Probably the announcement that has attracted the most rumour, speculation and interest in the build up to WWDC has been iCloud, supposedly Apple’s new music streaming service. And unlike, iOS and OS X, the world has so far been unclear as to what iCloud replace, if indeed that is the intention. iTunes? MobileMe? Neither of these products are the most popular amongst Apple’s arsenal, so replacing either, or both, would be a welcome step for many.
We’ve been commentating on the build up to this day, in anticipation of iCloud, with our views on why it’s good, why it’s bad, what it is and everything in between, so please feel free to trawl through the last week or so’s articles here on Zath for some further pre-announcement analysis, stay glued here for the latest news as it comes in from California, and tune in later for some post-announcement analysis from me.
So What is iCloud?
Steve Jobs kicked this off by declaring he wants to demote the Mac or the PC to just being its own device, with no dependants. He also says that keeping our iOS devices in-sync is driving us all crazy. I agree, and iCloud is apparently the answer we were looking for.
iCloud is basically a media syncing tool that will automatically push all media collected on one iOS device up to the cloud and back down on all the others. It works for photos, contacts etc and is integrated into all of your apps as well. This will simply keep all of your stuff on your iOS device in sync with all the others.
This is definitely the replacement for MobileMe, which you may remember cost you an annual subscription of $99, which is now to be completely eradicated with iCloud being free for all iOS devices.
Basically, any changes you make to your iOS device will be synced and made straight away, over the air, on all of your iOS devices.
On top of all this sync-ing stuff, you will now be able to see all of your purchase history for apps, books etc. on all of your iOS devices, and can grab them from a list rather than through the app store itself.
Furthermore, all of your stuff will be automatically backed up daily to iCloud over Wi-Fi, and restored whenever you get a new device, or whenever else you want to do a full restore, over the air. No PC needed. All of your media will be backed up, music, photos etc.
Documents in the Cloud
Now down to the seriously important stuff: there will be three core functions of iCloud, the first of which is document backup, and all of your documents stored on your iOS devices will be backed up in iCloud. Making fantastic use of iWork for iPhone and iPod Touch, released last week, as well as on the iPad.
This is very Dropbox-like to me, but specifically for documents. And it will not only be more convenient for users, but also more secure I would imagine, keeping the documents on all of your iOS and PC and Mac devices in perfect synchronicity.
Similarly, iCloud will keep your photo albums identical on all of your iOS, PC and Mac devices, and whenever you take, or import, a photo, they’ll be right there on your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Mac, with it built right into iPhoto on OS X, and a pictures folder on the PC. Furthermore, it’s built into Apple TV too, so all of your photos will be accessible on your Apple TV. Another announcement met with huge applause.
To combat the problem of limited storage, Apple will keep all of your photos for 30 days, and store the latest 1000 photos taken, and if you want to keep them you can shove it into an album on your device and it will remain, if not, it’s gone forever.
Take a photo, save a photo, view it on any device, and share it on Twitter. Seamless.
iTunes in the Cloud
The first point here, is that iTunes will now store a purchase history on all of your iDevices, and anything you’ve bought you can now download on any device free of charge, much like with apps.
Alternatively, there is a slider that will let you automatically download all of your purchases on all of your devices. Remember, this only works with iTunes purchases.
When you buy a song on any iDevice, it will simultaneously download on all of your iDevices without having to sync it with your PC.
The tracks bought are 256Kbps and you can link to up to 10 devices.
So 9 apps make up iCloud, and all of them work in the same way. Change something, add something to one device, and boom – it’s on all of your devices. That’s the notion that takes Apple’s offering so far ahead of the competition. So far.
You’ll get 5GB of free storage in the cloud for Mail, too.
Developers will be interested to hear that iCloud Storage API’s will be available so your own apps can make use of the seemingly incredible functionality of iCloud.
Consumers will all be pleased to hear, that all of these apps are entirely free of charge.