Cloud storage is gaining popularity. Cloud computing services provide secure online storage space. Backup copies of your files can be accessed from anywhere with an online connection by uploading them from your smartphone or computer.
The iCloud cloud storage service is available on all Internet-connected Apple devices. Send and receive files like photos and music using your iPhone or iPad. On the go, your iPad can access important documents on your Mac desktop.
Apple’s iCloud service has previously offered online storage. MobileMe, iCloud’s predecessor, charged an annual fee for synchronization. MobileMe’s main goal was to synchronize email, contacts, calendars, browser bookmarks, photo galleries, and Apple’s iWeb and iDisk services across multiple devices. It was designed for Apple devices, but it can also sync data from non-Apple computers.
Apple redesigned and integrated its features into iCloud to make it more user-friendly. Apple’s iCloud service replaces MobileMe and includes 5 GB of free storage. To access iTunes Store purchases, use your free 5 GB iCloud storage. This article will go over how iCloud compares to other cloud computing storage services.
iCloud, like MobileMe before it, is built into Apple products. iCloud is the best cloud storage option if you only have Apple computers and mobile devices available. The iCloud service allows Apple iOS and Mac OS X to automatically save data like contacts and photos. It’s like MobileMe, but for Apple devices. Anytime you’re online, you can use iCloud to sync data between Apple devices.
We’ll now examine iCloud’s features, pricing, and security measures.
Apple’s iCloud Service Is a Cloud Computing Platform.
iCloud features enable you to access your data from any location with an Internet connection, from critical contacts to fun photos. How to access iCloud from multiple devices is as follows:
- iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices that run iOS 5 or later will automatically connect to your Apple ID’s iCloud storage when they’re near your Apple ID. Then, as long as you’re online, iOS and other apps that can save data to iCloud will automatically share that data.
- If you have Macs that run Mac OS X Lion (10.7) or later, you can run apps that help you sync your files with iCloud.
- Use the iCloud Web app on any Apple computer to see what’s in your iCloud storage. You can also upload and download things from your iCloud account there. The icloud website looks and feels a lot like the Apple iOS app.
You can give up to ten people access to iCloud using your Apple ID. This is a big change from the current iTunes Store authorization limit of five devices. iTunes and other apps that use the iCloud service are also affected. Consult the application’s help pages to learn if and how it can connect to and use iCloud. You must be an Apple developer to learn how to use iCloud in your apps.
You get free iCloud storage as long as you own an iTunes product. Apps can use the service. Apple does not deduct iTunes purchases from your 5 GB iCloud storage allowance. You can instantly download songs from iTunes to any iCloud-enabled device. You can keep your iTunes purchases if you used the same Apple ID before iCloud.
A lot of non-iTunes files, like documents and photos, might be able to be stored in iCloud with 5 GB. On the other hand, Apple understands that you need more storage space, so they offer subscription-based upgrades that can be added to your Apple device. If you want to add more storage space to your iCloud account, Apple has the following subscription options.
Apple’s iCloud Features
Up until now, we’ve focused on iCloud storage. However, cloud-based audio and video streaming is essential. Streaming is not a core feature of Apple’s iCloud. It eliminates the need to first download media. For those with large music or video libraries, this feature can help free up space on their smartphones. Apple gave away a new Red Hot Chili Peppers album in late August 2011.
An important feature of iCloud is the ability to back up and restore data from iOS devices. Every day, if your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch is connected to WiFi, you can use iCloud to back it up. These incomplete backups don’t include all data on each device. Changing data only results in partial backups.
iCloud can backup the following data types:
- Your phone’s settings, such as the brightness of the screen or the volume of incoming calls.
- What you see is what you get.
- Text messages and ringtones
- Data from apps you’ve downloaded from the iTunes Store,
- App data, such as purchase history or game stats
- The iOS Camera Roll contains all of your videos and photos.
To start everything off, you can quickly restore an iOS device from a back up plan using the iCloud service. You’ll probably want to repair your device any time you lose essential data, reset or replace the device, or upgrade to new hardware. Apple iOS 5 will automatically restore your iCloud backups as soon as you sign in with your Apple ID over a WiFi connection.
We’ve looked at the features Apple iCloud has to offer. Next, let’s see what challenges iCloud faces and how it stacks up to its competition in the cloud storage market.
iCloud’s Challenges and Competition
iCloud, like other cloud service providers, has issues. To access a cloud, users must have software designed for that cloud. You need an Internet connection to manage your data. The app or iCloud.com will include this feature.
Other cloud-based media players like iCloud have trouble connecting. Apple has limited some iCloud software functions to WiFi connections to address this issue. Desynchronization tasks on your device won’t use up your 3G data plan.
ICloud had to face a unique challenge in court rather than online. In June 2011, a VoIP service provider in Arizona filed a lawsuit after Apple announced iCloud. iCloud Communications has owned its name since 2005. After eleven trademark applications for the iCloud expression and brand, Apple bought the icloud.com domain from Swedish firmXcerion. iCloud Communications does not appear to have trademarked the iCloud name. Apple has yet to settle the case in court, despite one legal expert’s prediction.
How does iCloud stack up against the other cloud storage options? In August 2011, a court ruled that cloud-based music services can legally provide scan-and-match services without the consent of record labels. Afterwards, it’s all about getting the best value for your money.
Comparing iCloud to some other popular cloud storage options, we find the following:
- These services are most similar to iCloud in terms of content storage and retrieval. You can access your content from any Internet-connected computer or mobile device. While iCloud is tied to Apple’s Mac and iOS operating systems, Amazon’s OS integration is lacking. Digital goods purchased from Amazon do not count against the 2 GB of free storage. Amazon’s service outperforms Apple’s iCloud when it comes to mobile music streaming.
- Despite Dropbox’s 2 GB of free storage, it lacks iCloud’s OS integration. Dropbox has long attracted developers who use its API to create high-quality apps for all major desktop and mobile platforms. When using Dropbox, all files are added to your storage limit. This is a major flaw when compared to iCloud and Amazon.
- Google Music allows only music streaming and storage. Google Music, like Amazon’s cloud service for audio tracks, lacks iCloud and Cloud Drive’s storage and sync flexibility.
- Multiple users can edit documents, videos, and photos in Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage. Only your Apple ID has access to your iCloud content. SkyDrive offers free extra storage. Because both SkyDrive and iCloud are Microsoft products, your choice may be based on your computer and mobile device needs.
- To learn more about iCloud and its features, read on. If you’re curious about iCloud, you can learn more about it on the following page.
Transition: MobileMe to iCloud
Apple’s MobileMe and iCloud services are transitioning at this writing. On June 30, 2012, Apple announced that it would be discontinuing the MobileMe service. Apple discontinued new MobileMe subscriptions on June 6, 2011, but extended existing subscribers’ service for free for the remainder of MobileMe’s life. In contrast, customers of MobileMe have had more than a year of notice before iCloud launches later this fall. Apple has provided information to assist customers in making a move to MobileMe.
Therefore, the rest of the world can’t keep up with Apple’s technological advances. Hence, Apple’s success is based on superior software, industrial design, and rich content, apps, and services ecosystem. I’ve been following Apple for many years and believe these platforms and features are the keys to its success. To keep Apple’s cloud computing business growing, these platforms need to be followed by Apple’s competitors across the board.