Understanding Apple iCloud

I have an iPhone 3GS, and my son has my old iPhone Original. My wife also has two iPhones, an old and new one. The other day my son asked me if he could download a game onto his phone. I told him he could, and the next day the app had magically appeared on my phone. For a second I wondered why, and then I remembered Apple’s new cloud computing service, iCloud. The app was purchased using his phone, and then stored in the cloud. Then, my phone automatically downloaded the new purchase when it synchronized with the cloud.

Synchronizing Multiple Devices

These four devices are all using the same account. When an app is purchased from the App store, it can be installed on any of them. Prior to iCloud, synchronization was done through iTunes running on a PC or Mac. So, if an app was purchased on one phone it would need to be downloaded to a PC. Then, another device (or devices) could be synchronized with that PC and have that app as well. This was time consuming and more than a little confusing when you have many apps, many devices, and each user wanting a different set of apps. It’s also harder when everyone has their own computer that they synchronize their phone with.

iCloud Automates Synchronization

Because of Apple’s cloud computing service, synchronization has all of a sudden become vastly simpler. Now, when an app is purchased (or a free app is downloaded), it is stored in iCloud. It doesn’t matter what device was used to make the purchase, all the purchases are there. To see this, open the App Store app on your iPhone.

Notice the Purchased tab at the top. Tap on it to see all the apps ever purchased on this account. Any app previously purchased, but not on the current device, can easily be installed by tapping on the cloud icon. See the screenshot below.

Setting Up iCloud

To set up automatic downloads, go to Settings and tap on the Store tab. Notice, automatic synchronization of Apps and Music through the cloud can be turned on if desired. Now, every time your kid buys a new game or some music, you’ll get it too! Hmm, maybe there’s a downside there. In the near future, this capability will extend to other types of data as well, like photos, movies, books and documents. The official release of iCloud doesn’t come until iOS 5 is released.

Other Similar Services

Other companies have services similar to Apple’s iCloud. For example, Amazon stores Kindle book purchases in the cloud, and those books can be downloaded to many different devices such as a computer, phone, tablet and Kindle reader.

This is just another example of cloud technology making computing easier. If you would like to learn how to use the cloud to benefit your users, take one of the courses in Learning Tree’s Cloud Computing curriculum

Doug Rehnstrom

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