Apple CEO Steve Jobs, on medical leave since January, emerged Monday at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco to debut the next generations of the Mac OS X and iOS operating systems.
"Today it is all about software," Jobs said after taking the stage to enthusiastic applause from the 5,200 conference attendees. "If the hardware is the brain and sinew of our products, the software in them are its soul. Today we are going to talk about software."
Apple took the wraps off a new release of its Mac OS X operating system that powers its desktop and laptop computers, and a new version of the iOS software that powers the company's widely popular iPhone and iPad devices.
Mac OS X Lion, which sports more than 250 new features and enhancements, will be generally available next month with a $29.99 price tag. The iOS 5 mobile operating system boasts 200 new features and is currently available as a beta for developer program members.
The new "iOS 5 has some great new features, such as Notification Center, iMessage and Newsstand and we can't wait to see what our developers do with its 1,500 new APIs," Jobs said. But he added that its "paramount feature" is its ability to work with Apple's new iCloud service for storing content such as documents and music online.
Apple has sold 25 million iPads and more than 14 billion applications have been sold through the company's App Store, Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iPhone software, said in detailing what's new in iOS 5.
The Notification Center lets device owners know when they have text or e-mail messages, calendar alerts, and missed calls. Newsstand aggregates users' digital newspaper and magazine subscriptions into one location. The new iMessage feature adds the functionality of iPhone messaging to all iOS devices, including the iPad and iPod touch. And the iOS 5 system now provides built-in Twitter integration.
Apple executives also said the new iOS release will let iPhone and iPad users set up the devices right out of the box, rather than first connecting them to a PC -- an announcement that brought sustained applause.
The new Mac OS X Lion brings to the desktop many of the same multi-touch gestures found on the iPhone and iPad devices. The new software also provides support for full-screen applications, resolving a long-running complaint that Mac apps lack the ability to run full screen.
The new Mission Control feature lets user see at a glance everything that's running on their Mac. And LaunchPad let's Mac desktop and laptop users quickly launch applications the way they now can on iOS devices.