Apple's iCloud will automatically store, sync data for free

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
Apple finally showed off its long-awaited iCloud service on Monday, portraying it as a service that stores content, wirelessly pushes it to devices, and integrates with applications -- all at no cost to users.



iCloud was demonstrated by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who even admitted that the previous MobileMe service was not Apple's "finest hour." But he also said that despite the company's previous mistakes, iCloud is a new product.



"Today it is a real hassle and very frustrating to keep all your information and content up-to-date across all your devices," Jobs said. "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."



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.



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 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 it can be matched 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.

Features of iCloud were also demonstrated Monday at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. Details from those live demos and presentations are included below:



Contact, Calendar and Mail Sync



Like MobileMe, iCloud will offer syncing of contacts, calendars and mail. It will also be an ad-free service, and will ship with all iOS 5 devices this fall.



iCloud will come set up by default on new iOS 5 devices. Users will also be given 5GB of storage for mail, all free through the new service.



iCloud will be integrated in the App Store on iOS devices, allowing users to see all of the applications they own, even if they are not installed on the current device.



Backup to the Cloud



Devices can also be backed up to the cloud, for users who want to become truly PC-free. Content will be backed up to the cloud every day, and users will identify their account with a username and password login on any device.



Backups will occur over Wi-Fi only, and will apply to a number of applications on iOS devices, including purchased music, books and applications; photos and video stored in the camera roll; device settings; and app data.



Documents in the Cloud



A new feature called Documents in the Cloud automatically backs up documents created in Pages, Numbers or Keynote in the iCloud service. The newly released versions of the iWork suite for iOS already have this feature built in.







Developers will also have access to iCloud application programming interfaces for their software. Applications will be allowed to store full documents, and they will be pushed to a user's device automatically. It will work across all iOS devices, as well as Macs and PCs.



Photo Stream



Photo Stream will also bring the cloud to photos, allowing users to back up and sync pictures automatically. With the new service, photos will be available to access on any device. On iOS, this will be accomplished right within the Photos application.







To save memory, the last 1,000 photos will be stored on iOS devices, while in the cloud, photos will be saved for 30 days. Users can choose to keep a photo permanently by moving it into an album.



iTunes in the Cloud



With iTunes in the cloud, users will also be able to redownload songs to any device at no additional cost. Just as with applications on the App Store, content that is already owned will be represented with an iCloud icon.







A new setting in iOS will also allow automatic downloads of content on other devices. A new tab for purchased items will reside in the iTunes application. Songs are AAC files at 256Kbps and can be pushed to up to 10 devices.
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Comments

  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,977member
    So that copy of MobileMe I didn't activate that I got with my 1st-gen iPad on launch day...



    ...is now just a relic of a bygone age, then?
  • yargokyargok Posts: 1member
    How does this iCloud work for those of us who share an AppleID within a family? For example, my wife and I share our iTunes app purchases, but don't want to sync our calendars and mail. Is it possible to divorce the two?
  • pxtpxt Posts: 683member
    I wonder if iCloud is a new set of code or just the same junky MobileMe code inside iCloud.



    Either way, it's backup, backup. backup, before letting Apple anywhere near my data.



    If they've really got a good way of pushing data around then I'll be very happy and would consider an iPad or Air to add to the collection.
  • iq78iq78 Posts: 256member
    ... some of it's huge cash chest to put a hurting on Google's model!?



    Basically, "Yeah, we will do what Google is trying to do... but we will do it better and make it ad free."
  • goldenclawgoldenclaw Posts: 229member
    Futurists and prognosticators chime in...



    iCloud service is free to start in order to get people hooked. Then bam...a year or two down the road it will no longer be free.
  • daylove22daylove22 Posts: 215member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Goldenclaw View Post


    Futurists and prognosticators chime in...



    iCloud service is free to start in order to get people hooked. Then bam...a year or two down the road it will no longer be free.



    I favor to be a paid service from the start.
  • pxtpxt Posts: 683member
    I wish I could set some smart control for my iPhone's wifi, so it connects when i want it to but doesn't run down the battery when I don't.



    Maybe it could check the GPS location of the networks in my fixed list and only check for wifi when the 3G cell tower says it's in the right general area, otherwise go to sleep as there's no point otherwise. I'm sure some clever tech can figure it out - I don't want to have to remember to switch wifi back on each time I return home or to a hotel room, then switch it back off to save battery the rest of the time.
  • mugzymugzy Posts: 38member
    I want to know how this is going to impact my data plan.



    iCloud may be free for now, but this is going to be transferring a LOT of data over 3G.

    So it looks like "free" from Apple means me paying $10-$25 more a month with AT&T on a new data plan or overages.



    UPDATE: looks like iCloud is WiFi only for now. (still watching keynote...)
  • pxtpxt Posts: 683member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by daylove22 View Post


    I favor to be a paid service from the start.



    Yes, then use the cash to buy someone that knows how to write sync code. ( Hello Mr. DropBox ).
  • nobodyynobodyy Posts: 373member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mugzy View Post


    I want to know how this is going to impact my data plan.



    iCloud may be free for now, but this is going to be transferring a LOT of data over 3G.

    So it looks like "free" from Apple means me paying $10-$25 more a month with AT&T on a new data plan or overages.



    Grandfathered into unlimited data, so I can't be more excited.
  • alt_realityalt_reality Posts: 1member
    I would guess this is laying the foundation for some significant hardware change in future mobile device release. In a sense, you could eliminate or minimize the need for dedicated storage on the device. Dunno if anyone here can comment on whether that saves significant space or not.
  • constable odoconstable odo Posts: 1,041member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Goldenclaw View Post


    Futurists and prognosticators chime in...



    iCloud service is free to start in order to get people hooked. Then bam...a year or two down the road it will no longer be free.



    That's how some of the drug dealers in my 'hood like to interest new clients. Give 'em a taste and they'll be happy to pay once they're hooked.
  • sandorsandor Posts: 274member
    im cautiously optimistic. i'll wait for a final decision until i try it out for myself "in the wild"
  • kindredmackindredmac Posts: 153member
    Meh...

    I would like to know why those of us that just renewed our MobileMe's in the past 2-3 months did it...



    Apple, I would love to get an Apple Gift card for the difference!
  • 19841984 Posts: 955member
    I just renewed MobileMe and now it's free? Mother@#$%^*S
  • n42n42 Posts: 34member
    I don't think they're going to make us pay for iCloud, ever. They are locking us in with the free offer, but not to make us pay for the service later -- to force us use their hardware. It's a smart move. And I don't really care, anyway.. I'll happily use their hardware.
  • mister snitchmister snitch Posts: 580member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by alt_reality View Post


    I would guess this is laying the foundation for some significant hardware change in future mobile device release. In a sense, you could eliminate or minimize the need for dedicated storage on the device. Dunno if anyone here can comment on whether that saves significant space or not.



    I think there'll always be a need for on-device storage. The problem is that the potential for maxing out that storage grows daily. You could do it with photos alone, never mind photos + audio recordings + music + books + TV + music + apps. And people who buy iOS devices aren't necessarily people who want to fuss with external hard drives. Apple was eventually going to have to support these new devices in an 'invisible' and automated way.



    Today's announcements are another step forward for Apple's PC-free future. (In which anyone still using a Mac will automatically be a 'power user' to some degree.)
  • melgrossmelgross Posts: 28,596member, moderator
    A bit disappointed that all the hoopla about the songs being stored in the cloud and being streamed down to us didn't work out. but, I suppose that would use even more data from the plan then doing it this way.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,977member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by n42 View Post


    to force us use their hardware.



    Except it works on PCs...
  • al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nobodyy View Post


    Grandfathered into unlimited data, so I can't be more excited.



    just wait until all the carriers change that as a condition of a new device upgrade
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