iCloud preferences pane on OS X 10.8.1
|Original author(s)||Apple Inc.|
|Initial release||Developers release
June 6, 2011
October 12, 2011
|Stable release||2.1.1 / December 20, 2012|
|Operating system||OS X
|Type||Online backup service|
|Alexa rank||1,021 (April 2013[update])|
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 (Windows Vista service pack 2 or later). It also replaces Apple's MobileMe service, acting as a data syncing center for email, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes, reminders (to-do lists), 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.
iCloud was announced on June 6, 2011, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). 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.
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.
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 device running iOS 5 or later. Data backed up includes photos and videos in the Camera Roll, device settings, app data, messages (iMessage, SMS, and MMS), 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 login remotely to other computers configured with the same Apple ID that have Back to My Mac enabled.
Email, Contacts, and Calendars 
As with MobileMe (and .Mac and iTools before it), 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[clarification needed] 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 (e.g. a Gmail account), and that existing non-Apple email address becomes their iCloud login.[clarification needed]
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 (along with a circle showing the radius depicting the margin of error), display a message and/or play a sound on the device (even if it is set to silent), 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 ones 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.
iTunes Match 
iTunes Match debuted on November 14, 2011, 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 can 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 takes 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 iOS devices or computers.
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. The service is also integrated with Apple TV, allowing users to view their recent photos wirelessly on their HDTV.
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 – 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 (music, music videos, movies, TV shows), iBookStore (books), or App Store (iOS apps), 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 (or streamed, provided the user is connected to the Internet) iTunes Store content can be used across all these devices, however while iBookStore and App Store content can be downloaded to Macs and PCs for syncing to iOS devices, only the iOS devices themselves can be used to read books or use the iOS apps. 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.
In addition to the free 5 GB of iCloud storage, previous MobileMe accounts (to be precise, those "individual" accounts, or the master account user only, not the sub-members, on "family pack" accounts) were automatically given the extra 20 GB tier on iCloud, and those with MobileMe accounts with 40 or 60 GB of additional purchased storage received a complimentary upgrade of 50 GB of iCloud storage. Originally this was going to be until the close of the MobileMe service on June 30, 2012, but Apple later extended this to be until September 30, 2012. On September 30, 2012 users noticed that the free storage upgrade had not expired, but had seemingly been extended 50 years longer, with their devices in fact showing an expiry date of September 30, 2038. However over the course of the next few days this soon changed to show just a year's extension, until September 30, 2013, with Apple email customers to advise them of the extension.
URL access points 
There are subdirectory (private) 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.
- http://www.icloud.com/photostream – user's Photo Stream access.
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 (Service Pack 2) or Windows 7 using iCloud control panel, optionally Outlook 2007 or later to sync Calendar, Contacts and Reminders, and optionally Internet Explorer 8 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 account 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 U.S. 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.
iCloud data is kept encrypted on Apple servers, but Apple maintains a master key and can decrypt it when requested by government agencies.
See also 
- Ubuntu One
- Comparison of file hosting services
- Comparison of online backup services
- Comparison of online music lockers
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