Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the company’s new iCloud service during his World Wide Developers Conference keynote presentation on Monday. iCloud will be replacing MobileMe, and Apple is offering some details on how current subscribers will make the transition to the new service.
The MobileMe service costs US$99 a year, but iCloud will be free and will launch at the same time that iOS 5 ships this fall. MobileMe subscriptions have all been extended through June 30, 2012, at no extra cost so users will have several months to transition into iCloud.
Customers that purchased MobileMe activation codes but never used them can request a refund from Apple. MobileMe boxes purchased from Apple retail stores can be returned for a refund, too.
MobileMe users can migrate their calendar, contacts, bookmarks and MobileMe email to iCloud. Apple conspicuously failed to mention iDisk and Web Galleries in its transition plan, which is a fairly good indicator that those features won’t be supported in iCloud. iCloud will, however, include a new Photo Stream feature that wirelessly uploads photos from the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch Camera Roll for viewing in iPhoto or on Apple TV.
iCloud will also include 5GB of online storage for syncing files between Macs and iOS devices, and users can purchase additional storage space. Photo Stream images and iTunes in the Cloud music doesn’t count towards the 5GB data cap.
iTunes in the Cloud mirrors iTunes Store purchases online so users can copy songs to up to ten Macs, PCs and iOS devices. Apple will also offer a new iTunes Match service for $24.99 a year to mirror music ripped from CDs, assuming the tracks are also available through the iTunes Store.
iTunes in the Cloud is available now for iOS 4.3 users, along with support for managing all App Store purchases and downloads from the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
Once MobileMe subscribers transition into iCloud, they’ll be able to share calendars, and perform daily iOS device backups over Wi-Fi connections, too.
Apple hasn’t narrowed down the official iCloud launch beyond “this fall,” which means it could roll out as late as December. What seems more likely, however, is a September launch window since that also coincides with the back to school season and the company’s typical iPod refresh cycle.