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Apples iCloud will ship alongside iOS 5 sometime this fall. With the iCloud service in place, music downloaded onto any one device will also appear on the other devices in the users ecosystem, including iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac and PC.??í

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Apple plans to make it easy to sync music between those devices.

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Productivity Sync

Apples iCloud also incorporates the users contacts, calendar and mail, with new messages and updates pushed to associated devices. The service effectively replaces MobileMe.

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Music Beta by Google

Apples iCloud efforts—at least as they apply to music—seem designed to counter recent efforts by Google to provide its customers with a cloud-based repository (and player) for their music.

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Googles music platform (along with Amazons offering) requires that users upload their music to Googles servers, a process that can take some time. In contrast, Apple will scan users hard drives for music and use that information to create a personalized music directory in iCloud—without needing to upload songs from the local drive.

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Amazon Cloud Drive

Amazon.coms Cloud Drive is a cloud-based locker for not only music, but also documents, pictures and videos. Amazon provides the first 5GB of storage for free; after that, a tiered pricing system goes into effect.

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Amazon Cloud Player

Like Google, Amazons Cloud Player offers a way to play music via the cloud, over a standard Web browser.

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iTunes Match

For those with lots of music not purchased via iTunes—that is, music burned onto your Mac from CDs—a new service, iTunes Match, will allow access to those songs via Apples cloud for $25 per year.??í

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Apple is also offering Documents in the Cloud, which automatically upload any documents from Apples productivity software (including Pages, Numbers and Keynote) to Apples cloud; from there, the document can appear on other devices loaded with Apples software.

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The Post-PC World

The iCloud initiative plays heavily into Apples conception of a post-PC world, one in which mobile devices and cloud syncing replace desktops and laptops (and the traditional OS) as the center of most consumers technology life.

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