Apple developers and devotees will turn their attention to San Francisco next week and the start of the company's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).
The event has brought high anticipation of some major announcements on the future of Apple's iOS and MacOS X platforms, as well as plenty of speculation on just what the company may be up to.
Part of the lure of WWDC is that it is the rare occasion in which major news from Apple is planned months in advance.
Apple is not fond of set schedules for product releases, and in recent years has favoured special events for announcing its new products rather than annual conventions such as the Macworld Expo.
As a result, speculation on possible product releases and platform updates has shifted from set dates to more general times of the year. Users know that updates for certain products tend to come at various times of year, but no set date is given until Apple gives word of an event.
So long as the company has its huge following, this will only be a good thing for Apple, as it provides more time to get products right before launch.
Microsoft no doubt wished that it could have had some extra time to fine tune more than a few of the products which have fizzled out onstage at the annual CES conference.
WWDC is a different story, however. The developer convention is announced months in advance, and customers and developers alike expect Apple executives to unveil new products and provide set dates for major announcements.
So what will the 2011 edition of WWDC bring? If the rumours are to be believed, quite a bit. Apple has already provided a handy outline in the form of a recent press release, indicating that updates for Mac OS X and iOS will be unveiled.
Perhaps the most anticipated unveiling of the event will be a mysterious new platform named iCloud. The service has been the source of numerous rumours and predictions. While Apple won't say just what iCloud is, the commonly held belief is that the iTunes platform will play a major role.
Reports have suggested that the service will offer an extension of iTunes libraries into the cloud, perhaps allowing users to store libraries online and stream song files to multiple devices.
The company has long been said to be holding talks with the major record labels to secure the rights for such a service.
Some last minute speculation has also floated the idea of iCloud also supporting some sort of integration with third-party applications and developer tools.
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