Preparing for iOS 5 and iCloud

Tomorrow Apple will undertake what is likely the most ambitious software launch in the company’s history. Tomorrow will see the release of iOS 5, OS X Lion 10.7.2, updates to various supporting apps, and the biggest thing since iTunes — iCloud.

It would be prudent to make some preparations for all of this. First, let’s talk iPhones, iPads, & iPods.

iOS 5

iOS 5 is Apple’s latest software for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It has loads of new features that you’ll want. Best of all, it’s free.

The first thing you’ll need for putting iOS 5 on your device is iTunes 10.5, which was released earlier today. I would sync each of your devices before upgrading to iOS 5, as that will create a backup. And just for kicks, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to import your camera roll to your computer, as part of iCloud will include significant changes to how photos are handled within iOS. More on that in a bit.

Also, make sure you check for updates to your apps and install them. Apple is approving app updates like gangbusters right now because developers are adding iOS 5 compatibility. If you have an update for an app that lists fixes for iOS 5 and you don’t install them, don’t complain if the app breaks. Install the updates, okay?

Okay, after all that is done, get a good night’s sleep and plug your device in tomorrow afternoon, wait for it to show up in iTunes, then select the device in the sidebar, and click the big Check for Updates button. Then let iTunes update your device while you get a snack.

After you’re all updated, you can enjoy never having to physically plug your iPhone to your computer for syncing again, as long as you have Wi-Fi. From now on you can sync over your home Wi-Fi, backups happen wirelessly with iCloud, and future iOS updates will be pushed over the air to your device.


Where iTunes was the digital hub for the past decade, iCloud is the hub for the next decade or so. iCloud will hold onto copies of your purchased music, TV shows, apps, & books, device backups, contacts, calendars, notes, reminders, documents, photos, and email.

You get a free email address, which is ad-free to boot. Apps that take advantage of iCloud will be able to sync their data between your devices, as well. iCloud also features location services such as being able to find and lock down a lost device, and even find family & friends that have given you permission to see their location. All in all, iCloud is Apple’s big new amazing technology that will make us feel like we live in the future.

After you update to iOS 5, you will be able to set up iCloud and all its nifty services from the Settings app.

OS X Lion 10.7.2

Ah yes, the Macintosh. The original digital hub. With the advent of iCloud, the Mac has been “demoted” to just another device, and OS X Lion 10.7.2 will bring all the advantages of iCloud with it — including that ability to find and lock down a lost Mac.

The Mac is known for its iLife suite, and part of that will see a little upgrade tomorrow, too. iPhoto 9.2 will include iCloud’s Photo Stream. Take a picture with your iPhone, it shows up in mere moments on your Mac.

A Note for MobileMe Users

If you are a MobileMe user, you’ve probably heard that iCloud is succeeding MobileMe. You’ll still get email, and syncing for calendars, contacts, & bookmarks. You still get Find my iPhone. But a few things aren’t making it. iDisk and Gallery are going away. They are sort of being replaced by Documents in the Cloud and Photo Stream, respectively. And if you’re a multi-Mac user who used MobileMe to keep dock items, Dashboard widgets, and keychains in sync — well, those are going away, too.

But honestly, things like iDisk, and the syncing for dock, Dashboard, & keychains — they never really worked well. So, when you migrate to iCloud, be prepared. On the bright side, iCloud is likely to work much more effectively, and hey, it’s free. Enjoy it.

Tomorrow is a big day. Things are about to get a lot more awesome.