During Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, CEO Steve Jobs announced a new service for iUsers which will automatically upload data via Wi-Fi and send that data to any internet-ready iDevice. Called, “iCloud,” the free service will open this Fall coordinating with the release of iOS 5.
iCloud is the latest announced mainstream market service that grants users the ability to upload data from their device’s hard drive to internet databases, essentially storing their data securely within a moderated “cloud” server rather than on the device.
Though the service will offer users 5 gigabytes of free space, which may not seem much today, it is a substantial portion of space as the service is intended to allow synchronization of files to all your devices, rather than offering a free internet hard drive. The idea is to give users a service which will increase accessibility to their files without limiting them to a specific device.
When it releases, iCloud will store your music, apps, photos, calendars, emails, and documents within Apple’s cloud allowing you to easily access data with any iDevice. The service will automatically push that uploaded data to all your devices so that once you take a photo with your iPhone, you will be able to view it on your iPad or any other internet-ready device; including your PC.
Despite the free 5 GB of storage, the service will have certain limitations.
If you wish to upload music to iCloud not purchased through iTunes, Apple will charge an annual $24.99 fee. Called iTunes Match, this feature of the service will scan through your music library and sync any music which is available on iTunes to your iCloud library. However, your iCloud library only plays songs back at 256 Kbps; which means if your non-iTunes music files play back at a lesser quality, your iCloud library will play it at iTunes Plus quality.
The Photo Stream feature of the iCloud will also slip a loose noose over your iDevices. Though the amount of photos your mobile devices will save in their rolling collection is generous, and the amount of time iCloud hosts new photos is copious they won’t stay there forever. Instead, iCloud will keep your latest 1000 photos within your mobile devices rolling collection via a Photo Stream album while hosting new photos for a 30 day period.
For iUsers that already own a significant portion of music and apps, or who have a voluminous collection of photos in their Photo Stream don’t worry about the 5 GB of free storage. All of your purchased iTunes songs, applications, and books will not take away from your 5 GB of storage.