After Scott Forstall talked about the 200+ new features in iOS 5 (or the top 10, at least), Steve Jobs took to the stage to reveal the not-so-secret iCloud.
Jobs noted that syncing devices in the 21st century has become a nightmare, as they all have photos, video and music. "We've got a great solution to this problem,” promised Steve. “We're going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device. We're going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud.
"iCloud stores your content in the cloud and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices. It automatically uploads it, stores it, and pushes it to all your devices,” explains Jobs. "Everything happens automatically and there's nothing new to learn. It just all works."
Take a photo on your iPhone, for example, and it’ll automatically appear in a special Photo Stream album on your iPad, Mac and/or PC. Photos in particular are stored in the cloud for 30 days.
It’s a similar story with contacts, calendars, documents, apps, books and email (with an @me.com account). Incidentally, MobileMe will cease to exist. It used to cost $99/year; iCloud will be free.
What about music? A new service called iTunes Match scans your devices for music; any titles available from iTunes will be made available in the cloud at 256kbps (no upload required), with remaining titles (i.e. those not available from iTunes) uploaded. The upshot is: it’ll only take minutes to get your entire music library up in the cloud. Cost? $24.99/year, regardless of how many songs you have.
Of course, Jobs was keen to point out that their cloud music service is faster than Amazon and Google’s, and cheaper than Amazon’s ($50 for 5,000 songs). Google has yet to announce pricing.