A few weeks back, I wrote a column discussing the tablet that Amazon is rumored to introduce this fall. Since then, I have heard a few more things about this tablet that are quite interesting. In my last column on this topic, I stated that the center of its design would be on reading books. That appears to be true, as multiple sources tell me that it will have the best reading experience of any tablet on the market. But, I am also hearing that Amazon is using pretty low-cost parts and not using any of the major manufacturers that are producing most of the tablets for mainstream competitors. Apparently, the company's key goal is to make the tablet very inexpensive and then use a new business model to own the Android tablet market.
I believe that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos knows that all of the other Android vendors are at a big disadvantage when it comes to competing with Apple. Apple has a two-year lead on them, a great app store and services program, and a soon-to-be-key technology, the iCloud, which will keep all iOS apps and devices in-sync. And it has 250 million users' credit cards and hundreds of retail stores to help people learn about the iPad and buy one on the spot. None of the other tablet vendors can even come close to matching what Apple has to offer, except maybe Amazon. Although Amazon does not have retail stores like Apple does, it does have an Appstore for Android, music and movies for downloading, the Amazon Cloud Drive for storage, and the credit cards of 200+ million users. It also has limited channel partners, like Best Buy, that it could expand as well. But, I hear that while its tablet could marginally compete against Apple, this is not the company Amazon is going after with its tablet offering. It is smarter than that. Rather, I believe Amazon's goal is to be the market leader in Android and be the top seller of tablets with this mobile OS.
When users log in through the portal, and Apple will port their Mail, Contacts, and iCal information to iCloud. It also says that iWeb, iDisk, and Photo Gallery will be accessible until June 30, 2012. However, Dashboard widget sync, dock item sync, keychains, signatures, mail account rules, mail smart boxes, and mail preferences are among the features that are no longer available.
But if you're not a developer, you're going to have to wait a little longer to move your account. Users trying to to log in with a standard MobileMe account and was met with a page telling me "this account is not yet eligible."
Apple recently started allowing users to re-download TV shows purchased through iTunes, a feature already available for books, apps, and music. Movies are the one hold-out, but AppAdvice says iTunes Reply will add movies to the re-download list for a "full-fledged" service and potentially allow users to stream everything via Apple TV and iOS. No word on the desktop.
The service would apply to media purchased back to January 1, 2009. As Apple signs the appropriate licensing agreements, the company will put arrows next to purchased shows and movies to indicate that they are eligible for replay, AppAdvice said.
The blog said users should "expect this to go public in the coming weeks" and framed it as "an extension of what Apple is already doing with iCloud."
Apple offers 5 GB of storage for free with any iCloud account, which they say should be fine for most users. However, if you've got more storage needs than that paltry 5 GB can handle, Apple has a few extra options on the table:
- 10 GB for $20 per year
- 20 GB for $40 per year
- 100 GB for $100 per year
Do note that these are in addition to your free 5GB of storage. In other words, if you opt to pay for 10 GB a year, you will actually have 15 GB total--the 10 GB that you are paying for, plus the original 5 GB that's included. If you're a developer with an iCloud account, you can purchase your additional space starting now.
Apple just released an update for the Apple TV that brings a couple of new and welcome features to the platform. First, iCloud integration for television shows. There is a new "Purchased TV Shows" area that shows all shows that you have bought, either through the iTunes Store or from the original Apple TV (the current model doesn't allow purchasing, just renting.) You can go into this area for a list of shows you own, and then can drill into that show to see which episodes you've purchased, indicated by the iCloud logo. The other feature that the update brings is Vimeo support. You can now browse and play content from Vimeo, and if you have an account, you can even put in your credentials to access your inbox and mark videos you want to watch later.
The update is available now to all.
When Apple introduced iCloud at WWDC 2011, the big news was that the service would be free. Of course, Steve Jobs did make sure to mention that the 5 GB of storage included with iCloud would be more than enough "for most users," and we believe him. However, there are others out there (like us) who fall outside of that category. For example, I am only currently able to have iCloud back up just my iPhone 4. When I try to also add my iPad 2 to the backup, it errors out, telling me that I don't have enough space available, and that I need to buy ore storage space. Of course, since iCloud is still in beta, I'm unable to do that. Another iCloud user has come very close to hitting his 5 GB quota, and received the email above from Apple. Surprisingly to us, it says that once he reaches 5 GB stored, he won't even be able to receive any new email messages. Sounds like people are gonna have to really keep an eye on how much storage they are using, especially if they have more than one iOS device backing up to the cloud.
Read More | MacRumors
We've been hearing from quite a few disgruntled MobileMe subscribers who are wondering what the heck they're supposed to do now that Apple will seemingly be discontinuing the iDisk service with the launch of iCloud. As awesome as iCloud is, we do agree that iDisk is definitely a nice feature, and it's a shame to see it go away. However, Dropbox is a great alternative, and we've actually found that it often works better than iDisk does. You can sign up for free and you'll get 2 GB of space right off the bat. If you want more, you can upgrade...but it certainly doesn't hurt to try it out. Dropbox integrates right into your Finder, similar to iDisk, and gives you updates on syncing across all your devices, plus you can access your files from through the Dropbox mobile apps as well.
Read More | Dropbox
The biggest player in digital music has finally vaporized its content. Starting this fall, you'll be able to store your digital music library on Apple's internet servers. We've already seen Amazon and Google's attempts at a Web-based music service, with the former's Cloud Player and the latter's Google Music Beta, but with iTunes' dominance in digital music, Apple's iCloud could eclipse both of them. Apple's offering differs from those of Amazon and Google in some big ways, though. Here's a rundown of the three services' differences and similarities.
A central difference of Apple's iCloud versus the others is that it's not just for music: It takes over all the former MobileMe's functions—email, contacts, calendar—along with backing up and syncing iOS device photos, app data, and iWork documents. Thus ends the stormy story of the MobileMe service, which even Steve Jobs noted at WWDC was "not our finest hour." This comparison, though will concern itself primarily with the music aspect of iCloud, iTunes in the Cloud. This piece is available as a beta by downloading iTunes 10.3.
A huge difference of iCloud's music capabilities is that you can't play songs from within a Web browser (at least as far as we have seen so far) as you can with both Amazon and Google's offerings. You'll either need an iOS device or iTunes running on a computer. True, this does include Windows PCs running iTunes, but forget any non-Apple tablets or phones. This lack of Web access is just less flexible. Nor can you stream music from its online storage—the music must be fully downloaded to play.
Hey, we know you wanna get a look at all the goodness announced this morning at the WWDC 2011 keynote, right? I mean, OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud are Apple's new triumverate of dominance, and it would be nice to see it all unfold in front of your eyes. Just hit the link below, and you can stream the entire thing from the cloud on pretty much any device.
Read More | WWDC 2011 Keynote video
iCloud, Apple's new cloud services that Steve Jobs told us about during his WWDC 2011 keynote this morning, has already made its way into the purchase history area of the App Store. Above is an image from my iPhone 4, showing apps that I have purchased, but that aren't installed on the device. I can tap the iCloud icon to download the content right from there.