The iCloud Experience

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Life is too short to eject your iPad from your computer safely. Thankfully, Apple has provided us with iOS 5 and iCloud so we no longer have to be tethered to our notebook and desktop computers in order to sync data. At Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” keynote on October 4, 2011, iOS 5 and iCloud were announced, as well as the iPhone 4S. While there were many debates about whether or not the iPhone 4S would live up to the hype of the rumored iPhone 5, iOS 5 and iCloud turned out to be pleasant surprises. Both went live on October 12, 2011.

While iOS 5 allows you to sync wirelessly with your computer using the same Wi-Fi network, iCloud takes it to the next level by storing all your music, photos, documents, videos and apps wirelessly to remote, secure Apple servers. Also, iCloud can push them to all your Apple devices automatically and seamlessly. This means you can download an app on your iPhone and have it automatically pushed to your iPad without having to manually download it again from the App Store.

How to Set Up iCloud on Your iPad

So how do you start using iCloud with your iPad? Well, the first thing you want to do is make sure your original iPad or iPad 2 is running iOS 5. If it’s not, you’re going to have to connect the device to your Mac or PC and follow the onscreen instructions in iTunes. Please note you’ll have to use the dock-connector-to-USB cable that comes with your iPad to do this. Also note that your iTunes must be 10.5 or later (available as a free download at apple.com). If you already have updated to iOS 5 or if you’ve purchased the new iPad, which comes with iOS 5 already installed, you can skip this step.

After you’ve finished updating to iOS 5, you will need to set up iCloud on your iPad. Usually when you turn on a new iPad with iOS 5 or have just installed iOS 5 on your iPad 2, the initial setup assistant shows you how to activate your iPad with iCloud. However, if you were so eager to start using your new iPad that you skipped the startup wizard, you can still activate your device. Just tap on the Settings icon on the Home screen, select iCloud and then enter your Apple ID.

After you have activated your iPad with iCloud, you can also customize the settings to meet your needs. You can access iCloud the same way by tapping on the Settings icon and then selecting iCloud. In the iCloud menu, you’ll see On/Off options for Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Bookmarks, Notes, Photo Stream, Documents & Data and Find My iPad. You can choose which ones you want to keep on and off.

If you want to automatically push your apps to all your iOS devices, you’ll have to take another step. To do so, tap on the Settings icon and select Store. In the Store menu, you’ll see at the top that it says Automatic Downloads. There, you’ll be able to push Apps, Music and Books to all other iOS devices. For example, if you take a picture with your iPad and have selected it in the iCloud menu, that picture will automatically be downloaded and saved to your iPhone and/or Mac running OS X Lion. Again, your other iOS devices, such as iPhone and iPod touch, should also be set up for iCloud and you should use the same Apple ID in order for this to work.

iCloud Setup Shown on iPhone Screenshots
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Automatic iCloud Backup

Similar to Time Machine for the Mac, you can automatically back up your important data on your iPad to iCloud. To enable backup, you tap on the Settings icon from the Home Screen, select iCloud, scroll to the bottom where it says Storage & Backup and select it. The next screen should show the total and available storage you have. If you want iCloud to automatically back up your camera roll, accounts, documents and settings when your iPad is plugged in and connected to a Wi-Fi network, scroll to the bottom of Storage & Backup and turn iCloud Backup on.

Every Apple ID user gets 5 free gigabytes of iCloud space for storing music, TV shows, apps, books, photos, videos, device settings, app data, ringtones, app organization, messages and even your home screen. You can also purchase more storage space in iCloud if you’re running low, but it’s going to cost you: 10GB costs $20 a year, 20GB costs $40 a year and 50GB costs $100 a year. You can buy one of these three options in Storage & Backup.

iCloud.com

If you go to icloud.com and enter your Apple ID, you’ll be able to see everything that was saved to iCloud as well as have the ability to delete data so you can free up space. After you’re done using icloud.com, please make sure you sign out of the website, especially if you’re using a public computer. It may seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how many people forget this simple step.

Every iCloud user gets a free me.com email account with no ads. You can make one by tapping on the Settings icon, selecting iCloud and turning Mail on. The on-screen instructions will point in you in the right direction. Keep in mind that you cannot change your me.com email address after you’ve created it so take a minute to ponder whether or not the name you’ve chosen is something you’ll want to stick with. You can access the inbox of your me.com email address at icloud.com.

iTunes Match

Now that your iPad is all set up for iCloud, it’s time to take advantage of it. A new service from Apple called iTunes Match allows you to have the benefits of iTunes in iCloud for music you haven’t purchased from iTunes. For $24.99 a year, you can store your entire music collection, including music you’ve imported from CDs or purchased somewhere other than iTunes to iCloud. iTunes Match is built right into the Music app on your iPad so there’s no need to download a separate app.

How it works is that iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to iCloud. With over 20 million songs in the iTunes Store, there’s a pretty good chance that a majority of your collection will be available. You can upload the songs that are not in the iTunes Store. The best part of iTunes Match is that all music played back from iCloud is in 256kbps AAC DRM-free quality, even if your original copy was of lower quality.

Photo Stream

Now that the new iPad finally has a decent 5-megapixel iSight camera, you’ll be more inclined to take pictures with it. With iCloud, every time you take a picture with your iPad, it can automatically appear on all your other iOS devices without having to sync or send it. iCloud manages your Photo Stream efficiently by saving your last 1,000 photos in a special Photo Stream album. You can delete any photos you don’t want from the Photo Stream, which will remove it from iCloud. This helps free up space for new photos, especially helpful if you’re limited to the free 5GB storage. iCloud saves your photos for 30 days so you’ll have plenty of time to connect your iPad to Wi-Fi and sync your photos wirelessly.

When iOS 6 is released later this year, iCloud will feature shared photo streams. Shared photo streams allow you to select which photos from the Photo app you want to share. Just tap the Share button, choose the photos you want and then send them on their way. Friends using iCloud with iOS 6 or a Mac running OS X Mountain Lion will get the photos delivered immediately in their Photos app or iPhoto. There’s no need to send the pictures through email or the Messages app. You can also view your shared photo streams on the Apple TV. If people you want to share with don’t own an Apple device, they can view your photos on the web. Friends and family can like individual photos as well as leave comments. What’s more, your shared photo streams don’t count against your iCloud storage since they work over Wi-Fi and cellular networks. So you can share as much as you want.

iBooks

The iBooks app on your iPad has iCloud integration so as soon as you buy a new book from the iBook store, iCloud automatically pushes it to all your other devices. Also, the moment you purchase a book, it’s added to your iBook store purchase history so you can download it to any of your other iOS devices at any time without paying extra. If you decide to take a break from your book, the page you bookmarked as well as any highlighted text or written notes save to iCloud, which then pushes it to all your iOS devices. So if you decide to start reading again on your iPhone instead of your iPad, you’ll resume exactly from where you left off.

Documents in the Cloud

If you use your iPad for work, then iCloud can be a potential lifesaver. Just make sure you have the same iCloud-enabled apps on all of your iOS devices so that iCloud can automatically update your documents every time you make a change. Now you can access all your documents without having to sync or have it emailed to you. iCloud is already integrated into Apple iWork apps for the iPad.

One of the iWork apps is Pages, a word processor exclusively designed for the iPad and iPhone. Create, edit and view documents wherever you are. With 16 Apple-designed templates to choose from, you’ll be able to make creative letters, reports, flyers, cards and posters. Pages work with iCloud so your documents stay up to date on all your iOS devices automatically. You can even start editing your document on your iPad and finish editing it from where you left off on another iOS device, such as the iPhone.

Another iWork app is Numbers, which is an innovative spreadsheet app for iPad and iPhone. Also exclusively built for iOS devices and having 16 Apple-designed templates to choose from, you’ll be able to make presentable tables, charts, photos and graphics. The 250 functions also make it easy to use. Just like Pages, Numbers supports iCloud so you can automatically update your spreadsheets on all your iOS devices as well as edit them on any of your iOS devices.

The last iWork app is Keynote, which is a powerful presentation app for your iPad or iPhone. Also designed exclusively for the iOS devices, you’ll be able to create animated charts and transitions on your iPad and highlight your data with a 3D bar, line, area and pie chart. You can also make animated 3D charts such as Crane, Grow, Radial and Rotate. You can also use AirPlay mirroring to make your presentation more accessible on a large HDTV. Just to make sure you can stay on track during your presentation, you can preview your slides and notes on your iPad with Presenter Display. Just like Pages and Numbers, you’ll be able to integrate your presentation slides with iCloud so you can edit them on all your iOS devices.

You can also go to icloud.com/iwork to view and move all Pages, Numbers and Keynote documents between your computer and your iOS devices. Click on a document to download it to your computer. You can also drag and drop any iWork ’09 or Microsoft Office document from your computer into one of the iWork apps on iCloud.com and it will automatically appear on all iOS devices, saving you the hassle of having to sync or send them.

Calendar and Contacts

Two things you always need to stay on top of are appointments and contacts. iCloud makes it easy to update your schedule on your iPad and have it pushed to all your other iOS devices. Now you have several options to remind you where you need to be and when you need to be there. You can also share your calendars with other iCloud users to make it easier to schedule events and meetings or simply to grab lunch. As soon as someone edits the calendar, iCloud updates it to all iOS devices. Contacts were difficult to keep track of when you had to manually add them to all your devices. But with iCloud, your entire address book is pushed to all your iOS devices, complete with phone numbers, email addresses, birthdays and more. Once you add a contact to your iPad, it automatically pushes it to your Address Book on your Mac or your Contacts app on your iPhone.

Apps, Bookmarks, Notes and Reminders

You no longer have to worry about having to buy or download the same app twice because iCloud automatically pushes any purchased app to all your iOS devices. For example, if you buy an app on your iPad, it will automatically download on your iPhone. Also, if you purchased an app before iOS 5 and iCloud became available, you’ll be able to download it at no extra cost from your purchase history in the App Store. For convenience, iCloud can also store the web pages you’ve bookmarked, sites you’ve added to the Reading List, notes you’ve written and reminders you’ve created to all your iOS devices.

Find My iPad

If your iPad gets stolen or you simply lose it, you can track it through icloud.com. You can send a message in the hopes that anyone who comes across it will contact you. If you have sensitive information on your iPad, it’s best to wipe the iPad by erasing all your data. Please note that if you decide to wipe your iPad, you will no longer be able to track it since it’ll remove the Find my iPad information as well as restoring it to factory settings. If you are able somehow to find your iPad after wiping the data, you can restore it using your most recent backup from iCloud, provided you have iCloud backup enabled in Settings.

While not available until iOS 6 is released, Find My iPad will feature Lost mode. Lost mode will immediately lock your missing device with a four-digit passcode and send it a message displaying a contact number. This way, a good Samaritan can call you without having to look through your private information on the device. Also, Lost mode keeps track of where your device has been and reports back to you any time you check in with the Find My iPad app.

Find My Friends

While the Find My Friends app may seem a little intrusive, it has the potential to be useful when trying to stay connected with friends and family. The Find My Friends app shares the locations of your friends on a map so you can see where they are and what they’re up to. The same would be true with your location and how your friends see you. The Find My Friends app also works with Contacts and Maps so you can call, text or map directions to your friends with ease. You can also temporarily share your location with a group of people, which is a great way of keeping track of everyone during a trip. When the trip ends, so does the sharing. Don’t worry about constantly sharing your location, there’s an option for going off the grid by flipping the switch in the app. If you’re a concerned parent, Find My Friends can also be used to keep track of your children. Controls are quick, easy to set up and can be locked with a password so you can keep track of your kids without having to worry about where they are.

In iOS 6, Find My Friends will introduce location-based alerts. These alerts will send you notifications when your friends or family enter or leave a certain area, such as your kids leaving school or coming home. This is also helpful when planning surprise parties and other events, letting you know when the guest of honor has arrived.

iCloud Tabs for Safari

Only available in iOS 6, iCloud Tabs show the web pages you have open on all your other devices. This allows you to jump from your iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Mac computer and pick up browsing without losing a beat. Safari will also save entire web pages, not just links, in your Reading List. This way, you can still read the web page even when you’re not connected to the Internet.

iCloud Compatible

If you really want to take full advantage of iCloud, you will need to get a second, and maybe even a third or fourth iOS or Mac device. Of course, the iPhone is compatible with iCloud, but the iPod Touch is also compatible. While the iPod Touch may not have the ability to connect to a 3G network or make a phone call, it’s an excellent media player and has Wi-Fi functionality. Also, you’ll be able to use iCloud with a Mac desktop or notebook computer running Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, which makes it easier to access shared files without the hassle of having to sync or send.

How Has Your Experience Been with iCloud?

Leave us a reply in the comment section below on how iCloud has improved your experience with the iPad and your other iOS devices. Anything you dislike about iCloud? Let us know about that, too. Also, if you have any future iPad articles you would like to see, don’t hesitate to post!

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I have tried everything to get my icloud to work. it says my ipad has been backed up but there is no contacts or anything else when I go to icloud.com. I have been trying ro a month, resetting, deleting etc. and still nothing. this icloud doesn't work and I think its a waste of time.
I HATE IT .