Apple Unveils iCloud

In a not-so-surprise announcement, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced his company's new iCloud music streaming service earlier today at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

iCloud comes free with iOS 5, Apple's latest operating system, and it offers 5GB of free storage -- not including any music, apps or books a user already has purchased from iTunes. Those are free, as is the user's Photo Stream.

That means music that a user has already bought appears on all devices automatically. And when you take a photo on an Apple device, it is automatically uploaded to all other devices you own.

Beginning this fall, iTunes will offer a service called iTunes Match, which, for $24.99 a year, matches up any music that you didn't buy from iTunes and stores it in the cloud, as long as that music is available for purchase from iTunes.

The service goes through the user's music library, figures out which tracks are available for purchase, and then adds the iTunes version of those songs -- at 256 kbps iTunes-Plus quality -- to the user's cloud.

Competitors Google and Amazon have already unveiled their own cloud services (which allow users to upload data, including music libraries, to personalized online storage spaces, which they can access from any mobile device). There has been some industry backlash amidst concerns that users would upload and stream pirated music to the services, and that Google and Amazon should both have to pay licensing rights to the labels.

What do you guys think about all of these cloud music services? Do you still prefer to have your music on a portable player? Still stuck on CDs? Do you think this just makes it easier for pirates to house their music? Tell us in the comments!

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Josh Hart

Josh Hart is a former web producer and staff writer for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines (2010–2012). He has since pursued writing fiction under various pseudonyms while exploring the technical underpinnings of journalism, now serving as a senior software engineer for The Seattle Times.