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10 things to know about the new Apple iCloud

Apple boss Steve Jobs beat ill health yet again to take to the stage in San Francisco last night at the company’s WWDC developers’ conference.

The electronics giant’s chief has been battling cancer but didn’t let that stop him being on hand to announce the latest inventions from the clever people behind the Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

But unlike in recent years, there was no new hardware on offer disappointing many Apple fans desperate for news of a new iPhone 5 model, or even a slightly tweaked iPhone 4GS that had been widely rumoured.

Apple did though reveal details of the new iOS 5 mobile operating system and its Mac OS X Lion software. You can find out more about it in our related article.

Sky’s The Limit For Apple iCloud

And instead of a big iPhone announce, the watching audience of millions around the world was instead treated to a whole new concept from Apple… iCloud – an internet-based storage solution for your music, contacts, calendar, photos and documents.

Steve Jobs said:

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

“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.”

But what is iCloud and how will you use it? Read on to find out with our 10 things you really need to know about it…

Apple iCloud Is Free

Paying nothing is always a bonus and when iCloud launches in the autumn it will cost nothing. You’ll get 5GB of storage free and have to pay for any more, which sounds a fair deal. iCloud also replaces the paid-for MobileMe service and this
will disappear next June.

Apple iCloud Is Wireless

However many Apple devices you own, they will all be connected to the iCloud through one single sign-on account. That means each time you update your Contacts, Calendar and Mail, any changes will instantly appear on your computer or mobile gadget without the need to sync anything with a desktop or laptop.

iTunes Downloads Galore

It used to be a right pain if you wanted to put a song you downloaded in iTunes to one device onto another. The process was fiddly, didn’t always work and wasn’t very Apple in terms of its ease. Well, iCloud solves that by allowing you to download all of your previously purchased music to any device running iOS at no extra cost. So buy a song for your iPhone and you can put it on your iPad and iPod touch too at the press of a button. It’ll save you plenty of money, time and tears.

iTunes Is A Perfect Match

Steve Jobs’ “One More Thing” at WWDC was the reveal of iTunes Match. It might not have been a new iPhone 5 but the idea itself is neat. Pay a flat fee and any CDs you’ve ripped to your iTunes can be converted into high quality digital audio files from more than 18 million songs in the Store. Apple say it works in minutes rather than weeks, no matter how big your library. The only downside is right now, it’s only available in America.

iWork In The iCloud

Users of Apple’s iWork suite for documents, spreadsheets and presentations can benefit from iCloud by having instant access to their files from anywhere. Update a letter on your computer and the changes will appear on your iPad within seconds. It’s great for anyone who works on the move.

Daily Backup For iOS

This is one of the biggest benefits to the Apple iCloud – you should never lose a precious bit of data again. Each day over Wi-Fi, when you charge up your device, a backup will begin securely sending your photos, videos, device settings, apps and books to iCloud. So if you lose a gadget or need to reboot it, everything can be downloaded from the sky as if you’d never had a problem.

Apps and Books

In a similar way to iTunes, anything you buy from the App Store or the iBookstore will automatically be provided to all of your devices running iOS, the mobile operating software. You’ll be able to view your purchase history and by tapping the iCloud icon, send apps and books to any of up to 10 devices.

iPhone Photos and Video

If you love taking snaps and movies with your iPhone, then iCloud will keep them all safe and make them available to view on your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Instant uploads mean someone else can even view them back at home using Apple TV before you get there. It only keeps the last 1,000 shots to save space and pictures will be saved for 30 days giving enough time to then move them to an album on a hard drive.

Apple Super Computing

Apple has spent more than £300m on a new data centre in America to handle the server demand for all this free storage. iCloud will use three data centre including that brand-new facility in North Carolina.

Ready For Developers

Anyone registered with Apple’s iOS and Mac Developer Programs can get a beta version of iCloud and all the Cloud Storage APIs right now. So by the time iCloud comes out in the autumn along with the new iOS 5 operating software for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, we should see loads of cool apps taking advantage of the iCloud. The sky really is the limit for what developers can make with it.

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