Beck Diefenbach/Landov
June 06, 2011 at 08:41 PM EDT

Apple CEO and Randian superhero Steve Jobs arrived at the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco with a simple message for Apple’s customers: “You truly belong here with us among the clouds.” Witness iCloud, a new internet service which will allow users to sync up information stored on various Apple devices via a cloud-based storage system. (The company tried something somewhat similar with the much-despised MobileMe; Jobs, to his credit, said that the service “was not our finest hour.”) As reported by the L.A. Times, users will get 5 gigabytes of free data to store in the cloud — less gigs than Gmail, but Jobs pointedly pointed out that the iCloud will be advertisement-free.

The iCloud comes with lots of interesting new bits of functionality, but the one that will affect you the most is its attachment to iTunes. The iCloud will allow music already purchased from iTunes to appear on up to 10 devices. More intriguingly, the system comes with a new service called iTunes Match, which will see if your non-iTunes music (i.e., music ripped from a CD) exists in the 18-million-track iTunes library in higher-quality form. If it does, you can stream those songs to other devices — via a service costing $24.99 a year. Unlike similar Google and Amazon cloud-based music services, it doesn’t appear as if iTunes Match will actually allow you to store your music in the cloud — you’ll still need to maintain your library on a hard disk. Then again, Apple has official deals in place with the major record labels, so the iCloud comes with an unofficial “law-abiding citizen” merit badge.

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