iCloud vs. Wi-Fi Sync: Which does what?

By Dan Frakes, Macworld |  Unified Communications, Apple, icloud

  • Newly purchased music, apps, books, and (for Newsstand publications) periodical subscriptions--only if you've opted, in Settings > Store, to automatically download these types of data.

Finally, iCloud makes particular types of data available for manual downloading:

  • Music, apps, books, audiobooks, ringtones, and (in the U.S. only) TV shows you've purchased from Apple.
  • Via iTunes Match (Apple's $25-per-year music-hosting and -download service), most music you've ripped or otherwise manually added via iTunes.

Unlike Wi-Fi syncing, iCloud syncs aren't all-at-once events--different types of data are synced or downloaded at different times. The following list assumes your iOS device has an Internet connection:

  • Changes to contacts, calendars, and notes are pushed to your iOS device immediately after those changes are made on the iCloud.com website or are received by iCloud from another device.
  • New photos are pushed to your iOS device immediately after they're added to Photo Stream.
  • Backups occur once a day when your device is connected to power (an AC or DC adapter, a computer's USB port, or an external battery pack), has an active Wi-Fi connection, and is screen locked.
  • Changes to documents and data hosted by iCloud's Documents in the Cloud feature are pushed immediately to your iOS device.
  • If you've enabled the setting (in Settings > Store) to automatically download music, apps, books, or publications, these items are pushed to your device immediately after they're purchased on any other iOS device or in iTunes on your Mac. Note that "purchased" includes free downloads from Apple's media and app stores.
  • If you're an iTunes Match subscriber, tracks and playlists you've uploaded to iCloud via iTunes Match are available for streaming playback in the Music app. You can also choose to manually download individual tracks to keep them on your iOS device for offline listening.

As noted above, depending on how you've configured iTunes and your iOS devices, you may use iCloud sync only for, say, your photos, documents, contacts, bookmarks, calendars, and notes, but use Wi-Fi sync for music, video, and backups. In fact, movies can be synced only via Wi-Fi from your computer; TV Shows can be downloaded via iCloud in the U.S., but must be synced with your computer elsewhere. And podcasts can't be downloaded automatically via iCloud--you must manually download them from within the iTunes app or sync them via iTunes on your computer.

Macworld staff editor Serenity Caldwell contributed to this article.

Originally published on Macworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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