What is iCloud?

What is iCloud?

UPDATE: Check here for the iCloud release date.

Apple's iCloud gives every iOS 5 user five (5) GB of free storage space on remote servers. The iCloud service will automatically store and push information to all of your iOS mobile devices and Mac OS X or Windows computers, which Apple is billing as an effortless way to manage content. Things such as your music, apps, books, photos, email, contacts, account information, settings and calendars will automatically sync over iCloud.

Purchased content and your Photo Stream don't count towards the 5 GB of storage Apple is reserving for each iCloud user. Past purchases can be browsed and downloaded to individual devices. Of course, an Internet connection is required to use iCloud. iCloud functionality will be integrated into core applications with the release of iOS 5.

For those with music that was not purchased using iTunes, songs can be uploaded or you can pay $24.99 for a year of iTunes Match service. iTunes Match will match your songs from Apple's song library and play this content from the iCloud library at 256 Kbps quality regardless of your original file's quality. These additional matched songs won't count against your 5 GB of storage.

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Apple has indicated it will unveil it's new online service, iCloud, at this years WWDC on June 6.

However, for the time being, it is unclear exactly what iCloud is.

It is expected that iCloud will be an extension of iTunes, allowing users to stream music and video and other media directly to their devices from anywhere.

Given that other cloud-based services (mail hosting, file storage, calendars and more) are already offered by Apple through it's MobileMe service, it is unclear what else iCloud will be. It is possible that MobileMe and the media-based cloud services will come under one new banner as iCloud.

Details remain scarce, but only for a few more days. Check back after June 6 for more information.

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