iCloud

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iCloud
Apple iCloud.png
Original author(s) Apple Inc.
Developer(s) Apple Inc.
Initial release Developers release
June 6, 2011
Public release
October 12, 2011[1]
Stable release 3.1 / January 24, 2014; 2 months ago (2014-01-24)
Development status Active
Operating system OS X (10.7 Lion & Later)
Microsoft Windows
iOS 5 or later
Available in Multilingual
Type Online backup service
License Freeware
Alexa rank positive decrease 969 (April 2014)[2]
Website www.icloud.com
iCloud control panel on Windows 7
iCloud.com in Safari 4.1.3 on an iMac G5 running 10.4.11

iCloud is a cloud storage and cloud computing service[3][4][5] from Apple Inc. launched on October 12, 2011. As of July 2013, the service has 320 million users.[6]

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,[7] 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,[5] 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.

One of Apple's iCloud data centers is located in Maiden, North Carolina, US.[8]

History[edit]

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.[3][4][5]

iCloud was announced on June 6, 2011,[9] at the 2011 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.[10]

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.[11] iCloud had 20 million users in less than a week after launch.[12] The iCloud.com domain and registered trademark were bought from a Swedish company called Xcerion, who rebranded their service to CloudMe.[13][14][15] CloudMe still controls major domains like iCloud.de, iCloud.fr and iCloud.es.[16]

A class action lawsuit by customers unhappy over the transition from MobileMe to iCloud was filed in early May 2012.[17]

Announcement[edit]

The first official mention of iCloud from Apple came on May 31, 2011, when a press release[18] 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.[19]

In the WWDC 2011 keynote speech, Apple announced iCloud will replace MobileMe services and that the basic iCloud service will be free of charge.[20]

Features[edit]

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.[21]

Backup and restore[edit]

iCloud allows users to back up the settings and data on iOS devices running iOS 5 or later.[22] 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[edit]

Back to My Mac, also previously part of MobileMe, is now part of iCloud.[23] 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[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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[edit]

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.[24]

Find My iPhone[edit]

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.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27] 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.[28] 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[edit]

iCloud Keychain was announced at the 2013 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), to be released as part of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks (version 10.9). 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.[29]

It functions as a secure database that allows information including a user's website login passwords, Wi-Fi network passwords, credit/debit card management (though without CVV), 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.[29]

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 (version 10.9) onwards.[29]

iTunes Match[edit]

iTunes Match debuted on November 14, 2011. It was initially available to US users only.[30] For an annual fee,[31] 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.[32] 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.[33]

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,[31][34] whether on iOS devices or computers.[31]

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 (2nd generation onwards), 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 will initially be available in the US only, before rolling-out to other countries later.[35]

As of March 26, 2014, iTunes Match is available in 116 countries, while iTunes in the Cloud is available in 155 countries.[36]

iWork for iCloud[edit]

During the 2013 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 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 (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote), will be made available on a web interface (named as Pages for iCloud, Numbers for iCloud, and Keynote for iCloud respectively), 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.

Photo Stream[edit]

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.[37]

Storage[edit]

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.[38][39][40]

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.[36] 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.[41]

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,[42] but Apple later extended this to be until September 30, 2012.[43] 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 showing an expiry date of September 30, 2038.[44] However over the course of the next few days this soon changed to show just a year's extension, until September 30, 2013,[45] with Apple emailing customers to advise them of the extension.[46] On August 1, 2013, Apple posted a knowledge base article and emailed affected former MobileMe customers who received the free storage upgrade, to notify them that this expires on September 30, 2013, and would then revert to the free 5 GB tier, also advising them in the email of the amount of iCloud storage they were currently using.[47][48] As expected, on September 30, 2013, Apple ended the complimentary storage plan upgrades for former MobileMe members, re-advising them by emailing where they also told users the amount of iCloud data they were currently left using.[47][49]

URL access points[edit]

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[50] – main user login.
  • http://www.icloud.com/mail[51] – user's Mail access.
  • http://www.icloud.com/contacts[52] – user's Contacts access.
  • http://www.icloud.com/calendar[53] – user's Calendar access.
  • http://www.icloud.com/find[54] – user's Find My iPhone access.
  • http://www.icloud.com/iwork[55] – 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[edit]

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.[56] Synchronizing with a PC requires Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) or Windows 7 using iCloud control panel,[57] 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.[58] MobileMe account users could move their accounts to be an iCloud account, keeping the same account details.[59]

Name dispute[edit]

iCloud Communications, a telecommunications company in Arizona, sued Apple in June 2011 for trademark infringement shortly after Apple announced iCloud.[60][61] 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.[61][62] iCloud Communications changed its name to Clear Digital Communications in August 2011 and dropped its lawsuit against Apple shortly thereafter.[63]

Privacy[edit]

iCloud data is kept encrypted on Apple servers, but Apple maintains a master key and can decrypt it when requested by government agencies.[64]

Criticism[edit]

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,[65][66][67] which Apple is attempting to address with the release of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks (version 10.9).[68]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]