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Technically Yours, An Apple A Day Keeps Google & Amazon At Bay: Introducing iCloud, and iOS 5

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Today, Steve Jobs announced several new things during his keynote speech at the Apple Developer's Conference including the anticipated iCloud and iOS 5. One of the biggest announcement from Apple is that the company has now worth more  than Microsoft and Intel combined. That is really something since Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy only 13 years ago.  Now fast forward to today, Apple is now poised to become the only dominant player in digital media (at least for the time being). 

Apple announced a slew of new features for all of their platforms including the iPhone and iPad, but the biggest feature is Apple's new media locker in the 'cloud' simply called iCloud. The features in the new iCloud is set to overtake Amazon's and Google's similar 'cloud-based' products.  How you ask? 

First off, iCloud stores all your digital content (music, photos, movies, etc) on the internet and then wirelessly, pushes all of the content to all of your devices. iCloud is more than a remote hard drive.  iCloud handles all your digital content automatically by syncing everything without you doing a thing. Here are some of the features:

- All of your past purchases from the itunes store are available for download on all your iOS capable devices.  For example, if you purchased a song a year ago, and lost it, you can download it again via the iCloud. (available now)

- Any new purchases you make via the iTunes Store will be available on any of your iOS devices and your computer automatically via Wi-Fi, or 3G(not recommended with large files). (available now)

- One of the biggest features of iCloud is the forthcoming iTunes Match due out in the fall. For about $25 a year, Apple will try to match songs in your library that you didn't purchase from the iTunes Store. Once Apple finds a match, that song will be available in iCloud for you to download or access wirelessly on your other devices.  That is the one big difference between Google's and Amazon's 'cloud' services, which you need to manually upload you music to their services, which for some would take a very long time. Here is the kicker:  Let's say you have a very poor quality of song that you stole ripped from a CD that you purchase legally, and using Apple's TuneMatch it finds the song and places it in iCloud.  You can play  that song at a better quality aka 256 Kbps.  To legally do this, Apple made a deal with the labels, in which they get a cut of that $25 per year. In a sense, monetizing pirated content (according to one article).  A thing that the labels have trying to figure out how to do for many years since the invention of Napster. Of course, this is far from a  complete solution to compensating labels and artist for pirated material, but it is a start. Even if it is a small start. Rumors say that labels will get 58% cut while Apple gets 30% and publishers will get 12% of the revenues. The one big problem is that smaller indie labels have been left out of this deal, which is unfortunate. I hope Apple will make good with the indie labels.

Next up is the new iOS 5, which runs all of Apple's iPhone, iPod, and iPad.  Steve Jobs introduced a bunch of new features including these big ones:

- Notification Center.
Do you hate those pop-up alerts on your iphone? Well, Apple have removed them in iOS 5 and replaced it with the Notification Center. (details)

- iMessage
Think of it as Apple's version of Blackberry's Messenger. You now can send umlimited texts and multimedia texts to users with iOS 5 devices. (details)

-Twitter Integration
Now Twitter is integrated into all Apple iOS 5 devices. Tweet directly from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube, or Maps. It would be nice if they would do this with Facebook. (details)

-Newstand

S
Simiar to the Bookshelf app instead it manages all your magazine and newspaper subscriptions (details)

-PC Free
You no longer need a computer to sync up your iOS 5 device. Download free iOS software updates directly on your device. Do more with your apps — like editing your photos or adding new email folders — on your device, without the need for a Mac or PC. (details)

-Reminders
A better system to handle the honey-do list. (details)

Other improvements to Safari, Photos, Camera and more are included in iOS 5, which you can see all the details here.

What do you think?  Good features? Or just fluff?  Do you think iCloud has stepped ahead of Amazon and Google's cloud service? Would you use the iCloud service?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.