What is Apple iCloud?

Apple’s new product is called iCloud. But according to The Guardian and some other sources, lots of people remain mystified by what iCloud actually is. Here’s a brief guide to Apple iCloud with a summary of its main features, and what you need to do to get it.

Apple iCloud logo

What is iCloud?

To start with, Apple iCloud is a collection of web services, rather than a physical device. In other words, it’s a piece of software that helps you get more out of your iPad, iPhone or Mac. And if you don’t yet own one of these shiny gadgets, iCloud might just convince you to get one.

Apple iCloud lets you store your photos, music, apps, mail and more online in a single space, accessible wherever you have an internet connection. For example, your iTunes music is stored in the cloud, meaning you can play it on your iPad when you connect to wifi in the move. What this means is that you no longer have to worry about making sure you have all your photos backed up to all your devices, or all your iTunes purchases copied across from your MacBook to your iPhone: iCloud takes care of this automatically.

Apple iCloud features

Which services does iCloud support?

Apple is launching the service with support for: Apps, iBooks, Documents, Device Backups, Music, Photos, Contacts, Calendar and Mail. Some services may be limited to the USA only at launch.

What do I need to do to get iCloud?

iCloud will be available in fall/autumn 2011. For some features, you’ll need to have a newer iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch with iOS 5, as well as a Mac running OS X Lion (10.7) or a PC running Windows Vista or Windows 7. Full requirements can be found on Apple’s iCloud page.

How much does iCloud cost?

The basic Apple iCloud package is free. With this basic package, you receive 5GB of cloud storage for your mail, Camera Roll, account information and other settings and config files. Your music, iBooks, Photo Stream and apps don’t use up any of that space. Some advanced features, such as iTunes Match, which allows you to add music you didn’t buy in the iTunes Store to your iCloud library, cost extra.

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