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Three things you need to know about Apple iCloud

Cheaper than Amazon, Apple iCloud allows more dynamic syncing

By Brad Reed, Network World
June 06, 2011 06:17 PM ET

Network World - With the unveiling of its iCloud service today, Apple is hoping you’ll like the new MobileMe.

During his keynote presentation at the Worldwide Developer Conference today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs acknowledged that MobileMe, Apple’s previous online media storage locker, was not the company’s “finest hour.”  However, he pledged that Apple would more than make up for past shortcomings with the new iCloud service that will store documents, pictures and music within the cloud and automatically push them out to all devices that utilize iCloud.  To give you a sense of what implications this new service has for both the consumer and the enterprise world, here are three important things you should know about the iCloud:

One: The iCloud is effectively replacing MobileMe and adding a lot more features

MobileMe was a subscription-based service that synced a user’s contacts, calendars and email across multiple devices.  Apple is now integrating all of these functions into iCloud and making them available for free.  What’s more it’s adding a host of other features to go with it.  Among other things, you’ll get:

PLAY-BY-PLAY: Apple's introduction of iCloud

SLIDESHOW: Apple iCloud

-The iCloud Storage that gives you 5GB of free storage for email, documents and backup.  The Storage service also automatically pushes out any updates or changes you make to your documents out to all other devices where they’re stored.  So if you save an iCloud document on your Mac, any changes you make to it will automatically be synced to your iPad.  Apple says users can pay money to purchase more storage space, although the company has yet to release pricing for that yet.

-The iCloud Photo Stream that wirelessly pushes any pictures you take with your phone or tablet onto all your other devices.  Apple says that it will keep all pictures within the cloud for 30 days, which Apple says will leave you “plenty of time” to log onto the iCloud with all your devices to get them synced.

-iTunes in the Cloud lets you sync up all the music you’ve purchased from the iTunes store and push it out to your devices.  Apple is also offering iTunes Match, a software program that scans over music in your iTunes Library that you haven’t purchased from the store and tries to find a match for it on its online database of more than 18 million songs.  Unlike other iCloud services, however, this one isn’t free and will cost you $25 per year to maintain.

Two: iCloud will indeed impact the enterprise, so get ready for it.

Yes, most of the features mentioned above are geared toward the consumer market rather than the enterprise market.  But as we’ve seen over the last few years, workers who have consumer-centric devices will want to have access to work email and data on their iPhones, Droids and Evos as well as their BlackBerrys.  So if you’re working in an IT department, now’s a good time to figure out ways to wall off sensitive corporate data from being tossed into the cloud.  After all, let’s say that Jimmy the Engineer meant to upload pictures of his kids’ graduation onto the iCloud but also accidentally uploads pictures of his company’s new device prototype onto the iCloud as well.  Then if a hacker somehow gets access to Jimmy’s iCloud account, well, it could be bad news.

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