Technology giant Apple’s much awaited iCloud, which was presented by none other than Steve Jobs himself to the world as part of keynote address on the first day of Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2011, is expected to help iPhone 5 beat Google Android and breeze past Google’s own cloud-based Music Beta digital locker.
Apple has been facing a stiff challenge from Google Android-based smartphones lately. According to a recent comScore report, the market share of Google's Android surged to 36.4 percent even as Apple's IPhone dropped down to second place with 26 percent market share. Apple was barely ahead of RIM's BlackBerry (25.7 percent).
In terms of mobile phone sales in the U.S., Apple also lagged, ranking No.4 (8.3 percent) behind Google Android smartphone makers like Samsung (24.5 percent), LG (21 percent) and Motorola (15.6 percent).
A Nielsen survey has also revealed that Android smartphone users download more apps on average than iPhone users despite Apple's App Store being more than twice bigger than Android Market Place.
Some market analysts have attributed the fall of Apple’s market share to various reasons, including Apple's stubborn decision to say no to Adobe Flash and the antennagate issue that marred iPhone 4's success.
Android smartphones have emerged as iPhone’s biggest threat as Android OS is comparable to Apple’s iOS, if not better. Emergence of high-end Android smartphones such as LG Optimus 2X (the first Android phone with 1GHz dual-core processor) and Samsung Galaxy S II and HTC Sensation 4G also threaten to erode iPhone’s popularity.
Other Android smartphones lined up for launch and expected to give iPhone a run for its money are HTC Evo 3D, the Motorola XPRT, the Motorola Titanium, Samsung Gravity Smart and Samsung Exhibit 4G.
Most high-end Android smartphones sport an 8MP camera, which can record 1080p HD videos @ 24fps; run on the latest Android 2.3 OS; promise a sleek UI; offer 4G connectivity; and boast of a humongous display that makes the current iPhone display look like a dwarf.
The next generation iPhone, dubbed iPhone 5, is not expected to feature radical hardware changes. iPhone 5, reports say, will be a smartphone on steroids compared to iPhone 4 as it will come with 8 MP camera, A5 processor, a 4-inch display, 1080p output, curved glass screen, a SIM-less design, 3-4 internal antennas for both GSM and CDMA networks and 4G connectivity.
However, compared to existing lineup of high-end Android smartphones and upcoming Android smartphones iPhone 5 will have nothing new to possibly offer. Hence, it was not surprising to see Apple focus on software advancements at WWDC 2011. Especially, iCloud, Apple’s new cloud-based service, is expected to help iPhone 5 beat Android.
The importance of iCloud cannot be understated. At WWDC Jobs himself took the stage to speak about iCloud. I get to talk about iCloud, the tech guru said.
Jobs began his presentation on iCloud by grumbling how advancements in digital technology have made it difficult to keep various devices synced. Keeping these devices in sync is driving us crazy, Jobs said.
Stressing the importance of cloud computing, Jobs introduced iCloud. Some people think a cloud is just a hard disk in the sky, Jobs said. We think it's way more than that.
Unlike existing consumer-focused cloud-based services offered by others, including Google’s Music Beta digital locker, iCloud automatically stores content in cloud and wirelessly pushes them out to all devices.
What can be stored in iCloud? Practically everything that is digital. In iCloud, one can store contacts, calendars, mail and documents. One can also store music, photos, videos, apps, and e-books (iBooks).
Apple said iCloud automatically backs up everything and can push them out to all Apple devices owned by the user. It just works, Jobs said.
The crowd went bananas when Jobs said iCloud can be a storage for APIs.
iCloud Jobs said, means the end of file storage system. Jobs said iCloud is going to be pretty big as everything is now automatic, seamless and effortless.
A significant new component of iCloud is the App Store. Once the user logs in with Apple ID and password, the user will be able to see purchase history of apps across all Apple devices. Users will also be able to buy apps, back them up and push them out to any or all Apple devices.
Like the App Store, iTunes is also now in iCloud. Which means any music or movie purchased is automatically backed up in iCloud and can be accessed using any Apple devices.
The best feature of iCloud is probably iMatch, Jobs said. For just a flat $24.99 annual fee, iMatch will match the ripped songs of the user with 18 million+ songs in iTunes and upgrade them to higher quality 256kbps AAC DRM-free.
The remaining songs that could not be matched has to be uploaded manually. First time we've seen this in the music industry, Jobs said. If you don't think we're serious about this, you're wrong.
iCloud is expected to beat Google’s Music Beta digital locker and help iPhone 5 steal a march over rival Android because unlike Google's cloud-based digital locker, which requires users to upload their songs or data, Apple iCloud will be able to scan a user's library and make mirror copies available instantly.
In other words, iCloud users will be able to stream music to their devices, by matching the song's ID within Apple's archives, without having to manually upload their library onto Apple's servers.
iCloud will be free for Apple fans up to 5 GB storage.
To access iCloud, all the user needs to do is type in his Apple user ID and password. iCloud is on by default but it can be disabled.
However, there’s a downside to iCloud. iCloud can only offer limited storage days – 30 days. iCloud doesn't act as your warehouse. It can't also save all your data. But it does make sure that everything is synced and backed up properly as promised.
iCloud beta was made available to developers on Monday. It is also available on iOS 4.3 as well as iPhone 4.
For all others, iCloud will be available in Fall.