Apple introduces breakthrough iCloud; free service ‘just works’

Apple today introduced iCloud, a breakthrough set of free new cloud services that work seamlessly with applications on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC to automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and automatically and wirelessly push it to all your devices. When anything changes on one of your devices, all of your devices are wirelessly updated almost instantly.

“Today it is a real hassle and very frustrating to keep all your information and content up-to-date across all your devices,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, in the press release. “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.”

The free iCloud services include:

• The former MobileMe services—Contacts, Calendar and Mail—all completely re-architected and rewritten to work seamlessly with iCloud. Users can share calendars with friends and family, and the ad-free push Mail account is hosted at me.com. Your inbox and mailboxes are kept up-to-date across all your iOS devices and computers.

• The App Store and iBookstore now download purchased iOS apps and books to all your devices, not just the device they were purchased on. In addition, the App Store and iBookstore now let you see your purchase history, and simply tapping the iCloud icon will download any apps and books to any iOS device (up to 10 devices) at no additional cost.

• iCloud Backup automatically and securely backs up your iOS devices to iCloud daily over Wi-Fi when you charge your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Backed up content includes purchased music, apps and books, Camera Roll (photos and videos), device settings and app data. If you replace your iOS device, just enter your Apple ID and password during setup and iCloud restores your new device.

• iCloud Storage seamlessly stores all documents created using iCloud Storage APIs, and automatically pushes them to all your devices. When you change a document on any device, iCloud automatically pushes the changes to all your devices. Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps already take advantage of iCloud Storage. Users get up to 5GB of free storage for their mail, documents and backup—which is more amazing since the storage for music, apps and books purchased from Apple, and the storage required by Photo Stream doesn’t count towards this 5GB total. Users will be able to buy even more storage, with details announced when iCloud ships this fall.

• iCloud’s innovative Photo Stream service automatically uploads the photos you take or import on any of your devices and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices and computers. So you can use your iPhone to take a dozen photos of your friends during the afternoon baseball game, and they will be ready to share with the entire group on your iPad (or even Apple TV) when you return home. Photo Stream is built into the photo apps on all iOS devices, iPhoto on Macs, and saved to the Pictures folder on a PC. To save space, the last 1,000 photos are stored on each device so they can be viewed or moved to an album to save forever. Macs and PCs will store all photos from the Photo Stream, since they have more storage. iCloud will store each photo in the cloud for 30 days, which is plenty of time to connect your devices to iCloud and automatically download the latest photos from Photo Stream via Wi-Fi.

• iTunes in the Cloud lets you download your previously purchased iTunes music to all your iOS devices at no additional cost, and new music purchases can be downloaded automatically to all your devices. In addition, music not purchased from iTunes can gain the same benefits by using iTunes Match, a service that replaces your music with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version if we can match it to the over 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, it makes the matched music available in minutes (instead of weeks to upload your entire music library), and uploads only the small percentage of unmatched music. iTunes Match will be available this fall for a $24.99 annual fee. Apple today is releasing a free beta version of iTunes in the Cloud, without iTunes Match, for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users running iOS 4.3. iTunes in the Cloud will support all iPhones that iOS 5 supports this fall.

Apple is ready to ramp iCloud in its three data centers, including the third recently completed in Maiden, NC. Apple has invested over $500 million in its Maiden data center to support the expected customer demand for the free iCloud services.

The iCloud beta and Cloud Storage APIs are available immediately to iOS and Mac Developer Program members at developer.apple.com. iCloud will be available 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. iCloud includes 5GB of free cloud storage for Mail, Document Storage and Backup. Purchased music, apps, books and Photo Stream do not count against the storage limit. iTunes Match will be available for $24.99 per year (US only).

iTunes in the Cloud is available today in the US and requires iTunes 10.3 and iOS 4.3.3. Automatic download of apps and books is available today. Using iCloud with a PC requires Windows Vista or Windows 7; Outlook 2010 or 2007 is recommended for accessing contacts and calendars.

Source: Apple Inc.

Related article:
RUMOR: Apple to make MobileMe free – May 7, 2010

112 Comments

  1. Sounds great right up to the point that someone hacks Apple and owns you. It WILL happen.

    200 million well heeled targets that have files, photos, e-mails, passwords, accounts and stuff in one place. That is the Mother Lode.

    The question is will Russians or Chinese get there 1st.

        1. Never owned a Windohs machine. Started with a MacSE in ’89 and have owned numerous Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads since.

          Fudsters spread FUD. Simple as that.

          1. I work with secure data (Medical) every day and am fully aware of the security risks and threat that exist on the Internet. I have no doubt that Apple has takes what they consider to be reasonable precautions for security.

            I also know that OS X is nowhere near as secure as the general street opinion holds it to be- much less the rants of crazed fanbois.

            The profile of Apple customers and Mac users makes a great target for those with less than honorable ways to make a living. Most of Apple’s servers run on Solaris and it can be compromised. There is no bulletproof OS.

            200 million users of iOS and 54 million OS X users plus god knows how many Windows users of iTunes makes for a massive gold mine. Add to the financial information all your contacts, e-mails and their content. Add to that all the file types iCloud will handle.

            No thanks.

            Call it FUD if you will, I’ll stick with Snow Leopard unless Apple allows an opt out of this nonsense. That also goes for iTunes, iBooks, and all the rest.

            1. Companies that have been cracked recently: Sony thrice; Exxon, Shell, BP (Bloomberg, 2/2011); Epsilon plus 50 of their clients (ComputerWorld, 4/2011); Apple’s own App Store (gumballtech, 7/2010); just to name a VERY FEW! Why would anyone willingly trust their personal info to the “Cloud”? Just a matter of time before harvest-time (ID thief, profiling, etc.).

              What I find VERY DISTURBING is Apple’s implementation of “Apple ID” for the use of their services. I don’t understand why people haven’t been speaking out (against) Apple’s “Apple ID”? What’s really the difference between its implementation or Obama’s Internet ID, or even a National ID?

              It seems to me that Apple’s desire is to move completely away from optical media and, consequently, distribute all future-software through MAS. The problem I have with this is that an Apple ID coupled w/a credit card (i.e., the personal info that’s attached to it) along with the personal downloads-info. stored with Apple could open up a can-of-worms I just don’t want to become a part of (the problem, though, is that I want to use a Mac & various software but I also want to main personal privacy, security)…

    1. Wouldn’t it just be easier to hack the banks and skip the middle steps? If the banks aren’t constantly being hacked, then there must be security that is secure.

        1. They are using IBM mainframes…with leased lines running through 3745/3746 communications processors. IBM tried to dump these in 1999 but all the financial institutions wouldn’t let them for security fears. My company made boat loads of money selling machines and maintenance parts back to IBM when they realized their clients wouldn’t give ’em up!

      1. Most Apple servers have run Solaris, a few run OS X and a few run Windows. Unless Apple has a secret Skunkworks OS for the data center, history is probably a good pointer.

      1. It won’t matter if it’s pirated.
        It’s more along the lines of what lord robin said below.

        Me I almost always buy the cd. Rip it exactly how I want it. All my music is backed up on DVD’s. If I can’t turn the music part off.. I’d get hit with that $25/year thing.
        Never purchased a song from iTunes, I do have a few of the free songs though.
        Then again I have all my music on two data DVD-rw’s… (I don’t have much music)

        1. You have to sign up for “that $25/year thing”, they don’c scan your library and send you a bill.

          Beyond that, the $25/yr service is just that, an optional service. If you don’t want to pay for it, don’t. It’ll just take a lot longer to upload your massive “not bought in iTunes” musical compendium of awesomeness. Thingie.

  2. You should see Fandroid crowd at Engadget, frothing at their mouth how Google and Android has had this for years, how Apple is shamelessly playing catch-up… It is incredibly bizarre. The most ridiculous part is how they keep screaming how Apple are sheep and fanbois, yet their collective bleeting is worse than Apple crowd on the worst day.

    1. Those idiots have no clue that Apple had been building the groundwork for years. Apple is just meticulous with innitoatives to make sure it works right. There are always hiccups but for the most part it works. Goople, MS and the other wannabe slaps it together to beat Apple and crosses their fingers hoping it works.

      1. Ever use MobileMe? Apple doesn’t make many mistakes but they do trip occasionally. They failed miserably and never did fix it. Now they have. I hope. Like many here I don’t know that I am going to use iCloud because I don’t think I need it. Could change my mind though as it does look easy. As far as the security issue, Apple will be vulnerable just like very one else. When they want to hack you
        cannot do anything to stop them. Even banks. But all my info is already in less secure places so I probably won’t give them the good stuff for the cloud. A few years ago I checked my Apple ID info and found that instead of my name there was a Vietnamese name in it’s place! Nothing had been charged to my account but I probably stumbled onto it before that happened. Apple told me not to worry that it was just a simple mistake. They blew me off like it didn’t matter. Riiiiight. I was lucky. So Apple is just like any other big money making company. They don’t care. They just happen to be the better of the companies that don’t care and they make great products. Always be aware of your surroundings. Never be a follower. Never be a sheep. Remember, it’s nothing personal it’s just business.

    2. Thanks for the heads up, pre. I suppose that when one is an AnToid owner there is precious little to crow about, so they are apparently under the misperception that today’s announcement is Apple’s attempt to “catch up” and think they can feel superior. It’s more like they are ordering another round for a few minutes of carousing before the bar gets hit by a missile. You almost have to feel sorry for them. Almost. When someone tells me they still use Windows, or own an Android/Berry/whatever, I act as if they’ve just announced that terrorists have annihilated their family, and say, “Oh, I am so sorry to hear that.”

      1. You may also feel sorry for me; I own an Android device, too (among many Apple devices). I can’t justify $60 per month on AT&T (plus all the text on top of that) to my wife, so I have a $25 per month Virgin Mobile plan (and an LG Optimus phone). The Android phone compares to iOS almost EXACTLY as Windows compares to Mac OSX. It can pretty much to all the things, but you simply HAVE to keep tinkering with it in order to keep it running smoothly. I’m a tech guy, so I don’t mind that much, but iOS flies circles around it, and effortlessly. Having had this Android device for some time has given me plenty of ammunition in debate with Android fanbois.

        1. Hah funny that. I’m a tech guy too, more specifically a programer. Its for that very reason I don’t want to use Windows or Android when it comes to my own stuff. I like solving Windows problems when people are paying me. When I want to get my own shit done I don’t ever want to think about it more then I have to lol

    3. Well, Apple never said it invented cloud storage, push notifications, etc., just that it made them better, easy to use, and that iCloud “just works”.

      I’ll bet anyone can figure out iCloud far, far faster than any similar, disjointed solution on Android.

    1. You can now point your middle finger at Google. Take back your useless GMail and all your stupid free services with ads and spywares and shove it into your ******.

    2. Not only did Apple ass-rape Google, Amazon, MS and Blackberry today, but they also didn’t even say “Give me the butter” before doing so.

  3. I’m guessing this only works for songs and not my DVD’s that I’ve ripped and put into iTunes so I can put them on my iPhone or iPad or watch on my AppleTV2….

    1. I would like to know that as well. I am hoping maybe for buying the itunes match service that we also get 20 GB like we did before. Something similar to that whole idisk thing, so the web can be stored there

    1. Nope. As of today, MobilMe she is dead.

      At least as far as future subscriptions go.

      IIRC (having just seen the keynote), you’ll get MobilMe continued through June 30, 2012. Lots of time to decide to get up and move your content over to iClouds after its fall introduction.

  4. Pay $25/year for them to store the music I’ve already purchased? No thanks.

    I might pay something like $.39 per song but not per song per year.

    That’s just stupid.

    I’m really disappointed.

    And what about the 2 terabytes of TV I’ve purchased from the iTunes store?

    1. Can you read?

      The $25 per year is only for stuff you DID NOT purchase on the iTunes store. That could turn into massive bandwidth and storage space.

      The 2 terabytes of TV you’ve purchased from the iTunes store does not require the $25 dollar fee, nor does anything else you’ve purchased from iTunes.

      Nevertheless, I bet you’re still gonna whine about it.

      1. Again, $25/YEAR to host music I’ve already paid for (and ripped myself) is not valuable to me.

        Do you see somewhere where you can download the tv you’ve purchased from the iTunes store again? Because I can’t find it and I’ve looked.

        It appears to just be for music. Which to me, isn’t valuable.

        I still love Apple. I’ll bet you a buck I’ve been using Macs longer than you have and that I own more Macs than you.

        1. Go to the keynote and watch the iTunes segment carefully.

          The $25 gets you ITunes Match. It is basically a time saving service; rather than upload iTunes library entries that you didn’t buy through iTunes (such as ripped from CDs), it sees that they’re also available from iTunes, and substitute your files from your iPod/Mac with Apple’s iTunes copy, which just happens to be 256kbps AAC.

          The files themselves never get stored in the cloud, just a unique link to the content in iTunes massive vaults deep underground in Patagonia. The only time one of those files goes anywhere is if you have to restore from the cloud, and a copy from iTunes set is fired in your general direction.

          1. Yes, but Disappointed’s point is valid – stop paying the $25/yr and your CD-ripped songs (now converted to iCloud, DRM-added and synced to your 10 devices) go away, but your iTunes-purchased songs are still available.

      1. You present a formidable argument (with your math and all) but you present it poorly.

        I’d respect you except for that last line and the fact that you don’t understand what a “Reply” button is.

    2. So, you wouldn’t pay $2 per month to have ALL your non-iTunes purchased music stored in the cloud?

      Not only do you suffer from lack of reading comprehension, you are also an amazing cheapskate.

      1. I’m not a cheapskate. I paid for MobileMe after all. However, I am might disappointed with a mere 5 gb of storage. I wish iCloud was a full-blown competitor to Carbonite.

          1. It applies to mail and documents and any other file you want to store there. The music, apps, photo stream and such don’t count to the 5 GB limit. That ends up being a very small amount of stuff and probably will take a long time to use up the 5 GB.

    1. Yeah, that does suck, doesn’t it? I have a feeling we’ll be waiting a little longer than Fall for iOS5 too. For all Steve’s crowing about Google’s issues with fragmentation, I guess Apple doesn’t see what they’re doing with their own products.

      1. I think the fragmentation only came initially because they introduced the Verizon iPhone out of sync with everything else. When the new version comes out (probably a world phone with a GSM/CDMA/maybe LTE chip) they’ll most likely all be synced up.

  5. I guess this is gonna be one of those threads we’re a bunch of neurotic losers will moan, groan, whine, fret and complain about this, that and the other.

    Hey folks, here’s a Newsflash for you: YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE iCLOUD!!!

  6. I’m not gonna lie. I had my doubts about iCloud and it’s music functions, but it actually does blow Amazon’s Cloud player out of the water.

    1. “Effective June 6, 2011, if you had an active MobileMe account, your service has been automatically extended through June 30, 2012, at no additional charge. After this, the MobileMe service will no longer be available.”

      OK. What’s the difference??? What service? Seems iCloud provides at “no cost” the same info access MobileMe provided (mail, calendars, disk etc).

      I extended MobileMe back in March. If MobileMe is “no more”, now being replaced by iCloud, what benefit do I receive having MM extended to 6/2012? That makes no sense at all.

      Apple ought to apply a current MM subscriber’s subscription balance to iTunes subscription. That would be fair.

      1. I’m sure Apple will address these things in short order. Let’s not forget that iCloud was only announced a couple of hours ago. Naturally not all details are going to be available, but I’m sure Apple has a plan for those of us who have paid for MobileMe subscriptions.

        I had purchased a couple of MobileMe subscriptions, lost them in a move, renewed, and then found my subscriptions, so I have 6 months left plus another year waiting. I feel confident Apple will credit my iTunes account, which would be great!

        1. The referenced Apple Support document was modified today. Even though the service was announced a short while ago, it’s been in the planning stages for quite some time. I would think MM subscriptions would have been on the planning agenda.

          Apple will probably shift their policy to something more equitable once the subscriber base chimes in with a more “think different” approach. Facebook page anyone???

      2. I agree. Simply refund my MobileMe subscription. Why extend something that is a piece of crap? Very disappointed in AAPL with this. It’s not the money it’s that it’s wrong. But MobileMe has been wrong too so go figure.

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