- Associated Press - Monday, June 6, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO Apple CEO Steve Jobs emerged briefly from medical leave Monday to unveil a free service that lets customers more easily share calendar entries, songs and other files among their devices.

The company also announced new software to make Mac computers behave more like mobile devices and Apple’s mobile devices more like rival smartphones.

Mr. Jobs received a standing ovation as he appeared at Apple Inc.’s annual developers conference, his second major public appearance since he went on medical leave in January for unspecified reasons and duration.

Mr. Jobs left many of the specific announcements to top executives. In the first hour, he appeared on stage for just a few minutes. Typically, he’s on stage longer at major public launches.

James Brown’s “I Feel Good” played over the loudspeakers just before Mr. Jobs walked on stage, looking thin, in his signature outfit of mock turtleneck and bluejeans.

Mr. Jobs returned to stage about 80 minutes into the presentation to announce a service called iCloud. It will be free for now and replaces a $99-a-year Apple service called MobileMe, which Mr. Jobs said “was not our finest hour.”

An iCloud account will store user information from several devices, including iPhones and iPads, and make sure the same contacts, calendar events and files are available on all of them. It also backs up the data on Apple’s servers. It mimics Google’s Docs system for online files and products from smaller online-storage companies such as Dropbox.

ICloud also will allow customers to store their music online. Buy a song on iTunes once, and it will be available on up to 10 devices.

The company has been in talks with the major recording companies to make this possible.

ICloud could give users a wide array of music for their iPhones, iPads and Wi-Fi-capable iPods, without having to connect them to their home PCs to transfer songs. Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. have launched similar services.

The music portion of iCloud is available right away, with remaining features coming in the fall.

Mr. Jobs seemed animated as he unveiled iCloud, walking back and forth on stage and making many gestures during the presentation. He walked off stage briefly to let an executive demonstrate an iCloud feature. After about five minutes, he walked slowly back up the steps to the stage to continue.

Earlier, Apple unveiled an operating system update for Mac computers called Lion. With it, Apple is expanding the ways finger touches can be used to control the software. For instance, with the swipe of the fingers over the Mac trackpad, the user can switch from one program to another.

In another nod to bringing the computer closer to the iPhone and iPad, Apple is adapting more of its programs to run in a special full-screen mode in addition to the traditional “window” mode.

Lion will be available to consumers next month for $30. A preview version was made available Monday to software developers.

Apple also unveiled updates to its software for iPhones and iPads. It will present notifications of new emails, missed calls and other events in a more intelligent fashion, reminiscent of the way Google Inc.’s Android smartphone software already does. The software will present all pending notifications in a list, accessible with the swipe of a finger.

The new mobile software, iOS 5, will have a newsstand for newspapers and magazines that you subscribe to on iPad. New issues are automatically downloaded and placed there.

Apple also announced greater integration with Twitter, so users can tweet photos, for instance, directly from a photo app.

The software will be available to consumers in the fall. IPhones, iPads and iPod Touches will be able to get operating-system updates directly from the Internet without having to connect to a PC running iTunes. It’s something Android phones can do now.

Apple didn’t announce a new model. In recent years, it has revealed one at the developers conference in early June, then launched it a few weeks later. This year, a new iPhone model isn’t expected to reach stores until the fall.

Mr. Jobs made a public appearance in March to announce a new iPad. On Monday, Apple said it has sold more than 25 million iPads since they went on sale 14 months ago.

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