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Sync and Share Files Using iCloud

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This chapter shows how to get the most out of your iCloud account by syncing and backing up files and devices.
This chapter is from the book

iOS 6 includes full integration with Apple’s iCloud online-based file-sharing service, which was enhanced with this version of the operating system. Initially, you might think that iCloud is just another cloud-based file-sharing service. However, for iOS 6 users, it does much more than simply allow you to store content on a remote server that’s located somewhere in cyberspace. In fact, iCloud introduces a handful of new features and functions to your iPhone or iPad that you’ll soon be wondering how you ever lived without. There are several compelling reasons to begin using iCloud with your iOS device (and primary computer).

First, an iCloud account is free. When created, your iCloud account includes 5GB of online storage space for your personal data and files, plus an unlimited amount of additional online storage space for all your iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore (and Newsstand) purchases, including apps, music, TV shows, movies, eBooks, audiobooks, ringtones, and so on.

The additional storage space needed to store your Photo Stream and Shared Photo Stream images is also provided, for free, from Apple. Thus, the 5GB of online storage space is used only for your iCloud Backup files or to sync and store app-specific files and data “in the cloud.”

An iCloud account also includes a free @icloud.com email address, which you can use to send and receive email from all your devices that are linked to your iCloud account. And iCloud will automatically keep your email account synchronized on all devices.

If you need to upgrade your iCloud account to utilize additional online storage space, it can be purchased directly from your iOS device for an annual fee (as shown in Figure 6.1).

Figure 6.1

Figure 6.1. Launch Settings, select the iCloud option, followed by the Storage & Backup option and then tap on the Change Storage Plan option to acquire additional iCloud online storage space.

Content Saved to iCloud Is Available Anywhere

By default, as soon as you establish a free iCloud account, anytime you acquire and download content from the iTunes Store, a copy of that content automatically gets saved in your iCloud account and immediately becomes available on all of your compatible computers and iOS devices (including Apple TV) that are linked to that iCloud account. This includes all past iTunes purchases and downloads as well.

So, if you hear an awesome new song on the radio while you’re out and about, you can immediately purchase and download it from the iTunes Store using your iPhone. As always, that song will become available on your iPhone within a minute.

Then, thanks to iCloud, you’ll also be able to access that same newly purchased song from your primary computer, iPad, iPod touch, and/or Apple TV device, without having to repurchase it. This feature also works with TV shows and movies purchased from iTunes, as well as with hybrid apps you want to install on both your iPhone and iPad, for example, without having to purchase that same app twice. The benefit to using iCloud is that syncing can be done from anywhere via the Internet, without using iTunes Sync or requiring a connection between iOS mobile device and primary computer.

If you ever opt to delete any iTunes purchase from your iOS device, for whatever reason, you always have the option of downloading and installing it again, free, from iCloud.

Access Your Purchased iTunes Content from Any Device

After you have purchased an app, music, a TV show, a movie, an eBook, an audiobook, or another type of content from the iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore, or Newsstand, that content is automatically available via iCloud to all of your iOS devices, your primary computer, and, depending on the type of content, on your Apple TV. This is automatic, as soon as you set up a free iCloud account.

Because Apple has maintained detailed records of your iTunes, App Store, and iBookstore purchases to date, all content from past purchases also immediately becomes accessible to computers or devices linked to your iCloud account.

Let’s look at an example. While using iTunes on your primary computer, suppose you purchase and download the Never Over EP released by American Idol Season 4 top-4 finalist Anthony Fedorov. The six songs on that EP get immediately downloaded to your computer’s hard drive.

Now, thanks to iCloud, those six songs are also instantly made available via your iCloud account to your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and/or Apple TV device. So, after purchasing Anthony Fedorov’s EP, for example, on your primary computer via iTunes, follow these steps to manually load that same music into your iPad (or another iOS device) via iCloud (assuming you do not have the Automatic Downloads option turned on):

  1. Make sure that your iOS device is connected to the Web via a 3G/4G or Wi-Fi connection.
  2. Launch the iTunes app on your device. If prompted, when the Apple ID Password window pops up on your screen, use the virtual keyboard to enter your Apple ID password.
  3. Tap on the Purchased icon that’s displayed near the lower-right corner of the iTunes app’s screen. Then, near the top-center of the screen, tap on the Music tab.
  4. Within a column on the left side of the screen is an alphabetic listing of recording artists and music groups that relate to music you own. For this example, you’d find Anthony Fedorov on this listing. Tap on his name.
  5. On the right side of the screen, all songs from Anthony Fedorov that you have purchased and that are stored within your iCloud account are listed. Each listing is accompanied by an iCloud icon (shown in Figure 6.2).
    Figure 6.2

    Figure 6.2. From any device that runs iTunes, you can access and download your previous purchases by tapping on the Purchased icon.

  6. Tap on the iCloud icons, one at a time, to select which of Anthony Fedorov’s songs you want to download onto your iPad. Or to download all of the songs listed, tap on the iCloud icon associated with the Download All Anthony Fedorov Songs option that’s displayed near the top of the screen.
  7. Within one to two minutes or so, the new music from Anthony Fedorov’s EP, or whatever music you selected to download, will be available to listen to on the iOS 6 device you’re currently using.
  8. Exit iTunes by pressing the Home button.
  9. Launch the Music app on your iOS device.
  10. When the Music app launches, Anthony Fedorov’s music is now listed when you tap on the Songs, Artists (shown in Figure 6.3) or Albums tabs that are displayed along the bottom of the screen.
    Figure 6.3

    Figure 6.3. Anthony Fedorov’s music was initially purchased from iTunes on a Mac, but was also downloaded (at no additional cost) to an iPad connected to the same iCloud account.

Use iCloud to Sync Your Apps, Data, Documents, and Files

Most cloud-based file-sharing services serve mainly as a place in cyberspace to remotely store files. However, you manually have to transfer those files to and from the “cloud.” Thanks to iCloud’s integration with iOS 6, many of the core apps that come with iOS 6, as well as a growing number of third-party apps, automatically keep data and files created or managed using those apps synchronized with other devices and/or your primary computer that’s also linked to the same iCloud account.

From within Settings on your iPhone or iPad, turn on or off iCloud support for all compatible apps on your device. Compatible apps include Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Safari, Notes, Photos, and Mail (relating only to your free iCloud-related email account).

When you turn on the iCloud functionality related to the Contacts app, for example, your iOS device will automatically sync your contacts database with iCloud, and all of your computers and/or other iOS devices linked to your iCloud account. Thus, if you add or update a contact entry on your iPhone, that addition or change automatically synchronizes and becomes available within the Contacts app running on your other iOS devices, as well as within the compatible contact management software that’s running on your primary computer (such as the Contacts app or Microsoft Outlook on your Mac).

This same functionality also works with the Calendar and Reminders apps, for example. If you add or modify an appointment using the Calendar app on your Mac, or Calendar on your iPad, that new information immediately and automatically synchronizes to all your linked computers and devices.

As you surf the Web using Safari, when you turn on iCloud syncing functionality related to this app, all of your Bookmarks and Bookmark Bar data, along with your Reading List information and open browser window/tabs data are synced via iCloud. Likewise, notes created using the Notes app also sync with the Notes app on your Mac and other iOS mobile devices.

To share your photos between iOS devices, your primary computer, and/or an Apple TV device, you’ll need to set up a Photo Stream using iCloud. How to do this is explained later in this chapter.

Customizing iCloud to Work with Your Apps

It’s important to understand that the app-related synchronization feature offered by iCloud is different from iCloud Backup (which creates a complete backup of your entire iOS device that gets stored online as part of your iCloud account).

When you set up iCloud to work with a specific compatible app, that app automatically accesses the Web, connects to iCloud, and then uploads or downloads app-related files, documents, or data as needed. iCloud then shares (syncs) that app-specific data with your other computers and devices that are linked to the same iCloud account.

To customize which of your compatible iCloud apps utilize iCloud functionality, follow these steps:

  1. Launch Settings from your iPhone or iPad’s Home Screen.
  2. Tap on the iCloud option.
  3. When the iCloud menu screen appears (shown in Figure 6.4), at the top of the screen, make sure the Apple ID–linked email address that’s associated with your iCloud account is displayed next to the Account option. If it’s not, use your existing Apple ID to create or access an iCloud account by tapping on the Account option.
    Figure 6.4

    Figure 6.4. Turn on or off iCloud functionality for specific apps that come preinstalled with iOS 6 from the iCloud menu within Settings.

  4. Below the Account option is a list of all preinstalled iCloud-compatible apps on your iOS device. To the right of each listing is a virtual on/off switch. To turn on the iCloud functionality associated with a specific app, set its related virtual switch to the on position.
  5. When you have turned on the iCloud functionality for all the apps that you want to be able to synchronize via iCloud, exit Settings to save your changes. (Press the Home button to do this.)
  6. Repeat this process on each of your iOS devices. So, if you have an iPhone and an iPad, you’ll need to turn on the iCloud functionality for Contacts, for example, on both devices to keep Contacts data synchronized via iCloud on both devices.
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