Despite a shaky track record when it comes to decentralized storage, Apple has announced plans to take another crack at the cloud computing market with iCloud.
Revealed at this morning's WorldWide Developer's Conference, the iCloud service "stores your content in the cloud and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices," according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. This includes not just media files (photos, movies and music), but also a range of personal settings, as well as documents created in Apple productivity applications like Pages, Numbers and Keynote.
More impressively, the service will include no advertisements, and Jobs promises that syncing calendars, email and personal contacts across a user's range of iOS devices will be free, up to 5GBs.
As Engadget points out, the best part of this entire concept is that the syncing is actually automatic. "Take a picture on your iPhone and it appears on your laptop and your iPad," the site claims.
iCloud also brings with it improvements for Apple's prized cash cow, iTunes. Dubbed "iTunes in the Cloud," the new functionality will allow users to download iTunes media to a maximum of 10 iOS devices free of charge.
Alongside iTunes in the Cloud, Jobs also unveiled the firm's new "iTunes Match" service, a program that allows users to essentially store their CD collection in the cloud. In short, iTunes Match scans a music collection, then duplicates its findings in the cloud with 256kbps DRM-free AAC music files. Much to the chagrin of hipster music snobs like myself, there's no word on how iTunes Match will react to rare singles from unknown French indie folk acts.
iTunes Match is priced at $25 per year, and as with everything here, should go live at the same time as iOS 5 this fall.
Apple fans, or more specifically, the company's detractors, will recall that previous attempts to embrace cloud computing by the hipper-than-thou tech giant have been less than successful. Its most recent foray, MobileMe, was a middling success at best, and alongside the announcement of iCloud, Jobs confirmed that MobileMe is now dead.