SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple CEO Steve Jobs briefly emerged from a medical leave Monday to unveil a storage service that promises to let customers share contacts, calendar events and other data among devices more easily.
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The company also announced new software to make Mac computers behave more like mobile devices and Apple’s mobile devices more like rival smartphones.
Apple’s stock was down $2.05, or 0.6 percent, at $341.39 in afternoon trading. The stock was up in the morning, but fell soon after Jobs left the stage.
He returned to stage about 80 minutes into the presentation to announce a service called iCloud. It will be free for now and replaces a $99-a-year Apple service called MobileMe, which Jobs said “was not our finest hour.”
An ICloud account will store user information from several devices, including iPhones and iPads, and make sure the same
contacts, calendar events and files are available on all of them. It also backs up the data on Apple’s servers. It mimics Google’s Docs system for online files, and products from smaller online-storage companies like Dropbox.
ICloud is also expected to allow customers to store their music online. The company has been in talks with the major recording companies to make this possible.
ICloud could give users a wide array of music for their iPhones, iPads and Wi-Fi-capable iPods, without having to connect them to their home PCs to transfer songs. Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. have launched similar services.
Jobs seemed animated as he unveiled iCloud, walking back and forth on stage and making many gestures during the presentation. He walked off stage briefly to let an executive demonstrate an iCloud
feature. After about five minutes, he walked slowly back up the steps to the stage to continue.
Earlier, Apple unveiled an operating system update for Mac computers called Lion. With it, Apple is expanding the ways
finger-touches can be used to control the software. For instance, with the swipe of the fingers over the Mac trackpad, the user can switch from one program to another.
In another nod to bringing the computer closer to the iPhone and iPad, Apple is adapting more of its programs to run in a special full-screen mode, in addition to the traditional “window” mode.
Lion will be available to consumers next month for $30. A preview version was made available Monday to software developers.
Apple also unveiled updates to its software for iPhones and iPads. It will present notifications of new emails, missed calls
and other events in a more intelligent fashion, reminiscent of the way Google Inc.’s Android smartphone software already does. The software will present all pending notifications in a list, accessible with the swipe of a finger.
The new mobile software, iOS 5, will have a newsstand for newspapers and magazines that you subscribe to on iPad. New issues are automatically downloaded and placed there.
Apple also announced greater integration with Twitter, so that you can tweet photos, for instance, directly from a photo app.
The software would be available to consumers in the fall.
IPhones, iPads and iPod Touches will now able to get operating system updates directly from the Internet, without having to connect to a PC running iTunes. It’s something Android phones can now do.
Apple didn’t announce a new iPhone model, as it usually does in June or July. The new version is expected to come in the fall.
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