What iCloud Means to You

Although we didn’t get any official word on a new iPhone this summer, we did get word of a new service that replaces MobileMe, costs nothing and adds features, and it’s named iCloud. Seems like a win-win proposition, right?

It is, but some people have been wondering what it really means for them. iCloud is neat, but will it change the way they use their iPhone? Does it make a difference it what iPhone you purchase? Turns out that iCloud is more than just a simple syncing service, and it could just change the decisions you make when it comes time to buy that new iPhone.

Downsizing

When I bought my iPhone, I did the same thing I do with all of my computers and devices — I maxed out the storage, that way I never have to worry about having too little space. Yes, that meant I spent a little extra money up front, but now I have lots of room for my iTunes library. I have friends and relatives who opted for the 16GB size, and now they’re telling me that they wish they had gone bigger, because they have too many apps.

All of your music on all of your devices, anytime.

All of your music on all of your devices, anytime.

With iCloud, this isn’t an issue. Although I have the 32GB iPhone 4, my music alone is 40GB, and forget the ridiculous amount of videos that I have in the library. There’s just no way that I can buy any iOS device that can hold all of my iTunes library. But now, I can buy the lower model if I want, and any music and TV shows that I purchased through iTunes is mine whenever I want it. I just download it on the go, and I’m ready whenever. And if I want all of my music accessible in the cloud, I just have to pay $25 a year and I get it anytime I want.

Expand this out to your iPad and MacBook, and you’ve got more options. Maybe you live in a two-computer household with one serving as an iTunes library machine. Now you can get that 64GB MacBook Air and just download your music when you want it. Or get a smaller iPad and have your TV shows on the go. This means potentially that you can buy less and have more. That’s excellent news.

Harmony

MobileMe didn’t work well early on, and I personally had multiple sync issues in the first few months. Today, most of those have been worked out, and it’s no big deal, so iCloud should work pretty well right out of the gate. But with added features like Photo Stream and Documents in the Cloud, my mobile life will become substantially easier.

Download your music on the go.

Download your music on the go.

Here’s the scenario: It’s 5 pm on a Friday and you just finished a document in Pages on your office iMac that’s attached to your iCloud account. You leave the office, but at 2 pm on Sunday you get a brilliant idea and want to add it to the document. You pull out your iPhone and the Pages file is right there, without you doing a single thing. You add the info that you want, save it and on Monday it’s all waiting for you at work, ready to go.

Syncing between your contacts and calendars is truly great, and adding my documents and photos to the list means that I never have to worry that I’ve got that one picture on me when I want it, or wonder if my iPad has the same images as my iPhone or my Mac. They all work together in one harmonious unit, making life easier for all involved. Less stress is a beautiful thing.

Backup

My mother has an iPad and an iPhone, and while she plugs in the iPad on a regular basis for updates and backups, the iPhone never gets connected. Why? The iPad is her primary tool, and the iPhone just doesn’t seem that important to her as a productivity device. At least not right now.

Documents, music, TV shows and photos, all synced together.

Documents, music, TV shows and photos, all synced together.

iCloud means that she can backup her iPhone whenever she wants, and never have to worry again about losing data. Every day it will sync her iPhone with her info in the cloud, meaning that she’ll never lose a text message again if her iPhone should have an issue, like it did last year when she accidentally dropped it into a pot of water. Better yet, iCloud means that her replacement iPhone will be loaded up and ready to go, and she’ll never miss a step.

Conclusion

When iOS 5 and iCloud hit the market later this year, it will become substantially easier for everyone to sync, backup and update their devices, which will hopefully put the iPhone one step further on the “it just works” scale. We will have access to all of our photos, music, TV shows and documents everywhere, and hopefully, more developers will integrate the same features into their apps as well.

So what does iCloud mean to you? It means you could spend less money on an iPhone and get more than you could store on any iPhone. It means that all of your stuff is available no matter what device you have on you. And it means that hopefully, your life will be just a little bit easier.

Here’s to the cloud.