- Cloud-Based Online File-Sharing Services
The concept and technology related to cloud-based file-sharing services are nothing new. However, it wasn’t until Apple designed and launched its iCloud service that most everyday computer users began discovering how this type of online service can be used. Since it was first launched, iCloud has evolved a lot—and it continues to improve. As an Apple Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and/or Apple TV user, you can begin using iCloud immediately, and you’ll probably discover that it makes your everyday computing easier and more reliable. If you’re a Windows-based PC user, you can also take advantage of some of iCloud’s functionality and features, especially when it relates to syncing app-specific data (such as your contacts and calendar), iTunes-related purchases, and working with the new iWork for iCloud apps—all of which you’ll learn more about later. How to Do Everything: iCloud, Second Edition is all about how you can best utilize the various features and functions of iCloud, especially if you use more than one computer or mobile device that’s compatible with the service. As you’re about to discover, as long as each of your compatible computers and mobile devices has Internet access, each can utilize iCloud to handle an ever-growing array of tasks. Plus, once the various features of iCloud are set up and activated, which typically only needs to be done once per device, that feature will work continuously, in the background, and automatically.
First, let’s focus on which Apple products iCloud can be used with. Next, we’ll explore what a cloud-based service, like iCloud, actually is, and focus a bit on how it works. Then, later in this chapter, you’ll read an overview of the specific functions iCloud can be used for in conjunction with your computers and mobile devices. In subsequent chapters, you’ll discover exactly how to use each of iCloud’s features and functions, based on the computers and mobile devices you’ll be using it with.
- iCloud Works with Many Apple Products
Just about any Apple computer or iOS mobile device that can connect to the Internet can now utilize one or more of iCloud’s features. This includes all of the latest iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Pro desktop computers, as well as MacBook Pro and MacBook Air notebook computers, the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch (3rd generation or later models), and Apple TV. In addition, some iCloud functionality can also be accessed and utilized from a Windows-based PC that’s connected to the Internet or directly from the iCloud website.
What you’ll soon discover is that if you only use one compatible Apple product or Windows-based PC, iCloud can be used for certain tasks, such as backing up your compatible app-specific files or data, including all of your iTunes Store content purchases. However, iCloud really comes in handy when you use two or more compatible computers or iOS mobile devices (and/or Apple TV). Then iCloud can be used to automatically sync multimedia content (music, TV shows, movies, etc.), apps, digital photos, as well as app-specific data and files, with all compatible devices that are linked to the same Apple ID/iCloud account (including Windows-based PCs).
Apple has integrated iCloud functionality into its latest OS X Mavericks operating system for the Mac, iOS 7 used with its mobile devices, and in the operating system that makes Apple TV function. So the capability for your Apple products to access iCloud already exists. Now you just need to turn on the iCloud features and functions you want to utilize on each of your compatible Apple computers and devices, as well as on your Windows-based PCs, if applicable.
- Set Up a Free iCloud Account
To begin using iCloud, you’ll need to set up a free account. This is typically done using your existing Apple ID and password, and it only needs to be done once, from a computer or mobile device that’s connected to the Internet.
How to set up your free iCloud account will be discussed later. What you need to understand right now, however, is that you only need one iCloud account, which you will ultimately be able to utilize from all of your various compatible Apple and Windows-based computers and iOS mobile devices, as well as your Apple TV, if applicable.
- Use Your Existing Apple ID to Create Your iCloud Account
For reasons you’ll discover later, it’s best to use your existing Apple ID information
to set up your free iCloud account. This allows all past app, iTunes Store content, iBookstore, and Newsstand purchases to be accessed from any computer or mobile device that’s linked to the same Apple ID/iCloud account. Apple has kept detailed information about all of your past Apple-related online purchases (such as music, movies, TV shows, ringtones, and ebooks), and through iCloud, allows you to access that already purchased content from any compatible computer or device that’s linked to the Apple ID account you used to initially make the purchase.
1-What Exactly Is iCloud Anyway?
iCloud is an online-based service that’s owned and operated by Apple. It operates in cyberspace (“in the cloud”) and is run from many powerful Internet servers that are housed within Apple’s massive data centers located around the world.
Unlike other cloud-based file-sharing services, however, iCloud does a lot more than simply allow you to store data on the Web and then retrieve it remotely from various computers or devices that are connected to the Internet.
Yes, among its many uses, iCloud can easily be used as an online-based file- sharing service. However, it’s also designed to handle many other tasks, depending on which Apple products it’s being used with. One of the things that sets iCloud apart from other cloud-based services is that the functionality it offers is built directly into the operating system of the Apple computer or iOS mobile device you’re using.
iCloud functionality is also built into many Mac, iPhone, and iPad apps created by Apple and its third-party developers. Thus, once they’re initially set up, many iCloud features are designed to work continuously, automatically, and in the background in conjunction with the apps (programs) you’re probably already using or soon will be using.
If you’re using some type of Mac or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, the computer or device has some type of internal storage in which the operating system as well as your apps, files, documents, digital photos, data, and other content are stored.
If you’re using a Mac, for example, you also have the ability to connect an external storage device to that computer, such as a hard drive or USB flash drive, onto which you can store data or create backups of your important data.
Instead of physically connecting an external storage device to your computer or taking advantage of its internal storage, when the device is connected to the Internet you have the ability to store all kinds of data in the cloud, which in this case is Apple’s online-based iCloud service. Thus, when content is stored in your iCloud account online, this is often in addition to it being stored in the internal storage of your Mac or iOS mobile device.
When you set up your free iCloud account, it comes with 5GB of online storage space. Any additional online storage you need for your digital photos—or for any purchases you have made in the past or will make in the future from the iTunes Store, App Store, Mac App Store, iBookstore, or Newsstand—is automatically provided free of charge. Thus, the 5GB of online storage that’s provided can be used to store your personal backup files or app-specific data, for example.
Think of iCloud and other cloud-based file-sharing services as a way to store copies of important files, documents, photos, and data from your computer (or an iOS mobile device) in cyberspace (the cloud). So when your computer or device is connected to the Web, files and data can be uploaded, either automatically or manually, to the cloud-based service. At the same time, your computer or device can securely download files and data from the cloud as needed. This is in addition to storing all of the content in the computer or device’s internal storage, such as a Mac’s hard/flash drive. Easily sharing and synchronizing files, documents, photos, and data is what cloud-based computing is all about. However, iCloud is capable of doing much more than just that.
2-What iCloud Can Do ?
iCloud is designed to work seamlessly with the tasks you handle every day on your Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and/or Apple TV. Let’s take a look at some of the ways iCloud may be immediately useful to you.
- iCloud Works with iTunes
Every time you make a purchase from the iTunes Store, App Store (for your iOS mobile device), Mac App Store, iBookstore, or Apple Newsstand, which are all online businesses operated by Apple, a copy of the digital purchase is automatically stored in your iCloud account. That content can later be downloaded to any computer or compatible device that’s linked to the same iCloud account.
Figure 1-1 shows the iCloud icons displayed next to content that’s already been purchased by the user and that can be downloaded (for no additional fee) to the computer (or in this case, the mobile device) the user is working on. This includes free content you acquire from one of Apple’s online business ventures. This free content gets treated like purchased content.
So if you purchase a song, album, ringtone, TV show episode, or movie from
the iTunes Store using your iPhone, for example, a copy of what you purchased automatically gets stored in your iCloud account at the same time it gets downloaded to the device it was purchased on. It can then either automatically or manually (depending on how you have adjusted the related settings) be downloaded to your Mac, iPad, iPod touch, or streamed to Apple TV. You will not have to repurchase
the content multiple times. If you later delete the purchase from the device it was purchased on, you can redownload your purchases at any time.