After quite a few web rumblings, Apple officially announced iCloud. Apple CEO Steve Jobs just unveiled the free cloud-based service at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Calif.
The service is designed to store all of your digital goodies, then wirelessly push the content to devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, as well as a Mac or PC. It can also sync those devices, meaning when something changes on one device, all compatible devices will get the message 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,” Jobs said. “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.”
Additional iCloud services include MobileMe Contacts, Calendar and Mail, the App Store and iBookstore, iCloud Backup and Storage, and a photo stream service. iCloud includes 5GB of free cloud storage for Mail, Document Storage and Backup. However, purchased music, apps, books and the Photo Stream service do not count against the storage limit
Of course, iCloud can also keep track of iTunes purchases. If you want to add music not bought through the service, the newly announced iTunes Match promises to replace your music with 256 kbps AAC DRM-free files, if they can match the tracks in the iTunes store. The iTunes Match service isn’t free, however. Apple plans to launch it this fall, with an annual $24.99 service fee. A free beta version of iTunes in the Cloud is now available without iTunes Match, and is compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users running iOS 4.3. The company will launch it with support for all iPhones that iOS 5 supports this fall.
Both the iCloud beta and Cloud Storage APIs are available immediately to iOS and Mac Developer Program members at developer.apple.com. For the rest of us, iCloud will launch this fall with iOS 5.
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