As anticipation builds for the launch of Apple's iPhone 5 this summer, not to mention the mooted iPhone nano, much of the focus is understandably on the hardware. A new report, however, suggests Apple's equally ambitious plans for its MobileMe cloud service could be one of the biggest selling points for its new devices.
Cult of Mac's report summarises Apple's intentions thus: "Every location-based service you can think of mashed up into one -- and built into iOS." Which should be enough to prick any iPhone owner's ears up.
The report goes into detail, too, claiming that the new MobileMe will include live video streaming, Foursquare-style location-based check-ins, and an additional geotagging system codenamed 'Tokens' that is described as being "like Facebook Places on steroids". This is on top of music and video-streaming elements allowing you to stream your iTunes collection to your device over the air.
All of this will apparently feed into a personalised Web page, tracking everything you've done and opted to share with your iOS device, including locations, photos and videos. It sounds like Apple's Ping and Game Center social networks will be tied in, as will details of the apps you've been using. It's Facebook meets YouTube meets Foursquare, in other words. But with easy privacy controls enabling you to set what's shared, and with whom.
"The concept is that you would have you own website that's dynamic,
all based on what you are doing at that moment," says Cult of Mac's anonymous source. "Apple
thinks of it as having a webserver in your pocket... everything will be
dynamically updated to MobileMe."
Tokens sounds fascinating too: the ability to tag real-world locations with information, tips and photos, much like Foursquare does today. Cult of Mac claims this element of the new MobileMe may be suffering technical gremlins at the moment though, so it's possible it won't make it for launch.
Much has been written about Apple's rivalry with Google when it comes to iOS and Android. Whenever we talk to Silicon Valley types, though, they say Apple versus Facebook is going to be just as big a battle in the years to come.
Turning MobileMe into a content-streaming, location-based social network could be seen as Apple taking on Facebook, but we'd hope the two services will play nicely with one another, allowing you to tie your MobileMe account to your Facebook profile and find your friends.
Either way, when Apple does next hold a product launch, we'll be as interested in the software as the hardware.