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Jobs Unveils Free iCloud Sync, Storage Service

“Jobs: If the hardware is the brain and the sinew of the product, the software in the middle is the soul”

Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage at his company's annual developers conference to tout the new iOS 5, the upcoming Lion edition of Mac OS X and the firm's new cloud service, iCloud. As expected, the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote focused on software, and unlike the last several years, did not introduce a new iPhone.

Apple's iCloud

Jobs, who remains on an indefinite medical leave, used his second public appearance this year to demonstrate iCloud, the new free online sync and storage service that for most users will replace the three-year-old MobileMe.

Most analysts and pundits had predicted that iCloud would feature a music streaming or subscription service. But they were wrong. Instead, iCloud serves as a music, photo, app, document and other data sync service that keeps multiple devices up-to-date with user-purchased or -created content.

iCloud will be free to owners of any iOS-powered device or Mac, Jobs said several times during his time on stage. Unlike the music "locker" services that Amazon and Google launched earlier this year, Apple's iCloud does not require users to upload their tunes to a central server. In iCloud, the tracks are not streamed from such a server, but are instead quickly downloaded at user request to up to 10 iOS devices or Macs, where they can then be played.

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