Amazon releases Cloud Player for iOS

Watch out iTunes, because a new kid wants to unseat you from your reins.

A year after the company released their Cloud Player music tool, Amazon has unveiled their latest update on the device, as they bring the Cloud Player app to iOS users.

The Amazon Cloud Player was made available by the company in the Apple App Store yesterday and has garnered tremendous reviews and feedbacks, both from reviewers and analysts alike.

The current version is only for the iPhone, but it is also said to be compatible with the iPad. The iPad version has not yet been released by Amazon.

According to Amazon’s vice president for Digital Music Steve Boom, “By Bringing Cloud Player to iPhone and iPod touch, we now have the most widely compatible cloud playback solution available, giving our customers the ability to buy once and enjoy their music everywhere.”

The Amazon Cloud Player enables users to stream music online and download tracks, so that users can listen to them offline.

Amazon launched the Cloud Player just last March, after Apple gave a sneak peek to their iCloud and iTunes cloud features.

Is Amazon doing the right thing when they decided to battle it out against the iTunes?

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Gargantuan free storage offered by Google Drive

A 5GB storage of free cloud space for each Internet user? Sounds unreal right?

Well, reports have been circulating that Google will launch its online storage and collaboration service. Called as Google Drive, the company is banking on the brand and huge online storage ability to make it successful.

Rumors have been going around since March that the company is behind this big storage blowout. It initially planned as a 1GB of cloud service but apparently each user gets up to 5GB of free space on Google Drive.

This service plus all their other services makes Google different from their rivals as this is beyond borders. Having a 5GB free of online storage that you can access anywhere is magnificent and very wise.

Dropbox only offers 2GB of free storage space while iCloud and Box each gives 5GB of free space but they don’t have Google’s encompassing services.

If Google users still need more than 5GB of storage space, they have the ability to upgrade. All they have to do is pay for this and voila, a bigger online space would be available.

 The exact launch for this service is pegged to be later this month.

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What Can the Cloud Do For You?

By Ian Rowan for Style + Tech For Men

Chances are part of your head is already in the clouds: Are you on Facebook? Have you tried out Google Docs? Do you watch movies on Netflix? Then, you’ve used a cloud-based service; you just didn’t realize it. What used to be a passive visit to a static website has become an interactive immersion of remote computing showing up seamlessly in your browser.

The Data Cloud
Simply put, “the cloud” refers to data that exists remotely from your computer, but is constantly available wirelessly to all of your devices. The advantage: All of your emails, photos, presentations, books and music are constantly synced across all your devices and instantaneously available to you anywhere in the world.

iCloud vs. Amazon vs. Google
During the recent launch of Apple’s iCloud service, Steve Jobs described the thinking behind it in this way: “About 10 years ago, we had one of our most important insights. We thought the PC would be the hub for your digital life where you put your photos, videos and music. But it’s broken down in the last few years. So we’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device. We’re going to move your hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud.” What he meant was that all of your data, from documents and photos to movies and everything in between will be synced to their data servers and then constantly updated on all your devices.

Apple’s free iCloud service comes with 5 GB, and that doesn’t include your purchased apps, iTunes music or iBooks. Only your ripped music, documents and photos will take up space in the cloud. Apple is able to offer this service by scanning your library and populating your songs in the cloud without uploading them, since they already own them.

Competing for some time now has been Amazon’s Cloud Drive ; they now offer up to 5 GB of free storage with pricing plans starting at $20 per year for 20 GB of space and unlimited music storage. Google jumped into the game with their still-in-beta Music service, which is also free, but allows users to store up to 20,000 songs online. Some other cloud storage options to look into for free and easy data backup are LaCie’s Wuala (with redundant backup) and the free Dropbox service.

Cloud Productivity
One of the prime examples of the user-friendliness of the cloud has been the advent of online document creation, storage and sharing. Google Docs has been a major player since 2007 — this piece was written solely with it — offering cloud-based word processing, presentation creation, Excel document manipulation and data storage so colleagues can create and edit and share relevant data in real time over vast distances.

Since the ease of sharing documents with collaborators is such a boon to workflow management, Microsoft has finally unveiled their version. Dubbed Microsoft Office 365, the service was just released this June and will challenge Google Docs through seamless integration with the original Microsoft Office. Offering the productivity suite of Microsoft Office in the cloud, the service comes with a fee: It starts at $6 per user, per month, for small businesses.

For those who like the idea of complete cloud-based computing, there is the release of two new laptops called Chromebooks. Google’s Chrome Web browser was developed simultaneously as an operating system, similar to OSX or Windows. Here, the browser is actually the operating system. The recently released Acer Chromebook AC700 3G and Samsung Chromebook Series 5 Titan are basically Web-only laptops. They both start up in fewer than 10 seconds, come in either Wi-Fi or 3G versions, are ultra-thin and -light with extensive battery lives (the Samsung version lasts 8.5 hours) and are priced between $349 and $499, depending on 3G capability.

Cloud Risks
Remember that the data is actually stored somewhere out there; it’s not being taken care of by angels with harps. Cloud servers in remote locations are storing and accessing your data for you and sending it to your browser over the Internet. There are two risks associated with this: physical loss of the data and interception of the data. Look at what happened to Gmail service when their email accounts suddenly vanished back in February 2011. Although Google was able to restore many user files, some were lost in the ether forever. The second potential risk involves a hacker accessing your files due to lax security encryption. The popular Dropbox service had a security flaw that could potentially leave your data open to a relatively simple hack. If your data needs to be secure, be sure to check that the most advanced encryption methods are being employed by your cloud service. Otherwise, to be safe, only store your innocuous data online.

Ian Rowan is a freelance writer
who’s worked and written for
Men’s Journal, The Village Voice, and Vice Magazine. When he’s not
traveling or writing his premature personal memoir, he specializes in technology
trends, social media, web 2.0 and gadgets.

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