Need to know – iCloud

Essential info about Apple's new cloud launches

Goodbye MobileMe

As of today, MobileMe isn’t taking any new customers (existing users can get a pro-rated refund or have their service extended until the end of June next year). Contacts, Calendar and Mail will get an iCloud refresh to synch and work seamlessly across all iOS devices, plus Mac or PC computers.

Anyone with 10 iPhones?

Anything bought from the App Store and iBookstore will be able to be downloaded on up 10 iOS devices. Books will be wirelessly synched, like Kindle titles, so that you have your most up-to-date bookmarks and latest reading point.

Daily backup

Plug in your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to charge and it will automatically back up music, apps, books, photos, videos, app data and device settings over Wi-Fi. The backup files are encrypted and can be restored to new handsets simply be entering your Apple ID.

5GB storage

Apple is giving users a meagre 5GB of free online storage for mail, documents and backup data. Purchased music, apps and books won’t count towards that limit – but any music you upload manually will. You’ll be able to buy more storage, of course, but there’s no price on that yet.

Stream of consciousness

Every photo you shoot (or import) to an iOS device will be uploaded over Wi-Fi to iCloud and then downloaded to all your other devices and computers, showing up as a Photo Stream tab. Photos downloaded to mobile phones are limited to the last 1000 shots, although pictures saved to your computer won’t expire. Photos are only stored in iCloud for 30 days – so beware long Wi-Fi-less holidays...

iTunes in the Cloud

Any music you’ve ever bought from iTunes will be instantly available to download to up to 10 iOS devices per account. iTunes Match will do its best to match the rest of your iTunes library with the 18m songs Apple has in its databases, enabling 256kbps downloads in a flash. However, it isn’t certain yet whether this $25 annual service will be available in the UK. The remainder of your music can be uploaded manually from iTunes to the cloud – although these will count against your 5GB limit.

Launching into the cloud

iTunes in the Cloud is available today as a beta, without iTunes Match. The remaining iCloud services are free and will launch in the autumn, with the roll-out of iOS 5.

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