Monday, June 6, 2011

iCloud and Photography

It is Apple Computer WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) time again and the tech world is abuzz with the latest Apple tech news. This is the annual event most IPhone and Mac lovers wait for, since it has been the traditional venue where the newest version of their favorite gadget is unveiled.  But this year, the company decided to delay the unveiling of their latest hardware to give centerstage to their newest platform dubbed "the iCloud."

In yesterday's keynote address, delivered by Apple chairman Steve Jobs, Apple announced a new free service called the "iCloud" (in obvious response to the recent "cloud" music services launched by Amazon and Google).  Like other "cloud" services or 3rd party online storage services, iCloud will synch user content from their device/s to servers in Apple's data centers, where it can be readily available and distributed to all the user's other devices.  But unlike similar online storage services, which just backup and centralizes data, "iCloud's" smart system offers some added features like: purchases from iTunes (Apps, music, media) will be mirrored on all your other devices (IPhone, IPad, IPod and computer), documents created and updated on any device will be automatically stored in iCloud and updated on all your other devices and photos (and videos) taken by an apple device or uploaded on a computer will automatically be available in your other devices for a short period of time via "Photo Stream."    

This is great news for photographers and photo enthusiasts worldwide. Aside from the obvious storage space service (5 GB is free not counting music, photos, apps and books), photos taken by Apple devices or photos downloaded from your digital camera to your computer (including PCs) can be instantaneously available to all of your devices, and will be stored in "iCloud" for 30 days.  This automatic feature will save us the hassle of manually backing up and uploading our photo files to our online servers or to our individual devices constantly.  As soon as I found out about this, my mind started to think of the different ways I can use "iCloud" for my own photography.

Depending on the speed of the upload and the quickness of the service, professionals can theoretically use "iCloud" in photoshoots -- to have their clients instantaneously approve and view their shots (even if they are in a different location).  With "iCloud" photographers also do not need to backup their shots onsite, since it is automatically backed up in the system, leaving them more time to concentrate on the more creative aspects of their work while shooting.  Your more recent work can also be automatically available in all of your devices including your more portable IPhone, IPod and IPad, giving you the ability share and edit your work instantly without the extra effort -- imagine having an updated portfolio at your finger tips 24 hours of the day.  I am sure that dozens of other possible permutations, where "iCloud" can be used for photography, will come to light once the service starts this fall.    

Of course data safety becomes a primary concern.  Apple's iCloud servers will surely be a magnet for hackers everywhere, since they would potentially contain vast amounts of valuable proprietary media.  It's really up to the user to weigh these concerns for themselves.  But we cannot deny that "iCloud" might be able to deliver what it promises, "simplification" -- convenient integration and better work flow in a digital world that has become increasingly complex.

 Here is a video of Steve Jobs introducing the iCloud: 

-- Photos from Getty Images.  Video from Youtube by CNET.

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