Steve Jobs reaches for the clouds
After iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, it's now the turn of iCloud to hog the limelight. Apple Founder Mr Steve Jobs has unveiled ‘iCloud' – the online sync service that will allow its customers to share music, photos and files across multiple Internet-linked gadgets.
The service which is being touted as a ‘show stopper' was announced during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. Incidentally, Mr Jobs' keynote there marked his second appearance at a company do in 2011; he made a similar appearance for the iPad 2 launch earlier this year.
But although Mr Jobs has held out the promise of moving the universe of digital life into the cloud with the new service, the global excitement has not exactly spilled over into India. That's because as tech commentator Mr Kishore Bhargava points out, “How applicable it is for India remains to be seen.”
He points out that the music part of the iTunes store is not available in India right now. You can buy software, books but not music currently. “Maybe they will open up iTunes now in India,” conjectures tech columnist Mr Ashish Bhatia.
How the iCloud phenomenon works is that the user pays $24.99 as annual membership to the iTunes library. For this fee - which translates into a measly $2 a month - the user can download unlimited songs from the 18 million songs collection that the iTunes library has.
“Conceptually if it works, it has got big benefits. Pretty much in one shot they have got rid of music piracy,” says Mr Bhargava.
What's more, iCloud automatically downloads any new music purchase to all devices of the user over Wi-Fi — or over 3G. Which means you can buy a song from iTunes on your iPad, but use it on your iPhone, your MacBook, and iPad. All without having to sync, repeatedly.
Mr Bhatia also points another benefit. iCloud replaces MobileMe – Apple's previously cloud based service - for backing up/syncing email, contacts, calendars and other data across Apple devices. MobileMe used to cost users $99 per year. The new service - iCloud - is free.
Many of Apple's competitors incidentally have similar cloud-based services. “It's not a new idea by any means, but the way Apple has done it is an elegant solution,” says Mr Bhargava.
As Mr Bhatia points out, “Music is just one aspect of it. iCloud will be like a server for the data on your iOS, right from books to apps to photos.”
But the concern raised by an iPhone and iPod user, Ms R.Vijayalakhsmi is more fundamental: What happens in an area where there is no net connection?
“If I have the songs stored on my device's memory disk then on a plane and other unconnected areas, can I can still access it?” she asks.
Mr Bhatia assures that it is possible. “You will still have the option of storing it in your device,” he says.