When Steve Jobs announced iCloud at the WWDC earlier this month I thought it sounded great. I liked the feature set and the price tag (free). I even told you that I plan to pay for one of the non-free features called iTunes Match. However, it wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that I experienced the true magic of iCloud. Let me explain.
iCloud offers each iOS user 5GB (you can purchase more space if necessary) of complimentary space for backups. ”So what?” you’re saying. I’ll tell you what. The automatic backup that iCloud provides iOS devices is nice, but the real magic occurs when you restore the device back to factory defaults or if you buy a new one. If you have ever owned an Apple iOS device you are familiar with having to restore from backup’s (if you have one) after restoring or buying a new device.
To restore from a backup, you need to connect the device to your computer and go through the whole process in iTunes. It usually works, but sometimes things get messed up for whatever reason. We’ve all been there. You turn on the device only to see your icons are in the wrong place or some apps are missing – it’s frustrating. All of this and you actually had a backup. Not everyone is so lucky. Not everyone backs up their data.
So aside from iCloud potentially saving a lot of people’s butts (magical in and of itself), where does the magic come in that I spoke of before? Yesterday, when I upgraded my iPad 2 to the latest beta of iOS 5, I had to use the restore feature to upgrade. This means I lost all of the data the iPad (apps, documents, images, settings, etc). Once the new beta was installed I unplugged the iPad from my computer and turned it back on. This is where I was blown away.
Once on, I was prompted with a few options, one of which being to restore my iPad using my iCloud backup. I selected that and expected to wait a while for it to download everything from Apple’s servers, but to my surprise, the restore took literally 5 minutes. All of my settings, apps, documents, images, etc were all perserved and available when it was complete. Just like I had it before I upgraded. It was so painless compared to previous “restore from backup” attempts.
If this is the cloud everyone has been talking about then Apple got it right (this time). iCloud is a winner. It is the epitome of cloud computing for consumers.