Apple’s iCloud details revealed

Jobs returns from medical leave to announce music storage plan

Steve Jobs revealed details of Apple’s cloud data storage system, dubbed iCloud, at the company’s annual developer conference today.

Subject to much speculation over the past weeks, the announcement comes after Amazon and Google both announced cloud systems of their own, and marks Jobs’ first conference appearance since taking medical leave earlier this year.

For iTunes in the Cloud, as the music function is known, the company will allow all music previously purchased through iTunes to be accessed via iCloud for free. For music not purchased through iTunes, Apple will offer iTunes Match, which allows users access to 256 kbps AAC iTunes versions of the songs they already own, instead of uploading them from the user’s computer. The service will be available for an annual fee of $24.99.

That annual fee will be divided between Apple and record label groups. Apple’s is the first of the three major cloud services to have secured record label participation, and this fee may have helped label allay concerns that the cloud could become a host for pirated music.

Pointedly, Jobs mentioned that this process would take “minutes, not weeks,” presumably a reference to customer complaints about long wait times to upload music to the Amazon and Google cloud services.

(ITunes Match is not available in the beta version released today; the company says it will be implemented in the fall.)

Jobs saved discussion of iCloud’s music services until the end of the presser, first revealing the service’s other uses for remote storage of apps, photos and documents.

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