What is icloud,and usage?
icloud is Appple’s online service that is, more than anything else, devoted to automatically and seamlessly synchronizing your personal data between all of the devices you may happen to use. First, let me clarify one bit of terminology I’m using in this book. When I refer to a “device,” it could e a Mac desktop computer, a Mac notebook computer, or any iOS device, such as an iphone, ipad, iPod touch, or even the Apple TV. It could even be a windows PC.
Things have changed quite a bit from the world in which we were tied to our desktop, or even laptop computers. with the advent of the iphone and the ipad, you might want to check your mail, add to your calendar, edit a contact, or snap a photo when you’re away from your computer, and if you have more than one computer, or more than one mobile device, it would be nice if changes you made on one device automatically appeared on all your other devices.
Essentially, that’s what icloud is all about. It liberates you from needing to worry about where your data is. There is no wondering about “Did I take my iphone photos off the phone and put it on my computer?” or “Did I remember to take that appointment I entered on my iPad and put it on my iMac?” with iCloud, these things simply happen, in the background, and you never have to worry about them, Ideally, all your important data and documents are pushed to all your devices. It’s way to make sure that not just your digital life but your entire life is with you wherever you happen to be.
But really, I tend to think of iclud as “plumbing in the sky.” It doesn’t so much do things itself as it enables devices and software to interact with one another in ways that make your life easier.
If, like me, you’ve been using the Mac for a long time, and you used previous Apple online services such as. Mac and MobileMe, you might be tempted to think that iCloud is just the newest flavor of those services. However, I think that’s the wrong way to think about it. Those older services weren’t built from the ground up, as iCloud has been, with the idea that your personal information and the documents you create should be ubiquitous and available no matter what device you have within reach.
So let’s take the 10,000 foot view of what iCloud can do for you, and I think you’ll see that in most cases, it does things that make excellent sense for most of us.
- Wherever you go, your stuff is there. In
the early days of Mac OS X, there was a program called iSync that allowed you to manually synchronize information (mostly contacts) between mobile phones and a Mac, connected by a wire (or sometimes via Bluetooth). Compared to iCloud, you can wirelessly synchronize contacts, calendars, email, browser bookmarks, photos, music, apps, documents, and more. You don’t have to “initiate a synchronization,” and you dont’t have to do any manual copying, either. All you need do is make or edit something, and it automatically appears on the rest of your devices within a minute or so. So you can shoot a picture on your iPhone, get a decently largesized view of it on your iPad, then move immediately to your Mac and touch up the photo.
- You don’t need to carry all your stuff with you.
The last time I bought an iPhone, I bought the model with 16 GB of storage. Why that instead of the fat 32 GB model? Because I didn’t want to spend the extra $100 to double the storage. I knew that most of the storage space used on an iOS device is taken up by music and video, and I knew that my iTunes library was already far larger than any device I could buy, So I knew that i would always be carrying a subset around with me. Little did I know that Apple was already working on ways to make all of my data available to me, whether I chose to put it on my device or not. With a decent Wi-Fi connection and an optional service called iTunes Match, you can steam the contents of your iTunes library to your iOS device, whether or not you have purchased that content from Apple. You”ll find more about using iTunes with iCloud in chapter 6.
- Your information is safer, even if you forget.
One of the best things you can do with iCloud is have it automatically backup your iOS devices to Apple’s servers, once a day, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection. That means that if your device is tragically either lost or stolen, you’ll be able to purchase a replacement device, run through the setup process, and restore from the latest backup, without a lot of manual torment. You simply run through the restore process, and your device is in the same state it was the last time iCloud backet it up for you. And from any other iOS device or from the iCloud website, you can remotely lock or erase the data on your wayward device. Dont’t get me wrong; losing a device is still a pain. But with iCloud, at least it’s a pain. But with iCloud, at least it’s a pain in your wallet, rather than the pain of identity theft.
- There’s less need for wires.
Because iCloud can synchronize many kinds of data and backup your device over a Wi-Fi con nection, most of the time you’ll only need a USB-to-Dock connector cable to charge your iOS device. Even upgrading to a new version of iOS (once you ‘re on iOS 5) can be done wirelessly; one of the nice little features in iOS 5 are ” delta updates,” which upgrades only the portion of the operating system that needs it, rather than requiring the whole thing to be down-loaded. But in a big conceptual shift, Apple has cut the cord when it comes to iOS devices, meaning that you no longer need a Mac or PC to set them up or maintain them. With iOS 5, the days of needing to plug your iOS device into a computer running iTunes to set it up are gone; a Setup process runs right on the device.
Whether you use the bare minimum of iClud’s services, or you jump in with both feet, iCloud has the ability to blur the location of your data. And that’s a good thing. The important thing to understand is that you, personally, won’t be dealing so much with iCloud as you will be dealing with the apps on your devices (or,if you prefer, with the iCloud website.)
Let’s talk a little more about the specific features that iCloud enables. Many of these are familiar, either as apps on your devices, or from use with mobileMe. These features include:
- An iClud account comes with a me.com account (if you previously had a mac. com account, that will work too; if fact, they are treated as the same account), and email from that account appears on all your devices. iCloud also deals with notes and text messages.
- Contacts and Calendars.
Your address book and calendar inforamtion can be shared not only with your own devices but also with other people for whom you give permission.
- Browser Bookmarks.
If you like, you can synchronize your Safari (or on windows, your Internet Explorer) browser bookmarks via iCloud.
Part of iCloud is a new concept called photo Stream, which pushes the contents of your iOS device’s Camera Roll up to the cloud and down to your other devices.
- Synchronized Documents.
In iCloud, you can share documents created in other applications, for example Apple’s iWork applications: Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. Documents that you create or edit on one device can update automatically on all your other devices, so no matter what device you’re working on, you’re always up-to-date. Apple calls this feature Documents in the Cloud, and it’s not limited to just Apple’ own Programs; third-party programs can take advantage of the feature as well.
Location Services. Using iCloud, you can find the location of people and devices. Again, turn to Chapter 10 for more information on finding and working wiht people and devices.
All of these services are tied together using storage on Apple’s servers. With every iCloud accound, you get 5 GB of storage for free, and you can purchase more storage on a yearly basis if needed (up to storage on a yearly basis if needed (up to 50 GB). Some items, such as anything you buy from the iTunes Store and photos in your Photo Stream, don’t count against the 5 GB storage quota.
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