Apple has released a fifth beta version of iOS 5, along with new versions of iTunes10.5, Xcode 4.2 and Apple TV software, all primarily aimed at helping developers test new facets of its iCloud service.
The uncharacteristic Saturday release of the new builds suggests Apple is working hard to deliver new releases as soon as possible rather than waiting for a regular business day to offer the new updates.
The company has indicated iOS 5 will be released in the Fall, alongside iCloud features that are highly integrated int the new mobile operating system. Mac OS X Lion shipped without including support for iCloud, but will be updated in the same time frame with iCloud support.
A separate 10.7.2 build of Mac OS X Lion is available to developers, which is compatible with an additional beta package that adds support for iCloud services.
iCloud is such a critical aspect of Apple’s future plans for Mac OS X and iOS that it featured its new cloud services (a renamed and significantly revamped version of its existing MobileMe) as the third major topic at its summer Worldwide Developer Conference, with essentially equal billing to its desktop and mobile operating systems.
Apple warns developers that the iOS 5 beta 5 build “should only be deployed on devices dedicated for iOS 5 beta software development,” and reportedly notes in its instructions to developers that “it is recommended that you do not use the iCloud services to store any critical data or information,” noting that documents stored in the cloud may be purged prior to the GM release of iOS 5.
The release of iOS 5 beta 5 is accompanied by a new beta release of iTunes 10.5, but that new version doesn’t sync with existing builds of the software, and Apple recommends backing up and fully restoring devices in order to cleanly install the new build, resulting in a more complex update path than Apple’s typical customers would be used to performing.
Also included in the flurry of updates is a new build of the iOS-based Apple TV software, which now supports Photo Stream for wirelessly, automatically displaying pictures captured or stored on the user’s other iOS or Mac systems.
iOS 5 beta 5 also adds default AirPlay support to all apps and websites that play video, with the AirPlay feature now built into AV Foundation for streamlined integration by developers. AirPlay enables mobile videos to be played back wirelessly to Apple TV.
A new release of Xcode 4.2 has also been made available to work with the latest iCloud-savvy beta build of iOS 5.
Inside iCloud: Apple’s new web services for iOS and Mac OS X Lion
Inside iCloud: Apple’s new Documents & Data cloud service
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