The Rise of the iCloud
Late last night Apple announced numerous new features including a new set of breakthrough cloud services that will work seamlessly with applications on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC. These services will automatically and wirelessly store your content on iCloud and automatically and wirelessly push it to all your devices. iCloud will feature 5GB of free cloud storage for Mail, Document Storage and Backup. The best part is all your purchased music, apps, books and a users Photo Stream do not count against the storage limit. So as Apple say on their website, 5gb will go a long way.
One of the main features that has been garnering quite a bit of attention is iTunes Match, a service that will replace your entire ripped music collection with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version, as long as it can be found in the library of over 18 million songs in the iTunes Store®. This makes the matched music available in minutes across your devices (instead of weeks to upload your entire music library), and uploads only the small percentage of unmatched music to the cloud. iTunes Match will be available around July for a $24.99 annual fee. Some sites have been referring to this service as “music Laundering,” because it’s a fantastic way for users to legalize their music collections [Although they probably don't want you to look at it that way]
There are some amazing other free services that will be launching as part of the new iCloud service such as:
Former MobileMe Services – Contacts, Calendar and Mail—all completely re-architected and rewritten to work seamlessly with iCloud. Users can share calendars with friends and family, and the ad-free push Mail account is hosted at me.com. Your inbox and mailboxes are kept up-to-date across all your iOS devices and computers.
App Store and iBookstore – Download purchased iOS apps and books to all your devices, not just the device they were purchased on. In addition, the App Store and iBookstore now let you see your purchase history, and simply tapping the iCloud icon will download any apps and books to any iOS device (up to 10 devices) at no additional cost.
iCloud Backup – Automatically and securely backs up your iOS devices to iCloud daily over Wi-Fi when you charge your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Backed up content includes purchased music, apps and books, Camera Roll (photos and videos), device settings and app data. If you replace your iOS device, just enter your Apple ID and password during setup and iCloud restores your new device.
iCloud Storage – Seamlessly stores all documents created using iCloud Storage APIs, and automatically pushes them to all your devices. When you change a document on any device, iCloud automatically pushes the changes to all your devices. Apple’s Pages®, Numbers® and Keynote® apps already take advantage of iCloud Storage. Users get up to 5GB of free storage for their mail, documents and backup—which is more amazing since the storage for music, apps and books purchased from Apple, and the storage required by Photo Stream doesn’t count towards this 5GB total. Users will be able to buy even more storage, with details announced when iCloud ships this fall.
Photo Stream – iCloud’s innovative Photo Stream service automatically uploads the photos you take or import on any of your devices and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices and computers. So you can use your iPhone to take a dozen photos of your friends during the afternoon baseball game, and they will be ready to share with the entire group on your iPad (or even Apple TV®) when you return home. Photo Stream is built into the photo apps on all iOS devices, iPhoto® on Macs, and saved to the Pictures folder on a PC. To save space, the last 1,000 photos are stored on each device so they can be viewed or moved to an album to save forever. Macs and PCs will store all photos from the Photo Stream, since they have more storage. iCloud will store each photo in the cloud for 30 days, which is plenty of time to connect your devices to iCloud and automatically download the latest photos from Photo Stream via Wi-Fi.
iTunes – iCloud lets you download your previously purchased iTunes music to all your iOS devices at no additional cost, and new music purchases can be downloaded automatically to all your devices. In addition, music not purchased from iTunes can gain the same benefits by using iTunes Match, a service that replaces your music with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version if we can match it to the over 18 million songs in the iTunes Store®, it makes the matched music available in minutes (instead of weeks to upload your entire music library), and uploads only the small percentage of unmatched music. iTunes Match will be available this fall for a $24.99 annual fee. Apple today is releasing a free beta version of iTunes in the Cloud, without iTunes Match, for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users running iOS 4.3. iTunes in the Cloud will support all iPhones that iOS 5 supports this fall.
I’ll certainly be making using all of these services, although as with most Apple services you’ll most likely need a US or similar based account to take advantage of many of the top end services such as iTunes Match. Although if you know how, getting one isn’t that difficult…