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How iPhone and iPad Users Can Get Started Using Apple's iCloud

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Jason R. Rich introduces you to Apple's new iCloud online file sharing service, and discusses how iPhone and iPad users can best utilize this free service, starting when they upgrade their devices to iOS 5 this fall.

For the average consumer, iCloud will offer a handful of easy and convenient services. However, business users and companies whose employees utilize Apple iOS devices will most likely need to turn to other cloud-based services—from Microsoft or Google, for example—to meet their needs.

How many times have you been caught daydreaming when someone, like a boss or teacher, walked up to you and said, "Get your head out of the clouds"? Although having your head in the clouds can be counterproductive, keeping your data in the virtual cloud can be highly beneficial.

As Apple launches its new online, cloud-based file sharing service for the Mac, PC, and its iOS 5 devices, including the iPhone and iPad, it plans for iCloud to become an integral part of how you use these devices for file sharing, data storage, data backups, and more.

Starting in Fall 2011, when Apple launches iOS 5, many of the most popular core apps that come preinstalled on your iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4, iPad or iPad 2; as well as apps such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, and many third-party apps, will fully integrate iCloud functionality for file sharing and data backup.

iCloud Has Many Uses for the Average Consumer

Unlike its competition, for iOS 5 device users, iCloud is more than just a cloud-based file sharing service. With the most minimal amount of setup, it can automatically handle a variety of tasks, including these:

  • It makes your iTunes music purchases available simultaneously on your primary computer and your iOS devices. Or, by using the new iTunes Match service ($24.99 per year), your entire digital music library, including non-iTunes purchases, can be stored on iCloud and shared with multiple computers and devices.
  • It creates a photo stream composed of up to 1,000 digital images, which can be automatically synchronized among your computer and iOS devices. When you snap and edit a photo on your iPhone or iPad, and the device is connected to the web, the photo will automatically be transferred to iCloud and then shared with your other devices while a master photo library, containing all your digital images, is automatically maintained on your primary computer.
  • It shares documents between your primary computer and various devices. With Pages, Numbers, and/or Keynote on your iPhone or iPad, Microsoft Office documents can be created, edited, printed, or viewed on your iOS device and automatically synced with your primary computer. Or files from your primary computer can easily be sent to your iOS devices via iCloud. This is done wirelessly, via the web, with no iTunes sync or USB cable required.
  • It keeps the apps and your eBook library synchronized between your iOS devices. Plus, it obtains instant access to purchased apps that are not currently stored on your iPhone or iPad.
  • It wirelessly syncs all your iOS device's contacts, calendar, Safari bookmarks, and email account data with other iOS devices and/or your primary computer. So, when you update your contacts database on your iPhone, for example, those changes will be almost instantly be reflected on all other computers or devices that you use to access that contacts database.
  • It maintains a wireless, online-based backup of your iPhone or iPad without using the iTunes sync process. When given access to a Wi-Fi web connection, your iOS device will automatically back itself up on iCloud. This backup will include your purchased music, apps and eBooks, photos and videos, personalized device settings, all app-related data, your Home Screen settings, all Text Messages and MMS messages (including iMessage data), and all customized ringtones.
  • Gives the ability to restore your iOS device from a backup stored on iCloud from any location where there's a Wi-Fi Internet connection.
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