Apple’s New Cloud

This week Apple unveiled the long anticipated iCloud at its World Wide Developers Conference. The new cloud computing platform is similar to recent cloud music services from Google and Amazon, but goes several steps further. Users of iCloud will be able to store not only music, but all kinds of data and apps on Apple’s Web servers, to be shared across devices. iCloud takes advantage of Apple’s new unified OS X Lion, scheduled to be released next month, to allow users to have a common computing experience across all of their devices. Using iCloud, all of your apps, music, movies, photos, books, email, contacts, calendars, and data files are stored on the Web, and pushed to each of your devices. Users will no longer need to purchase multiple versions of an app for each of their devices. One copy of an app will come with a license that covers up to ten devices. The service also runs on Windows PCs through iTunes. The New York Times suggests that iCloud is the beginning of the end for PCs, and the birth of true cloud-based personal computing. iCloud is scheduled to be released this Fall. Microsoft and Google are both working to offer similar cloud services.

As users migrate to the cloud, they will have to commit to one vendor for storing their data and media. That vendor will most likely be Apple, Microsoft, Google, or perhaps even Facebook. As the cloud era arrives there are several important issues that should concern users. What happens if you are unhappy with your cloud service? Can you easily move your data to a different vendor’s cloud? Also, who is responsible for the safety of your data? How will Apple and the others compensate users for the loss of data? How about privacy and security? Can the vendor monitor what you store in its cloud, like Google monitors gmail, and Facebook monitors user profiles? These are issues that are already important and will certainly become critically important in coming months and years as cloud computing becomes the norm.

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