If you upload a photo to your iCloud online storage, you'll be able to access the file from any of your Internet-connected Apple devices.

Image courtesy of Apple, Inc.

Apple iCloud Service

iCloud's features give you access to your data, from important contacts to fun photos, anywhere you're connected to the Internet. Here's how you can access iCloud from different types of devices:

  • Apple mobile devices (iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch) running iOS 5 or newer will connect to the iCloud storage associated with your Apple ID. Then, iOS and other apps capable of saving data to iCloud will automatically synchronize that data while you're connected to the Internet.
  • Apple computers running Mac OS X Lion (10.7) or newer can run apps programmed to synchronize with iCloud storage.
  • All Apple computers can view, upload and download iCloud storage contents using the Web app at icloud.com. The look and feel of the icloud.com Web site resembles the default Apple iOS interface.

You can authorize up to 10 devices to access and use iCloud with your Apple ID. This is a leap beyond the iTunes Store authorization, which is limited to five devices. Plus, iCloud authorization extends beyond iTunes to touch all apps capable of connecting and use iCloud from that device. Developers program each app to connect to and use iCloud content in its own way, so check an app's help pages to find out whether and how it can use iCloud. If you're one of those developers, check out how your app creations can use the iCloud application programming interfaces (APIs) as described at the Apple developer site.

Besides its options for apps to connect to and use the service, iCloud features unlimited free storage for anything you purchase through the iTunes Store. This means that any music, movies, TV shows, books or apps you purchase from iTunes don't count against your free 5 GB of iCloud storage space. In addition, each iTunes purchase is instantly available for download to any of your iCloud-authorized devices, as long as the songs are available from the iTunes store. In short, buy it once, access it everywhere. This even applies to purchases you made under the same Apple ID long before iCloud existed, provided they're still available in the iTunes Store.

It's possible that 5 GB is plenty for your storing your non-iTunes files in iCloud, such as documents and photos. However, Apple also realizes that you might want more space, and you can purchase subscription-based upgrades to fill that need. As of this writing, Apple is offering the following subscription options for increasing your iCloud storage space:

  • 10 GB more (15 GB total) for $20 per year
  • 20 GB more (25 GB total) for $40 per year
  • 50 GB more (55 GB total) for $100 per year

Let's continue exploring iCloud's features on the next page with a look at your streaming media and device backup options.