Apple's iCloud service offers online storage, accessible from any Apple device connected to the Internet. How much do you know about the successor to MobileMe?
Apple announced iCloud along with supporting technology iOS 5 during its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June 2011.
Apple rewrote MobileMe and merged its features into the iCloud service.
Apple integrated iCloud features in its iOS software and apps so it can work seamlessly on devices running iOS 5 and later.
Apple opened the iCloud application programming interface (API) to its developer community, allowing enterprising iOS app developers to take advantage of its features.
This is an important feature that sets iCloud apart from some of its competitors. Not only do you get a full 5 GB free, but anything you purchase from iTunes can be accessed from anywhere you run iTunes without subtracting from that 5 GB.
Anyone with an Apple ID has automatic access to up to 5 GB of iCloud storage without making any changes to their accounts. This is the same Apple ID you use to sign in and make purchases at the iTunes Store.
Though iTunes was originally limited to five authorized devices, you can authorize up to 10 devices to access and use your iCloud contents.
The iTunes Match service costs $24.99 per year and lets you access your matched tracks from anywhere alongside your iTunes purchases. This is available for any music that iTunes can match with something in the iTunes Store. The tracks will play at 256 Kbps quality, even if your original was of lower quality.
Because the Apple iOS is the same across devices, there's really no need to back up the entire OS. Instead, iCloud concentrates on what makes your iOS device unique: your personal settings, apps and data.
Apple iOS uses your iCloud for daily backups, provided you're connected to the Internet with WiFi rather than your 3G mobile data service.
iCloud Communications owned the trademark for its company name, but not for the "iCloud" brand. Apple filed 11 patent applications related to iCloud.
Xcerion, headquartered in Sweden, specializes in cloud computing services.
For $20, the first tier of additional iCloud storage adds 10GB to your free 5 GB for a 15GB total. That's $2 per additional gigabyte for a year. Additional tiers include 20 GB for $40 per year and 50 GB for $100 per year.
Mac OS X Lion and later can run apps programmed to synchronize with iCloud storage.
One of Amazon's advantages over iCloud is in the area of music access. Using iTunes, you can download any of your music, but you can't stream it directly from the cloud. Amazon lets you stream the music from your cloud storage using the Amazon MP3 Player software on mobile devices or the Amazon Cloud Player in a Web browser on your computer.
By default, Apple iOS doesn't use certain iCloud features, such as backups, when it's connected to the Internet over a 3G network. Instead, it will wait for a WiFi connection.
The icloud.com interface has a sleek, simple background and icons representing each application you can use there, just like the Apple iOS. You can open and switch applications at icloud.com just as you would on an iPhone or iPad.
The more Apple products you have, the more you can benefit from iCloud's integration into the Apple operating systems. That said, iCloud's Web accessibility makes it an excellent way to access data from Windows and other operating systems.
MobileMe customers as of June 6, 2011, had services extended until June 30, 2012, without a need to pay any additional fees. At that time, Apple announced that the MobileMe service would end on June 30, 2012.
iTunes introduced features associated with iCloud in summer 2011, including access to all your iTunes Store purchases from anywhere you use iTunes.