The arrival of Apple’s iCloud service has now been dated along with iOS 5. We’ll get our hands on iCloud for Mac and iOS beginning Oct. 12 when iOS 5 arrives, and it should make everyone’s mobile lives a lot simpler. Here’s a quick look at exactly what it offers.
Find My Friends. A new app that lets you locate family and friends who agree to share their location with you on a map. This is included free in iCloud, and you have lots of controls over privacy, including setting specific times for sharing.
Find My iPhone. Introduced under MobileMe, it’s included free with iCloud. Lets you track your registered devices should they get lost. Now works with Macs, too, under Lion.
Free email. iCloud borrows the Me.com domain from its predecessor to provide free email addresses to anyone who wants one.
Contact, calendar, reminder, bookmark, note syncing. Automatically, in the background, all the content listed as well as email will be synced across iOS 5 and Lion devices, so long as you’re signed in, have an active network connection (Wi-Fi or 3G) and have syncing turned on.
Photo Stream. View photos taken from your iPhone automatically in your iPad’s image gallery, or in iPhoto on the desktop, or on your Apple TV. Basically, take a photo once and have it everywhere. Photo Stream automatically takes your 1,000 latest photos and keeps them on iOS devices, plus you can opt to keep them in your Camera Roll permanently.
Documents in the Cloud. Shared libraries of cloud-based document storage will make it easy to start a document in an app on your iOS device and continue it on the desktop, or vice versa. This will gradually make its way out to third-party apps, too.
Backup and automatic downloads. You can now restore purchases of apps, books and music (U.S. only for now) to devices associated with your Apple ID, and also set them up to automatically download content you purchase elsewhere. Finally, you can back up your device’s settings, data and apps directly to iCloud and then restore from that should you need to do a fresh install.
5 GB free; storage upgrades available. Everyone gets 5 GB of iCloud storage (including your email, backups and other data) free, but if you need more you can pay to get it. $20 per year gets you an additional 10 GB of storage, $40 gets you 20 GB more and $100 secures 50 GB for a total of 55 GB.
iCloud will be available to all iOS 5 users when that update arrives on Oct. 12, and to Mac owners running OS X Lion at the same time.