Apple unveils the glorious new iCloud

Faith Merino · June 6, 2011 · Short URL:

The WWDC included announcements on iOS 5 and Lion, but the real piece de resistance was iCloud

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off today with an intro from Steve Jobs, who briefly appeared on stage before handing off the reins to Phil Schiller. The address went into the Mac stats, including 28% year-over-year growth, plus some new features. As expected, there was no new iPhone 5 revealed today. But the real meat and potatoes of the presentation was Apple’s new iCloud service.

After a few announcements on Lion and iOS 5, Steve Jobs returned to the stage to make the iCloud announcement and started with a brief overview: everyone used to live on their PCs, that’s where you had your photos, your music, your content—everything. But now everyone lives on their devices, and a lot of people have more than one. Keeping all of those devices in sync with one another can be quite the ass pain. Solution: move syncing to the cloud.

Now, anything you get on your phone is automatically pushed to the cloud without you even having to think about it. And that cloud is called iCloud.

“iCloud stores your content in the cloud and wirelessly pushes it to all of your devices,” said Steve.

It’s completely integrated with all of your apps and everything is pushed automatically. Even new contacts, calendars, and mail are now iCloud apps. Example: you make a new contact, it automatically gets pushed to the cloud and syncs with all of your other devices. You can do the same thing with calendar sharing: you create a new calendar event, it gets synced to the cloud, and now your wife or husband also has that event on his or her device.

And it’s all free. No ads, no flat fee.

Additionally, anything you purchase in the App Store is synced to all of your other devices. If you buy an app on one device, you can download the app on another device by clicking the “download from the cloud” button.

iBooks is also synced to the cloud so that you can start reading a book on one device, bookmark your spot, and pick up reading where you left off on another device.

And the best part: wireless cloud backup. Once a day, all of your important content is backed up to the cloud so that you can get a new device, enter your password, and download all of your information instantly.

Even Documents are included in iCloud, which is exactly what it sounds like: you create a document on one device, sync it to the cloud, and then you can retrieve it on any other device.

And Apple didn’t pass up the photos either. Included in iCloud is Photo Stream, which automatically saves all of your photos to the cloud, including photos that you snap or photos you import. It’s also been built into Apple TV.

In short, iCloud is much, much more than a cloud-based music service.

Speaking of… The Piece de Resistance: iTunes on iCloud!

"You know, it's the same old story. I buy something on my iPhone. And it's not on my other devices,” said Jobs. Now: you purchase once, flick a switch for “Automatic Downloads” on, and your music is automatically uploaded to the cloud and added to all of your other devices.

Now, for the songs you’ve already purchased, Apple has added a purchase button to show your entire purchase history, allowing you to browse by song or artist. A “Not on Device” feature shows you all of the songs you have purchased that aren’t currently on a specific device.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is iCloud.

Mac and Lion

The event also included some interesting Mac stats. One of the new features that Apple is introducing is multi-touch gestures, including scrolling, pinching, zooming, and more. Other new features include Launchpad, Resume, Autosave, and more.

iOS 5

The presentation then moved on to iOS 5 with Scott Forestall, who announced that 200 million iOS devices have been sold to date, making it the number one mobile OS with 44% of the market (note: Android is the top smartphone OS, but when all products are combined, including tablets and other mobile devices, Apple takes the cake). In the 14 months since the iPad debuted, 25 million iPads have been purchased. Some 15 billion songs have been sold on iTunes, and more than 130,000 books have been purchased via iBookstore.

As for the App Store, some 425,000 apps are currently available, with 90,000 created exclusively for the iPad. In less than three years, the App Store has seen 14 billion app downloads and Apple has paid out $2.3 billion to developers. Additionally, the App Store currently has 225 million accounts.

iOS 5 will feature roughly 200 new features for developers, including notifications (Apple has seen more than 100 billion push notifications). Specifically, Apple has designed a Notification Center, where users can see all of their notifications for their iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad in one location. Swiping your finger on a notification takes you directly to the app.

Another feature introduced today is Newsstand, which will allow users to find any subscription magazine/newspaper in one location in the App Store for download. Once the magazine/newspaper is downloaded, it’s added to your Newsstand.

And now, Apple is offering a unique integration with Twitter that features one-time login. The feature will now allow you to tweet content from Safari, YouTube, and more, and Twitter names and photos can be autopulled into Contacts.

Speaking of Safari, that iOS feature also got some updates. One new Safari feature includes Reader, which takes any full-page article you’re reading and will pull in all of the pages of that article so that you don’t have to click to get to the next page.

Another interesting new feature is Reminders, which allows you to create reminders for yourself, such as grocery lists, errands, appointments, and more.

Even the iPhone camera got some new features, including a lockscreen shortcut, which lets you click directly on the camera even if the device is locked, and you can use the volume buttons to snap a photo instantly. Additionally, you can also now edit photos directly on your phone.  

Mail has been upgraded to feature rich text formatting, drag and drop addresses, flagging, and more. You can also search a message for specific content, and now there’s a dictionary feature that lets you highlight a word and define it. The keyboard is also split apart for easier messaging.

Probably the most interesting new feature for iOS 5, however, is its new PC-free feature, which allows you to activate the device without a PC. Essentially, the idea is to cut the cord—users can use their iOS devices without having to plug into a PC. You can create calendars, edit photos, and create and delete mailboxes all directly from your device.

Moving onto the Game Center, Forestall noted that the Game Center currently has more than 100,000 games in the App Store and has over 50 million users.

And now iMessages has been redesigned to push to all of your devices so that you can create or receive texts, photos, videos, and contacts while hopping between different devices.

Some of the iOS 5 features that Forestall didn’t touch on include hourly weather forecasts, typing shortcuts, alternate routes on maps, and more. iOS 5 will be available in the fall. 

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