Upgrading to iOS 5 (4 of 4): iCloud

On Wednesday, October 12, Apple is going officially released iOS 5. This is a very significant upgrade, with several fundamental changes to how your iPhone or iPad synchronizes and backs up data.  Over the next few days I am going to show you the simple steps involved in upgrading to iOS5 and also provide some details on some of the new features and how to take advantage of them.  Check out the new features on Apple.com  iOS5 is only supported the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, iPad 2 and iPod Touch (3rd generation). 

Here is a link to the other steps:
Upgrading to iOS5 (2 of 4): iTunes 10.5
Upgrading to iOS5 (3 of 4): iOS 5

What is iCloud?
By now you have probably heard some mention of iCloud.  It actually means a lot of things, but basically it is Apple’s way of storing things in the “cloud” for you.  This includes simple things like: 
Mail, Notes, Calendars, Contacts, Reminders and Bookmarks
Find My iPhone - The ability to find your iOS device should you lose it via “Find My iPhone”.  
Photo StreamThis basically means any pictures you take on one iOS device are stored in iCloud and available on any other iOS device (including Apple TV) or Mac nearly instantaneously without you having to do a thing. 
Documents and Data - iCloud also includes a similar functionality which allows apps to have their data shared across devices.  Say you are working on a word processing document on your iPad, you can instantly see an up to date copy on the same program on your Mac.  
Cloud Backup - All of your settings, accounts, camera rolls and documents are automatically backed up when your device is plugged in, locked and connected to Wi-Fi
App Store Apps & iTunes Book, Music and TV Shows - Any of these media types you purchased from the iTunes store or App Store can be downloaded again free of charge.  You can also configure all your devices to auto download music, books and apps you have purchased on other devices.
iTunes Match - A service that cross references all of your music in iTunes and matches it to music already in the store.  This also includes music imported from CD.  After processing your entire library it will upload anything it couldn’t find a match for in the iTunes Music Store.  Ultimately you end up with access to all the music in your iTunes library from any iOS device or Mac.  For example, you could link your work computer up via iTunes.  You would see your entire library just like at home, and clicking play on them will trigger a download of the song and almost immediately it will start playing. (Early November and cost $25 a year)

Some of these features are then available to you at iCloud.com including: Mail, Contacts, Calendars and Find My iPhone

iCloud Account Confusion
Setting up iCloud on an iOS device is pretty easy and you will actually be prompted to set it up when first using your iOS device after upgrading to iOS5. The tricky part is figuring out how to handle the situation where you currently share an Apple ID with somebody else in your household so you don’t have to buy the same music twice.  

Now if you don’t share an Apple ID then you can go right ahead and set up an iCloud account for your Apple ID. Just say yes when prompted after upgrading or just go to Setting > iCloud and convert/activate your existing Apple ID to iCloud (more on whether or not you want to use the different parts later.

If you are in the same boat as me and do share an Apple ID between more than one person this is what you have to do.  In my case all of our purchases are under my Apple ID so I set my devices up to use that Apple ID for both the Store and also converted/activated iCloud using this account (just as was done for people that don’t share).  Now for the other person that shares with you they have to use the same Apple ID for the store, but when setting up iCloud they will have to set up a new Apple ID to use iCloud.  This will give them their own 5GB space for calendars, contacts, reminders, PhotoStream and iCloud Backups.  

I found the easiest way to do this was to set my wife’s devices up initially the same as mine, using my Apple ID.  Finally, I went in to Settings > iCloud and clicked the “Delete Account” button at the bottom to essentially log out of my iCloud.  I then went through the process of getting my wife an Apple ID and converting/activating iCloud using this new account.

If I were to do it all over again I would probably have set up an Apple ID just for purchases and then created two separate Apple IDs for my wife and me.  It might have been a little cleaner this ay especially as the kids start getting devices and would then might end up with access to my personal account.

Setting up iCloud
As I mentioned before you can set up iCloud in Settings > iCloud.  From there setting up the actual account part is straightforward.  If you want to change the account you have to tap “Delete Account” first.

Once the account is logged in you then have to decide which features of iCloud to turn on. Here is the breakdown.
Mail & Notes - Leave this OFF. This will give you a new email address, but since you probably already have one somewhere else and probably don’t want to get locked in to an Apple only email account I would leave these two off. (Notes requires setting up a Mail account)
Contacts - Depends.  I have been using Google Contacts exclusively and have my iOS devices set up to use this as the source for my contacts.  However, if you basically keep all your contacts on your phone and want to start a central cloud based contact list this could be a good choice for you.  You would be able to access from iCloud.com and can also set your desktop mail clients like Outlook and Mail to load synchronize those contacts.
Calendars - Depends.  Once again Google Calendar is my single source for calendars and my iOS devices all point to it.  However, if you only use the calendar on your iPhone you might want to try using iCloud instead since it is more cloud based than what you are currently using.
Reminder - Turn this ON. There is a new app called Reminders that let’s you set up Reminders. There are other services out there that do this, but they can’t be fully integrated into iOS. The Reminders app has a simple to do list, but each item can also be set up to remind you at a certain time OR even cooler when you arrive or leave a certain location.
Bookmarks - Turn it ON. If you use Safari on your home computer turning this on will sync bookmarks between your desktop and iOS devices.  If you don’t there is no harm in turning this on.
Photo Stream - Turn it ON. Even if you don’t have another iOS device or a Mac you ca configure a Windows PC to download the photos from the Stream into folder.
Documents and Data - Turn it ON. This allows apps to store their data in the cloud for you.
Find My iPhone - Turn it ON.  To quote my mom, “Of course I want to turn it on who wouldn’t want to use that.”
Storage & Backup - Turn it ON. Don’t worry about backing up to a computer ever again.  Your iOS device will be backed up online automatically when you plug in at home and the device is locked.

A Few More Things
Here are a few things I recommend doing while you are in there tweaking your settings.
iMessage - The old SMS app has been replaced with a new Messages app.  This is where you go to do your texting and MMSing.  However, if you are messaging with another iOS 5 device your messages will not be sent as SMS, but instead will be sent over your data plan (much cheaper). 
To set it up just go to Settings > Messages.  Turn on iMessages. Go to the Receive at and use your iCloud account and enter your email address.
If you have an iPhone you will already see your number. Setting this up means that if Apple receives an iMessage to your number or any email address you specify it will forward the message to any iOS device linked to your iCloud account.  So you can now receive texts on your iPad.  Note: You can tell SMS messages because they use green bubbles.  The iMessages messages use blue bubbles.

Find My Friends - Apple release a new app to the app store called “Find My Friends”. Now don’t get to freaked out about privacy just yet. It includes some good and clever ways to keep your location secret when you want it to be. You can invite followers via email and there is a single switch that you can use to hide your location from your followers.  At the current time you can’t hide your location from specific followers, but hopefully that will come in the future. There is also a really cool feature called Temporary. It allows you to send an email to a set of people and they all agree to share there location, but only until a certain time.  So if you were meeting five people for tailgating at a concert at 7pm you could send them a temporary invite that expired at 8pm. As you were driving to the concert you could see where everybody else was and once you got there you could see there location in the parking lots for meeting up.  Once 8pm hit all locations would once again be hidden.  So download the app, and log in using your iCloud account.  As for the “Following” feature it is kind of limited to all or nothing, which doesn’t work well in my case.  You see my wife and I want to share our location almost all of the time (it’s handy), but I wouldn’t want to share that much with anybody else and it isn’t configurable so for now I just have one follower.

Thanks For Reading
Thanks again for following along feel free to post comments and/or ask questions.