The popularity of Apple’s mobile devices has led to a proliferation of iPads, iPhones and iPod touches. You may own more than one of these and a computer. One of the things that causes consternation is when you try to get all your digital media in sync. First you have to sync all your iOS devices with your computer to get all your media on the computer. Then you sync them all again to get all that media on all the devices. There must be a better way.
This is where Apple’s iCloud comes in. This is a synchronizing service, which automatically shares contacts, calendars, email, apps, iBooks, iWork documents, photos and iTunes-bought music with all your personal iOS devices. All of this is free on any device with the upcoming iOS 5. The one paid iCloud feature is iTunes Match. iTunes Match will allow you to use iCloud to sync music not bought through iTunes with your iOS devices. iTunes Match will be $24.99 per year. All of the features of iCloud will be available some time this Fall. Also, non-Apple apps will be able to use iCloud storage.
If you want to get a peek at what is in store with iCloud you can try “iTunes in the Cloud” now. All you need is an Apple device with iOS 4.3 or later and iTunes 10.3 or later. iTunes in the Cloud offers two main features. You can download any iTunes music, applications or iBooks you previously bought through iTunes, the App Store or the iBookstore. They are accessible through iTunes, the App Store or iBooks on your device. They can also be downloaded through the store in iTunes on your computer.
The second big feature of iTunes in the Cloud is the ability to automatically download future purchases to your computer and iOS devices. To set this up, turn on automatic downloads in iTune’s “Store” preferences on your computer and in the Settings app under “Store” on your device. Automatic downloads will work over 3G on an iPad or iPhone if you switch the “Cellular” store setting on.
Just open iTunes on your computer and verify that you are signed into the “iTunes Store” with your Apple ID. When you buy something on your device it will start downloading on your computer. When you buy something on your computer, it starts downloading on your device. It is amazing to see this happen in front of your eyes without touching the other device that is automatically getting what you bought.
When the full iCloud is available this Fall you will be able to take advantage of all the features. Other than syncing of media, the iCloud will also provide backup for your iOS devices. You need a Wi-Fi wireless Internet connection to do this, but not a computer. Apple’s website says once a day iCloud will backup your “purchased music, apps and books; photos and videos in the camera roll; device settings; app data; home screen and app organization; text and MMS messages; and ringtones.”Apple’s iCloud is replacing their MobileMe service. If you are on the iOS bandwagon, things are just getting better with iCloud.