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How Apple's latest offering, iCloud, will work

Published: Wednesday, June 8 2011 10:55 a.m. MDT

Get ready for the newest innovation from Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs re-emerged from his medical leave Monday to show off the company's latest offering, the iCloud.

Under the program, users will no longer need to connect their iPhones or iPads to their computers to move photos, music, or files from one device to another.

The offering is Apple's version of cloud computing, which lets users store information on remote servers so that they can call up data on any device with an Internet connection.

How It Works

For photos, documents and other content that users create themselves, any Apple device running iCloud will automatically upload those files via the Internet to Apple servers in North Carolina. So if your laptop crashes, the documents you stored on it won't be lost.

Photos snapped on an iPhone, for example, will be stored in the user's iCloud account. An iPad or Mac computer logged into the same account will automatically download that photo to keep all the devices in sync.

The iCloud music service goes several steps further.

Users will be able to download anything they purchased on the iTunes store to any device they own.

Any digital music that customers create, such as by burning CDs, will be detected on their devices by a new feature called iTunes Match. The $25-per-year service will let users play their personal jukeboxes on any device with iTunes software instead of keeping them tethered to a personal computer that must be synced with other devices.

Some Background

ITunes Match and most other iCloud features won't be available until the fall. A limited amount of iCloud features are already available; users can now send copies of previously purchased songs and books to more devicesFor Apple, the iCloud service represents a response to similar storage services offered by Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Apple is betting it can make the concept of online storage more appealing and convenient.

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