Stores music, documents and photos on Apple’s servers and lets people access them wirelessly on Apple devices; iTunes Match expected in coming weeks.
What iCloud does is stores your music, photos, apps, contacts, calendars, documents and more, syncing the data across all your devices (Apple and PC). When content changes on one device, all your other devices are updated automatically and wirelessly over W-Fi or 3G.
I’ve already mentioned free music streaming services for Apple devices as well as how to watch your favorite NFL games for free, but iCloud, and the soon-to-be-added iTunes Match will certainly expand your entertainment opportunities.
“iCloud is the easiest way to manage your content, because iCloud does it all for you and goes far beyond anything available today,” said Apple when announcing the launch of the service earlier this month. “You don’t have to think about syncing your devices, because it happens automatically, and it is free.”
What iCloud is is this: Purchase a song or an album on iTunes and it appears on all your devices. When you buy a track with your iPhone it’ll appear in iTunes the next time you use your iPad, and vice versa. It stores your purchase history so you can download and play previously purchased iTunes content, including music and TV shows.
Still to launch is iTunes Match. Promised to debut sometime “later this month” (US only), the service will cost $24.99 per year, but will amazingly allow users to access stored music not purchased on iTunes. That means your vaunted music library acquired by ripping MP3s from CDs, or from illegal downloading, will be accessible on iTunes iCloud whenever you want and wherever you are, without syncing.
The way iTunes Match works is like this: Here’s how it works: It scans your music library to determine which songs are available in the iTunes Store, and automatically adds them to your iCloud library for you to listen to anytime, anywhere, on any device! Music is streamed from iCloud at a 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.
Using iCloud with a PC requires Windows Vista or Windows 7; Outlook 2010 or 2007 is recommended for accessing contacts and calendars. However, at the moment iCloud doesn’t appear to be working on PCs just yet.
To get started with Apple’s iCloud downlaod iTunes version 10.5.