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iOS 5: What is iCloud and What Will it Do for Me?



iCloud is one of the biggest parts of iOS 5.

While we are excited about iCloud, we keep hearing, “What is iCloud?” and “Why is it called a cloud?”

Have no fear, we have everything you need to know about iCloud right here, so that you’re ready for iOS 5 on October 12th.

Unlike many of the new iOS 5 features, iCloud brings most of the functionality to both Windows and Mac users, including the Photo Stream functionality that many users will get the most use out of.

(Read: Should I Buy the iPhone 4S?)

What is iCloud

What is iCloud?

iCloud logoiCloud is a new service from Apple that keeps your devices in sync. Instead of manually transferring your iTunes purchases, photos and documents to your iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPod and MacBook Air, iCloud will use your Apple ID to wirelessly sync your files and even your place in books between your many Apple devices.

In addition to keeping your content in sync, you can also back up your iPhone or iPad to the cloud when you plug it in and connect to WiFi. This means that you’ll have a current backup almost every time you plug in for a recharge.

Apple chose to call this service iCloud, a play on the traditional “cloud” services. The “Cloud” in tech terms is basically referring to keeping your data on a remote server that is available anywhere. We like to say it lives in the cloud, as in it’s right there, you just have to reach out and grab it.

There are a number of other great iCloud features that are exclusive to iOS 5. Check out these features below.

What Will iCloud Do?

iCloud combines a number of features designed to provided a more complete Apple experience in iOS 5. You can find your iPhone, find friends, sync data, reunite with old iTunes purchases, keep photos on all of your devices and even bring your entire music catalog with you. Here’s a closer look at the iCloud features which will arrive with iOS 5.

iTunes in the cloud

iTunes in the Cloud – Remember when it was a paint to get your old iTunes music and TV show purchases on new devices or after you had a hard drive failure? Complain no more. With iTunes in the Cloud, you can download your new purchases to all your iOS devices over 3G or Wifi. You can also re-download your previously purchased iTunes music and TV shows. This feature has already reunited me with hundreds of dollars of music I had written off as lost.

Contacts, Calendar and Email – You get a free email address which can be used to keep your contacts, email and calendar in sync. If you already have a Gmail or other popular webmail account, you may not want to make the switch, but if you need an email account that stays in sync, and keeps your contacts and events in sync, iCloud delivers.

Find My Phone – If you have a iPhone 4S warranty without loss or theft coverage, you can rest easy knowing that Find My Phone can track down your lost or stolen phone. You can send a message, lock the device, sound an alarm or erase your iPhone or iPad.

Photo Stream Keeps Pictures in Sync Between Devices.

Photo Stream Keeps Pictures in Sync Between Devices.

Photo Stream – If you’ re sick of trying to show off your photos on the small 3.5″ display on your iPhone, you’ll love this feature. Photo Stream keeps your photos in sync across your iOS 5 devices and on to your Mac or PC. If you import photos from our DSLR or other camera to your Mac or PC, they will also be available on your iOS 5 devices. I plan to use this to share the photos I take on my Nikon D5100 on my iPad without transferring and syncing every day.

Book Progress – Just like the Kindle can keep your book progress in sync across devices, iBooks will now be able to share your book progress between devices.

Apps On All Devices – No longer will you have confusing messages when you try to download an app a second time. All your apps are available to download to your devices without any additional charges.

Wireless Backup – When you plug in your iOS 5 device at night and it is connected to WiFi, it will backup your device. The Backup service backs up a collection of important information.

Find My Friends

Find My Friends Locates Friends and Family.

Find My Friends – If you want to see which friends are nearby, open up the Find My Friends App. You control who can see where you are, and there is an option to temporarily share your location with a group, perfect for traveling to a new city or attending a conference.

Documents in the Cloud -Any documents you store in the cloud are kept up to date across all of your devices. Right now, this is limited to iWorks apps like Pages and Numbers, but third party developers can also build in support. We expect that many developers will add in this option in iOS 5 App upgrades.

iCloud Storage – You get 5GB of free storage, which will be enough for many users, but if you need more, you can purchase it from Apple. 10Gb will cost $20, 20GB is $40 and 50Gb is $100 for a year.


iTunes Match

iTunes Match Mens Better Quality Music for Most Listeners

iTunes Match – Another feature that many users will enjoy is iTunes Match. If you have purchased music from other sources or acquired by other means, you can pay $25 a year and have iTunes match your music to the music on Apple’s servers. This will not only bring the music to your devices quickly, but also might make it sound better since you will be able to listen to high quality iTunes copies of the music. If Apple can’t match your music, it will upload a copy to keep available on your devices. More on iTunes Match.

What can iCloud Backup

While it would be great if you could back up everything on your 64GB iPhone to iCloud, Apple has a different use case in mind. Here are the things that iCloud will backup.

  • Purchased music, TV shows, apps and books
  • Photos and video in the Photo Roll
  • Device settings
  • App data
  • Home screen and app organization
  • Messages (Text, iMessage and MMS)
  • Ringtones

You get 5GB of free storage, which purchased media and your photos do not count against. You can purchase more storage if need be. This does not backup your personal music or videos, for that, you’ll need iTunes Match.

iCloud, iOS 5, iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

The good news is that iCloud will deliver the same experience across your iOS 5 devices. Unlike Siri, which is only available on the iPhone 4S, the iCloud features will work on all existing iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices that work with iOS 5.

Be sure that you read, 5 Things to Do Before iOS 5, and download iTunes 10.5 to make sure you are ready for iOS 5 and iCloud. For more, check out this iOS 5 overview video from Apple.



  1. Dane

    10/11/2011 at 12:37 pm

    I have a question, how do I sync my Outlook calendar with iCloud?

  2. Striped Sail

    10/11/2011 at 12:37 pm

    @Josh_Smith after you’ve synced your DSLR pictures to your Mac and they sync to iPad, what will you use to make your iPad a digital photo frame? Have you seen the miFrame picture frame dock?

    • Uibihvih

      10/25/2011 at 5:43 pm

      Are you the real NBA Josh Smith. If you are, you have great dunks… I’ve seen them and there some if the best dunk contests around

      • julijaelberg

        10/19/2014 at 3:36 pm

        You have icloud activation locked device ? Here you can unlock icloud activation lock on iPhone 4,4s,5,5s,5c,6,6+ , iPod or iPad

        • Ronda

          06/10/2015 at 5:30 am

          I realize I am way behind all the latest technology, but the information in your link makes no sense to me. I need help to understand it.

  3. Steve Goy1

    10/11/2011 at 2:20 pm

    Why no Siri for the faithful ?

  4. Juan Ortega

    10/11/2011 at 5:53 pm

    what TIME will ios5 be released ?

    • helper(:

      11/27/2011 at 7:17 pm

      It is now released :)

  5. Anonymous

    10/12/2011 at 6:06 am
    Cheapest Vans Shoes,Tiffany Jewelry Company,Wholesale Hollister

  6. Anonymous

    10/13/2011 at 3:47 pm

    Wow, did gottobeMobile become and Apple only site? LOL   IOS this IOS that. 

    I don’t care, myself, I like phones with real OS’s

  7. Biobot

    10/13/2011 at 5:22 pm

    What about the 99% of my music that was not bought from Apple or all the PDFs that are not from Apple, or my text documents that were not created using Apple? I could go on. I own a Mac and an old iPhone 3g. But I *really* hate this company.  I’d bet that the vast majority of readers did not buy all of their music from Apple and they shouldn’t be expected to.

    Can somebody recommend a *useful* cloud for people that can store whatever the heck they have in the “cloud”? Maybe I should check out again.

    As for the author, does Apple pay you to right these puff pieces? Show some pride in yourself and attempt to wright something other than a  puff piece that sounds like it came from Apple’s PR department.

    • Roberto

      10/13/2011 at 8:58 pm

      Amazon’s cloud for music will let you put anything in it I know. I tried just to see. It was easy and I had no problem. I’m sure there are others, but for other than documents, which I use dropbox for, I am not big cloud guy.

    • Terdfgy

      12/21/2011 at 9:04 pm

      Please learn which words to use as he cannot learn to “wright” better lol

      • Josef

        12/26/2011 at 10:10 am

        Only petty folk care about tiny mistakes..

    • Blossom0059

      12/27/2011 at 9:26 am

      I upload all my NON ITUNES PURCHASED music right to I Tunes…It’s NOT rocket science here

  8. [email protected]

    10/16/2011 at 4:58 am

    After I downloaded the new updates,all my calendar dates, appointments etc. disappeared? How do I get it back?

  9. Pollyperot

    10/22/2011 at 9:33 pm

    Seems to me that if my music collect gets transmorphed to iTunes versions then I’m limited to the “will only play on 5 devices” issue? Or am I missing something?

  10. Sat_b

    11/24/2011 at 5:45 am


    • Fatberger

      01/06/2012 at 10:59 pm

      when you have your iphone connected to your computer at home and open itunes…where it offers to sync you have options at the top toward the middle…click Contacts and click that you want all to be synched then click sync.  Thats all :)

  11. Anthony Wilbur Mold

    11/24/2011 at 2:11 pm

    what do i do if i lost my password on my ipod and i cant get in do i need icloud??????????

  12. Joanjenn

    12/02/2011 at 4:32 pm

    What does it mean that it holds pictures 30 days then deletes them– I just want to keep mine!!J

  13. Louisemcdonald28

    12/14/2011 at 1:25 pm

    I have an existing MacBook, iPod and iPad 2 and have just purchased the Macbook air.  I have iCloud with everything there and that works for the first 3 devices but the only thing iCloud has downloaded to my new air book is the calendar.  
    How can I download my apps, music, etc?

  14. Jcbert

    12/26/2011 at 3:20 pm

    I’ve been a PC emthusiast for decades, but this video blew me away.

  15. Tay

    01/07/2012 at 5:28 pm

    How do you use the 5 extra gigs of storage?

  16. Jay

    01/12/2012 at 8:28 pm

    how do i icloud my old ringtones?

  17. Trinityappraisers

    01/13/2012 at 8:30 pm

    Im trying to sync my messages and phone contact from my iPhone to my iPad, but iCloud will not accept my email address because it contains over 21 letters. How can I sync them.

  18. Mandy

    01/15/2012 at 4:19 pm

    poo poo wee wee

  19. Bobbiejweiler

    01/17/2012 at 3:19 pm

    Hi, would any of you recommend an iPad for school (grad)? I have my MacBook but I like the convenience of the iPad. I’m sure it’s probably a personal preference but I’d still like some feed back. Thanks!

    • ANGELO150

      01/29/2012 at 3:23 am

      hi Bobbie SO i like that Macbook of yours its because … i have 1 of mine haha…..i just like that question But i`ll answer is to you NOW 

    • ANGELO150

      01/29/2012 at 3:30 am

      …Now you have A cool macbook of yours right? WEll then… i have a iPAD yay..But i just have iPhone4s and iphone5 and iphone4 yay for me buy…..

  20. ANGELO150

    01/29/2012 at 3:15 am

    Lance3 Lance3 Lance3 Lance3

  21. Guitmanlp

    02/02/2012 at 7:12 am

    This icloud is total bullshit..
    Just another complecated way to loose your data…hello iTunes in a cloud…..try teamviewer. Teamviwer rules.

  22. Gonzalez Pat

    02/25/2012 at 8:40 pm

    Question… Is it possible to sync or transfer iCloud into another iPod???

  23. Srinivas

    03/07/2012 at 10:50 pm

    Hi,Nice tutorial.But can we save and Retrieve photos,videos in icloud?

    • John

      02/14/2017 at 1:27 pm

      If I erase photos from my iPad storage, will they be erased from my iCloud storege? I’m paying for extra extended storege.

  24. Gaston1sam

    04/21/2012 at 6:50 am

    So iCloud will keep all my data and stuff synced, but it won’t keep my iPod and iPhone the EXACT same including backgrounds? It’s just for data?

    Now if it is just for data, will all my music and such auto download?

  25. Myamani

    04/27/2012 at 9:13 pm

    some one please help me my iphone memory is allmost finish i have purchase iclould extra memory in icloud but can not transfer my memory ti icloud can any one help please

  26. Abhishesh Pal

    05/18/2012 at 1:18 am

    its really kind of wow thing… but iCloud is charging so much.. large organisations can afford it but we can’t..

    • Raymondfakadakis

      10/26/2012 at 3:55 pm

      I got a vagazil from ur mothers I cloud main frame NASA certified mot wich means 12yr old paper boy enthusiasts were happy to apply for visa master cards also Inuits in igloos had problems with 3G dial up gramma phone ear probes ky jelly was used during the vw vag extraction process thank you goodnight an much love taraaa from ray fakadakis

  27. A.Bartlett

    05/19/2012 at 4:05 pm

    I only have an iphone, no other apple product… I take pics and videos with my phone and have a few apps… but now apparently my storage is nearly full!!! I don’t actually want to use this icloud thing, I don’t need it. And I certainly don’t want to buy more storage. How can I switch it off and will I lose all my current pics and videos if I do???


  28. Loonatic

    06/22/2012 at 5:30 pm

    Bring out the sun then piss in ur mouth gargle then swallow next kiss ur wife

  29. Loonatic

    06/22/2012 at 5:33 pm

    Slice a piece of ur ass glue it to a black persons face

  30. Timmy tassels

    06/27/2012 at 10:39 am

    Well how do you think davo dozie will feel about the
    Tingle in Timmy tassels tinsel?? Ha you tell me that
    You can’t because your scuba Steve and your under
    Water and you wish you could do dozzies like davo And
    Get tangled like Timmy. NO WAY YOU WOULD EVEN
    Yeah that’s rite suck on a fart lenny you looseratic. Ps
    gargle on that. Pfff

  31. Kiko

    08/30/2012 at 1:28 am

    99% of this stuff is crap – just like ICloud! Just plug it in and sync in 5 min.

  32. Kiko

    08/30/2012 at 1:30 am

    Britney’s the only one that summed it up! Good for u!

  33. wendy

    03/01/2013 at 6:24 am

    newbie, here… how do i update my ipod touch 4, without losingmy purchased songs?? my friend did hers, but lost alll her music, an pictures!!

    • Wendy

      03/01/2013 at 6:25 am

      p.s…. i went into settings,an didnt see an update option

  34. tedtt

    09/25/2015 at 1:20 pm

    So everything you ever downloaded, looked at, listened to, is stored on a server. So that means all your private information is stored elsewhere. Not a good thing. Soon the iCloud will be absolutely required to store everything, and you will not be able to keep your files to yourself. Think about it.

    Big Brother is watching.

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