Well, at least some of the speculation is now officially over: today Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) announced that it will be kicking off its annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference next week with details not only about its new operating systems for iOS and Mac, but — for the first time — it has also confirmed that it will also be debuting its new cloud services offering, to be called iCloud.
The short release Apple put out today — which notes that Steve Jobs will be taking part in the announcements at 10:00 AM PT on June 6 — doesn’t go into more detail on what iOS 5 or iCloud will feature.
For that kind of detail, for now, we can look to the blogosphere, as the whole tech world and their mothers have been speculating for months about what it is that Apple is planning around a cloud-based service, and what will go into the next edition of iOS. Some of the background:
— Apple has been hard at work finishing up a huge data center in North Carolina, and filing some patents that point to cloud services.
— The speculation around the iCloud name started back in April, when it was reported that Apple bought up the domain name iCloud.com from a Swedish company for $4.5 million. Some have speculated that there might also be a secondary service/brand called Castle within the iCloud service, based on some code found while digging through the developers’ beta release of “Lion”, the 10th edition of the Mac OS that will debut next week. No word on that in today’s release.
— Music: One of the big cloud services that everyone is expecting to be released is around music. There have been a number of reports (all unconfirmed) in the past several weeks about Apple inking deals with major music labels to offer streaming services (Sony, for example). A patent uncovered by Patently Apple even detailed how it would work within iTunes.
— iOS: Apple is entirely mum on devices in the release today, but that shouldn’t rule them out completely. The balance of opinion at the moment seems to be weighed towards the release of an incremental, iPhone 4S rather than an iPhone 5 next week. You can be sure there will be some more surprises in store.