Apple's iCloud service, paired with iOS 5 and Lion, offers users a whole wealth of new sync features, access to purchased content, and geolocation fun. Unfortunately, as iCloud is the company's fourth online service iteration--fifth, if you count registering for base-level Apple IDs--trying to upgrade can be confusing at best, slam-your-head-against-a-wall-in-frustration at worst. To help ease the pain (and keep your walls dent-free), we've put together some common upgrading scenarios for migrating to iCloud.
Before we dive in, here are some basic terms you should be familiar with.
Apple ID: An Apple account, used to purchase items on iTunes or on the Apple.com store. Usually your primary email address, a mac.com address (if you were a .Mac subscriber), or a me.com address (if you were a MobileMe subscriber). If you signed up for an Apple ID before iTools, you may have one that's simply a username (i.e "scaldwell" as opposed to "email@example.com").
MobileMe account: An account with Apple's old sync service. A MobileMe account is a type of Apple ID.
iCloud account: An account with Apple's new sync service. An iCloud account is a type of Apple ID.
Convert, merge, or ugprade to iCloud: If you have an Apple ID that is not an iCloud account, you can convert it into one. If you have an Apple ID only used for purchases, you can convert it to iCloud by logging into icloud.com. If you have an active MobileMe account, you need to convert it by going to me.com/move.
Hardware and software scenarios
By default, iCloud supports devices running iOS 5 and computers running OS X Lion. But what if you're still running Snow Leopard, or iOS 4? What do you lose when you merge your MobileMe account?
What if I upgrade to iCloud and I'm still running Snow Leopard (or Leopard)?
As Apple has yet to release a patch for its earlier operating systems that enables iCloud in System Preferences, you won't be able to automatically sync your iCloud mail, contacts, and calendars; though you can set up sync for your mail and calendars by manually adding your iCloud account to Mail. You'll also be able to access iCloud features via the iCloud website. When it comes to features like Documents in the Cloud, Photo Stream, and Find My Mac, however, you'll be left in the cold.
What if I upgrade to iCloud and I'm still running iOS 4?
If you have a device that's still running iOS 4, you'll be able to activate Find My device by adding a MobileMe account under the Mail, Contacts, and Calendars pane in the Settings app, but you'll need to set up your iCloud mail, contacts, and calendars manually (which requires a bit of legwork). As with iCloud on Snow Leopard, it's not the easiest setup, but doable. If you're currently syncing with MobileMe and wish to avoid the hassle, however, you may want to wait until you upgrade your system (or Apple releases a patch that adds iCloud support).
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