It has been a long time coming for those that have waiting months for the new Apple iCloud to be released but it is here and I have utilizing it now for about 10 days. The iCloud is a digital storage and syncing service that offers 5GB of storage for free but has upgraded storage for a nominal yearly fee.
To install the iCloud on your iPad or iPhone you must download the most current version of iTunes (version 10.5.0.142) and then download the new OS5 to your device. This process took me about 40 minutes each for my iPad and iPhone.
A sub-feature related to iTunes called iTunes Match which will allow users to store and utilize an unlimited number of songs via the iCloud for $ 24.99 per year. This means that your songs will by synchronized through the iCloud and stored on it.
Once you download the OS5 the iCloud will appear on your device. You will set up the iCloud using your Apple ID. If you were utilizing Mobile ME, Apples original cloud solution, you can set up iCloud to this account.
The iCloud will allow you share your iCal (calendar app) so that an update to your calendar is not only pushed to all of a user’s own device but to those who subscribe to the calendar as well. If you are PC Windows user there is an option to download iCloud as well to your PC. This will give the option to sync your calendar with Outlook.
In addition to syncing your calendar to multiple devices the iCloud allows you to sync contacts, mail, notes, and bookmarks. There are two new features which will also sync. The first is called PhotoStream, which pulls images directly from the camera roll of a your device, puts them in the iCloud, and sends them to any desired devices, including Macs and the Apple TV. The last 1,000 photos are kept for 30 days by default, and moving the pictures to an album keeps them forever. The other is a new feature called reminders which lets you set up reminders which sync between all your devices utilizing the iCloud.
Another really great feature is that if you are using Pages, all of these documents will be automatically backed up and pushed to all other Pages enabled devices. This means you can back up your MacBook Pages documents and get them on your iPad. Your purchased iBooks can be auto-synced to all devices as well.
Similar to HP's webOS, iCloud will also allow iOS devices to complete automatic daily backups of your devices to the cloud. This means that you can back up your device without hooking it up to iTunes which is a cool feature and ensures your data is backed up daily with no thought by the user.
I have found using the new iCloud to be pretty easy even though there is a ton of features. I love the fact that I can add an appointment in my calendar and it will sync with my MacBook, Outlook, iPad and iPhone and the same is true when I add in a new contact or reminder. The iCloud has taken the idea of “cloud” computing to a new level with genius and intuitiveness.