, as I am waiting for my AT&T contract to expire in order to switch over to Verizon next summer (or next fall - whenever the iPhone 5 comes out). However, I did use Apple's "eligibility check" web app to see my upgrade availability status. I was puzzled to find that AT&T won't let me buy an iPhone 4S at the subsidized price until February 12, 2012, despite my having bought an iPhone 4 on day 1 one of its release last year. Marco Arment did a bit of wrote an article on this very subject today. Useful stuff.
Oh, and no sign of iTunes Match yet. Apple seeded iTunes 10.5.1 to developers last night, which has iTunes Match. I was under the impression that iTunes Match was supposed to roll out alongside the rest of these updates. Perhaps this means that there were a few bugs yet to be worked out still. Apple is probably focusing on those now, to hopefully have iTunes 10.5.1 out to customers by Friday (alongside the iPhone 4S launch) or perhaps next week?
This is a fundamentally different vision for the coming decade than Google’s. In both cases, your data is in the cloud, and you can access it from anywhere with a network connection. But Google’s vision is about software you run in a web browser. Apple’s is about native apps you run on devices. Apple is as committed to native apps — on the desktop, tablet, and handheld — as it has ever been.
Google’s frame is the browser window. Apple’s frame is the screen. That’s what we’ll remember about today’s keynote ten years from now.
I think John has the best "big picture" take on yesterday's announcements.
What's happening to MobileMe?
Effective June 6, 2011, if you had an active MobileMe account, your service has been automatically extended through June 30, 2012, at no additional charge. After this, the MobileMe service will no longer be available.
MobileMeWhat will happen to the content I have on MobileMe?
Apple has announced a new service called iCloud which will be available this fall and free for iOS 5 and OS X Lion users. When you sign up for iCloud, you'll be able to keep your me.com or mac.com email address and move your MobileMe mail, contacts, calendars, and bookmarks to the new service.
When iCloud becomes available this fall, more details and instructions will be provided on how to make the move.
Can I create a new MobileMe account?
You can no longer create a new 60-day trial account or start a new subscription using a code contained in a MobileMe box. However, if you have a Family Pack subscription, you can still create new family member accounts.
Can I upgrade to a Family Pack or purchase additional storage?
Effective June 6, 2011, you can no longer upgrade your Individual account to a Family Pack or purchase additional storage for your MobileMe account.
I purchased a MobileMe box and have not used the activation code inside. Can I get refund for it?
Yes. If you have an unused activation code from a MobileMe box, you can submit a refund request.
When Apple reveals iCloud at WWDC on Monday, it’ll have the kind of impact the iPod has had, predicts Kevin Fox, a Silicon Valley software veteran who’s worked at Apple, Yahoo and Google.
“The rumblings are huge,” says Fox, lead designer at Mozilla. Fox worked on Newton software before designing Yahoo’s chat service and then software for Google (including Gmail 1.0, Google Calendar 1.0, and Google Reader 2.0). He continues:
If I were to publish everything I know regarding tomorrow’s announcements, it would be a short and decidedly unsensational article. What I know are a handful of minor features at the edges. The big picture regarding iOS 5 and iCloud — and how the two interrelate — is an utter mystery to me. These things have been as well-kept secrets as any major projects from Apple in recent years.
iCloud’s expected music storage has of course leaked, but that’s almost certainly the inevitable result of Apple’s dealings with the music labels. Music storage is a feature of iCloud; iCloud is not a music service.
WHAT I’VE HEARD, AND BELIEVE, BUT BY NO MEANS KNOW AS FACT
The italicized sentence that follows is fourth-hand information, at best, and also the sort of thing that many of you might have already guessed based merely on your own hunches and hopes. But here goes:
Don’t think of iCloud as the new MobileMe; think of iCloud as the new iTunes.
Syncing data between devices tends to work best when there’s a canonical store. I.e. with Dropbox, you might have three, four, five devices syncing data on the same account. The canonical central store, however, is Dropbox’s cloud-based server. With iPhones, iPods, and iPads, the central store for almost all data stored on the devices is iTunes running on your Mac or PC.
With iCloud, that should shift to the cloud. iTunes, the desktop app, currently syncs the following things with iOS devices: audio, movies and TV shows, iBooks e-books, App Store apps, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes, and any sort of files shared between iOS apps. All of these things would be better served syncing over-the-air via the so-called cloud.
Gruber continues on, and you really should go read his entire piece, but I think the most important parts of what he wrote are quoted above.
For what it's worth, I'll give my opinions, which are by no means backed by any sources of my own. In no particular order:
1. I think OS X Lion GM seed will be released to developers. It will be released as soon as June 14th but no later than June 28 to the public.
2. iOS 5 Developer Preview 1 will be released to developers.
3. I could maybe see iCloud DP1 being made available but has Apple ever released a developer preview of a web based app before other than the beta versions of Mobile Me Calendar & Mail last summer? Those didn't have APIs associated with them though. It seems like me they would need to preview them if they wanted developers to build them into their apps and test them though. This one is a big maybe.
4. Some sort of Twitter integration with iOS 5. Not sure if it will be a very simple share-your-photo-on-twitter menu item on the Send Menu in the Photos app or what. It could be "huge" as Scoble says.
5. iOS 5 / Lion / iCloud integration. Deep. I think iCloud needs to have this to avoid become just another Mobile Me iteration.
6. No hardware (of course). Just wanted to remind anyone who hasn't gotten the memo yet.
7. I have a hard time believing any of the Time Capsule related rumors. By locking iCloud into Time Capsule I feel Apple would be making a big mistake. I truly hope this is not the case.
8. iCloud will have some sort of streaming music component.
9. iOS 5 will have a revamped notifications system. I feel there will be much disappointment if it doesn't. I think Apple is well aware of this.
10. Improved interface for accessing, organizing, and viewing apps in iOS 5. Gruber makes a very good point. Folders helped alleviate this pain but it was akin to putting a bandaid on a compound fracture. Power users need a better solution and considering just how many apps are downloaded by all iOS users, not just the geeks are power users these days.
I'm sure there will be much more news tomorrow than these 10 points I have listed here, but these 10 items are the ones I feel most confident about. Numbers 3, 7, and 10 are the ones I doubt the most, but I left them in there anyway.
Apple Inc. has reached terms with major recorded-music companies to allow it to launch a digital locker service that would be more robust than those currently offered by Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.
According to these people, deals with three labels have been completed, and the fourth, with Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, is likely to be signed this week. Apple has signed deals with Warner Music Group Corp., Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Group Ltd.
Being out ahead of Amazon and Google to sign all four major labels is huge for Apple. This will allow Apple's music locker to be an 'active' one rather than a passive one. The current way Amazon and Google's services work is you must manually upload music to their services in order for you to stream it later. These deals could conceivably allow Apple to scan a list of all your music in iTunes, and simply make all of that music available on iCloud without you having to manually upload your music. This will make it much more painless to adopt. I'm sure these contracts will allow Apple to do other things as well that Amazon and Google aren't able to do legally.