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Apple Talk: The 10 biggest announcements at WWDC

This year's Apple Worldwide Developer Conference was all about software...

Steve Jobs demonstrated that the iCloud strategy represents a new direction for Apple and its hardware

Steve Jobs showed the iCloud strategy represents a major new direction for Apple and its hardwarePhoto: Donald Bell/CNET

Despite the absence of hardware launches, Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference was memorable thanks to 10 telling announcements, says Seb Janacek.

As Apple conferences go, this year's WWDC was a big one. There were a slew of announcements and a blissful absence of new shiny iThings. Instead, it was all about the software. A pleasing two hours for the old school.

This article could easily have been a list of 20 or 30 big moments from the keynote but 10 will have to do. So, in no particular order...

1. iCloud

For all the new flourishes in Mac OS X Lion and iOS 5, it was the iCloud segment that represented the real meat of the keynote.

The iCloud strategy represents a major new direction for Apple and its hardware. The cloud replaces the Mac and iTunes at the centre of the digital hub.

Apple has revamped its core, ailing MobileMe services and introduced iCloud-based options for documents, pictures and, of course, music. Some believe this move is the beginning of the end for the Mac. I'd say it's simply the liberation of the Mac. It's certainly the beginning of a new age for Apple.

2. iCloud APIs

This announcement was a pleasant surprise for developers and puts the vast Apple developer community at the heart of the iCloud strategy. The company unveiled about 1,500 new APIs for iOS 5 but the news that developers would get access to APIs to let them build applications around iCloud's new storage, synchronisation and back-up capabilities brought cheering and applause.

Apps have been a huge hit for Apple, one of the main reasons behind the success of iOS. iCloud is the next big thing for the company and developers are getting in on the ground floor. Hugely significant.

3. Cheap-as-chips software

Apple is a company that makes most of its money through hardware, not software. Previous iterations of Mac OS X - apart from the last one - cost $129. Lion looks like one of the biggest leaps forward for Mac OS X since its launch, yet it's available for just $29.99, or £20.99 in the UK.

Meanwhile, iOS 5 and iCloud are free and the iTunes Match service - see number 9 - is aggressively priced against Amazon's competing service.

Apple's strategy is to encourage users to buy a wider range of Apple hardware products by making the software usable and useful and making the opportunities for interworking between devices more interesting. Need an iPad to go with that iPhone? Of course you do.

iOS 5 notifications

iOS 5 means you can now see a summary of all messages and alerts by swiping your finger down the screenPhoto: Apple

4. iOS 5 notifications

Notifications have long been a weak point in iOS and users have long coveted the more sophisticated notification features of Android phones. The current notification modal alert almost looks anachronistic against the modern backdrop of iOS.

The whole notification system in iOS has now been overhauled.

A complete list of all notifications can be accessed by swiping your finger down the screen to access a summary of all messages and alerts.

Notifications are now non-intrusive and can be ignored if you're working on something else.

Finally, the lock screen lists a summary of key alerts such as text messages, email, appointments and voicemail that can be accessed directly.

5. Great artists steal

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Android and RIM fans will be living off this move by Apple for years. iOS now has a number of features that have been mainstays on Android and BlackBerry devices for some time, most notably the new notification screen, wireless synching, new messaging and the lack of dependency on a PC.

Another way of looking at it is...

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