Apple to Unveil iCloud, Refreshed Software

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will unveil the latest version of its mobile operating system on Monday that will not only power its traditional iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, but also its highly anticipated iCloud service.

In a keynote speech at its annual worldwide developers conference on June 6, led by chief executive Steve Jobs, Apple will reveal a slate of next-generation software, including Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS X.

Jobs will be breaking another medical leave to help introduce the iCloud service. The pancreatic cancer survivor’s last public appearance was in March, when he helped reveal the iPad 2.

The tech giant has traditionally used the conference to introduce its latest iPhone model, but the company made no mention of an iPhone 5 in a statement released on Tuesday.

Cloud-based services, which allow users to store files such as music and videos on an outside server to be easily accessed by their owner on any mobile device or computer, have just recently started to take off.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) have already released their cloud-based services, but many have awaited the release of Apple’s iCloud.

While Apple is the last of its two main cloud rivals to release the service, it has been rumored to have been striking licensing deals with top music publishers in a move that would widely differentiate it from its competitors, which both skated around such deals.

The music companies have been hesitant to partner with tech companies for the cloud for fear it will only increase piracy over the web.

Holding new licenses for the iCloud would likely enable Apple to identify customers’ already purchased music so they could avoid the tedious task of uploading songs one by one. Apple already carries an iTunes customer base of more than 200 million people.

The music deals may also enable Apple to provide users with a higher quality version of their songs, according to TechSavvy Global CEO and security expert Scott Steinberg.

Apple already acquired the iCloud domain name for $4.5 million and has reportedly struck deals with Sony (NYSE:SNE), Warner Music (NYSE:SMG) and SMI. Universal Music Group is the only major label still holding out, but sources told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that a deal will likely be inked this week.