iCloud: What you need to know

iCloud: What you need to knowSo long MobileMe. Shut the door on your way out. Actually, leave it open for iCloud, would you? 'Cos it'll be here very soon!

But if you're confused about what it actually is - or if you've just had your head up in the iClouds yourself - here's the lowdown on what you need to know:

1. Everything Everywhere:
Nope, it's not sponsored by T-Mobile and Orange, but the idea is that everything you have is everywhere you have a device. The clue's in the name. It's all stored on the cloud meaning that it syncs to all your devices.. iPad, iPhone will all be syncing from the same hymn sheet (geddit?). It's replacing MobileMe which means that your PIM functions are taken care of in the form of calendars, contacts, mail, device settings and documents. But that's not all.

2. Media on the move:
The big addition with iCloud is that all of your media is available on the move too. So your apps (and their data) also sync across your devices too. Download something on the iPhone and (unless you turn the setting off), the same app will appear on your iPad too and vice versa as long as they're compatible. We'd say that it could end up being very embarrassing but then again since Apple don't allow any 'grown up products' in their holy store, we'll park that one by the door.

Photos get the treatment too and magically appear in each others camera rolls. So when you take a snap with your 5MP camera on the iPhone 4 (as you curse yourself for not having an iPhone 4S), it will also magically appear on the iPad too. Helpful.

And then, there's music. So your choones will be available wirelessly. On whichever device you happen to be using. And it's free! Which brings us on to..

3. A match made in heaven:
Which isn't so free. iTunes Match is a service you'll have to pay for. You pay a fee ($25 in the US) and it scans all of your music in your library. So if you have tunes that weren't purchased via Cupertino (likely), it'll scan them and match them to a high quality DRM-free Apple variant for you. How lovely. If your song doesn't match, it'll upload it anyway. But with Scott Forstall telling us there are now 20 million songs on Apple's books, it'll probably be pretty successful in its efforts.

4. You need a big one:
Memory, that is. Apple doesn't keep all your data on the iCloud with the intention of streaming it in the way that some download services do. No, what it does is it syncs from the cloud. Which means you still will need to have ample space left in your iDevice on which to store said files or it won't work properly. In one sense, it's good because it means that you can use the services where data connections are not available. But it also means that you have to rely on WiFi for certain elements.

5. You only get the one cloud so use it wisely:
5GB. Sounds a lot. But that's all you get for free. And will it be enough for the majority of users who have trouble fitting all of their goodies onto a 32GB iPhone 4 as it is? Yes, you get unlimited storage for (iTunes purchased songs), apps and iBooks. Photo Stream gives you a rolling clue of the 1,000 latest pics you took but with a 30 day download cap which means your computer still acts as the primary storage device. Perhaps the cord hasn't been cut completely after all. Other bits and bobs like documents and mail are capped at 5GB so you'll have to shell out if you want more. We can't envisage that being a problem for 90% of users though, to be fair to Apple.

6. iDisk. iGone?
Arguably the most helpful element of MobileMe was iDisk which allowed you to drop files in and share them. The bad news is that iDisk is being killed off along with MobileMe, but the good news is that Apple will only be shutting it down for good at the end of June 2012. To be fair. Dropbox is an elegant solution with a free version that gives you a decent amount of storage to start off with.

7. Keep your home movies at home:
On your computer, that is. Because iCloud doesn't sync video (yet.) Quite bizarre (and, we daresay, annoying) since you now have a great HD offering on the 4S. The alternative is that you upload your videos to YouTube direct from the phone as you have been able to do for a while. Just keep 'em clean, eh? There are kids around.

8. Get dual citizenship:
Because that's the only way you're going to be using the iCloud right now. True to form, Apple (an American company) still believes that the US is the centre (or should that be center?!) of the universe and is rolling out iCloud there first only. Bit of a shame really but they do assure us they are working hard to bring it to other nations and states. That's nice. Thanks Apple. In the meantime, only a trip to the US (plus frequent trips back when you want to sync your iDevices) will let you in on the action. And we hate to think of the roaming costs.

Based on all that, are you guys excited about the iCloud? Will you fork out for it? Let us know in the comments below.

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 1 comment

gles  Oct. 5, 2011 at 11:57

This headline annoys me. There is nothing I "need" to know about iCloud.


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