Apple Announces iCloud, iTunes Match At WWDC 2011

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled several new Apple services, including iCloud, that underscore a major shift taking place in the tech world as users' information moves from gadgets to the cloud, where it is stored on remote servers and accessible from any device with an Internet connection.

"We're going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device," said Jobs, according to a live blog of his remarks at the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. "We're going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud."

Apple described iCloud as a service that is integrated with apps and "stores your content, and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices." In essence, it will provide a way to ensure that users' data, whether contacts, photos, appointments, or apps, is consistent and equally accessible across Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and PC.

Jobs highlighted how iCloud will work with several different apps, including iBooks, the App Store, and iWork. For example, contacts that are added to an iPhone will be sent to the cloud, then synced across all other Apple devices a user has. Likewise, a Calendar update will be pushed across multiple devices, automatically. Jobs noted that iCloud will regularly back up certain information, via WiFi, such as purchased music, device settings, and photos, then push this data across a user's devices. A photo taken on an iPhone will instantly be accessible on a user's iPad and Mac.

iCloud will be available for free and there will be no ads on the service, as had been rumored. The cloud-based storage system will work on iOS devices (the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch), as well as on Macs.

Jobs also announced iTunes in the Cloud, a service that will download any song a customer has purchased on iTunes on all of her devices without additional cost.

The CEO's trademark "one more thing" announcement focused on iTunes Match, a $24.99 per year service that will help users put any music they've uploaded to their computer (but not purchased via iTunes) on the cloud by scanning and matching the songs (more about it here).

The process will take "minutes, not weeks," said Jobs, with an implicit dig at Google, which launched a music service that has been criticized for taking hours to upload songs to its servers. He also explained that whereas Amazon charges $50 for 50GB of storage (or around 5,000 songs, by Apple's estimation), and around $200 for 20,000 songs, iTunes Match will cost the same--$24.99--whether you're uploading 20 songs or 20,000.

"It's an industry-leading offer, let's put it that way," Jobs remarked.

Read more about Apple's other announcements, including iOS 5, Mac OS X Lion, and more, here. See Jobs onstage at WWDC here.

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