Of all iCloud’s features, Photo Stream is the closest to being truly magical. No, really. It’s a photo album in the cloud that contains up to 1,000 of your latest photos, storing new ones for 30 days, and it doesn’t count against your standard iCloud storage capacity. Best of all, you only have to keep doing what you’re doing now to use it.
Whew! The International Consumer Electronics Show doesn’t even kick off until tomorrow and we’ve already got gadget fatigue from the sheer number of companies jumping the gun and announcing things early. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with them all, but you can get the Mac|Life staff will be reporting back all week with the coolest of the cool to help whittle down the madness somewhat. In the meantime, check out a few of the early birds in our news recap for this Monday, January 9, 2012.
Besides contacts and calendars, your documents are some of the most important files in your digital life. With the iWork suite, and a trip to iCloud.com on your Mac or PC, you can keep them in sync across all your computers and iOS devices.
Apple’s first cloud service, iTools, was introduced in 2000 and was available for free. Then came MobileMe, which added powerful features like data syncing and online storage, so Apple bumped the price to $99 a year. But now Apple has reverted a bit, delivering MobileMe’s most useful services at no charge and rebranding it all as iCloud. And that’s not all—this new service links all of your devices with Apple’s North Carolina data centers to keep both your vital files and your iTunes Store purchases at your fingertips whenever you want them.
There haven’t been any truly significant advances with iTunes music since Apple unshackled songs from the FairPlay digital rights management ball and chain in early 2009. That all changed with the recent introduction of iTunes Match, a new scan-and-match subscription service offering access to your entire music library from any Mac, PC, or iOS device which can also upgrade matched tracks to higher quality versions, regardless of where you acquired them.
Technology moves faster than poop through a goose: New products crop up quickly, while established brands and well-loved hardware can disappear just as fast. The same goes for those that make new technology possible, with new entrepreneurs bringing their wares to the fore, and legends leaving us years before their time. This past year proved no exception. With the new year creeping ever closer, we submit to you ten of our picks for the most important tech stories of the year. Designed by Apple users for Apple users, we're sure you'll find yourself nodding in agreement at more than a few of our choices.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had access to your entire music library at all times? And what if you could share that library amongst all your Macs and iOS devices? iTunes Match is an optional paid iCloud component that offers exactly that, and while it’s charms are obvious, there are some limitations and usability issues that make Match’s forecast a little cloudy.
The 2011 Christmas holiday will be just a memory in a few days’ time, and our thoughts then turn to the new year and what 2012 might bring. For those of us covering the Apple beat, those ruminations include the first full year without Steve Jobs and what kind of new wonderment the team left in his wake might bring us -- some of which might still have involved his magic touch.
Backups to the cloud encrypt and transmit your Mac’s data to online servers that could be anywhere in the world. These backups depend on a fast, reliable internet connection, and may lack the speed of local backups and restores, but they offer important advantages over backing up locally. For starters, most cloud backups offer some storage for free, with additional plans to choose from as your needs grow. Your files are kept far from where thieves could realistically reach them, and they’re protected (again, within reason) from disasters and random acts of clumsiness better than most external drives. We have yet to hear of a server brought down by a spilled iced latte at Starbucks.
What’ll it be: Mac or PC? Consumers have their reasons for loving or hating both platforms. When expressed in online forums and the user comment sections of websites like Mac|Life or our sister site Maximum PC, these rational talking points act to chum the digital waters, attracting the most irritating of all predators: The Fanboy. With Macs users now capable of easily running Windows and OS X on the same computer, and Windows rig owners leveraging iTunes to keep their iPads and iPhones purring along, you’d think the hostilities would be settling down.
Unfortunately, there’s a new argument to be had, and it revolves around the issue of which company, Microsoft or Apple, provides a superior cloud computing experience: SkyDrive or iCloud. While we wear our pro-Apple leanings like a badge of honor, we wouldn’t be doing our readers a service by simply declaring iCloud the single greatest cloud computing and storage platform of all time. Instead, we present you with a blow-for-blow account of how the two of the web’s most prominent cloud computing platforms -- iCloud and SkyDrive -- stack up against one another.