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Could Apple be working on the ‘iCloud Home,’ a Mac-based iCloud server for the home/office?

Could Apple be working on the “iCloud Home” — a a Mac mini-based iCloud server for the home and home/small business office — I’ve long wanted? Perhaps. The company has filed a patent (number 20130311597) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for “locally-backed, cloud-based storage.”

Apple notes that a popular service offered by many cloud computing systems is cloud-based storage. To enhance this service, the cloud-based storage can be extended through the use of a local storage device. A local storage device, such as a network enabled external hard drive, can be made available via a user’s Internet connection, per the patent filing.

The local storage device can then be used to transparently store the user’s content. That is, the user can still back up their devices to the cloud, but in some cases instead of the content residing in the cloud-based storage, it can reside on the local storage device without additional action required by the user. When the user requests the content, the content can be retrieved from the local storage device and returned to the requesting client device without the client device knowing where the content was stored.

iCloud Home Patent JPEG

Here’s Apple’s background on the invention: “In many cases, organizations, as well as individuals, use cloud-based storage solutions because they provide a convenient data backup option. For example, many cloud-based storage solutions require only minimal management for the user. That is, the user connects to the service and the cloud computing system handles the file management. In fact, in some cases, the only interaction required by the user is to install software provided by the cloud system.

“Additionally, users select cloud-based storage solutions because they provide easy access to important data from anywhere. For example, a user can transfer a file from their home desktop computer to the cloud-based storage and then later at work or when traveling, the user can access that file from a different computing device.

“However, the convenience of cloud-based storage often comes at a price. For example, the amount of storage space allocated per user may be price based (e.g., 2 GB of storage space for a monthly fee) usage based (e.g., such as 1 GB of data can be transferred between the cloud-based storage and the user’s device per month), or even capped at a maximum (e.g., a cap of 10 GB). Additionally, accessing data stored in cloud-based storage has higher latency than locally stored data, even if the data is stored on a network-enabled hard drive on the user’s local network.”

Yan Arrouye and Dominic B. Giampaolo are the inventors.

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