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Apple iCloud Brings iTunes to the Cloud, Scan and Match to Cost $24.99 Per Year

Apple's new iCloud is more than just storage. It stores your content and wirelessly pushes it to all of your devices, and it also pushes content to supported apps. So it's all integrated. To get iCloud you can just turn it on with a switch in iOS 5. Apple is giving users 5GB of storage, which doesn't even include photos or iTunes. Developers can get their hands on this today with a beta.  iCloud includes 9 apps, but the big news is iTunes and iCloud, which is available today for consumers as part of iOS 4.3 beta.

Yes, syncing is dead. Any content you buy on iTunes will be pushed to all of your iOS 5 devices, whether it's a song, TV show, or movie. On your device you'll see a purchase tab, so you can see what you've bought previously but also what yet hasn't been downloaded to your device. From there you can just grab the content and download it to your device. If you buy something new, it automatically downloads to both your iPhone and iPad at the same time. Pretty awesome, but Apple is also going after Google and Apple with Scan and Match.

If you've ripped songs before, Apple will scan your library and match the songs with its library. iTunes Scan and Match will then upgrade those songs to 256 Kbps AAC DRM-free tracks. The service costs $24.99 per year, which is a lot more affordable than Google Music. Amazon hasn't announced pricing yet. You don't have to upload anything to the cloud, which takes a loooooong time.

The three apps that were part of MobileMe--calendar, contacts, and mail--are now free instead of $99 per year. When you make a new contact on your iPhone, its stored in the cloud and automatically pushed to your iPad and Mac. If you change it on any device its updated everywhere. Calendars works in a similar way, except you can also easily share calendars. Mail also included in the new iCloud service, which doesn't have ads.

With the App Store and iBooks, iCloud automatically pushes a new app or iBook to all of your iOS devices at once. If you're reading content on one device and continue on another, bookmarks are also stored in the cloud. iCloud also includes wireless back up, so if you lose a device, everything will automatically load on your new phone or tablet.

iCloud includes document backup as well, so if you have a Pages document the version will save across all your devices. All the new iWork apps work this way. Apple is releasing an iCloud storage API. The goal: to get rid of the traditional file system once and for all.

Photo Stream for iOS brings iCloud to photos. Photo Stream on the iPad is built right into the photo app. There's not a separate app. It's also listed right under the Camera Roll on your iPhone. iCloud stores each photo for 30 days and devices store the last 1,000 photos so you can move the ones you want to hold onto.

Just in case you don't think Apple is not serious about iCloud, it showed off its data center in North Carolina, which according to Steve Jobs is full of expensive stuff. In other words, Apple says that it's ready.