Ex-Apple Designer Predicts “Huge Changes” From iCloud at WWDC

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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:

… given the complete failure of MobileMe over the last decade there’s no way Apple would introduce [iCloud] on such a pedestal unless it’s incredible. My guess is that iCloud is to MobileMe as iPhone was to Newton: a complete, deep, polished solution after an underwhelming market failure.

In a post on his fury.com blog, Fox says he doesn’t have any inside info (“I make a point of not trying to pry secrets from my friends who work at Apple”) but expects the trifecta of technologies to be unveiled on Monday — OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud — will signal a fundamental change in Apple’s computing strategy.

At its core, Apple will use Lion and iOS 5 to make the shift from building computers that access the Internet to building a global computing service that lets people use any number of physical devices to access it.

Among the things he’s hoping to see:

  • Seamless access to any data kept in your Documents folder, and synchronization across machines
  • Universal login using your Apple account: Walk up to any Mac, sign in as a guest using your Apple account credentials and you’ll be brought to the same desktop you get on your personal machine. Files will be downloaded from the cloud (or your home network) on demand, and you’ll have access to all the apps you’ve purchased via the Mac App Store, downloaded and installed on-demand, and removed securely, along with your data, upon logout. (This is actually coming, according to a source. We exclusively detailed this last year.)
  • Realtime, continuous syncing of iOS devices will mean never having to plug your iPhone or iPad in to your computer again, or even the need for a computer for syncing at all.
  • Built-in screen sharing of Mac OS to the iPad, to do lightweight actions on your Mac from your iPad.
  • Continuous media play across devices: Play music on your mac, then with a tap shift the music to your iPhone when you’re on the go.
  • A major theme will be the concept that a task doesn’t reside with any particular device, but instead with the person, so shifting devices doesn’t mean you have to shift or restart tasks. Devices will simply be windows into what tasks you’re currently doing.
  • The only new devices announced at WWDC will be updates to facilitate the new software functionality. Some have speculated on new Airport base stations built around iOS to make VPN easy and mainstream. This seems very likely. It will be important to have one device that is always on and available, and Airport is a sensical bet.

Fox’s full list of hopes and dreams for WWDC are here.

Via Apple 2.0: Kevin Fox’s WWDC wishlist