Apple Releases iCloud

Apple just unveiled the iCloud, a music-streaming and online data storage service that users can access on devices from the iPad to the iPhone. The unveiling took place Monday at Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Centre. The unveiling was done by none other than Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs.

Jobs, thin-looking, was welcomed by more than 5,000 Apple aficionados. Jobs’ appearance was intended to ease some concerns of investors and Wall Street observers about his health. He was on medical leave after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

He made opening comments for a few minutes and then left the stage to Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief.

What’s so suave about the iCloud? For one, it allows users to play their music and get access to their data from any Apple device. This is very important, especially for users who are becoming increasingly used to performing tasks on the move.

Cloud computing stores data and software on multiple servers and can be accessed by devices through the Internet. Apple’s expansion into cloud computing is a business strategy to stay ahead of rivals such as Google and Amazon in the mobile and online content business.

The iCloud unveiling is part of Apple’s recognition of the tablet computer’s success since it was first launched. More than 25 million iPads were sold and customers bought more than 15 billion songs from iTunes. iTunes is considered as the world’s biggest music store.

iCloud’s beta version is now available for free, but come fall, users can pay US$24.99 annually to have their song libraries available on iTunes. This is for playback on any Apple gadget through what Jobs’ calls iTunes Match. This feature of iCloud puts Apple ahead of Google and Amazon. iTunes Match scans users’ hard drives and automatically makes songs that it finds available on iCloud. This is different from what Google and Amazon storages can do, which allow uploads per song.

Jobs also said that with iCloud computing, users will be able to share book purchases, music, and data in general through different Apple devices, while its cloud computing storage is backed up and information updated regularly.