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they were not originally purchased through iTunes. The
service is expected to cost $24.99.
Cupertino is taking a similar approach to photo shar-
ing. With iCloud, photos that users capture with an iOS
5 device are automatically pushed to their other iOS
5 mobile devices. Photos will be stored for up to 30
days on Apple’s servers, while each mobile device
will store the 1,000 most recent photos. Mac OS X
Lion users will be able to store as many photos as
their hard drives can handle.
In addition to multimedia features, iCloud includes
document back-up and sharing. Documents edited
in iWork and saved on an iOS 5 device or Mac run-
ning OS X Lion are automatically updated across every
iCloud-equipped Apple device. Currently, the service
only works with iWork, but Apple says it is working
with third-party app developers to give users more of a
choice in what software they use. Because the majority
of the service‘s features require users to have iOS 5 or
OS X Lion, PC users won’t be able to access all aspects
iCloud will also be taking the place of MobileMe,
Apple’s previous cloud-based offering that cost $99 per
year. Like MobileMe, iCloud will store users’ calendar
events, contacts, and e-mail online, but unlike MobileMe,
iCloud will be offered to users free of charge. When users
make a new contact on their iPhone, the information will
be stored in the cloud and automatically pushed to their
other iOS 5 devices. Apple’s Calendar works the same
way it did in MobileMe, but it now allows for easier shar-
ing of calendars across devices. E -mail is also included
with iCloud and will not have advertisements.
In addition to automatically syncing users’ informa-
tion across multiple devices, iCloud will offer users up
to 5GB of free online storage that can be used to store
e-mail, documents, account information, and app settings.
Purchased music, apps, and eBooks—as well as users’
photo streams— do not count against the
For all that it offers, iCloud does have
potential drawbacks. In particular, Levitas
pointed to the fact that many of iCloud’s
automatic syncing features require Apple
hardware, specifically devices using iOS
5. More tech-savvy users may also find
iCloud’s lack of customization options to
be a hindrance.
“For people that are using Sugarsync
and Dropbox and Box.net, they will pooh-
pooh certain aspects of [iCloud] because,
for instance, it is only making 1,000 of your
most recent pictures available,” Levitas
said. But for the mass market that is not
using these services, iCloud is going to
make it seem compelling and easy to
But don’t be surprised if Apple announces additional
functions for iCloud down the line. “Apple has certainly
unveiled publicly part of what they are doing,” said
Gartenberg. “But, as is typical Apple fashion, it’s likely
they probably haven’t revealed every detail about the
service and how the entire service is going to work. So
we are probably going to have to wait a little bit to fully
Just in case you hadn’t heard, Google is nearly synony-
mous with the cloud. From Google Docs suite and Google
Picasa Photos to Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube, the
company has been offering free web-based software
for years. And, as Levitas points out, none of Google’s
software offerings require users to purchase a particular
piece of hardware, as iCloud does. As long as you have
a compatible web browser and an active Internet con-
nection, you can access any of Google’s
AmAzon’s Cloud drive
Amazon, like Google, has been leveraging the cloud as a means to provide
a variety of services for years. While most consumers know Amazon for its hugely
popular online marketplace, the company also provides web services—such as its
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud—to a multitude
of companies, helping them to create and main-
tain websites on Amazon’s servers for a fee.
On the consumer side, Amazon has recently
rolled out its Cloud Drive, a service that allows users to upload and store their infor-
mation on Amazon’s servers. Think of it as a hard drive you access through the web.
Currently, users have access to 20GB to 1,000GB of storage space, ranging in price from
$20 to $1,000 a year. Cloud Drive works in conjunction with Amazon’s MP3 Store, meaning
that any music purchased through the service is automatically saved to your Cloud Drive
without taking up space on your drive.
Cloud Drive users are initially provided with 5GB of free storage, but that amount can be
increased to 20GB if you purchase an album from the Amazon MP3 Store, at least as of press
time. No such deal is being offered for users of Amazon’s Appstore, Instant Video service, or Kindle store.
To listen to songs saved on your Cloud Drive, Amazon has also introduced its Cloud Player. Cloud Player lets you stream music from your Cloud Drive to your
PC, Mac, Android device, or iPad. (iPhone and iPod touch users cannot access either the Cloud Drive or Cloud Player at this time.) Both Cloud Player and MP3
Store apps are also available for Android, Blackberry, and Palm devices. iPad users can only access the service from their web browser. Users can upload
music to their Cloud Drive through their PC or Mac.
At this early stage, the main problem with Amazon’s Cloud Drive is that it’s just a digital locker, while Apple, Google, and Microsoft each offer more
robust cloud services. “I’m not so sure how interesting [the Cloud Drive] will be to the vast number of users out there,” said Michael Gartenberg,
research director at Gartner.
However, Amazon has already demonstrated that the company has larger cloud ambitions. Between Kindle, Cloud Player, App-
store for Android, and the Instant Video Store, Amazon offers a lot of cloud services for the PC, mobile devices, and home entertain-
ment gear such as the Roku box. But to make the cloud work, Amazon will need to figure out a way to bring all these
services together. That’s where the rumored Amazon tablets come into play.
According to reports, Amazon is prepping two slates, one of which will run a
dual-core Nvidia Tegra chip. The higher-end model is said to pack a blazing quad-core
processor. If these two tablets launch as planned, Amazon will become a serious
cloud player overnight.
Music Beta by
instant access to
your tunes, but
you have to them
to the cloud first.
the music you
the iPhone, iPad,
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