Apple finally debuted its long-awaited iCloud platform alongside iOS 5 at WWDC 2011. The service works seamlessly across multiple devices, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and Windows PC.
"Today it is a real hassle and very frustrating to keep all your information and content up-to-date across all your devices," Steve Jobs explained during a hotly anticipated keynote address.
"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. When anything changes on one of your devices, all of your devices are wirelessly updated almost instantly."
To be sure, iCloud effective replaces MobileMe, as Contacts, Calendar and Mail have all been completely re-architected and rewritten to work automatically with the new platform.
For example, users can share calendars and maintain an ad-free push Mail account hosted at me.com, with inbox and mailboxes kept up-to-date across devices.
Of course, there is much more to Apple's newly unveiled service, such as iTunes in the Cloud which offers users the ability to access new music purchases from multiple iOS devices and systems, while allowing the download of previously purchased music at no additional cost. Fortunately, Apple will extend the same option for music purchased from other sources with Match, a $25 (annual) service that replaces tracks and albums with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version.
iCloud also feature a service that automatically backs up iOS devices to the cloud via Wi-Fi when an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is charging. Backed up content includes purchased music, apps and books, Camera Roll (photos and videos), device settings and app data.
Additional iCloud services include:
Pricing and availability:
The iCloud beta and Cloud Storage APIs are available immediately for iOS and Mac Developer Program members here. The platform is slated to be pushed out to the masses this fall, concurrent with iOS 5. Users can sign up for iCloud for free on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch running iOS 5 or a Mac running Mac OS X Lion with a valid Apple ID.
Note: iTunes in the Cloud is available today (US only, requires iTunes 10.3 and iOS 4.3.3), along with automatic downloads of apps and books.