Apple unveils iCloud synchronization service at WWDC

By on June 6, 2011, 8:31 PM

Apple's iCloud service is perhaps the company's most interesting announcement today at WWDC. Long rumored as a music streaming service, Apple's take on cloud computing is better described as a synchronization platform and only a fraction of it involves music. Starting with iOS 5, many of Apple's native applications will support iCloud, facilitating the automatic synchronization of your contacts, calendar, mail, documents, photos, music, books, apps and backups.

Such content is bounced to Apple's new data center in rural North Carolina and shared between your other devices. For instance, if you take a picture, the image will be automatically uploaded to your iCloud account and downloaded to your iPad and MacBook. Many iCloud-enabled applications have their own unique twists -- such as sharing calendar data with your spouse -- but the music-specific portion of iCloud is particularly fascinating compared to the competion.

Instead of being a separate music subscription service, iCloud essentially augments the functionality of Apple's existing iTunes platform. Along with offering access to previously purchased music across your hardware, the service will automatically download newly purchased songs on up to 10 devices. Additionally, for $24.95 a year, Apple will offer a service called "iTunes Match," which will let you import non-iTunes songs and download them across all your devices.

Although it might seem pricey, iTunes Match presents several immediate benefits. Unlike competing cloud storage services, iTunes Match can scan your entire library and compare it against some 18 million songs in Apple's database. Those that are matched will become immediately available for download as if you've purchased them via iTunes, cutting out the entire process of uploading the files and automatically upgrading your lower quality songs to 256kbps AAC files.

We think many users will appreciate iTunes Match, even if they only sign up for one year to import a bulk of their library. Songs not available in Apple's database will have to be manually uploaded to your iCloud account if you want to sync them across your devices, but this doesn't cost anything. Apple provides 5GB of free storage -- just like Amazon -- but pictures and iTunes songs don't count against this limit and we imagine data can be cleared once it's done syncing.

It's worth noting that iCloud will replace Apple's current $99 MobileMe service. Besides iTunes Match, all other aspects of iCloud will be available to users free of charge. That said, we would expect Apple to eventually introduce paid storage capacities beyond 5GB. Although iCloud won't be available in its entirety until this fall, you can experience a beta version of the music portion with iOS 4.3.3 (released last month -- check your Store settings) and iTunes 10.3 (released today).




User Comments: 24

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Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Hmmm..

A 10 bucks or less for a decent thumb drive or $24.95 to Apple for some service I don't need....

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

darkshadoe said:

Hmmm..

A 10 bucks or less for a decent thumb drive or $24.95 to Apple for some service I don't need....

What I don't get is what prevents people from pirating songs and then using this service to "launder" them, and have ostensibly legal copies of pirated music.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

I'm wondering the same thing gwailo.

Guest said:

So ... where are all the bois shouting huzzah and dancing in the streets over this "revolutionary" new technology?

Strange though, this idea sounds . vaguely . familiar . where . have . I . heard . this . before ?

Oh yeah, Xdrive, Idrive, Adrive, Box.net, dropbox, livedrive, skydrive and countless others.

Way to pioneer apple!

aj_the_kidd said:

gwailo247 said:

darkshadoe said:

Hmmm..

A 10 bucks or less for a decent thumb drive or $24.95 to Apple for some service I don't need....

What I don't get is what prevents people from pirating songs and then using this service to "launder" them, and have ostensibly legal copies of pirated music.

Thats the thing i will be waiting to see as well, most of my media, is somewhat in the grey area in terms of legality, so i am waiting to see how they will deal with pirated content on cloud services, if it can be dealt with at all

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Guest said:

So ... where are all the bois shouting huzzah and dancing in the streets over this "revolutionary" new technology?

Strange though, this idea sounds . vaguely . familiar . where . have . I . heard . this . before ?

Oh yeah, Xdrive, Idrive, Adrive, Box.net, dropbox, livedrive, skydrive and countless others.

Way to pioneer apple!

but..but..but..

Its got an Apple emblem on it...It MUST be revolutionary :P

Guest said:

OMG OMG.... Steve Jobs has done it again! Another revolutionary tech from Apple!

Guest said:

Very cool actually. There is nothing about an MP3 that stamps it as pirated; people rip their own CDs quite regularly. Whether Apple upconverts it or not does not change the legitimacy.

This is actually quite ingenious on Apple's part as they will have the majority of songs most people want to upload already cached and only need a pointer to it stored in the users account.

Guest said:

The difference is that when Apple incorporates a technology, they get it right.

The right price, the right functionality, the right integration, the right performance, the right ease of use, the right look to it and the right timing.

It's good to be an Apple customer right now - they are taking care of their own and deserve all the money they are making.

All you dopey whiners watch as Apple's stock price and market share continues to rise. If you had any smarts you'd stop talking out your butts and put your money where your mouths aren't.

It's catch up time once again for the rest.

Guest said:

The right price?! Are you ****ing kidding me man?

yRaz yRaz said:

@ Guest 1:34AM:

I guess you can't put a price on stupid

Guest said:

Apple is not free but the value is there. It's unrealistic to expect to get excellent hardware\software with good support for nothing.

The PC world is rife with quality compromises as each of the umpteen manufacturers tries to undercut the next and still remain profitable. And support is typically abysmal. What a ****ing mess.

Guest said:

Nor can one expect an intelligent comment from yRaz ;)

Leeky Leeky said:

The difference is that when Apple incorporates a technology, they get it right.

The right price,

I like Apple products, and I've always owned a Mac, but.... Seriously?

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

darkshadoe said:

Guest said:

So ... where are all the bois shouting huzzah and dancing in the streets over this "revolutionary" new technology?

Strange though, this idea sounds . vaguely . familiar . where . have . I . heard . this . before ?

Oh yeah, Xdrive, Idrive, Adrive, Box.net, dropbox, livedrive, skydrive and countless others.

Way to pioneer apple!

but..but..but..

Its got an Apple emblem on it...It MUST be revolutionary :P

Haha yeh.

Careful Apple, you never know when you might get sued for using "Cloud" in your label. derp

Guest said:

I see ISP data charges as a potential limiting factor for ICloud or any other cloud.

The more you have to get music, data, applications, etc. from the "cloud" the more

strain you put on the ISP resources, and eventually they willl pass the cost back to the user.

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

Oh of course Apple can never price anything right and they are just out to milk their customers:

[link]

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

And by the way it looks like Jobs has been talking about making services like iCloud since 1997, so there goes this feeling that Apple is copying Google: [link]

And of course there's the fact that iCloud is different from any other Google service that it's meant to use be used from different applications and not only from the web and not only by Google products.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Oh of course Apple can never price anything right and they are just out to milk their customers:

[link]

You do realize that you're installing this update on the $500 computer that cost you $2000?

Apple may not be milking their customers, but they do have the highest profit margins on hardware out there. Now whether the highest profit margin = milking, well, that's a personal decision to make.

Guest said:

Can you put a price on perfection?

Apple is the God of consumer computer tech.

Bow ye head low and open thy wallet wide or face the wrath!

:)

Leeky Leeky said:

I thought we banned Steve Jobs from posting as a Guest?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Super! Now Apple can tell it's users what software they can use, where they can buy all their music, and at long last, where they should store their data after they get it.

It's like they've done all your thinking for you! And judging by the quality of guest posts here at Techspot, they both need to, and have!

I think they should pay me for coming up with this advertising slogan, "my head is in the Apple cloud, but who cares? Uncle Steve told me not to worry"! It's certainly better than where it was before, up my a**"!

No good? Then how about, "Steve leadeth me beside my stilled thought processes, yet I fear no evil, for verily, he thinketh for me"!

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

No good? Then how about, "Steve leadeth me beside my stilled thought processes, yet I fear no evil, for verily, he thinketh for me"!

LMAO. That's from the bible right, Book of Job?

Guest said:

It's back to punch cards for you than Cranky.

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