iCloud, You Cloud, We All Cloud!

iCloud is coming, and it may just change your life. Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled iCloud at the company’s annual World Wide Developer Conference in June. Ever since, the internet has been abuzz with ideas and opinions about what iCloud will mean for the tech giant’s loyal customers.Apple iCloud Logo

In short, the iCloud service will allow wireless syncing and storage across iOS platforms, PC’s and Macs. While this may not sound all that impressive at first blush, take a moment to consider what this really means: your music, documents, videos and photos will be accessible from virtually all of your devices simultaneously.

Automatic Syncing

In an increasingly mobile world, Apple is cutting the cord – literally. With iCloud, users will be able to take a picture on their iPhone and have it pushed to their iPod Touch, iPad, Mac and PC automatically.

No more plugging your device into your PC to sync it with your iTunes account, then plugging each device into your computer one at a time to add the photo. Nearly every device you own that runs iTunes or iOS will be able to sync from the cloud instantly, saving both time and frustration.

Service and Storage

Apple’s iCloud service will also provide storage for your devices – up to 5 gigabytes – free of charge, with the ability to purchase upgrades if needed. A 16 or 32 gig device will instantly become 21 or 37 gigs whenever internet access is available, allowing you to store more files and documents without having to shell out extra cash for a larger-capacity device.

iCloud will also work with iTunes, enabling a user to purchase a song or television show on his or her iPad and have it downloaded to their personal computer and iPod at the same time. Past purchases will be viewable on up to 10 devices, removing the need to physically transfer songs from one computer to another.

Home and Mobile Sharing

Homes with multiple iOS devices will enjoy the ability to quickly and easily share documents, photos and music instantly. Apps purchased on your iPad will be sent automatically to all of your other devices as well. Bookmark a page on iBooks on your iPad, and pick up right where you left off on your iPhone when you’re on the go.

With iCloud also comes peace of mind. Your iPhone or iPad will be backed up wirelessly directly to iCloud. Contacts, calendars and important documents will be pushed to the cloud as you update them, meaning users will no longer have to fear losing a phone number or appointment if their iPhone crashes.

Faster Updates

Similarly, new updates will be pushed to your device without the need to download and sync with a computer. Updates will take less time because they will occur incrementally, only downloading whatever changes have been made as opposed to reinstalling the entire operating system with every update.

Few would disagree that the iPhone changed the world of smartphones. Likewise, the iPad is turning the computing world on its head as more consumers opt to make the switch to the revolutionary tablet either to compliment or replace their laptops. All of this means more users on the move, who don’t want or need to be tied to a PC.

Loyal Apple fans have long loved the mobility and accessibility that iOS devices provide, but at the end of the day, they were still tethered to the personal computer. As Apple continues to usher us into a post-PC era, iCloud will bring a new measure of freedom to mobile users worldwide in way they’ve never experienced before.

With a strong background in technical news and information, Blake Sanders writes on behalf of broadband comparison site Broadband Expert. Blake’s specialties are high speed internet, cell phones, as well as news and information on internet service providers.

Is Cloud Computing Really The Future?

Lately, we’ve all been hit with talk about the future of computing and how everything might end up on “cloud” services. As a result of this forward-thinking movement, everyone seems to have gotten in the game: Apple with iCloud, Google with GoogleApps and now Microsoft with Office 365. While each have touted their superiority over the others, it’s hard to imagine a computing experience existing only on the Internet. But I guess 20 years ago they said it would be hard to imagine something like the Internet too.

Originally, I was thinking that this is a good idea because how often have you been away from your computer and needed a file or two only to remember that even though you’re carrying a capable smartphone, a laptop and a tablet device, the one file you needed most was at home stuck on your hard drive? For me, it happens fairly often. Of course, it’s nothing that would stop the world from spinning, but out of convenience, it would be nice to have a place where everything resides.

I like to think of cloud computing like IMAP email where you can connect all of your devices to your one email account and no matter which device you use to send, receive, move or delete messages, every device always has the same updated information. However, there are others that think the cloud poses a threat to security and privacy. They might be on to something here.

Cloud Computing

I decided to create a pros and cons list to cloud computing and let the readers decide for themselves.


  • Access – Likely the number one reason the cloud looks like a good idea—the ability to access your files from any Internet connection is very convenient.
  • HDD space – Depending on what service you use and how much it costs, you can determine how much storage space you get. In turn, you are also saving local space on your computer.
  • Safe and secure – Putting your files in the cloud can remove it from threats such as house fires, theft, auto accidents, plane crashes and viruses.
  • Collaboration – Businesses and teams alike can work on files at the same time for a truly live collaboration between multiple people located in various parts of the world.
  • Cost savings – This one is subjective, but the cloud could save you money from not having to spend it on hardware, more computers or other devices.


  • Security – Putting anything out on the Internet can be potentially dangerous in two ways—simply storing it and then transferring it.
  • Privacy – This one is for the paranoid, but is it possible for employees of such cloud systems to have access to client’s files? If so, what could a disgruntled employee be capable of doing with such access??
  • Reliability – The cloud cannot exist without the Internet, so if you ever lose your connection, you won’t have access to your files. Try working on an airplane now!
  • Speed – Again, due to the Internet reliance, transferring large files to and from a cloud service can pose a problem. Especially if you’re trying to make it out the door in a flash.
  • Storage space – No cloud service seems to offer LARGE amounts (above 5gb) of storage space so at this time, it would be foolish to think you can store all your movies, videos and music.

My two cents

I see both sides to this coin, so I can see myself using the cloud for some things, but not others. I find that some of my more pertinent documents would be put in the cloud only if I see a use for them at work or at a friend’s location. However, I have many, many gigs of data that I know I would never be able to put in a cloud service nor would I want to. What’s the alternative? I created a very organized computer system that I run local servers on (FTP, web and mail) as well as Remote Desktop Connection so I can access this computer through any desktop or laptop and even some mobile smartphones.

In a sense, I created my own cloud. If you’re interested in something a little less cumbersome, you might want to check out a free service from Tonido. They offer the ability to create your own personal cloud without all the headache of setting everything up.

Apple iTunes Match on iCloud

After reading about iCloud and iOS 5 that are coming out this fall, I found out about a new feature that helps these two integrate with iTunes a lot better. Let’s get right to the point.

iTunes Match

This new service is probably the biggest change since iTunes was created! It’s actually a super cool service that allows you to upload your existing songs (songs not purchased on iTunes) to iCloud. Of course iCloud only gives you 5GB of free storage and your music collection probably far exceeds that, so why is this service so great? Well, iTunes Match only uploads music it doesn’t find in the iTunes library! So the chances that some of your music does not match with something in the 18 million plus songs in iTunes is pretty slim. Anything that does match is instantly available on all of your devices at the iTunes Plus bitrate of 256Kbps.
iTunes Match ServiceHere’s a real world example: Currently, if you bought 100 songs on iTunes, these songs are available for download on all of your devices. With iCloud, these purchases can be set to download automatically on all your devices instantly! Now with iTunes Match, let’s say you have an additional 10,000 songs that you’ve ripped to iTunes over the years or purchased from other music sites. iTunes Match will search the iTunes library for these songs and if it finds them, it will instantly give you access to 256Kbps versions without ever touching your iCloud storage space!! Any songs it doesn’t find will need to be uploaded to iCloud if you want them available on your devices, but this will affect your storage space.

The ONE major downside to all of that great access is that there’s a charge for it! iTunes Match costs $24.99 per year. However, the major benefit is that you no longer have to carry around gigs of music on your laptop nor do you have to wonder if everything on your laptop is the same that’s on your desktop—all of you music will always be available to you through iTunes. I forgot to mention the minor downside: you’re limited to 25,000 songs. Sorry!

My two cents

My personal music collection has topped over 100gigs and I know that’s probably nothing compared to some of you hardcore music lovers/torrenters out there, but it is substantially more than the average user. I honestly haven’t even done a recent count, but I’m sure I’m up in the 15,000-20,000 song range, so that should give you some perspective as to how large that 25,000 song cap is.

At any rate, the service is pretty awesome, but unless you plan on listening to all your music on all your devices everywhere you go all the time…then $25 a year might not be worth it. Then again, paying $2.07 per month for musical convenience just might not be such a bad deal!

Apple iCloud Features

This fall is going to be a big deal for Apple. Not only will they likely be releasing the iPhone 5, but they are officially launching iOS 5 and another nifty little software suite called iCloud. That’s right folks, MobileMe is out and iCloud is in! Cloud computing has been taking off in the last year or so with what seems to be Facebook leading the pack when it comes to networking your social media presence.

Using Facebook as an example, anyone who has an account can see just how easy it is to connect EVERYTHING about our personal lives to just about almost anything on the Internet. Remember the days when you used to have to create new user accounts at every site you wanted to sign up for? Now, it seems just about every website allows you to sign in using your Facebook account. This is a slight example of cloud computing—being able to connect to everything wherever you’re located. However, even the almighty Facebook has its limitations.

Cloud computing as a whole is much more than connecting your wall to Twitter. It involves the centralized storage of your documents, emails, pictures, videos, etc. while connecting (or syncing) these items to all of your devices. In the old days, you had a computer at home and some sort of sync software that you would use to send documents to each one of your devices one at a time. The problem was that whenever you wanted to update something or make other changes, you had to wait until you got home to re-sync everything again.

While Apple iCloud does not purport itself to be an all-inclusive solution to address everything cloud computing can offer, it does provide a very simple and intuitive way for iOS users to wirelessly sync information to smartphones, laptops, computers and Internet storage. I’m hesitant to use the term “sync” because iCloud actually performs this process live, which means you don’t actually have to do anything for your stuff to appear across all of your toys—except to provide a wi-fi connection to the Internet.

iCloud Features

Likely the biggest feature of iCloud will be the free 5GB of online storage you have alongside the free iCloud software itself. However, this is a far cry from the two MobileMe plans that were available: a 20GB individual plan and a 40GB family plan. But as with any online storage service, this is just the basic offering and we can be sure that for some money, you can add more features and storage to your account.

  • Photo StreamPhoto Stream CloudPhoto Stream is probably the second biggest feature to come from iCloud. To explain it simply, I’ll quote Apple: “With iCloud, when you take a photo on one device, it automatically appears on all your other devices. No syncing. No sending. Your photos are just there. Everywhere you want them.” The best part is that all of this works with PCs as well! If you add an AppleTV to the mix, you can create visual slideshows to display on your tv for all to enjoy!
  • iTunesiTunes CloudiTunes in iCloud allows you to purchase anything you want from the store and have them appear on all registered devices. So imagine you’re at work and you buy a new song on your iPad. This song gets stored on iCloud and then gets synced automatically to your iPhone, which will come in hand for your ride home when you want to plug the phone into your car.
  • Wi Fi Backup – Now you don’t even have to connect your device to a computer to do your backups! When you go to sleep at night, your device will automatically back itself up over your home wireless network.

My two cents

I love the concept of cloud computing because it’s less hardware for me to own and that means less trouble when it comes to connecting devices and making sure that every computer has all of my updated files. I’m happy to know that iCloud still has many of the features I wanted to use when MobileMe came out, but didn’t want to pay for. We have yet to see what kind of “premium” services iCloud will bring to the table, but as it stands now, I think the free, basic service will be just enough for my usage.