Apple's iCloud and Cloud Computing: 10 Key Questions Answered

Categories: Tech

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Apple's iCloud service was introduced June 6
The Apple World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote address -- the way Steve Jobs and crew announce new initiatives to fanboys (and girls) -- was even more anticipated than usual this year, so much so that Jobs made a special appearance despite being in the midst of battling a rare form of cancer.

Apple's update to its operating system, named Lion, certainly is worth the pomp and circumstance if you are a Mac user. But, without question, the announcement that had people buzzing was the long-awaited release of iCloud, Apple's new cloud computing service promising to sync all sorts of things across all sorts of devices. As soon as I mentioned "the cloud" to several friends, a familiar glazed look came over them and I realized there are some questions that need answering before the average user gets overly excited.

Here are ten questions answered to help you get a better grip on just what "the cloud" is.

10. What is "the cloud?"
"The cloud" refers to online storage. In short, "the cloud" is a bunch of servers that can store your information and data -- music, photos, applications, documents, e-mail, calendar events, contacts, etc. -- for you and make it accessible wherever and whenever you want it.

9. Don't I have a computer for that?
Well, yes, but there are certainly times when people want access to files when their computer isn't available. Many of us are used to being able to check our e-mail on our phone and on our computer. Think of this as a way to access music, documents and photos the same way you view e-mail.

8. Isn't that what servers are for?
Quite right, but the difference here is in the interface. Without it, you would need different kinds of software and knowledge the average person doesn't need or want. Just as you could upload a photo to an online server and send a link to someone, services like Facebook, Instagram and TwitPic have simplified the process.

7. Are there other cloud services besides iCloud?
Absolutely. For businesses, there have been a wide range of services available for quite some time. For individuals, Google and Amazon both offer cloud services. In fact, much of what Google has offered for the last year or two, Apple is just now delivering to Mac users.

6. So, why wouldn't I just use Google?
You might. If you are an Android user or a Windows user, Google might be the best choice for you. Unfortunately, the iCloud is an Apple product and, as a result, is available to Mac users only for now.


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2 comments
WhiskeyR
WhiskeyR

Here's a question: If someone pirated a shit ton of music from torrents (not that I would ever do such a thing!), can they sign up for iCloud, erase the songs from their macbook and listen to them via the iCloud service? If I am reading this correctly, iCloud would "match" songs you already have on your computer and give you access to them?

Jeff
Jeff

That's actually an interesting question. In theory, you could use Apple Match to sync all of your pirated music with the iTunes copy in the cloud, delete all your files and then re-sync your computer with the cloud giving you access to only iTunes versions - perfectly legal.

A number of columnists and bloggers have already said this is a very real possibility and it wouldn't surprise me if this was seriously tested a few times. There is also the question of whether or not your access to iCloud comes with legal strings. For example, knowingly matching illegally downloaded songs could, in theory, open an individual up to penalties if you are caught. No doubt, that will be a part of the terms of use.

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