The new cloud computing service from Apple, iCloud, enables users to store pretty much all of their data on remote servers. Apple has put an awful lot of money into this project, from paying $4.5 million for the domain name to investing $500 million in a purpose built data center in North Carolina.
Clearly they see iCloud as a major element for the future of computing, and just as Microsoft are pushing their biggest product, Microsoft Office, to run along similar principles, so Apple is adjusting things to place their key products – such as iTunes – in the cloud, utilizing iCloud as the perfect storage and delivery system to portable and wireless devices alike.
These five reasons for using iCloud features should prove just how exciting this all is…
Apple has gone to an awful lot of trouble ensuring that big record labels such as EMI, Warner and Sony are involved with the change to iTunes that allows you to wirelessly download you purchased music from iTunes to any of your iDevices, without having to resort to wireless sync. This certainly seems like a slight relaxing of the rules on how iTunes content is used, and certainly with the additional offering of a $25 per month service that offers DRM free versions of your tracks in 256 kbps AAC format it certainly seems that Apple are addressing concerns over the DRM restrictions via iCloud.
App Store and iBookstore
The central data server nature of the iCloud enables you to take advantage of viewing the same data in multiple places, from multiple devices. Think of it as an IMAP email account, where the same folders and data are synced in the same way, and you should be pretty close.
This centralization not only benefits iTunes, however. The App Store and iBookstore now allow you to easily download purchased apps and books to any of your devices, rather than just the computer, phone or tablet that they were purchased on. It’s also much easier to view purchase history, so thanks to iCloud all of these features have been tightened up!
Contacts, Calendar and Mail
While the old MobileMe service might have offered an online element to these features, they have been rewritten for iCloud, and will be available for free when iCloud launches. This means that emails, calendar items and contacts can all be synched effortlessly via the cloud to computers, phones and tablets, enabling you to keep track of where you need to be, when, and with whom.
As with the other examples shown here, no cable is needed for this cloud sync – all you need is a wireless or mobile Internet connection!
In addition to apps, music, emails and photos, the iCloud system also offers seamless storage of documents, with the ability to sync Pages, Numbers and Keynote documents effortlessly. These are then made available to the rather generous 5 GB of storage provided just for document!
Therefore, if you have any suitable apps for opening these file types on your iPad or iPhone, you can easily open files on the go for whatever purpose; you might be working remotely, or have left your laptop behind when planning to run a Keynote presentation. In cases such as this, having access to iCloud storage from an iPad or iPhone could prove vital.
Finally, you no longer need to worry about the hassle of keeping photos synced across many different devices, thanks to Photo Stream, an iCloud based syncing version of Flickr.
Using Photo Stream you can instantly sync photos across all devices, and the last 1000 photos are stored in the cloud. Apple gives users 30 days to move photos stored on iCloud into albums in order to keep the images permanently, and the storage for these is separate to that of the main iCloud storage!
These features are only the tip of the iceberg of what is coming with iCloud – we’ll be taking a look at each one over the coming weeks, but don’t be surprised to see them added to with other popular Apple services!