I've watched yesterday's keynote, and while much longer than average, it was jam-packed with good stuff. I'm especially excited about the next version of MacOS X, Lion, which I hope to go more into soon.
But first, I want to write about iCloud. As I wrote yesterday, the pressure was on for Apple to match the cloud offerings of their competitors. And in terms of the functionality that was shown, it looks like iCloud is definitely going to help Apple (mostly) achieve parity with it's competitors. The biggest question, at this point, is "will iCloud scale"?
During the keynote, Scott Forstall presented this slide:
Now, while not all of those iOS devices will be capable of running iOS 5, the vast majority will be. So some day this fall, Apple will release iOS 5, and throw the switch on iCloud. Will it stay up? Will it perform as well as it did during the demos shown in the keynote? All of this is unknown, and will ultimately be the main driver as to whether or not iCloud is deemed to be a success or failure.
But other than that, there were a few more things that seemed, at least to me, to be missing:
Nothing was shown that makes it easy to move open web pages between devices. Apple's "Reading List" feature can do this, but it appears to be meant for longer web pages, that you want to read later (ala Instapaper).
The new iMessage service looks awesome, and will probably help me reduce the amount of money that I spend on SMS messages every month. However, it doesn't appear to be possible to interact with iMessage from the Mac (integration into iChat seems like an obvious feature).
Streaming your iTunes music from iCloud. This is really important, because according to iTunes, I have 30GB of Music, but my iPad only has 16GB of storage (14GB usable). So if I bought the "iTunes Match" service, it appears as if all of my Music would be available in my iCloud account, but I would manually have to choose which songs and albums to download to my iPad. That seems rather cumbersome — I'd much rather stream music from my iCloud account. This is one area where Google Music seems to be superior to iTunes cloud. Once your music is uploaded to Google, you can stream it, and Google will cache songs that you stream on your device, automatically. This is more what I want for my devices that are light on local storage.
Syncing files that were not created by an iCloud-compatible app (i.e. text documents stored on my Mac).
TV and Movie purchases from iTunes. If you buy a season pass to a TV show, you can only download new episodes on your Mac, and then sync the to your iOS device via USB cable. It's not clear if this has been fixed with iOS5 + iCloud (but since they didn't mention it, I'd assume that it isn't).
Other than not having ads, Apple didn't make the case as to why I'd switch from Gmail to iCloud email.
Hopefully, the launch of iCloud this fall will be a success, and Apple will continue to build upon it, adding some of the features that are lacking (according to me). But for now, there is nothing to do but wait to see how well iCloud will work in practice.