Over the past few years, consumers have become obsessed with the notion of having their documents and data instantly available wherever they are, on whichever device they happen to be using at the time. In the past, Apple experimented with this by offering limited sync services; with iCloud, the company is charging head-first into the digital-sync sphere.
What is iCloud?
In short, iCloud is a catchall phrase that covers Apple’s entire suite of wireless sync and backup services, which aim to keep your devices—both iOS, and desktop computers running OS X Lion, Windows Vista, or Windows 7—on the same page, no matter which one you’re using at any given moment. Broken down, those services cover four areas: document and data sync, mobile backup, location awareness, and purchase management.
Any customer can create a free iCloud account, which provides 5GB of storage for document sync and mobile backup; additional space can be purchased for a yearly fee. (Your purchased content from the iTunes and App Stores do not count toward this storage limit.) Unlike certain third-party services, iCloud isn’t focused on preserving your individual files, or providing a central folder where you can upload documents to access across platforms—Apple wants you to stop worrying about where specific files save to, and instead focus on the information itself.
Document and data sync: This portion of iCloud provides you with an invisible online repository (5GB for free, up to 50GB on a yearly paid plan) for your email, contacts, calendars, documents, and app data. Your iOS devices and computers collectively sync to and pull information from this central server on a regular basis, thus keeping everything up-to-date. Like iCloud’s predecessor, MobileMe, your mail, calendar, and contact accounts will be accessible from all your devices and on the Web. You’ll also be able to access your iWork documents, if you have one of the iWork apps on your iOS device.
Mobile backup: If you’ve owned an iOS device before, you’ll find iCloud backups very similar to tethered iTunes backups. Like iTunes, iCloud backs up information on your purchased content (music, apps, and books), your Camera Roll, device settings, data, home screens, messages, and ringtones, but instead of saving that information in a file on your computer, the service stores it online instead. Your purchases themselves aren’t backed up to your iCloud account; instead, your backup keeps a record of what you own. When you restore your device from a backup, those purchases automatically redownload back in place, aided by your backed-up app data and home screen positioning. This way, you should always be able to restore information without ever needing to plug your device into your Mac or PC.
Location awareness: As part of iCloud, you can locate both your devices (iOS and Mac) and your companions, using the Find My iPhone and Find My Friends app, respectively. Both apps are free and available to download from the App Store; you can also locate your iOS device and your Mac by going to the iCloud website.
Purchase management: The final part of Apple’s iCloud strategy focuses on your past purchases and your iTunes media collection. Using your free iCloud account, you can access a complete record of all your purchased iTunes content; choose to download new music, apps, and books automatically; and redownload anything for free. Pay a yearly fee, and you can access your entire music library (up to 25,000 songs) across multiple devices, whether they be purchased iTunes songs or not.
Set up iCloud
If you don’t have an iCloud account, it’s easy to sign up for one, either on your device, when updating to iOS 5 or through the Settings app, or on your computer if you’re running OS X 10.7.2. If you’re switching from MobileMe, you have to move and merge your account through the iCloud website before you can take advantage the service.
Do you have an Apple ID? If you’ve ever purchased something from the iTunes Store, you’ll have signed up for an Apple ID (which is usually your primary email address). Even if you never used this account to sign up for MobileMe, you can convert it into an iCloud account.
If you’ve converted your old Apple ID, you need to toggle the Mail switch to On in the iCloud pane to get an email address for your account.
To do so from an iOS device, go to the Settings app and tap the iCloud menu. At the top of the screen, enter your Apple ID and password. After a moment of setup time, iCloud will prompt you to merge anything on your device with this newly created account; tap Merge to do so, or Don’t Merge if you don’t want to copy the information currently on your device. From there, just tap the toggles to customize your iCloud account the way you prefer. Note that if you convert an Apple ID into an iCloud account, you won’t have access to iCloud email by default—you’ll have to create a firstname.lastname@example.org address first. To do so, toggle the Mail slider in the iCloud settings pane to On; a pop-up dialog box from the bottom of the screen will prompt you to create a username.
To activate iCloud on your computer, you need to be running OS X 10.7.2. (You can download it from Apple’s website or from Software Update on your computer.) You can set up iCloud online at icloud.comby simply logging in with your Apple ID; you can also set it up from your computer’s System Preferences application by clicking on the iCloud preference pane.
See Full Article (MacWorld): Here