iCloud, Apple’s Seamless Syncing/Backup Service

After Apple unveiled the newest versions of Mac OS X and iOS, the WWDC 2011 keynote was ended with the veil of secrecy being pulled off of the heavily-rumored iCloud cloud service that manages a limited amount of backup options and syncs data between your Apple devices. It goes deeper than that to not be quite how many would expect – in both good and bad ways.

The point of iCloud is so users can have all of their documents, iTunes/App Store purchases, photos, books, contacts, and calendars constantly updated as created/purchased/edited on every Mac and iOS device that they own. Apple realizes that having files organized and in-sync on even two devices has been far from effortless. With many owning an iPhone, iPad, and Mac, data storage has become fragmented due to the hassles of transferring files between devices, which is a true chore for regular attempts. iCloud is Apple’s ambitious (and expensive) venture into putting an end to such fragmentation.

Perhaps the most game-changing thing that iCloud brings to the table is one that many other Apple products do as well: it just works. As in, it does not require a user to do anything for data to remain in perfect harmony. Transfers constantly take place automatically in the background, providing an almost-instant full synchronization.

Take a photo on an iPhone and it is instantly-accessible on an iPad. That is truly how quick iCloud was demonstrated to be; everything seems to actually be taking place instantly. Speaking of photos, Apple provides “Photo Stream,” remote in-the-cloud space for 1,000 images.

All purchases made through Apple’s digital stores (iTunes, App Store, and iBooks) can easily be re-downloaded through a list view. There is also an option to have content purchased practically simultaneously download to every compatible devices that a user owns.

iCloud offers an array of backup functionality. Not only can it keep track of progress in the iWork suite of apps without the need for manual saving, but it removes the need for time-consuming PC-based backups. Since everything that iTunes would store in a backup is handled daily with iCloud, including settings, an up-to-date collection of important data is always available to users.

Developers can get in on the cloud-storage action as Apple provides new APIs for iOS 5 that allow apps to store data in an iCloud account.

Separate from app, music, book, and Photo Stream storage, every user gets 5GB of space to be utilized by apps and documents among many other things. iCloud will be free for anybody with an Apple ID when it launches alongside iOS 5 in Fall.