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This article is about the cloud service operated by Apple Inc..

For the service previously named icloud by Xcerion, see


iCloud is a cloud storage and cloud computing iCloud

service[2][3][4] from Apple Inc. launched on October

12, 2011. As of February 2016, the service had
782 million users.[5][6]

The service provides its users with means to store

data such as documents, photos, and music on
Developer(s) Apple Inc.
remote servers for download to iOS, Macintosh or
Initial release Developers release:
Windows devices, to share and send data to other
June 6, 2011
users, and to manage their Apple devices if lost or Public release:
stolen. October 12, 2011[1]

The service also provides the means to wirelessly Stable release 5.2.2 / July 18, 2016

back up iOS devices directly to iCloud, instead of Development status Active

being reliant on manual backups to a host Mac or Written in Javascript (through

Windows computer using iTunes. Service users Sproutcore framework)

are also able to share photos, music, and games Operating system OS X (10.7 Lion & Later)

instantly by linking accounts via AirDrop wireless. Microsoft Windows 7 or

It replaced Apple's MobileMe service,[4] acting as iOS 5 or later
a data syncing center for email, contacts, Available in Multilingual
calendars, bookmarks, notes, reminders (to-do Type Online backup service
lists), iWork documents, photos and other data. License Freeware
When changes are made to an account, the icloud
services are disabled, and the user is expected to
reactivate those settings on the mobile device in order to retain backed up data lile Contacts,
Photos, Videos, Notes, etc.

One of Apple's iCloud data centers is located in Maiden, North Carolina, US.[7]

Beginning in 2011, iCloud is based on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure (Apple iOS
Security white paper published in 2014, Apple acknowledged that encrypted iOS files are stored in
Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure[8]). In 2016, Apple signed a deal with Google to use Google Cloud
Platform for some iCloud services.[9][10][11][12]




Backup and restore

Back to My Mac


Find My Friends

Find My iPhone

iCloud Keychain

iTunes Match

iWork for iCloud

Photo Stream

iCloud Photo Library


iCloud Drive

System requirements


Name dispute


Data loss

See also


External links

iCloud was announced on June 6, 2011,[13] at the 2011 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference
(WWDC). Apple announced that MobileMe would be discontinued after June 30, 2012, with anyone
who had an account before the unveiling of iCloud having their MobileMe service extended to that
date, free of charge.[14]

The official website,, went live in early August for Apple Developers. On October
12, 2011, iCloud became available to use via an iTunes update.[15] iCloud had 20 million users in
less than a week after launch.[16] The domain and registered trademark were bought
from a Swedish company called Xcerion, who rebranded their service to CloudMe.[17][18][19] Apple
now controls major domains like, and[20]

A class action lawsuit by customers unhappy over the transition from MobileMe to iCloud was filed
in early May 2012.[21]


The first official mention of iCloud from Apple came on May 31, 2011, when a press release[22]
announced that it would demonstrate the service at the WWDC on June 6, 2011. A banner hung at
the Moscone Center for WWDC revealed the iCloud logo five days before the official launch.[23]

In the WWDC 2011 keynote speech, Apple announced iCloud will replace MobileMe services and
that the basic iCloud service will be free of charge.[24]


The cloud-based system allows users to store heterogenous music, photos, applications,
documents, bookmarks, reminders, backups, notes, iBooks, and contacts, and provides a platform
for Apple's email servers and calendars. Third-party iOS and OS X app developers are able to
implement iCloud functionality in their apps through the iCloud API.[25]

Backup and restore

iCloud allows users to back up the settings and data on iOS devices running iOS 5 or later.[26] Data
backed up includes photos and videos in the Camera Roll, device settings, app data, messages
(iMessage, SMS, and MMS), ringtones, and Visual Voicemails. Backups occur daily when the device
is locked and connected to Wi-Fi and a power source. In case of a malfunction of any Apple device,
during the restoration process, iCloud offers to restore all data along with App data only if the
device was synced to iCloud and backed up.

Back to My Mac
Main article: Back to My Mac

Back to My Mac, also previously part of MobileMe, is now part of iCloud.[27] As before, this service
allows users to log in remotely to other computers that have Back to My Mac enabled and are
configured with the same Apple ID.


As with MobileMe (and .Mac and iTools before it), an iCloud account includes an email account.
Unlike MobileMe and its previous iterations, an email address is an optional part of an iCloud
account, in that the user can choose not to use it but can still use the email as their iCloud Apple ID.
The email account can be accessed using any standard IMAP-compatible email client, as well as
the online web app mail client at the Additionally, on an iOS device, iCloud email is

Users converting existing MobileMe accounts to iCloud accounts kept their existing ""
email addresses, and users whose accounts pre-dated MobileMe and had both and email addresses kept both. As with the .Mac to MobileMe transition, existing users get to
keep their old addresses and also get a matching new address, so messages sent to a
valid account with multiple addresses all end up in the same inbox.

Find My Friends
Main article: Find My Friends

Find My Friends was a new feature introduced to iCloud in iOS 5. Find My Friends is very similar to
Find My iPhone, except users can share their location with other friends or family using the feature.
Concurrently with the launch of iOS 5, Apple released an app for Find My Friends. iOS 6 added
location-based alerts to notify the user when a device arrives at a certain location.[28] In iOS 9 Find
My Friends Is built-in to the device and cannot be removed. In October 2015 Find My Friends was
added to to view other "friends" locations.[29]
Find My iPhone
Main article: Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone, formerly part of MobileMe, allows users to track the location of their iOS device or
Mac. A user can see the device's approximate location on a map (along with a circle showing the
radius depicting the margin of error), display a message and/or play a sound on the device (even if it
is set to silent), change the password on the device, and remotely erase its contents.[30] The feature
was first announced on June 10, 2009 and was included in iOS 3.0 software update as a feature for
paying MobileMe users.[31] Find My iPhone was made free of charge with the iOS 4.2.1 software
update on November 22, 2010, but only for devices introduced in 2010.[32] An iOS app was also
released by Apple on June 18, 2010, which allows users to locate their device from other iOS
devices running iOS 4 or later software.[33] In iOS 5, Find My iPhone was continued as a feature for
iCloud. iOS 6 introduced Lost Mode, a new feature that allows the user to mark a device as "lost",
making it easier to protect and find. The feature also allows someone that finds the user's lost
iPhone to call the user directly without unlocking it. Similar phone finder services under various
names are available for other families of smartphones.

Activation Lock was introduced in 2013 with iOS 7. It is integrated with iCloud and Find My iPhone
feature. This new feature locks the activation of any iDevice which has been restored in either DFU
or Recovery mode without first disabling the Find My iPhone feature. Once restore is completed, the
iDevice will ask for the Apple ID and password that has been previously associated with it, in order
to proceed with activation, ultimately preventing any stolen iDevice from being usable.[34][35]

As of iOS 9, Find my iPhone is a built-in app, and thus cannot be removed.[36]

iCloud Keychain
Main article: Keychain (Apple)

iCloud Keychain was announced at the 2013 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), to
be released as part of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks (version 10.9). It was not released with the initial
release of iOS 7, instead being added with the release of iOS 7.0.3 and OS X Mavericks following
Apple's October 22, 2013 event. It re-introduces the old MobileMe Keychain syncing function that
was removed with the initial release of iCloud in 2011, but now renamed iCloud Keychain.[37]

It functions as a secure database that allows information including a user's website login
passwords, Wi-Fi network passwords, credit/debit card management (though without CVV), and
other account data, to be securely stored for quick access and auto-fill on webpages and elsewhere
when the user needs instant access to them. They are always stored encrypted using 256-bit AES
encryption, are stored on device and pushed from iCloud between devices, and only available on a
user's trusted devices.[37]

The service can also suggest new longer and more secure passwords to the user, if and when
required. It will only be available for use on Apple platforms, and even more specifically, when using
inside a browser, will only work with Safari browser on iOS 7.0.3 and OS X Mavericks (version 10.9)

iTunes Match
For other uses, see ITunes (disambiguation).

iTunes Match debuted on November 14, 2011. It was initially available to US users only.[38] For an
annual fee, customers can scan and match tracks in their iTunes music library, including tracks
copied from CDs or other sources, with tracks in the iTunes Store, so customers do not have to
repurchase said tracks. Customers may download up to 100,000 tracks in 256 kbit/s DRM-free AAC
file format that match tracks in any supported audio file formats in customers' iTunes libraries,
including ALAC and MP3. Customers also have the choice to keep their original copies stored on
their computers or have them replaced by copies from the iTunes Store.[39] Any music not available
in the iTunes Store is uploaded for download onto customers' other supported devices and
computers; doing this will not take storage from the customers' iCloud's storage allowance. Any
such tracks stored in the higher quality lossless audio ALAC, or original uncompressed PCM
formats, WAV and AIFF, are transcoded to 256 kbit/s DRM-free AAC format before uploading to the
customers' iCloud storage account, leaving the original higher quality local files in their original

If a user stops paying for the iTunes Match service, all copies of the DRM-free AAC iTunes Store
versions of tracks that have already been downloaded onto any device can be kept,[41][42] whether
on iOS devices or computers.[41]

From iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks onwards, the iTunes Radio function will be available across
devices, including integration with the Music app, both on portable iOS devices and Apple TV (2nd
generation onwards), as well as inside the iTunes app on Macintosh and Windows computers. It will
be included in an ad-free version for subscribers to the iTunes Match service and is currently
available only in the US and Australia[43]

As of March 26, 2014, iTunes Match is available in 116 countries, while iTunes in the Cloud is
available in 155 countries.[44]

iWork for iCloud

Main article: iWork

During the 2013 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote speech, iWork for
iCloud was announced for release at the same time as the next version of the app versions of iWork
later in the year. The three apps for both iOS and OS X that form Apple's iWork suite (Pages,
Numbers, and Keynote), will be made available on a web interface (named as Pages for iCloud,
Numbers for iCloud, and Keynote for iCloud respectively), and accessed via the iCloud website
under each users iCloud Apple ID login. They will also sync with the users iOS and OS X versions of
the app, should they have them, again via their iCloud Apple ID.

This allows the user to edit and create documents on the web, using one of the supported
browsers; currently Safari, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. It also means that Microsoft Windows
users now have access to these native –previously only Apple device– document editing tools, via
the web interface.

Photo Stream

Photo Stream is a service supplied with the basic iCloud service which allows users to store the
most recent 1,000 photos on the iCloud servers up to 30 days free of charge. When a photo is taken
on a device with Photo Stream enabled, it is automatically uploaded to the iCloud servers; from
there, it is automatically pushed to the rest of the user's registered devices. Photos in Photo Stream
will automatically be removed from other devices after the user reaches the 1,000-photo or 30-day
limit. Users who utilize Photo Stream on their Mac or PC can choose to have all photos permanently
saved on their computer — their photos in Photo Stream will not be removed from the computer
when they are dropped out of Photo Stream after the user reaches the 1,000-photo or 30-day limit.
The service is also integrated with Apple TV, allowing users to view their recent photos wirelessly on
their HDTV.[45]

iCloud Photo Library

iCloud Photo Library is a feature on iOS 8.1 or later and OS X Yosemite (version 10.10) of later, plus
web app access. The service stores all of the users photos, maintaining their original resolution and
metadata. Users can access their iCloud Photo Library on supported devices via the new Photos
app when available or via the iCloud Photo Library web app at, which helps limit the
amount of local storage each device needs to use in order to store photos (particularly those with
smaller storage capacities) by storing lower-resolution versions on the device, with the user having
the option to keep some/all stored locally at higher resolution.

See also: Apple ID

Since introduction in 2011, each account has 5 GB of free storage for owners of either an iOS
device using iOS 5.x or later, or a Mac using OS X Lion 10.7 or later. Users can purchase additional
storage for a total of 50 GB, 200 GB, 1 TB or 2TB. The amount of storage is shared across all
devices per iCloud Apple ID.[46]

Several native features of iCloud use each user's iCloud storage allowance, specifically, Backup and
restore, and email, Contacts, and Calendars. On Macs, users can also store most filetypes into
iCloud folders of their choosing, rather than only storing them locally on the machine. While Photo
Stream uses the iCloud servers, usage does not come out of the user's iCloud storage allowance.
This is also true for iTunes Match music content, even for music that is not sold in the iTunes Store
and which gets uploaded into iCloud storage, it does not count against the user's allowance. Other
apps can optionally integrate app storage out of the user's iCloud storage allowance.

Not all of a user's content counts as part of their iCloud storage allowance. Apple is able to keep a
permanent track of every purchase a user makes under their Apple ID account, and by associating
each piece of content with the user, means only one copy of every Store item is needed to be kept
on Apple's servers. For items bought from the iTunes Store (music, music videos, movies, TV
shows), iBooks Store (books), or App Store (iOS apps), this uses a service Apple call iTunes in the
Cloud, allowing the user to automatically, or manually if preferred, re-download any of their previous
purchases on to a Mac, PC, or iOS device.[44] Downloaded (or streamed, provided the user is
connected to the Internet) iTunes Store content can be used across all these devices, however while
iBooks Store and App Store content can be downloaded to Macs and PCs for syncing to iOS
devices, only iOS and Mac devices — and their respective apps — can be used to read the
books.[47] Similarly, OS X apps purchased from the Mac App Store are also linked to the Apple ID
they were purchased through, and are able to be downloaded to any Mac using the same Apple ID.
Also, when a user registers any new device, all previously bought Store content can be downloaded
from the Store servers, or non-Store content from the iCloud servers.[48]

iCloud Drive
iCloud Drive is iCloud's file hosting service for devices running iOS 8, OS X Yosemite (version
10.10), or Windows 7 or later, plus online web app access via This feature allows users
to store any kind of file, including photos, videos, documents, music, and other apps' data, in
iCloud Drive and access it on any Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or Windows PC. Users can start
their work on one device and continue on another device.[49] By default, users will still get 5 GB of
storage for free as previously, but the expandable storage plans available have increased
considerably in size (up to 2 TB of space) and altered to monthly subscription options from the
yearly ones offered under the previous non-iCloud Drive service.

System requirements

iCloud account creation requires either an iOS device running iOS 5 or later or a Mac running OS X
Lion v10.7.5 or later.[50]

Online access to iCloud requires a compatible web browser, and certain features are have their own
minimum requirements of OS versions. E.g. using iCloud Photo Sharing requires OS X Mavericks
v10.9 or above on a Mac.[51]

Devices running older versions of OS X (before Mavericks) or iOS (below 7) may be unable to sign in
to iCloud after the iCloud password has been changed: the only resolution for this issue is to
upgrade the OS, which may be impossible on a device that does not meet the newer OS' minimum

Synchronizing with a PC requires Windows 7 or later and using the iCloud Control Panel, and
optionally Outlook 2007 or later or the built-in Windows 10 Mail and Calendar apps to sync
Calendar, Contacts and Reminders.[53] Users must own an Apple device to set up iCloud for

Synchronization of bookmarks requires Safari 5.1.1 or later on OS X, and Internet Explorer 9, Firefox
22 or Google Chrome 28 or later on Windows.[54]

MobileMe account users could move their accounts to be an iCloud account, keeping the same
account details.[55]


iCloud has been criticized by third-party developers for bugs that make some features nearly
unusable under earlier versions of iOS and Mac OS X, specifically the use of Core Data in iCloud,
for storing and syncing larger amounts of data between third party apps on users' devices.[56][57][58]

Third-party developers have reported that the changes implemented in the release of iOS 7 and OS
X Mavericks (version 10.9) address these iCloud criticisms.[59][60]

Name dispute

iCloud Communications, a telecommunications company in Arizona, sued Apple in June 2011 for
trademark infringement shortly after Apple announced iCloud.[61][62] The lawsuit was filed in the US
District Court of Arizona and demanded that Apple stop using the iCloud name and pay unspecified
monetary damages. iCloud Communications changed its name to Clear Digital Communications in
August 2011 and dropped its lawsuit against Apple shortly thereafter.[63]


Apple’s iCloud service, including iCloud Drive and iOS device backups, does not provide end-to-
end encryption, also known as client-side encryption,[64][65][66] and without end-to-end encryption,
user’s information is left unsecured because it remains easily accessible to unauthorized

In August 2014, it was rumored that hackers had discovered an exploit involving the Find My iPhone
service, which potentially allowed an attacker to brute-force a user's Apple ID and access their
iCloud data. The exploit was later incorrectly rumored to have been used as part of an August 2014
leak of a large number of private, nude photos of celebrities that had been synced to their iCloud
storage from their iPhone. Apple confirmed that it was working with law enforcement agencies to
investigate the leak.[71][72][73] Apple subsequently denied that the iCloud service itself or the alleged
exploit was responsible for the leak, asserting that the leaks were the result of a very targeted
phishing attack against the celebrities.[74] On September 13, 2014 Tim Cook, while being
interviewed by Charlie Rose, stated on camera that the celebrity leaks were not an iCloud exploit at
all, but rather the celebrities had been phished by very targeted phishing to trick them out of their
login credentials.[75]

Subsequently, when announcing ApplePay, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a raft of measures to
beef up security including promoting increased awareness of their two-factor authentication

Data loss
A bug in iCloud Drive can result in data loss. For example, moving a set of files from iCloud Drive if
they have not been synchronized yet will result in their being lost.[76]

See also

Comparison of file hosting services

Comparison of online backup services

Comparison of online music lockers

Cloud backup

File hosting service


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External links

iCloud – official site

iCloud – official site at Apple Inc.