Apple Flips the Switch, iCloud Goes Live

Apple opened iCloud to the public early Wednesday morning ahead of the release of iOS 5 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. iCloud replaces MobileMe as Apple’s online data syncing and sharing service.

iCloud was previously available to registered iOS developers as a beta service. Apple confirmed its plan to open iCloud to all users on October 12 during its iPhone 4S introduction event last week.

iCloud, now openApple opens iCloud to the public

With the public launch of iCloud, Apple has begun phasing out MobileMe, although subscribers can continue to use the now deprecated service through June 30, 2012. That extension gives MobileMe users time to transition files, Web sites and photo galleries to other services ahead of their move to iCloud.

iCloud is designed to work with iOS 5 and OS X Lion 10.7.2 to automatically sync files, contacts, calendars, photos and more between devices.

iCloud carries over several MobileMe features such as calendar and contact syncing, as well as and email addresses. It also adds:

  • Calendar sharing
  • App Store purchase management with auto-download for new purchases
  • Support for pushing iBooks bookmarks to other iOS devices
  • Daily data backups over Wi-Fi connections
  • Auto-save support for storing documents on iCloud
  • Photo Stream for pushing photos from the camera roll to iCloud, iPhoto and Apple TV
  • iTunes in the Cloud for sharing iTunes libraries with up to ten devices
  • 5GB of storage, and purchased music, App Store purchases, iBookstore purchases, and Photo Stream pics don’t count against the data storage cap.

iCloud is available as a free service, although subscribers can pay for additional online storage space.