Apple finally launched their iCloud and "iTunes in the Cloud" offering today, and it looks like an improvement over what Google and Amazon have going. You get to use it on a Windows computer, a new turn in an Apple strategy that usually centered around selling people Apple hardware. The iCloud announcement happened on Monday, June 6 at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.
iCloud stores everything from your Apple devices (music photos, apps, calendars, documents) and makes them available to all of them with an effortless sync. Add a song to your iTunes library, and you can get to it from your iPhone, iPad or computer. No copying, just available everywhere. It comes with 5GB of free storage.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the news that they've made iTunes In the Cloud available to iTunes peeps with Windows.
Here's a rundown of what iTunes In The Cloud officially does:
- Downloads new music purchased on iTunes to all of your devices, automatically, either through Wi-fi or or 3G
- Can download any of your previously purchased music from iTunes to any of your Apple devices
- Keeps a "purchase history" of your music so that you can see it on all Apple devices
- "iTunes Match" allows older music not purchased, not form iTunes in your collection (!)
- iTunes Match allows for up to 25,000 songs from your collection of non-purchased music to go the iCloud, will cost you $25 a year
- Works with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation), iPad, or iPad 2 as long you've upgraded to iOS 5, the new software
iCloud is a web-based storage service for all kinds of files, down to a dedicated streaming music service based around iTunes
This will heavily contend with the Google Music and Amazon's Cloud Drive Music Player offerings. There were rumors of it being the kind of streaming music service offered by Pandora Radio or MOG, but it looks Apple has stuck with a service that is cenetered around your iTunes library instead.
There was no mention of movies or video being part of the iCloud service, even though it looked like Apple was tryimg to work out a deal with movies studios.
The news that Apple was working on a service called "iCloud" to let users do many of the same things that they can now do with MobileMe (bookmarks, iCal, email, etc) surfaced at the end of April, with the theory that it would be a cloud-based storage service, with the potential to include the long-anticipated Apple music service. Apple bought the iCloud.com domain for a cool $4.5 million from the Swedish company Xcerion. The iCloud.com domain name was being used by Linkoping for a cloud-based data storage service.
Check out more about steaming music sites in the Spacelab Streaming Music Guide.