Apple floats iCloud

Macworld Staff
7 June, 2011
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During the keynote address at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled iCloud, Apple’s new wireless data sync service for iOS devices, Macs and PCs.

“Some people think the cloud is just a hard disk in the sky,” Job told the attendees. “We think it’s way more than that. And we call it iCloud.”

The free iCloud takes the place of Apple’s $119-a-year MobileMe service, which Jobs admitted, “wasn’t our finest hour.” Like MobileMe, iCloud offers the ability to sync contacts, calendars and mail across devices. Create a new contact on your iPhone, for example and it gets automatically pushed to the cloud and syncs to all of your devices and computers.

The same goes with calendar events and you can even share calendars directly from your iOS device.

iCloud syncing also work with Safari bookmarks and books in iBooks. And iCloud isn’t just for Apple’s software, either. Third-party applications can store documents in iCloud and auto-sync them when changes are made on any device.

Another aspect of iCloud is automatic data backup. Once a day, iCloud will back up a lot of a user’s important content to the cloud over Wi-Fi. If you ever get a new phone, Apple said, type in your Apple ID and password and everything will be loaded on that phone automatically.

It will back up purchased music, apps and books, your Camera Roll (photos and videos), device settings and app data.

New apps
Apple has also created three new apps for iCloud.

Documents in the Cloud uploads Pages, Numbers and Keynote documents to the cloud for syncing.

Photo Stream lets you take photos on any device and uploads them to sync with your other devices (for example, your iPhone shots appear on your iPad). Photo Stream also works with iPhoto on Mac and supports the Apple TV as well. Because photos are so large, Apple will limit Photo Stream to your last 1000 photos on iOS devices (unlimited on Macs and PCs). They’ll remain on iCloud for 30 days after you upload them, but you can save them permanently on a device by move them to a new or existing album.

The last new app is iTunes in the Cloud. For songs you’ve already purchased from the iTunes Store, there’s a Purchased button that shows your entire purchase history of songs (purchased on any device). You can view by all songs, recent songs, or by artist. You can then download any song or album with the touch of a button.

“This is the first time we’ve seen this in the music industry,” said Jobs. “No charge for multiple downloads on many devices.”

You can download music to up to 10 devices and you can also enable an Automatic Downloads feature that will grab any new purchases you make on other devices.

Apple also announced that APIs for iCloud will be released to app developers. It’s possible that non-Apple apps will be able to take advantage of iCloud features, such as Documents in the Cloud.

iTunes Match
What about music that wasn’t purchased from the iTunes Store – for example, all those CDs you’ve ripped yourself? Apple has come up with iTunes Match, a US$25-a-year service that scans your iTunes library and tries to match it with the 18 million songs that Apple sells. For the songs that are in the iTunes Store, you get instant access and Apple will even upgrade them to its standard 256-kbps AAC format. For those songs that Apple can’t identify, you can upload them manually

Specs and availability
Each user gets 5GB of free storage for mail, documents and backup. Fortunately, purchased music, apps, books and Photo Stream photos don’t count against that total.

iTunes Match costs US$25 a year for unlimited storage.

iCloud will ship at the same time as iOS 5 in the fall, although developers can download a beta version now.

According to a Apple support document, current MobileMe users have had their accounts automatically extended until June 6, 2012, at no charge. After that date, the MobileMe service will be discontinued. MobileMe users will need to sign up for iClould and will be able to keep your or email address. Once your iCloud account has been established, you can move your MobileMe mail, contacts, calendars and bookmarks to youriCloud account. If you have an unused activation code for MobileMe, you can request a refund before June 30, 2012.


3 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Christopher Deeble says:

    I hope “free” stays that way. I remember that was also free for a few years but then Apple started charging and then it morphed into MobileMe. I can’t help but be suspicious after that experience. I won’t be depending on iCloud for a while, though I’ll probably try it out.

  2. cam says:

    So mobile me is out. ios5 is in. Older 3G phones are not supported by ios5. Therefore my phone can’t be used as intended when I bought it, and only 3 years old. Not a very green apple I say.

  3. Derek says:

    I’ve used MobileMe since about 2002 I think. With my iMac, MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone I see MobileMe as the glue that holds everything together. While I have to pay for it, I believe the value I get from MobileMe equals the fee.
    What I’m unclear about though is the migration plan from MobileMe to iCloud for current MobileMe subscribers. I understand the migration plan for subscribers will differ on your country. Many Apple users outside the US experience less of a service from Apple, but I understand this has more to do with local copyright laws i.e. iTunes Store in Australia does not match the US store for product range.

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