Apple may have revealed iCloud in a press release last week, but the company waited until today's WWDC keynote to let us in on all of the details of the service. iCloud will automatically upload your content to the cloud, store it, and push any changes made to any of your devices. For example, you can add a contact on your iPhone and that contact is then uploaded and stored in your iCloud, then it's pushed down to any of your other connected devices. Contact, calendar, and mail syncing, which used to be the focus of MobileMe, will be made available free to all iCloud users.
Joining your contacts, calendars, and email in the cloud will be application purchase history, allowing you to re-download any app that you've bought in the past but may not have with you at the moment. iBooks will be getting a similar treatment, storing and syncing any books you may buy from Apple's service as well as your progress in a particular book. All of that purchase data, as well as your photos/videos, app data, and device settings will be backed up to the cloud every day over WiFi. Any Pages, Keynote, or Numbers documents will also sync with your iCloud. Also a part of iCloud will be Photo Stream, which will upload images in your camera roll to the cloud and allow you to view them on your other synced devices. Photo Stream will store up to 1000 photos at a time on for up to 30 days. Apple has said that users will be given 5GB of free storage for mail, documents, and backup (apps, books, music, and Photo Stream won't count toward that allotment), with the ability to purchase more storage coming when iCloud rolls out alongside iOS 5 this fall.
What about music, you ask? For that, Apple's got iTunes in the Cloud. With the service, any music you purchase from iTunes will be saved on Apple's end and can then be re-downloaded on any iTunes in the Cloud device for free. Additionally, you can set the service up to automatically download any newly-purchased music to up to 10 other devices. The music will be available as 256kbps AAC files and will be free of charge. The downside? There doesn't appear to be any sort of streaming option. If you want to listen to a song, you've got to download it to your device. iTunes in the Cloud is available in beta form for iOS 4.3 devices starting today.
For those of you that don't get all of your music from iTunes (*raises hand*), Apple is offering up a service called iTunes Match. For $24.99 per year, Apple will scan all of the music on your hard drive and then allow you to download them just like you would with music purchased through iTunes. If the quality of some of your music isn't up to Apple's standards, they'll upgrade those files to 256kbps AAC before serving them up for download. iTunes Match will be made available this fall.
Apple Introduces iCloud
Free Cloud Services Beyond Anything Offered to Date
SAN FRANCISCO—June 6, 2011—Apple® today introduced iCloud®, a breakthrough set of free new cloud services that work seamlessly with applications on your iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch®, Mac® or PC to automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and automatically and wirelessly push it to all your devices. When anything changes on one of your devices, all of your devices are wirelessly updated almost instantly.
“Today it is a real hassle and very frustrating to keep all your information and content up-to-date across all your devices,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iCloud keeps your important information and content up to date across all your devices. All of this happens automatically and wirelessly, and because it’s integrated into our apps you don’t even need to think about it—it all just works.”
The free iCloud services include:
The 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.
The App Store™ and iBookstore? now 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.
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® in the Cloud 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.
Apple is ready to ramp iCloud in its three data centers, including the third recently completed in Maiden, NC. Apple has invested over $500 million in its Maiden data center to support the expected customer demand for the free iCloud services.
Pricing & Availability
The iCloud beta and Cloud Storage APIs are available immediately to iOS and Mac Developer Program members at developer.apple.com. iCloud will be available this fall concurrent with iOS 5. Users can sign up for iCloud for free on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch running iOS 5 or a Mac running Mac OS® X Lion with a valid Apple ID. iCloud includes 5GB of free cloud storage for Mail, Document Storage and Backup. Purchased music, apps, books and Photo Stream do not count against the storage limit. iTunes Match will be available for $24.99 per year (US only).
iTunes in the Cloud is available today in the US and requires iTunes 10.3 and iOS 4.3.3. Automatic download of apps and books is available today. Using iCloud with a PC requires Windows Vista or Windows 7; Outlook 2010 or 2007 is recommended for accessing contacts and calendars.
Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.
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