Apple Talk: iPhone, iPad, Mac futures - what's in store for WWDC

No new iPhone at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference you say? Who cares?

iPhone 4: No iPhone 5 at WWDC

The absence of a new iPhone will be more than made up for by Apple's highly significant software newsPhoto: Apple

There may be no new iPhone at next week's Apple WWDC but there'll be more important things to set the heart racing, says Seb Janacek.

On 6 June, two things are relatively certain. First, Steve Jobs will take the wraps off the future of Mac OS X and iOS. The company has also revealed that Jobs will be introducing something called iCloud, which could either be the new version of the recently withdrawn MobileMe web services, some kind of digital media-streaming service, both or neither.

Secondly, in a break from tradition, or at least a three-year-old trend, the company won't be taking the wraps off a new iPhone as it has in every WWDC since 2008.

Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud launches

Apple has already stated that Jobs is returning from his temporary sick leave to unveil Lion - the eighth major release of Mac OS X, iOS 5 - the next version of Apple's advanced mobile operating system, and iCloud.

The host of new features for Lion already revealed by Apple at last year's Back to the Mac event make it the most significant overhaul of Mac OS X for years.

The Back to the Mac idea was an intriguing concept for the conference. Rather than announce shiny new stuff, they unveiled a shiny new philosophy: greater integration between old and new by taking some of the interface and presentational innovations of the iOS devices back to the Mac OS. I'd expect to see more of this at WWDC.

Likewise, with iOS 5, the expectation is that there'll be a host of new features and enhancements that will make an already usable and refreshing mobile platform more so. Notifications could receive an update, as could integration between native apps and social media APIs, as well as improvements to multitasking.

All worthy stuff that will no doubt improve the user experience considerably, but evolution rather than revolution you have to suspect.

The arrival of the iCloud

It's iCloud, the third item on the list of announcements, that's most interesting. It's also intriguing that Apple chose to announce the name of a currently unreleased or unannounced product - if anyone can think of a previous example in Jobsian times then please leave a comment below.

The arrival of the iCloud, the existence of Apple's vast North Carolina datacentre and Apple's half-hearted attempt at cloud computing has long been the chief grist to the rumour mill for the Apple faithful in recent years.

I've owned MobileMe, or .Mac as it was previously known, since it was launched and by and large I've stuck with it.

It wasn't ever that reliable. The file storage and synchronisation of the free Dropbox is more reliable and quicker than...