While there has been much commented on the introduction of Apple’s iCloud service, little has touched on its deeper implications. Sure, iCloud is a replacement for MobileMe, and allows people to sync files between different devices, but what else does it do? How is it different from MobileMe or other such services which are available from other companies?
The most significant difference in iCloud is that it is being introduced not as a “drive” where you can save your files, but as a service accessible through a specific API, which will be present in every Mac, iPad and iPhone that upgrades to Mac OS 10.7 and iOS 5. This service will be active by default, since it will be free and used by most, if not all of Apple’s own applications.
The fact that you don’t have to specifically signup for the service and that you can use it extensively without incurring charges will ensure that it will be used by most owners of Apple equipment. This universally available online storage service changes the equation for iOS and Mac developers in a most significant way: they don’t need to implement “sync” services anymore.
Through the use of iCloud it should be possible to keep data properly in sync between your Mac, iPad and iPhone without the need for the developer of the app you are using having to maintain a server and storage to hold the information that has to be synched. Developers will only need to worry about maintaining their own servers if they want to provide a Web interface to the data. Otherwise, it will just be matter of taking advantage of the iCloud service to keep data synched between the versions of the applications that run on each device.
This facility should lower the bar even more for small companies or single developer outfits to bring interesting applications to market that allow for easy, if not totally transparent integration of Macs and iOS devices.