iCloud is a cloud storage and cloud computing
service from Apple Inc. launched on October 12, 2011. As of July 2013, the service has
320 million users. The service allows users to store data such
as music and iOS applications on remote computer servers for download to multiple devices such
as iOS-based devices running iOS 5 or later, and personal computers running OS X 10.7.2
“Lion” or later, or Microsoft Windows. It also replaces Apple’s MobileMe service, acting
as a data syncing center for email, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes, reminders, iWork
documents, photos and other data. The service also allows users to wirelessly back up their
iOS devices to iCloud instead of manually doing so using iTunes.
One of Apple’s iCloud data centers is located in Maiden, North Carolina, U.S. History
iCloud is the latest branding of Apple’s cloud computing services. It has previously been
branded as iTools in 2000, .Mac in 2002, and MobileMe in 2008.
iCloud was announced on June 6, 2011, at the 2011 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.
Apple announced that MobileMe would be discontinued after June 30, 2012, with anyone who had an
account before the unveiling of iCloud having their MobileMe service extended to that date,
free of charge. The official website, www.icloud.com, went
live in early August for Apple Developers. On October 12, 2011, iCloud became available
to use via an iTunes update. iCloud had 20 million users in less than a week after launch. The
iCloud.com domain and registered trademark were bought from a Swedish company called
Xcerion, who rebranded their service to CloudMe. CloudMe still controls major domains like
iCloud.de, iCloud.fr and iCloud.es. A class action lawsuit by customers unhappy
over the transition from MobileMe to iCloud was filed in early May 2012.
Announcement The first official mention of iCloud from
Apple came on May 31, 2011, when a press release announced that it would demonstrate the service
at the WWDC on June 6, 2011. A banner hung at the Moscone Center for WWDC revealed the
iCloud logo five days before the official launch.
In the WWDC 2011 keynote speech, Apple announced iCloud will replace MobileMe services and
that the basic iCloud service will be free of charge.
Features The cloud-based system allows users to store
music, photos, applications, documents, bookmarks, reminders, backups, notes, iBooks, and contacts,
and provides a platform for Apple’s email servers and calendars. Third-party iOS and
OS X app developers are able to implement iCloud functionality in their apps through
the iCloud API. Backup and restore
iCloud allows users to back up the settings and data on iOS devices running iOS 5 or later.
Data backed up includes photos and videos in the Camera Roll, device settings, app data,
messages, ringtones, and Visual Voicemails. Backups occur daily when the device is locked
and connected to Wi-Fi and a power source. In case of a malfunction of any Apple device,
during the restoration process, iCloud offers to restore all data along with App data only
if the device was synced to iCloud and backed up.
Back to My Mac Back to My Mac, also previously part of MobileMe,
is now part of iCloud. As before, this service allows users to log in remotely to other computers
that have Back to My Mac enabled and are configured with the same Apple ID.
Email, Contacts, and Calendars As with MobileMe, an iCloud account includes
an email account. Unlike MobileMe and its previous iterations, an email address is an
optional part of an iCloud account, in that the user can choose not to use it but can
still use the email as their iCloud Apple ID. The email account can be accessed using
any standard IMAP-compatible email client as well as the web portal mail client on iCloud.com.
Additionally, on an iOS device, iCloud email is push-enabled.
Users converting existing MobileMe accounts to iCloud accounts kept their existing “@me.com”
email addresses, and users whose accounts pre-dated MobileMe and had both me.com and
mac.com email addresses kept both. In iOS 6 beta 3, Apple gave notice to developers
that new signups would instead get “@icloud.com” email addresses. As with the .Mac to MobileMe
transition, existing users get to keep their old addresses and also get a matching new
icloud.com address, so messages sent to a valid account with multiple addresses all
end up in the same inbox. Users setting up new iCloud accounts, whether
completely new or attaching them to existing non-MobileMe Apple IDs, can opt to not have
email with their iCloud account. These users don’t see the iCloud webmail component when
signing in at iCloud.com. They still need a valid email address with another email provider
to sign up, and that existing non-Apple email address becomes their iCloud login.
Find My Friends In iOS 5, iCloud introduced a new feature
called Find My Friends. Find My Friends is very similar to Find My iPhone, except users
can share their location with other friends or family using the feature. Concurrently
with the launch of iOS 5, Apple released an app for Find My Friends. iOS 6 added location-based
alerts to notify the user when a device arrives at a certain location.
Find My iPhone Find My iPhone, formerly part of MobileMe,
allows users to track the location of their iOS device or Mac. A user can see the device’s
approximate location on a map, display a message and/or play a sound on the device, change
the password on the device, and remotely erase its contents. The feature was first announced
on June 10, 2009 and was included in iOS 3.0 software update as a feature for paying MobileMe
users. Find My iPhone was made free of charge with the iOS 4.2.1 software update on November
22, 2010, but only for devices introduced in 2010. An iOS app was also released by Apple
on June 18, 2010, which allows users to locate their device from other iOS devices running
iOS 4 or later software. In iOS 5, Find My iPhone was continued as a feature for iCloud.
iOS 6 introduced Lost Mode, a new feature that allows the user to mark a device as “lost”,
making it easier to protect and find. The feature also allows someone that finds the
user’s lost iPhone to call the user directly without unlocking it. Similar phone finder
services under various names are available for other families of smartphones.
iCloud Keychain iCloud Keychain was announced at the 2013
Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, to be released as part of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks.
It was not released with the initial release of iOS 7, instead being added with the release
of iOS 7.0.3 and OS X Mavericks following Apple’s October 22, 2013 event. It re-introduces
the old MobileMe Keychain syncing function that was removed with the initial release
of iCloud in 2011, but now renamed iCloud Keychain.
It functions as a secure database that allows information including a user’s website login
passwords, Wi-Fi network passwords, credit/debit card management, and other account data, to
be securely stored for quick access and auto-fill on webpages and elsewhere when the user needs
instant access to them. They are always stored encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption, are
stored on device and pushed from iCloud between devices, and only available on a user’s trusted
devices. The service can also suggest new longer and
more secure passwords to the user, if and when required. It will only be available for
use on Apple platforms, and even more specifically, when using inside a browser, will only work
with Safari browser on iOS 7.0.3 and OS X Mavericks onwards.
iTunes Match iTunes Match debuted on November 14, 2011.
It was initially available to US users only. For an annual fee, customers can scan and
match tracks in their iTunes music library, including tracks copied from CDs or other
sources, with tracks in the iTunes Store, so customers do not have to repurchase said
tracks. Customers may download up to 25,000 tracks in 256 kbit/s DRM-free AAC file format
that match tracks in any supported audio file formats in customers’ iTunes libraries, including
ALAC and MP3. Customers also have the choice to keep their original copies stored on their
computers or have them replaced by copies from the iTunes Store. Any music not available
in the iTunes Store is uploaded for download onto customers’ other supported devices and
computers; doing this will not take storage from the customers’ iCloud’s storage allowance.
Any such tracks stored in the higher quality lossless audio ALAC, or original uncompressed
PCM formats, WAV and AIFF, are transcoded to 256 kbit/s DRM-free AAC format before
uploading to the customers’ iCloud storage account, leaving the original higher quality
local files in their original format. If a user stops paying for the iTunes Match
service, all copies of the DRM-free AAC iTunes Store versions of tracks that have already
been downloaded onto any device can be kept, whether on iOS devices or computers.
From iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks onwards, the iTunes Radio function will be available across
devices, including integration with the Music app, both on portable iOS devices and Apple
TV, as well as inside the iTunes app on Macintosh and Windows computers. It will be included
in an ad-free version for subscribers to the iTunes Match service and is currently only
available in the US and Australia As of March 26, 2014, iTunes Match is available
in 116 countries, while iTunes in the Cloud is available in 155 countries.
iWork for iCloud During the 2013 Apple Worldwide Developers
Conference keynote speech, iWork for iCloud was announced for release at the same time
as the next version of the app versions of iWork later in the year. The three apps for
both iOS and OS X that form Apple’s iWork suite, will be made available on a web interface,
and accessed via the iCloud website under each users iCloud Apple ID login. They will
also sync with the users iOS and OS X versions of the app, should they have them, again via
their iCloud Apple ID. This allows the user to edit and create documents
on the web, using one of the supported browsers; currently Safari, Chrome, and Internet Explorer.
It also means that Microsoft Windows users now have access to these native –previously
only Apple device– document editing tools, via the web interface.
iCloud Drive iCloud Drive is iCloud’s file hosting service
for devices running iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, or Windows 7 or later. This feature allows
users to save photos, videos, documents, and music, and other apps data on iCloud. Users
can start their work on one device and continue on another device. By default, users will
get 5 GB of storage for free, but this space will be expandable via subscription.
This section of the article was pulled from the iCloud Drive article. iCloud Photos
iCloud Photos is a new feature coming to iOS 8 as well as OS X Yosemite. This additional
service stores all of your photographs whilst maintaining their original resolution. iCloud
Photos makes all stored photos available ‘in the cloud’, so as to limit local storage use
on a device. Photo Stream
Photo Stream is a service supplied with the basic iCloud service which allows users to
store the most recent 1,000 photos on the iCloud servers up to 30 days free of charge.
When a photo is taken on a device with Photo Stream enabled, it is automatically uploaded
to the iCloud servers; from there, it is automatically pushed to the rest of the user’s registered
devices. Photos in Photo Stream will automatically be removed from other devices after the user
reaches the 1,000 photo or 30 day limit. Users who utilize Photo Stream on their Mac or PC
can choose to have all photos permanently saved on their computer – their photos in
Photo Stream will not be removed from the computer when they are dropped out of Photo
Stream after the user reaches the 1,000 photo or 30 day limit. The service is also integrated
with Apple TV, allowing users to view their recent photos wirelessly on their HDTV.
Storage Since introduction in 2011, each account has
5 GB of free storage for owners of either an iOS device using iOS 5.x or later, or a
Mac using OS X Lion 10.7 or later. Additional storage can be purchased in tiers of 10, 20,
or 50 GB being the maximum. The amount of storage is shared across all devices per iCloud
Apple ID. Several native features of iCloud use each
user’s iCloud storage allowance, specifically, Backup and restore, and email, Contacts, and
Calendars. On Macs, users can also store most filetypes into iCloud folders of their choosing,
rather than only storing them locally on the machine. While Photo Stream uses the iCloud
servers, usage does not come out of the user’s iCloud storage allowance. iTunes Match music
content that is not sold in the iTunes Store also gets uploaded to the user’s iCloud storage
and comes out of the user’s allowance. Other apps can optionally integrate app storage
out of the user’s iCloud storage allowance. Not all of a user’s content counts as part
of their iCloud storage allowance. Apple is able to keep a permanent track of every purchase
a user makes under their Apple ID account, and by associating each piece of content with
the user, means only one copy of every Store item is needed to be kept on Apple’s servers.
For items bought from the iTunes Store, iBooks Store, or App Store, this uses a service Apple
call iTunes in the Cloud, allowing the user to automatically, or manually if preferred,
re-download any of their previous purchases on to a Mac, PC, or iOS device. Downloaded
iTunes Store content can be used across all these devices, however while iBooks Store
and App Store content can be downloaded to Macs and PCs for syncing to iOS devices, only
iOS and Mac devices – and their respective apps – can be used to read the books. Similarly,
OS X apps purchased from the Mac App Store are also linked to the Apple ID they were
purchased through, and are able to be downloaded to any Mac using the same Apple ID. Also,
when a user registers any new device, all previously bought Store content can be downloaded
from the Store servers, or non-Store content from the iCloud servers.
URL access points There are subdirectory access points to each
iCloud user’s individual account functions on the main iCloud.com portal. Once signed
in, these provide web access to each iCloud user’s account via direct links to each function.
See list: http:www.icloud.com – main user login.
http:www.icloud.com/mail – user’s Mail access. http:www.icloud.com/contacts – user’s Contacts
access. http:www.icloud.com/calendar – user’s Calendar
access. http:www.icloud.com/find – user’s Find My
iPhone access. http:www.icloud.com/iwork – user’s iWork
access. As well as private subdirectory access points,
the previous similar MobileMe service also had subdomains for public access to certain
user account functions, which are not offered in iCloud.
System requirements iCloud requires an iOS device running iOS
5.x or later, or a Mac running OS X 10.7.2 “Lion” or later, to create a new account.
Synchronizing with a PC requires Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 using iCloud Control
Panel, optionally Outlook 2007 or later to sync Calendar, Contacts and Reminders, and
Internet Explorer 9 or later or Safari 5.1.1 or later to sync Bookmarks. Online access
to iCloud requires a compatible web browser. MobileMe account users could move their accounts
to be an iCloud account, keeping the same account details.
Name dispute iCloud Communications, a telecommunications
company in Arizona, sued Apple in June 2011 for trademark infringement shortly after Apple
announced iCloud. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court of Arizona and demanded
that Apple stop using the iCloud name and pay unspecified monetary damages. iCloud Communications
changed its name to Clear Digital Communications in August 2011 and dropped its lawsuit against
Apple shortly thereafter. Privacy
iCloud data is kept encrypted on Apple servers, but Apple maintains a master key and can decrypt
it when requested by government agencies. Criticism
iCloud has been criticized by third-party developers for bugs that make some features
nearly unusable, specifically the use of Core Data in iCloud, for storing and syncing larger
amounts of data between users’ devices, which Apple is attempting to address with the release
of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks. See also
Comparison of file hosting services Comparison of online backup services
Comparison of online music lockers Cloud Backup
Cloud computing File hosting service
References External links
iCloud – official site iCloud – information site at Apple
System Status – iCloud services status at Apple