What is iCloud?

Category: Apple-Mac

Apple's forthcoming iCloud online storage service was announced officially in June, 2011, at the company's World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. While not expected to be available before September, iCloud has Apple fans and pundits abuzz already. Here's what it promises to do…

How Will iCloud Benefit You?

So what is iCloud and why does it matter? After all, a slew of other "cloud-based" storage services have long been available. Google Docs, Amazon Web Services, and Windows Live SkyDrive are just three big-name examples. But Apple is putting its own little twist on cloud services.

The iCloud services will take much of the work out of uploading and syncing all of your digital content across multiple devices that run Apple iOS or Mac OS X Lion. Steve Jobs explained in the WWDC keynote address, "If you get something on your iPhone, like a picture, it goes up to the cloud, and gets pushed down to the other devices automatically."

But that's not all. Any data placed on an iOS device (iPod, iPad or iPhone) will be sucked up into the iCloud and duplicated on your other iOS devices. That includes email, calendar items, iBooks, videos, etc. When you buy a song on iTunes, a copy of it will automatically be transferred to your iCloud storage space.
Apple iCloud

For $24.99 per year, you can add non-iTunes purchases to your iCloud account. If a tune you upload matches one in iTunes, it does not count against your 5GB of free storage. There's no indication yet what additional storage space may cost.

Apple's unpopular MobileMe cloud service will be absorbed into iCloud. Many MobileMe features have been integrated into the iCloud services. For example, if you change a contact on your iPhone, the changes will be updated in your contacts list on iCloud automatically, then distributed to all of your other iOS devices. MobileMe users will have until late 2012 to manually move their stored content over to iCloud.

More iCloud Benefits

Remembering what apps you've purchased can be difficult, especially when you want to re-download them to a new device. If you have kids who carry an iPod or iPhone, you probably already know how easily they can be lost or stolen. The iCloud service will keep track of your app purchases and let you selectively install purchased apps on a newly registered device.

Photostream is an iCloud service that will allow users to store up to 1,000 photos on iCloud servers for free. When a photo is taken with a Photostream-enabled device, the photo is uploaded to iCloud automatically and pushed down to other registered devices. Photos will remain on iCloud for up to 30 days, and users will be able to access them via the Apple TV set-top box.

Documents created or modified with Apple iWork apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) will be saved to iCloud and can be downloaded to your other devices.

Backups of app histories, device settings, new photos, and purchased content will all be sent to iCloud automatically.

When I first read about iCloud, I assumed it would only work with Apple devices. But even PCs running Windows can join the fun. The iTunes software for Windows will have cloud support, and since MobileMe could sync Microsoft Outlook calendars and contacts, I assume that iCloud will do so as well.

All of this uploading and downloading between devices via iCloud raises concerns about data usage charges. But Apple says don't worry… large file transfers will be restricted to WiFi so they won't consume 3G or 4G data allowances.

Do you think iCloud will change the world? Post your comment or question below…

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Most recent comments on "What is iCloud?"

Posted by:

Alan Bowman
29 Jun 2011

I've been in the cloud before,and didn't like it much - a dumb terminal tied to a Vax.

Posted by:

29 Jun 2011

No, I don't think that iCloud will change the world, but, I do think that it will be an added asset for the computer world.

I was relieved to hear that iCloud will NOT just be for 'full' Apple users. Many, many people have an iPhone, but use Windows for their computers. In all honesty, that surprised me that Apple would even think about 'sharing' an Apple concept with Windows users.

Just curious, what about Ubuntu & Linux users? Will Apple accommodate them, as well?

Posted by:

29 Jun 2011

iCloud will not change the world but it will
make it easier. Thanks Apple.

Posted by:

Jan Owen
29 Jun 2011

Bob, great article for me since I'm moving from a PC base to an Apple base for all my electronics. I can't seem to find an answer to this question and hope you can help. Can one sync Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, Office) between the iCloud, one's computer, and two iPhones? And can one edit the same programs on one's iPhones, which will update one's computer?

Posted by:

25 Feb 2012

What about the iCloud Control Panel for Windows that is Apple is pushing at the public? Is that something every iPhone/iPad owner should have on their Windows computer?


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