With Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference just weeks away, expect plenty of reports of new features to come crawling out of the woodwork. In fact, here’s one from the Wall Street Journal — they claim that Apple has been doing some major tinkering with their iCloud storage service, the fruits of which will be unveiled on June 11.
First up is the ability for users to share and comment on each other’s photos, a pretty dramatic shift away from iCloud’s current approach to photo storage. As it stands, each user has a single Photo Stream meant mostly to make sure images are on the devices they need to be on. This shift in sharing actually sounds a little reminiscent of Apple’s recently-killed MobileMe service, though how exactly the sharing process would play out within iCloud is still up in the air.
Also reportedly onboard is new functionality that allows users to sync their notes and reminders (though that was recently outed thanks to a website snafu), as well as the ability to upload videos to the cloud service from an iDevice.
Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer let slip during the company’s last earnings call that their iCloud service now has over 125 million users, though he wouldn’t (or couldn’t) go into detail about how many of them are actually paying customers. It’s also unclear whether or not new features like these will require users to be on one of the company’s paid service tiers, though Oppenheimer pointed out during that same call that iCloud revenue may not be a big focus for the company right now.
“Our real desire here was not about selling more storage,” Oppenheimer said. “We just really want to increase the customer delight from the entire ecosystem and platform of our iOS devices and the Mac, and that’s why we’ve done iCloud.”
Of course, I don’t expect that mindset to hold up forever — GigaOM reported late last year that Apple earmarked $7.1 billion for non-retail capital expenditures in 2012, with the implication that a good chunk of it would go to bolstering the company’s cloud operations. Building up the groundwork for a great user experience is welcome, but Apple certainly wants a more substantial return on investment than just good feelings from their customers.
If reports hold true, then WWDC will also see a substantial update to iOS’s preloaded Maps application. Gone will be any trace of reliance on Google’s map data — everything is said to come from within the company, though they had to snap up mapping company C3 Technologies to create the (apparently impressive) new 3D viewing mode.