Whether you managed to talk the bank manager into letting you get your hands on the new iPad 2 or iPhone 4s, or simply upgraded to IOS 5 on any other of your iThingies, you will have most likely already come into contact with iCloud.
With the release of IOS 5 on October 12 of 2011, iCloud was without a doubt one of the biggest features to look forward to.
When you upgrade your iDevice, or setup your new one, it will prompt you in the setup to enable or disable iCloud. Disabling it serves no point what so ever.
So you enabled it, now what?
Well iCloud is associated to your Apple ID. This is good news, as it means that all of your iThings will be associated with the same iCloud service.
Let the synchronising begin!
When you enable iCould in the the setup of the device, it will prompt you for which features you would like to switch on, to synchronise to the cloud. These options include Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Bookmarks, Notes, Photo Stream, Documents & Data, and Find my iDevice.
Very simply, when you enable each of these options, they will synchronise immediately to the iCloud service, and will then be able to synchronise with all of your other devices.
So no more do you need to change your web browser bookmarks on your iPad to work on your iPhone. Now you don’t need to copy a contact from your iPhone to your Mac. You won’t need to remember to create a reminder on your PC after you made it on your iPod.
It is really simple, easy to use, and best of all, free.
|IOS Device iCloud Settings|
The Mail component does not work the way you would think it would though. Instead of making all your mail accounts and content available from a cool web interface, it only does this for your older @me accounts, and the newer @icloud accounts. When you setup iCloud, and select the Mail option, it will prompt you for your older @me.com email address. If you never had one, you will be able to create the new @icloud.com address. Only this address will be available from the web interface.
|iCloud Web Interface Login|
Photo Stream, for me, is the best feature in the iCloud offering. Any iDevices that you setup with iCloud, and enable the Photo Stream option, will synchronise the last 30 days of photos to the cloud, for free.
So, should you go down to the beach and take a few funky snaps, when you walk into your home, it will synchronise automatically to all of your iDevices, including your PC or Mac.
|iCloud Web Interface|
How does it work? Well most importantly, it only uses wireless to do the synchronising, and not any cellular data, so don’t be concerned. Once your iPhone picks up your wireless network, any wireless network that it has access to, it will automatically push the new photos to iCloud. Any of your other iDevices that are also on a wireless network, will then receive the newest additions to the Photo Stream Album.
How does the Mac or PC access these photos? Well, Apple Software Update will have prompted you by now to download the iCloud client since the release of iTunes 10. The installation is required, with a simple login of your Apple ID. A folder will be created to keep your Photo Stream pictures together and up to date.
|Find my iPhone Feature|
So you want to use iCloud services on your device, but not necessarily all of the services? No problem. You can simply switch on or off whichever features you want, on each device, whenever you want.
Did you misplace your iDevice? Did that Christmas office-party get out of hand? No problem. iCloud includes the amazing feature of Find my iPhone. Provided the device has signal, you can log on to the web interface from any computer to www.icloud.com, and find your device. If the device is possibly only Wifi, it will show the last location of the device, and when it was last tracked.
If the device does indeed have signal, you will not only be able to track its exact position, but also send through some commands as well. You can send a message, lock the device or even do a security wipe.
So should your device be simply misplaced, or maybe maliciously repossessed, you will still have some control, if it will help.
And last but not least, you have the ability to back your entire device up to the cloud as well. The theory here is fantastic, and the technology has the legs to support it up as well. Unfortunately, you only get 5GB of free space for backups.
There is a very slim chance that your device has less than that on it. Should you use the service, and lose your device, you will actually be able to fully restore it, straight from the cloud, seamlessly and painlessly.
If this is something that you want to use, it is going to mean you will need to invest in it, and purchase some extra space through iCloud. Prices range from $20 to 100$ per year.
|Send a message to your device|
All in all, Apple did their homework on this one, and has made it very easy for us to keep our lives in sync, and mostly for free.