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Report: Apple's Time Capsule to work as iCloud drive

Could you need to buy hardware from Apple to get into its upcoming iCloud service? A new report suggests it'll play a part in syncing files across iOS and Mac OS devices.

Apple's Time Capsule hardware.
Apple's Time Capsule hardware.

A new report this morning suggests that Apple's iCloud plans may not be tied to its massive 500,000-square-foot North Carolina data center as much as a piece of hardware you plug in at home.

Cult of Mac reports that Apple is planning to unveil an update to its Time Capsule hardware and software at tomorrow's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote that will act as a home base not just for file backups but also as an Internet-enabled storage folder for Macs and iOS devices.

"If you make any changes on any computer, those changes are updated through iCloud and stored on your Time Capsule," Cult of Mac's Leander Kahney reports, citing an anonymous source close to the company. "The Time Capsule archives and serves up your files even when your computers are off. When you get home and fire up your desktop computer or laptop, the files are automatically synced across your devices."

That system would be notably different from Apple's existing Time Capsule setup, which relegates system backups to a Time Machine file that must be used with the computer it's backing up to and requires the backing up itself to be done over the same network versus wherever you have an Internet connection. On the file storage front, this rumored system would retain many of the existing features of giving users a way to access files that have been stored to a Time Capsule hard drive over the Web, as long as they're an active MobileMe user.

If this turns out to be true, that's a long ways off from some of the safety and convenience a hosted Internet service could provide users. With this rumored service, for instance, a failed hard drive, or stolen Time Capsule would mean losing everything that was not synced up, versus a hosted service where it could be backed up across servers in multiple locations.

Along with Time Capsule, Apple's Airport Express companion hardware is said to be getting an update in the form of a speedier processor. That's Apple's power-supply shaped Wi-Fi router that doubles as a music streaming device for nearby stereos.

Apple's WWDC kicks off just 24 hours from now with a keynote from Apple CEO Steve Jobs. CNET will be there on the scene to bring you news as it happens.