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Riding high on iCloud

Shanthi Kannan
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If you thought Apple had anything missing from its vast and stylish repertoire, it probably was a successful cloud. MobileMe, by all reviews, was not quite of the standard of the other products from the stable.

But that is remedied now, with the late Steve Jobs announcing in June this year that MobileMe was, for all practical purposes, dead, and iCloud was born. (But, if you are a current member of MobileMe, you can still access everything as usual till June 30, 2012). With Apple-iPad, iPhone, iPod touch owners upgrading to the new operating system iOS 5 this week, they were automatically subsumed in iCloud.

This service will automatically store photos, songs and other files on servers at Apple's data centres and sync them all with a customer's Apple gadgets. A photo taken with an iPhone would thus appear on a user's iPad, iPod Touch or an Apple TV.

iCloud will host a range of services for iTunes, photo stream, and documents in the cloud. Furthermore, it stores music, photos, apps, contacts, calendars, documents and more, keeping them up to date across all devices. When content changes on one device, the other devices are updated automatically and wirelessly.

“iCloud is the easiest way to manage content. One does not have to think about keeping all devices in sync as it happens automatically, and it is free,” according to Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice-president of Internet Software and Services.

For music lovers, Tunes in the cloud automatically downloads new music purchases to all devices. So much so one can buy a song on his iPad and find it waiting for him on his iPhone; iTunes in the cloud also download the user's previously purchased iTunes content, including music and television shows to his/her devices at no additional cost.

The innovative photo stream service lets the user take a photo on one device and have it automatically appear on his/her other devices. Similarly, iCloud's Documents in the cloud keeps the documents up to date across all the devices, automatically.

iCloud backs up automatically and securely stores important information daily over Wi-Fi, whenever the device is connected to a power source. The software also includes a service called iMessage that lets Apple customers send text messages to each other.

When you sign up for iCloud, you automatically get 5GB of free cloud storage for mail, document storage and backup. Your purchased music, TV shows, apps, books and photo stream do not count against the storage limit. Using iCloud on a MAC requires a recent version of OS X Lion, and on a PC, Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) or Windows 7. Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010, or an up-to-date version of your preferred browser is required for accessing your email, contacts, and calendars in iCloud.

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