Steve Jobs to unveil Apple iCloud service next week

Apple will announce iCloud, its cloud computing service, at its annual developers conference in San Francisco next week.

Apple has confirmed maybe the worst kept secret in Silicon Valley: It’s been working on a cloud service, and will announce it at the June 6 Worldwide Developers Conference. Photo: Karen Ka Ying Wong/Flickr

The keynote address, which Apple says will be given by “Steve Jobs and a team of Apple executive”, will also see the launch of iOS 5, the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Lion, the next version of Apple’s Mac OS X.

The company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) usually sees the launch of a new iPhone but Apple hinted some time ago that this year’s conference would not see any new hardware launches.

In the absence of a new iPhone, the attention is likely to focus on iCloud. Apple’s press release does not elaborate on what iCloud will entail but recent reports have suggested that the company has finalised deals with major record labels to provide a cloud music service.

It was reported last month that Apple had bought the iCloud domain name from a Swedish company called Xcerion.

Such a service is likely to allow users to stream their music collections from internet servers, removing the need for them to store music on their phone or MP3 player. Apple’s Mobile Me service already allows customers to store documents, photos, calendars and contacts in the cloud.

The other part of the announcement that is somewhat surprising is the presence of Steve Jobs. Apple’s CEO has officially been on medical leave since the beginning of the year but he returned to announce the iPad 2 and he recently took part in an earnings call with analysts.

OS X Lion, the eighth major update to the Mac operating system, was previewed last year when Apple launched the updated MacBook Air. It brings iPad-like functionality to Apple’s range of desktops and laptops, including a ‘Launchpad’ interface for managing applications and more multi-touch gestures for the trackpad.

Though Apple has typically launched the new iPhone at WWDC, it’s been rumoured for some time that the iPhone 5 would not be released until the autumn, at the earliest. Some speculation has suggested that an upgraded iPhone 4 will be released later this year, with the iPhone 5 following next year. [via Wired and Engadget]

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