Steve Jobs’ Legacy is in the Clouds.


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Sadly, Steve Jobs never got to see iCloud launched, passing away only days before its worldwide release.

Yesterday, shortly after the passing of Steve Jobs was reported, my Twitter feed and Facebook news items were almost exclusively reflections and tributes for the co-founder of Apple. Amongst the quotes and condolences, one comment stuck out for me :

“Steve Jobs is in the iCloud now.”

That particular statement resonated with me as I’ve been commenting on cloud storage and cloud computing options such as the Chromebook in recent posts. Up to this point in time, cloud-based activity has really been restricted to enterprise and corporate budgets, investing in their own servers and managing them internally.

Google Documents and Microsoft’s Skydrive have both offered a solution for online document and file management, but neither has yet reached the point of mainstream acceptance. Google’s Chrome OS, which is currently appearing on a few specially designed portable PCs, is the closest to a fully cloud-reliant system.

Steve Jobs announced iCloud back in June of this year, and when launched will be the easiest way to take advantage of cloud storage, particularly if you own multiple iDevices. Photos, music, documents, even contacts and calendar info will be grabbed from your device and pushed to other devices in your sphere of iOS devices. And in typical Steve Jobs style, the focus was not on the technology or innovation behind this rethink of how we use our connected devices – Steve wanted us to know that “It just works”.

A YouTube clip of Steve Jobs on stage in 1997 demonstrates just how visionary Steve Jobs was and where he saw the future of computing – not just for calculations and localised processing, but as a truly connected communications system that ultimately rendered localised storage moot.

Back in the late 90’s, we were still talking about large, clunky desktops; this has evolved to the sleek notebooks and touch screen products we now take for granted. The advancements in cellular and wireless technology means information is always within our grasp – and iCloud is in a perfect position to change the local storage paradigm that most of us still live by.

Here is the original 1997 discussion on server-based storage that back then would have sounded pretty fantastical, especially considering the infrastructure users would have had to create for their own mini-cloud.

And here is the slick, all-encompassing service that Apple will be offering from October 12th as part of the iOS 5 update.

It took 14 years to arrive at this point, but the iCloud release is an important landmark that will again disrupt industry standards and move end users to online storage without needing to know the details of server farms or network grids.

Ironically, this may stimulate further growth in competing cloud-based products and services because of this shift to mainstream that Apple will be creating. After all, as Steve Jobs once said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Steve Jobs’ legacy is not just in the products he invented and produced, which have become treasured objects as much as technological achievements. The ripples, indeed waves, of his influence will be felt as we evolve into an age where how we do things is just as important as what we do them on.

Steve Jobs, Rest In Peace.

(Feel free to leave your own reflections and comments on what you think is Steve Jobs’ greatest contribution.)

Apple Announces iPhone 4GS with Increased Capacity and Improved Camera, Voice Command

The new iPhone 4S looks like the current iPhone 4 on the outside, but has a raft of upgraded software and hardware features on the inside.

Today, Apple released details on their latest update to their iPhone, called the iPhone 4S. Looking very similar externally to the outgoing model, the processor has been upgraded to the A5 dual core processor, and includes dual-core graphics.

This extends the iPhone’s ability to play higher-end games that require more graphics power, and in turn opens up a wider usage model for the iPhone as a more serious gaming device in addition to the other entertainment and productivity tools it currently offers.

The new iPhone 4S also comes with an upgraded 8MP camera, with an f/2.4 aperture, meaning casual snappers can take some impressive depth of field shots among other compositions. It can now also film in Full 1080p HD.

Another new feature announced was Intelligent Assistant, a comprehensive voice control feature. The Assistant will be able to action an extremely wide array of tasks via voice, including texting, searching the web or points of interest, find live stock prices, give directions, and set alarms.

Apple took the world from buttons to touch screen... will they now create the voice control revolution?

The assistant will also use data such as GPS location to set up other actions, like sending a text to someone when you leave a predefined area, for example leaving your office to an off-site meeting.

The phone will be released in its major markets, including Australia, on October 14th. The new iOS 5 operating system, which will upgrade the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 and latest iPod touch and all iPads, will be released on October 12th.

iOS 5 includes Twitter integration, improved notifications, over-the-air software updates, and a text chat service for iOS 5 users. A new feature of iOS 5 which was announced this morning was Find My Friends, which allows users to release their location to other users, which could be useful when arranging a group gathering or helping direct people to your current location.

iTunes Match, which has only been released for US residents at this stage, will be launched at the end of October. At a price of US$24.99 a year, iTunes will match the songs in your iTunes library to Apple’s database, regardless of whether they were purchased there, and upload any remaining songs for streaming at a high 256kb/s quality to any of your iDevices.

iTunes Match is part of Apple’s new iCloud service, which provides back up and synching of all your apps, text and MMS messages, photos and video you’ve shot, and documents. This service is free with up to 5GB storage.

As with any impending Apple event, rumours flooded the online discussions. Here’s a quick rundown of how some of the major rumours panned out:

  • iPhone 5 or entry level iPhone 4S – as it turned out, the iPhone 4S was very much an improved upgrade to the iPhone 4, retaining the same form factor as the current model.
  • Larger 4” screen – no screen change as the iPhone 4 retina screen continues.
  • Upgrade to 8 megapixel camera – this was confirmed, with a raft of improvements to the camera function with speed, resolution and full high definition video recording.
  • Expand range to 64GB capacity – this was confirmed for the iPhone 4S
  • Macbook Air-inspired sloping design – Some rumoured iPhone 5 designs included a sloping design similar to the Macbook Air. However, the emphasis on gaming would require a more symmetrical design, which the iPhone 4/4S offers.
  • Intelligent voice commands – Apple’s purchase of Siri last year has materialised in the Intelligent Assistant, which according to Apple can pretty much help with anything you need actioned hands-free on the iPhone. Personally, I can’t wait to see this in action.

We’ll be following up with a rundown of the iCloud and iOS 5 features later this month when it’s released.

Will these improvements give you a reason to upgrade your current phone to the iPhone 4S?