Apple iCloud Online Service
Cloud computing is more than just a virtual playground for developers, now that Apple has announced the launch of iCloud (www.icloud.com), the company’s new wireless syncing platform and successor to the MobileMe (www .me.com) subscription-based service. Originally dubbed iTools about a decade ago and then renamed .Mac, MobileMe was released in 2008. Although support for MobileMe is slated to expire on June 30, 2012 for subscribers with accounts activated prior to June 6, 2011, Apple discontinued MobileMe availability in retail stores on Feb. 24 this year. The transition to iCloud will incorporate some features from MobileMe in addition to new cloud-based offerings. Moreover, iCloud will be offered at no charge for iOS 5 and OS X Lion users. At this time, MobileMe users can access data on certain programs, such as MobileMe Mail and Mac OS X Mail; Contacts and Bookmarks; iCal; and the multimedia created in iPhoto, iMovie, and iWeb, on multiple Apple devices. For instance, if you have an @me.com or @mac.com (f m the .Mac phase) email address, you can sync your Address Book, calendar events, and photos on your PC, MacBook, iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad. Basic storage in MobileMe costs$99 per year for 20GB (or $149 a year for the Family Pack with a 20GB primary account and 5GB sub-accounts), whereas iCloud offers 5GB of free storage, unless you decide to buy a storage upgrade. Another $20 each year will get you 10GB of iCloudstorage. For $40, you’ll receive 20GB. And for $100, you have access to 50GB of space. Any purchased music, apps, books, TV shows, as well as the photos in Photo Stream (we’ll explain this later), “don’t count against your free storage,” Apple says. Although we could continue making MobileMe and iCloud comparisons, we’ll get right to it and cover the must-know info about iCloud in its beta stage, including current and upcoming features.
iCloud Raining Features
Mac Computer Repair – At press time, only the developer community could access iCloud. Apple will release iCloud as part of iOS 5, the next generation of its mobile operating system. iOS 5 is compatible with the following devices: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch third generation, iPod touch fourth generation, iPad, and iPad 2. Essentially, iCloud will function as an online service that lets you access almost all the content on the aforementioned devices (plus on a Mac or PC) whenever you like. By wirelessly pushing app content and multimedia to your devices, you don’t have to sync your mobile gadgets to your home computer, such as when you connect your iPod touch to your MacBook Pro in order to back up apps and music.
In iCloud, you can purchase new music, TV shows, and movies via iTunes, and iCloud will push the song, episode, or film to the rest of your devices, regardless of which one you use to download the media. When you use this Automatic Downloads feature, you must have a broadband or mobile broadband connection for iCloud to sync content. iTunes tracks your purchase history, making it possible to get to previously purchased items on each of your devices. While both of these features are currently available as beta versions for the general public, an additional feature called iTunes Match will come with the official release. For $24.99 per year, iTunes Match will search your iTunes music collection for songs ripped from CDs or albums you’ve bought from other Web sites and back them up to iCloud.
The Photo Stream feature will send to iCloud any photo you capture via an iOS device or that you import to your PC or Mac from your digital camera. When they’re in the cloud, you can automatically access your photos on all your other devices, whether that’s in iPhoto, your Photos app, Photo Stream for the Apple TV, or your PC’s image library. iCloud will only save the 1,000 most recent photos on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad for 30 days, so your onboard storage isn’t overburdened by a massive digital photo collection. Also, your Mac or PC is the central hub for aving all of your Photo Stream pictures.
Documents & Books
If you create a document using the iWorks suite, you’ll be able to save your work and then manage the document (presentations, reports, etc.) on Apple devices. As of yet, iCloud doesn’t support thirdparty apps, but developers will soon be able to build apps that sync over Wi-Fi in the cloud. Buying one book from iBooks (or the iBookstore) is like getting up to five copies of the same book for no extra charge. For example, when you download your copy of the latest best seller, it’s ready to read immediately on the rest of your devices.
Apps & Backup
iCloud’s increased accessibility for all apps, past and present, lets you view every app you’ve downloaded on any device in the App Store’s purchase history. In the same way iCloud instinctively sends iTunes content and books to all Apple devices, it will do so with your apps. The Backup saves your iOS data, but incremental backups save the most recent changes you’ve made. In order to restore data over Wi-Fi, you’ll enter your Apple ID and password on the device and it will return as if you’d never lost it. What does iCloud Backup safeguard for you? Music, apps, books, photos, Camera Roll, video, settings, app data, the me screen, app organization, text messages, and ringtones.
Calendar & Communications
iCloud users will appreciate the collaborative aspects of the Calendar: If you share a Calendar and decide to make changes to a group appointment, iCloud updates the edited appointment on all iOS devices. To get emails pushed to your iCloud me.com email account, iCloud syncs your Inbox and folders, so you can view and respond to messages in real time. When you need to access a contact in Apple Mail or Microsoft Outlook, you can do so at www .icloud.com.
iCloud On The Horizon
Smart Computing | October 2011 p.39
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