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Steve Jobs feels good.
Apple chief Steve Jobs took the stage in California Monday to the sound of James Brown's iconic hit "I Got You (I Feel Good)," a rare appearance for the cancer survivor where he unveiled the company's latest software innovations.
"If the hardware is the brain and the sinew of our products, the software is their soul. Today we're going to talk about software," Jobs told the crowd at the company's 2011 Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), debuting new versions of the Mac operating system (OS), the software that powers iPhones and iPods, and an online-only music and more locker called iCloud.
The event began with a discussion of Lion, the new desktop OS. Lion brings over 250 new features, including a background autosave feature, facial-recognition technology, a completely reworked email feature, and Airdrive, a new feature for sharing documents.
"We now have more than 54 million active Mac users around the world," senior vice president Phil Schiller told the crowd, debuting some of Lion's tablet-like functions such as swiping and gesture controls.
Lion will only be available to download online through the app store, the company said -- meaning for the first time ever, there won't be a version available on CD. It will go on sale in July for $29.
He also showed off the new iPhone software iOS5, which has over 200 new features: There's push notifications, letting apps conveniently tug your metaphorical sleeve when they have information to convey; deep Twitter integration; and Newsstand -- a single landing spot for all of your newspaper subscriptions.
It will also add cable-free syncing and a new Apple-only messaging service akin to the Blackberry Messenger.
But it was the new iCloud service that garnered the most attention leading up to the event.
"[Syncing over cables] worked great for the last 10 years, but using cables has broken down over the last few years," Jobs told the assembled crowds. "keeping these devices in sync is driving us crazy!"
"We have a solution," he said.
The new iCloud service will let people sync their data across multiple devices, including calendaring info and contact lists. Jobs acknowledged the similarity to the $99 MobileMe service, but said it was a completely new iteration of those apps.
"We've thrown them away and written them from the ground up to be iCloud apps," he said of the now free cloud service.
There are nine apps in the iCloud universe. Mail, Contact, Calendar, iBooks, wireless backup, Documents in the Cloud, Photos, Music and more.
The iCloud service will automatically push a purchased song to all of your devices.
Oh, and "one more thing," Steve said.
Jobs waited to the end to announce the most anticipated feature -- an online storage feature to compete with that recently announced by Amazon and Google. The iTunes Match service will scan through your music library and automatically unlock the songs you've already bought without uploading them, for just $24.95.
"Competitors, including RIM, Google, Amazon and Microsoft already have a hard time competing with iTunes as it is, but we believe will likely find it even tougher with iCloud enhancements," Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu told Reuters.
"With the other guys, you've got to upload the full music library," Jobs said.
"If you don't think we're serious about this, you're wrong," he added.