commentary While most of this week's attention is going to be on Apple's new iPhone 4S and how it sells, the most important thing to come out of the company is a new version of its iOS software, which arrives tomorrow.
iOS 5, which made its debut at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June, marks a turning point for the company's mobile software. Yes, it's largely a collection of tweaks, improvements, and fiddling with a tried and true formula, but it's also one that--for the first time--breaks iOS devices apart from computers running Apple's iTunes software and goes further to try to unify the devices into the same family.
That vision is miles away from where Apple's iPhone journey started and a response to the fact that iOS has long since rocketed past the company's computers in popularity, with devices like the iPad growing to compete directly. No, this isn't a "Mac OS X is dying" post, as much as now is a very good time to point out that what may seem like just another software update is something much bigger in the grand scheme of things.
The "PC Free" era For the last four major versions of iOS, stretching all the way back to the original iPhone, Apple has demanded that users plug into a computer--be it a Mac or PC--to sync music, ferry over data, and grab software updates. Now those features are built into iOS itself.
Of course, if you have a computer, you can still plug in your device and continue to use iTunes, but Apple's big idea is that these devices now stand on their own, right out of the box. That's further augmented by a new wireless sync feature built into today's iTunes 10.5 software update and iOS 5 that lets users continue to sync with their computer as they always have, but without the wires. … Read more