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iCloud: What we already know

Serenity Caldwell | Oct. 4, 2011
Yes, Tuesday's Apple event will almost certainly center around iOS 5 and the iPhone, as both rumors and fact have intimated. But what about Apple's other planned fall unveiling, iCloud?

Yes, Tuesday's Apple event will almost certainly center around iOS 5 and the iPhone, as both rumors and fact have intimated. But what about Apple's other planned fall unveiling, iCloud?

At this summer's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple indicated that iCloud--its new online storage and sync service--would be arriving in the fall, presumably alongside iOS 5. And, as iOS's developer betas have progressed, so has iCloud: There's little doubt that the service will be officially unveiled at Tuesday's event, with an official debut date close to--or the same as--iOS 5's.

Before all that occurs, however, we want to make sure you've been properly caught up on the latest and greatest goodies that await you when the service hits the public scene. You may have already seen our guide on what to expect from iOS 5 (and if not, what are you waiting for?)--so to accompany that, here's a quick primer on iCloud and its already-announced features. (For even more information, you can always revisit our iCloud FAQ from June.)

The facts of the cloud

While the name "iCloud" presents a lovely image, trying to discern what the service actually does from that moniker alone is a tad unclear. In a nutshell, the service aims to sync up your devices--both iOS and desktop--no matter which one you're using at any given moment. It does so by providing a central online repository for your mail, contacts, calendars, purchases, photos, documents, and backup; your devices collectively sync and pull information from this central server, thus keeping everything up-to-date.

"Great!" You say. "But how much is this all going to cost me?" As Steve Jobs mentioned during the WWDC keynote, any user will be able to sign up for their own little piece of the iCloud for free. They'll get 5GB and a free Me.com email address with which to store backups, documents, and mail archives. You'll also be able to purchase 10, 20, and 50GB of additional storage for $20, $40, and $100 a year, respectively. Any purchased content from iTunes (music, apps, and books) as well as your Photo Stream photos won't count toward this storage limit; they're stashed separately.

Like iCloud's predecessor, MobileMe, your mail, calendar, and contact accounts will be accessible from all your devices and on the Web (at icloud.com). You'll also be able to access your iWork documents, if you have one of the iWork apps on your iOS device.

Ubiquitous syncing

As mentioned above, with iCloud you'll be able to wirelessly sync your contacts, calendars, and mail with all your devices. You can also sync reminders (from iOS 5's new Reminders app), Safari and iBooks bookmarks, and any notes you've made in the Notes app. In addition, your iOS devices will be able to sync any app data and documents and back up all vital information online.

 

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