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iCloud provides instant sync for Apple devices

June 7, 2011

iCloud (credit: Apple Inc.)

On June 6, Apple’s Steve Jobs announced iCloud, a service that allows music, photos, and documents saved onto an Apple device to soon appear almost instantly on any other Apple product that a person owns.

“Apple’s iCloud works in the background to keep music, photos, and documents in sync across all Apple devices, mobile or otherwise,” said Jobs. New versions of Apple’s desktop and mobile operating systems, OS X Lion and iOS 5, respectively, will contain iCloud.

After iCloud rolls out, music purchased on iTunes will also automatically appear on every Apple device associated with a person’s Apple account. It will be possible to selectively download previously purchased music to any device, too.

Wiping out entire businesses

However, Apple’s iCloud has the potential to wipe out some existing web services and entire businesses with the integration of iCloud, Mac OS X Lion, and iOS 5.

  • Instapaper — Apple just integrated bookmarking of favorite web pages for later reading directly into its Safari web browser (Safari Reading List).
  • Red Pop hardware iPhone camera button — Apple just announced that with iOS5, the volume up button on the phone becomes a hardware camera shutter button, replacing the need for a third-party add-on camera button.
  • BlackBerry Messenger and GroupMe — Apple just made a “stone-cold copy” of BlackBerry Messenger and Groupme called iMessage. It allows users to send instant messages to any other iOS device, and even do group chats.
  • Amazon Cloud Player and Google Music — Not only is iTunes going to the cloud (as many predicted) but a “Match” feature will give users access to iTunes copies of all the tracks they’ve already ripped into their own libraries. Jobs argues this makes Apple’s cloud music service significantly cheaper than Amazon’s or Google’s, for comparable amounts of storage.
  • Google Docs and Google Chromebook — Apple’s new iCloud service backs up user photos, apps, and documents; it also syncs them across all of a user’s Apple devices. In short, it does everything that’s supposed to be so appealing about Google’s new Chromebook.
  • Dropbox — Dropbox is one of the nicest ways to sync a user’s music, photos and documents to the cloud. Now, Apple’s new OSs do all of that.

So why didn’t Apple launch a music streaming service?

When Apple launched “iTunes in the Cloud,”  Jobs made no mention of a Web interface through which users could access music stored in iCloud.

Possible reasons: record labels from which Apple has to license the music it sells were unwilling to allow music streaming; or mobile carriers’ movement away from unlimited data plans (a streaming version of iTunes could have hugely increased the amount of data that carriers would be expected to carry).

Sources for this story: Technology Review

Apple Puts the Cloud into All Its Devices
Six Businesses Apple Just Wiped Out
Why Didn’t Apple Launch a Music Streaming Service?

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