Apple iCloud: need to know

Apple has finally unveiled its consumer-focussed cloud computing service, iCloud. Is there anything to interest businesses? We take an overview of what we can expect.

Does that mean Apple is now encouraging us to use web apps as Google does?

Although it's highly likely there will be web apps for accessing contacts, calendars and photos, as there is now with MobileMe, Apple is emphasising how calendar and contacts data can be used on your computer using existing programs such as Outlook and through apps on iOS devices.

What about music?

Unlike before, iTunes Store customers can now redownload any music they've previously bought. Any new music you buy from the iTunes Store will now be pushed to your computer and up to 10 iOS devices using the iTunes in the Cloud feature. We hope this new Automatic Downloads feature will be made available to third-party developers.

What about music I've already bought?

iTunes Match will scan your iTunes library and identify music acquired from other sources, as long as the iTunes Store stocks those tracks. 256kbps AAC versions of those songs will then be pushed to your devices. If iTunes Match can't find your song, then you'll have to manually upload your tracks to iCloud.

We hope iTunes Match works using the song identification algorithm in the existing Genius music recommendation feature, rather than the ropey Duplicate Track finder feature which simply looks for identical track information.

Unlike the rest of iCloud, iTunes Match will cost $25 a year. We're still waiting for confirmation, but it's likely any iTunes Match tracks will stop working if you cancel your subscription. British pricing has yet to be announced.

iTunes in the Cloud sounds like more faff than simply using Spotify.

We'll reserve final judgement until we actually try it, but it's worth remembering Spotify isn't available in North America which is still Apple's single biggest market.

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