Apple Announces iCloud Pricing and Opens iCloud.com to Developers

Back at WWDC in June, Apple announced a little project they call iCloud. It is their response to the idea of cloud computing, and it looks like it could be pretty nice. They have promised that every user will get 5GB of storage for free, with things purchased from Apple not counting towards your total. However, many users have been begging for pricing for additional storage.

Well, Apple is finally ready to dish on iCloud pricing. So far, we have been able to dig up pricing in US dollars,Pounds, and Euros. It looks like 10GB of storage will run you $20/ £14/16€, 20GB will be $40/ £28/32€, and 50GB will cost $100/ £70/80€. All of those prices are per year, not one shot.

If you are wondering where these prices came from, then I will be happy to tell you. It seems as thought Apple has flipped the switch on iCloud.com, bringing with it a beta test of iCloud. It looks like anyone with an Apple ID is capable of trying to sign-up. However, when I tried on my MacBook Pro running Lion, I couldn’t get it to work.

Early reports indicate that the current revision of iCloud is simply MobileMe made over. It offers a number of the same features, including a whole suite of web apps. The interface is very reminiscent of MobileMe, and even iOS. Its clear that Apple is continuing its mission to blur the lines between mobile and desktop platforms.

If you want to try and check out the beta, you can do so at iCloud.com. Let us know what you think of this update, or even iCloud in general, by leaving a comment below.

Apple to Release Redesigned iTunes 11 in September [Rumor]

One of the most hated, yet most used, Apple products on the market right now is iTunes. Even Mac users recognize that Apple’s media management software is more than a little bloated.  Unfortunately, it’s so incredibly powerful that it’s hard not use it. Apple also makes it even more difficult by forcing it on anyone who wants to use an iPhone, iPad, iPod or even a Mac with the Mac App Store.

There may be good news, however. Reports are indicated that Apple is planning on releasing a new version of iTunes in September. While that isn’t a huge deal by itself, there is something more to it. iDownloadBlog is reporting that Apple is planning on  completely  redesigning iTunes with the upgrade to version 11.

Interestingly enough, the basic design of iTunes has not changed since its inception. It has always had the controls at the top, with lists on the left side and content displayed on the right. There has always been that “Now Playing” area in the middle, and a search bar on the top right. It is well overdue for a significant face lift.

The timing of this release makes perfect sense. September is the month that many have pegged for the release of iCloud and iOS 5. There have also been reports that a new version of the iPhone is due to come out around then as well.

iDownloadBlog says that we can expect deep integration of iCloud into this new version of iTunes. They also report that the iTunes Store will become more a part of the app. Currently, the iTunes Store is basically a built-in web browser that navigates only to the store.

iDownloadBlog also claims that iCloud backups will be integrated into iTunes. That means that when you backup your device to the cloud, you will get a local copy as well. This also applies for app data as well.

Apple Offers Mobile Me to iCloud Transition FAQ

Since the announcement of iCloud, Apple’s upcoming cloud based service package, at WWDC earlier this month, there have been a number of questions from users. Some have asked what would happen to iWeb published websites. Others have questioned what portions of the current system, MobileMe, will make the transition.

It seems that Apple is ready to answer those questions and more. A new webpage has been released that details which parts of MobileMe will make it to iCloud, and which will not. You will see an excerpt from that page below, and it shows a quick reference chart of services and whether or not they will be part of iCloud.

Apple iCloud MobileMe Transition

The features listed in the chart will be introduced by the services mentioned at WWDC. They include:

  • iTunes in the Cloud
  • Photo Stream
  • Documents in the Cloud
  • Automatic downloads and purchase history for apps and books
  • Backup and restore

Of these, I see myself making the most use of the cloud storage of documents and photos. It is common knowledge that these features will be built into OS X Lion, once both it and iCloud become available.

If you want to look at the iCloud Transition FAQ for yourself, you can do so here. There are a number of questions and sneers available there. The cover pretty much every topic related to the switch.

Another “i”, Another Dispute. Apple Sued by Publisher over iBooks Trademark

It’s just another trademark dispute Apple faces. This time it is publisher John T. Colby who filed a case against Apple for the use of the name “iBooks”.

The suit was filed by J.T. Colby and Co. in U.S. Southern District Court for New York. It indicates that Colby purchased assets of various entities in 2006 and 2007 from Byron Preiss, a New York Publisher who had published more than 1,000 books under the “ibooks” brand starting in 1999. The “ibooks” imprint was named “America’s fastest growing small publisher” by Publishers Weekly in 2004.

Colby believes that Apple using the name iBooks will devalue his products that use the same term. He claims that the use of the term infringes on his ability to use the ‘ibooks’ and ‘ipicturebook’ trademarks.

Apple’s use of the mark ‘iBooks’ to denote the electronic library that can be accessed via its iPad tablet computer and its iPhone is likely to overwhelm the good will of plaintiffs’ ‘ibooks’ and ‘ipicturebooks’ marks and render them virtually worthless,

iBooks

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) search reveals that Apple has a trademark of its own for iBooks (75182820), relating to “computer (hardware and) software used to support and create interactive, user-modifiable electronic booksfrom back in 1996. Apple had launched the first iBook laptop in July 1999 and was replaced by the MacBook in 2006.

This could get tricky. Both parties calim to have a trademark for the same term, “iBooks”. Apple, however, has declined to comment on this.

Last week, Apple was sued over the iCloud trademark by a phoenix-based voice over IP company called iCloud Communications.

Microsoft Gets Serious About Consumer Cloud Services, Buys Skydrive.com

While most of the coverage around iCloud has been how Microsoft is slow in reacting and has lost another race, not a lot of pundits point out the fact that Microsoft has been offering most of the iCloud features for a fairly long time. Microsoft introduced SkyDrive a few years ago and over time the service has become the backbone for Microsoft’s consumer cloud services.

Till yesterday, SkyDrive was a sub domain under Live.com (skydrive.live.com) and skydrive.com was owned by an auto company. WhoIs records show that the record was last updated on the May 11, 2011 and now skydrive.com redirects to a Live user’s SkyDrive account. SkyDrive’s integration with Windows Phone 7 in the upcoming Mango update will include:

  • Uploading videos from the phone to SkyDrive
  • Documents stored on SkyDrive will be listed in the Office hub
  • Search SkyDrive
  • Sharing images stored on SkyDrive via email or text

SkyDrive and Live Mesh are two of Microsoft’s best product names in my opinion. SkyDrive’s importance in Microsoft’s consumer cloud  strategy  became evident when the new logo was unveiled and Microsoft integrated Office Live in to SkyDrive. It was intriguing as to why Microsoft had not purchased the domain. Looks like Apple’s iCloud made Microsoft shell out the cash!

Update: A little more searching and digging led me to a huge list shared by the Frager Factor, the list includes region specific SkyDrive domains, possible miss-typed redirects and even WindowsLiveDrive domains (.com,.net and .org). Here are some of the domains:

  • windowslivedrive.com
  • windowslivedrive.mobi
  • windowslivedrive.net
  • windowslivedrive.org
  • windowslivemedia.com
  • skydrivefolders.com
  • skydrivespace.com
  • skydrivestorage.com
  • skydrivesync.com
  • msnskydrive.com
  • skrdrive.com
  • skudrive.com
  • skydirve.com
  • skydriv.com
  • windowslivevoice.com

iCloud Sues Apple over Brand Name, Strengthens Case with Apple’s Poor Past Record

Apple never stops getting into disputes with their product names. This time, it is their iCloud service. With iCloud, Apple wants to take on the world of file syncing and storage, but it went a bit carried away with the name to notice that a company with the same brand name exists already!

icloud-trademark

If you are a regular reader here, you will have noticed  our coverage of iCloud and its use cases.

Today, Apple inched closer to ubiquitous  computing, the elusive dream all technology enthusiasts share. During their Worldwide Developer Conference today, Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s consumer cloud service  unimaginatively named iCloud.

All this sounds good and there are various reactions on this cloud service all over the Internet. Some have perceived it as an uber sync tool while others are of the view that it just adds to the redundancy of these services. Anyway, what we seeing recently far surpasses all these speculation and research.

The very existence of this service is challenged, now that it is found to have the stolen name. Yes. Apple’s use of  iCloud is a trademark infringement over  an Arizona-based computer communications company. Apple upsets the company iCloud because of this move. This company specializes in VOIP and other communication technologies. Besides having the name iCloud for itself, iCloud also wants all of Apple’s iCloud marketing destroyed. This has a very good chance of ending in a sweet settlement and both the parties will go home happy because Apple already has an encroaching patent on iCloud and iCloud is not much of a cloud based service provider.

iCloud: All About Apple’s Consumer Cloud Service

Today, Apple inched closer to ubiquitous  computing, the elusive dream all technology enthusiasts share. During their Worldwide Developer Conference today, Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s consumer cloud service unimaginatively named iCloud. A few years back Apple came out with a paid email service with online storage called MobileMe, the service also had Calendar & contacts sync between Apple’s devices. Being a subscriber, I can tell you it offered no value for the money. Back in 2009, news about iWork for the cloud came out. iWork for the cloud was the second part of Apple’s cloud puzzle. Rumors about iTunes in the cloud have been around for a while, which is now the third part of Apple’s cloud service.

Clubbing all of these together and adding three more, we have iCloud:

  • iTunes in the cloud
  • Contacts, Calendar, Mail (MobileMe is no more a brand)
  • Photos
  • Apps, Books, Documents
  • Device backup

iTunes in the Cloud

The service has two parts to it:

  1. Syncing your purchased music across all Apple devices
  2. A subscription service to access your music library on Apple devices

Once you purchase a song, you will be able to download and access it from any device. Let’s say you bought a song on your Mac, your iPod Touch will show “Purchased” for that song in the marketplace. You can then download that song on the device without paying anything extra.

Now, the subscription service is a bit tricky. Google  Music,  Amazon, Grooveshark and the likes, let you upload your music to the cloud. Obviously the labels will have a problem with these big names storing potentially pirated/ripped content. Apple decided to tackle this problem in a way where the labels would be happy & the consumer will be tricked into paying $30 a year to access music he already purchased.

Let’s say you’re one of those guys who has ripped CDs you purchased into iTunes. To access these songs on any iDevice, you need to pay Apple $30 a year and iTunes will match your library against its database. This would mean that:

  1. You already paid for the CD
  2. You pay Apple again to access songs you’ve already paid for.

What happens in case iTunes is not able to match your library? Well, you get to upload those songs. iCloud has 5 GB of free storage space which is shared between services. The split up is detailed at the end of the post.

Having said that, the service is interesting and if it works  seamlessly, I think paying $30 a year wouldn’t be so bad to have all your music with you, anywhere.

Contacts, Mail and Calendar

The brand MobileMe has been phased out and nothing has changed in these three services. Syncing of Contacts, email and calendar entries between devices and the same account will be how it was in MobileMe.

Photos

The feature called Photo Stream lets you click a picture and Apple will sync it across all devices. Take a photo with your iPhone and it will be sent to iCloud. Now Photostream has a fine print:

  • iCloud will store new pictures for 30 days
  • Master library will be on the PC
  • iCloud will sync the latest 1,000 pictures across all devices

The use case behind this is that when you take a new picture with an iPhone you will have access to it via iCloud, now within 30 days you should sync your iPhone to a PC so that the picture is stored in the master library. Since pictures are large in size, having all of them on the phone or cloud is not economical. iCloud will have the latest 1,000 pictures available to you in the Photo Stream album on your iDevices.

Apps, Books and Documents

If you live in the Apple world you probably have an iPad and iPhone or iPod Touch, managing apps we have purchased is difficult. With iCloud Apple will sync all apps you purchase and you push them on all your devices.  Like music, a purchase history will let you download apps to your other devices.

This functionality expands to iBooks and documents. Changes made to the documents will be automatically synced over the cloud.

Backup

As a user backing up data and setting new devices is a tedious task. However, with iCloud is making it as simple as it can get.  As a technology enthusiast syncing between documents, books, apps and backups is my favorite feature of iCloud, probably the best announcement of the event. iCloud will backup the following:

  • Device Settings
  • App data
  • Home screen and app organization
  • Text and MMS
  • Ringtones
  • Photos and videos in the camera roll album
  • Purchased music, apps and books

Restoring all of this to a new iDevice will require the user to login with their Apple ID.

All of this sounds pretty exciting but what does the 5GB include?

  • Mail
  • Documents
  • Photos and videos in the Camera Roll album
  • Account information
  • Settings
  • App data

The 5 GB does not include  purchased  music, books, apps or the Photo Stream.

You can read our coverage on Apple’s announcements for OS X Lion and iOS 5:

Apple To Unveil Mac OS X Lion, iOS5 And iCloud Services At WWDC 2011

In less than a week from now, Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2011 will kick start. Today, in a press release Apple has revealed some more information about this year WWDC.

Like in all the previous year’s WWDC, this year also WWDC will start with a keynote from none other than the man Steve Jobs himself! The keynote is scheduled to begin at 10AM on June 5. Apple also gave us a sneak peak of what the keynote will address.

WWDC_2011

The keynote will mainly revolve around Mac OS X Lion the eight major release of OS X, iOS 5 a major upgrade of the iOS for the iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch, and iCloud a new cloud based service from Apple.

The press release does not mention anything about the next generation iPhone. This confirms the rumors floating around that there will be no new iPhone at WWDC this year.

In all probability, the iCloud service from Apple will be a music streaming service like Google Music, and perhaps provide users with some storage space to save their data as well.