Apple CEO Steve Jobs today announced an online cloud storage service called iCloud, designed to make it simple to wirelessly share music, e-mail, photos, calendars, and other data between handheld gadgets and desktop computers.
The new Apple service, which has been the subject of intense speculation for more than a year, attempts to harness the power and flexibility of cloud computing for home users. It uses techniques that have already proved popular with businesses to make it easier to move data back and forth between multiple devices and applications.
Jobs introduced iCloud this morning at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco as part of a broader announcement that also highlighted the forthcoming version of Mac OS X Lion, available in July for $29.99, and new features for iOS including a newsstand and tabbed browsing on the iPad.
iCloud represents a direct response to Google’s cloud-based offerings, which already use services like Gmail, Calendar, Picasa, and Google Docs to show users the same document across multiple devices. In addition, Google recently announced Google Music and Amazon.com unveiled Amazon Cloud Drive.
About 10 years ago, Jobs said, Apple had one of its most important insights: The PC would become the digital hub for your digital life and store photos, video, and music, which would in turn be synchronized with mobile devices plugged in to it. Now, he said, we’re at a similar turning point, where iCloud can store data and wirelessly push it to every device you own.
iCloud will be supported by new versions of applications including Calendar, Mail, and Contacts, so if information is changed for one contact, it goes to the cloud and then is pushed to the other devices. Cloud backup is another part of the service, including daily wireless backup of an iOS device. Third-party apps can also store documents in the cloud through new interfaces that will be made available to developers.
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