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The days when all our data was stored on our computer's hard drive is over. While you'll still find data on your computer, it can additionally be on your iPad, as well as in the cloud, meaning, large servers that you access through the Internet. It's great to have access to data like your contacts, calendars, and email, but it's also a challenge to keep them all in sync. Thankfully, Apple provides a solution in the form of iCloud, the company's free online service that makes it possible to keep computer, iPad and cloud storage synced up.
In this movie, we'll see how this is done. To start, you must sign up for an iCloud account. If you've installed iOS 5 on your iPad, there is a good chance that you have done this and you are offered the opportunity to do this when you first setup the iPad, in fact, it's kind of hard to avoid. If you have avoided it, just go to the Settings screen, and tap the iCloud entry. Now if you have used your iPad to get content from the iTune store, your Apple ID username will be filled in. All you have to do at this point is enter your password. The username and password you use to obtain content from the iTune store is your Apple ID, so you are set.
If your iPad is untouched in regard to the iTunes store, and you don't have an Apple ID, just tap the Get a Free Apple ID entry at the bottom of the screen. At this point, just follow the instructions and you will soon have your iCloud account. We have already created an Apple ID, so I can click Cancel. Since I do have an Apple ID, all I have to do is enter my Password, which I will do now, and tap Sign In. I have used this Apple ID for the iTunes store, but I haven't used it yet for iCloud, and so I have to agree to its Terms of Service, and I do that by tapping on Agree.
If you have Contacts and Calendar Events on your iPad, you will be asked if you'd like to merge those with the iCloud, indeed I want to do that, so I tap on Merge. At this point, you'll be asked if you would like to allow iCloud to use the iPads location services. This is so you can use to find my iPad feature. This is a feature where the iPad can broadcast its location, so that you can find it if it's been misplaced or stolen. This is a valuable feature, so I recommend using it. To do that, just go ahead and tap on the OK button to switch on Location for iCloud.
Alternatively, if you have a Mac running Mac OS X, 10.7.2 or later, you can create an iCloud account by launching System Preferences on your Mac, selecting iCloud, and clicking the create an Apple ID link, if you don't have an Apple ID. In this case, we do, we can simply enter the Apple ID in the appropriate field and the Password, and then click on Sign In. You see a couple of options, the first is Use iCloud for contacts, calendars and bookmarks, and indeed we want that to happen, because we want to sync the data between the Mac and the iPad, so we will leave that on.
The other option is called Use Find my Mac. This is for locating your Mac, if it happens to get lost or stolen. That doesn't apply to the iPad, but it's a good idea, anyway, so leave it on and click on Next. And here we see a screen that includes the options for synching data with iCloud. Now let's go back to the iPad. On the iPad, the iCloud screen will appear. It's on this screen that you can choose what to sync with the iCloud service. Options include Mail, Contact, Calendars, Reminders, Bookmarks, Notes, Photo Stream, and Documents and Data.
The Find My iPad option I mentioned is found at the bottom of the list. So what happens with these options when they are turned on? Essentially, it's iClouds job to share copies of any data you create on an iCloud enabled device with other iCloud enabled devices, and this includes the iCloud web site. So let's see how this works. I will return to the Home screen, I will tap on the Calendar App and create a new event by tapping the plus button in the bottom right corner. Since this is a lunch meeting, I am going to configure this to happen at Noon, and this is going to be tomorrow, so we flip the date up once, and we tap on Done.
I am also going to assign this to particular calendar; I am going to assign it to my Work calendar, and tap Done, and Done again. And there is our lunch meeting. As long as my iPad is connected to the Internet, either via Wi-Fi or 3G, if it's a 3G compatible model, that event is then sent to Apple's iCloud service, added to that calendar on the iCloud web site, as well as synched to any other devices that use my Apple ID, and that includes my Mac running iCal, as we can see here, and there is our lunch meeting.
This works the same way for contacts, reminders, bookmarks and notes. If I create one on any device that uses iCloud, all other devices that have iCloud enabled, and use my Apple ID, will have that data synced to them. Now let's return to the iPad. Let's move back to Settings, and here is iCloud. Now Photo Stream does this synching dance a little differently. When you switch this option ON, any pictures you take with your iPads camera are sent up to iCloud when the iPad is connected to a Wi-Fi network.
This doesn't work over a 3G network. Then images are sent to other devices and computer. On other iOS devices, they will appear in the Photo's App in the Photo Stream album. If you have a Mac running Mac OS X Lion and the latest version of iPhoto, you can view your Photo Stream there as well, and let's move to the Mac and look at iPhoto. Just open iPhoto's Preferences, click the Photo Stream entry, and Enable Photo Stream. If you additionally enable the Automatic Upload option, any images you add to iPhoto will be sent to the iCloud web site, as well as those iOS devices that have Photo Stream enabled.
Now I am going to go out and take some pictures with my iPad, which will then be synched via Photo Stream. Time has passed and indeed I have taken a few pictures with the iPad. We can see them on the Mac now, simply by clicking on Photo Stream in iPhoto's Library pane. You can use Photo Stream on Window's PC as well. Go to www.apple.com/icloud/setup/pc .html and download and install the iCloud Control panel.
On the PC turn on iCloud and then switch on Photo Stream. Click the Options button next to the Photo Stream entry and choose where you would like your iCloud images to be downloaded to, as well as choose a folder to add images to, so that Photo Stream can upload them. Now let's go back to the iPad, and once again, we will go to Settings and iCloud. Before we leave iCloud, let's look at one more option, iCloud Backup. Tap Storage and Backup. At the bottom of the screen, you will see the Backup entry.
When you switch this ON, your camera roll, accounts, documents, and settings will be automatically backed up, but only when the iPad is plugged into power, locked and connected to Wi-Fi. We are asked to confirm that we want to start iCloud Backup and we will do that by tapping on OK, and backup is now ON. Now the reason that you must be plugged into power is that it's possible that you have an awful lot of data on your iPad and you don't want to completely drain your battery when backing up your iPad's data. However, you can manually override this plugging into power stuff by simply tapping Back Up Now.
We are not going to do that in this case, just know that that option is there. Note that when you switch on this option, the data on your iPad won't be backed up to your computer automatically when you sync it with iTunes. Instead, it will be backed up to iCloud. One other thing to note is the Storage area at the top of the screen. Here you can not only see the total amount of storage you have, as well as the available storage, but also how the storage is divided on your iOS device. Just tap Manage Storage and you will see all the devices that are backed up to this account.
In this case, we have just the iPad. Tap on the device, and you will see that you can choose specifically the kind of data to backup. If you don't want to backup WeatherBug information, for example, all you have to do is flip that switch OFF. When you choose this option, you will be asked to turn it off as well as delete that data and that will happen. This will remove the data from Apple's service, as well as turn off backup for that device. As I mentioned, this synching works not only between the iPad and your computer, but also other iOS devices.
For example, on my iPhone, you can see the Calendar Event that I created by tapping the Calendar app, tap on the date and there it is, my lunch meeting. And if I launch the Photos app, I just tap Photo Stream, and there are the pictures that I took with my iPad. It's not just Apple apps that can take advantage of iCloud, iCloud synching is open to third party apps as well. This is a great way to synch important data, your contacts, calendars and mail for instance, as well as even more important data, you favorite games high scores.
Spend some time with iCloud; I think you will find it a very handy feature.
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