In case you missed it, on Wednesday Apple released iOS 5 and iCloud to the masses. Downloads of iOS 5, other updates, and initial use of iCloud put an enormous strain on Apple’s new $1 billion data center. For those that made it through the downloads and were able to set up iCloud, Wednesday was a fun but disappointing day.
What is iCloud?
Before iCloud, Apple offered a subscription-based service called MobileMe. It was unreliable, costly, and buggy. So Apple announced at the WWDC this June plans to succeed MobileMe with iCloud—unlike MobileMe, the service is free. It “pushes” things like emails, calendar events, apps, documents, photos and music to all of your devices. You can activate iCloud on an compatible iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch running iOS 5 as well as a Mac running the latest version of OS X Lion or a PC running Vista or Windows 7. You can also access content through iCloud.com.
What’s Not New?
For most users, iCloud introduces a few innovative features and merely places the Apple brand on some preexisting features. Your iPhone has long supported push email, and whether you have Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo, emails are pushed instantly to your iPhone. (Apple’s MobileMe also used push email.) Same deal with calendars and contacts, though not all services have push support. Other MobileMe features like Back to My Mac (remote access) and Find My iPhone are also a part of iCloud, while a ton of other MobileMe features have been completely left out. Read more…