Apple Announces iCloud Storage, Syncing, and Back-up Service

Also announced at today’s WWDC keynote was Apple’s new iCloud service, a more robust replacement for MobileMe that offers over-the-air storage and synchronization features for email, contacts, calendar, photos, documents, app data and music. iCloud will be available with 5GB of storage for free in the fall when iOS 5 is released.

iTunes in the Cloud, a subset of iCloud that is available starting today (it requires iOS 4.3.3 and iTunes 10.3), will offer automatic downloads of purchased music from iTunes to all iOS devices. A complementary iTunes Match service, which won’t be available until the fall, will identify songs in your iTunes library not obtained from but available in the iTunes Store and provide access to high-quality versions of them immediately for $24.99 per year.

Today it is a real hassle and very frustrating to keep all your information and content up-to-date across all your devices,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iCloud keeps your important information and content up to date across all your devices. All of this happens automatically and wirelessly, and because it’s integrated into our apps you don’t even need to think about it—it all just works.

iCloud will automatically back up purchased music, apps, ebooks, and app data, and device settings during charging and will restore new devices with existing data wirelessly as well. iCloud will also offer document storage with automatic sharing to all iOS devices. Third-party apps will also be able to access documents stored there.

iCloud will also offer a new Photo Stream service to automatically upload and store pictures captured with an iOS device and push them to your other iOS devices and computers. Photo Stream pictures will not count toward the 5GB storage limit included with a free account.

Additional storage beyond the 5GB included for free will be available for purchase though pricing has not yet been announced.