WWDC 2011 Stories June 7, 2011

Coming this Fall, iOS 5 will bring along a boatload of exciting new stuff designed for the same devices as its predecessor. Specifically, Jobs has confirmed during yesterday’s keynote talk that iOS 5 will run on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, iPad and iPad 2 and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. If history is anything to go by, some of the new features won’t work on older devices due to constrained resources.

Unfortunately, the iOS 5 features page reveals nothing about possible limitations on legacy hardware. Bloggers, however, are beginning to discover what has been implemented in iOS 5 for iPhone 3GS and what features have been stripped away. Take it from a guy in the below clip, “In my opinion, iOS 5 beta works flawlessly on iPhone 3GS”, he concludes. Let’s begin with what works first.

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We’re discovering some very interesting and little advertised new features following yesterday’s unveiling of Apple’s iOS 5 software. For instance, did you know there’s a new setting allowing you to tell your iPhone to blink its LED flash on incoming calls and alerts? We’ve also learned about brand new AssistiveTouch section in Settings where you can control your multi-touch experience and even draw custom gestures. Plus, the four-finger pinch gesture that mimics the functionality of the home button? It’s back!

It originally appeared in the first beta of iOS 4.3, but was disabled in subsequent releases unless you were a registered developer who enabled your device for development in Xcode. Needless to say, the home screen pinch has become a jailbreaker’s favorite tweak and it’s been especially popular with iPad owners because performing multi-fingered gestures felt more natural on the tablet’s larger canvas compared to the iPhone’s smallish screen. Even though Steve Jobs made no mention of them during the keynote talk, Apple has detailed new iPad multitasking gestures on its site:

iOS 5 includes a few new moves and shortcuts to help you get around even quicker on your iPad: Using four or five fingers, swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar, pinch to return to the Home screen, and swipe left or right to switch between apps.

Specifically, Apple featured the home screen pinch twice in their iOS 5 promotional video, seen below (mark 0:28 and 5:43). Now, what about those custom gestures?

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A new developer preview of Safari 5.1 was released yesterday in the Safari Dev Center. Safari 5.1, which ships with Lion in July, will take advantage of GPU acceleration on Windows and enable new HTML5 APIs allowing for the creation of much more sophisticated web apps. In addition to support for the latest CSS3 goodies such Text Emphasis, Vertical Text, Auto-Hyphenation and Transitions and Animations, the 45.3MB download also works with Web Open Font Format and Mathematical Markup Language (MathML). More importantly – and in line with Chrome’s architecture – plug-ins and Safari’s WebKit rendering engine now run in their own process separately of the main Safari process, meaning a misbehaving plug-in or HTML code cannot crash the browser. We’re just getting started, though.

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WWDC 2011 Stories June 6, 2011

With necessary licensing agreements from major music publishers in his pocket, Steve Jobs has taken the wraps off of the new feature that lets you re-download music purchases at no cost, via the iTunes Store app on iOS devices. “For the songs you’ve already bought, we’ve added a purchased button”, Jobs explained. This new section of the iTunes app conveniently lists all your music purchases in one place. From there, tap the cloud icon to download the already purchased track for free.

Your other choice is the automatic downloading feature that grabs your purchases, including free ones, made on your other devices. “This is the first time we’ve seen this in the music industry – no charge for multiple downloads to different devices”, Jobs said. But what about music you already own, which didn’t come from iTunes? And what about that rumored scan and match stuff?

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A Stevenote is in progress at San Francisco’s Moscone West where Apple’s boss and his top lieutenants are on stage, making headlines with a plethora of iOS 5, Lion and iCloud announcements. The keynote has kicked off Apple’s annual developer conference which runs through June 10.

“I get to unveil iCloud”, Jobs said as he announced Apple’s latest online services suite that will replace MobileMe as a go-to solution for all your cloud needs. He argued that the cloud – not your computer  – has now become the hub for your digital life. Keeping all your devices in sync makes us crazy, Jobs observed, adding “We’ve got a great solution to this problem… We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device.”

The cloud sync works automatically between iOS devices, PCs and Macs, per Apple’s “It just works” mantra. Any changes in, say, the Calendar or Contacts apps get automatically pushed via the cloud to all of your iOS devices. This is true for any supported app, which includes the recently updated Pages and Keynote apps. Plus, the new Cloud Storage APIs let third-parties write apps that tie with this cloud storage.For instance, you can create a document in Pages for iPhone and it will automagically become available via the cloud on your iPad – they call that Documents in Cloud. Jobs said,

Documents in the Cloud really completes our iOS document storage story. A lot of us have been working for 10 years to get rid of the file system so the user doesn’t have to learn about it.

What else is cool?

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Apple just announced iMessage, a new service designed to facilitate easy exchange of all kinds of messages between iOS 5 devices. iMessages has a boat load of features, including typing indications and read and delivery receipts. Plus, it works with text messages, photos, videos, contacts and supports even group messaging. Messages get pushed to all participants as well as all your iOS 5-compliant devices, allowing you to pick up conversation from iPhone to iPad. Incoming message alerts are delivered via the new Notifications Center so you can continue whatever you’re doing as an unobtrusive notification shows up briefly. Fine print? There’s none as iMessage works over both 3G cellular connections and WiFi networks.

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