One of the main stories that were discussed in last June's WWDC was Apple's newest venture into media streaming and cloud based services, the iCloud. Apple made an announcement that the service will be available this coming fall, along with its new version of the iOS, the iOS 5. And since fall is fast approaching, Apple seems to have opened up the beta version of iCloud.
As Apple's iCloud service goes live, although it was believed that the beta is only open to those with developer's account, some reports have been floating around that even those who's not a developer were able to access the beta.
To access the beta, simply head over to iCloud.com and enter your Apple ID and password. But you must access them through the iOS 5 or the Mac OS X Lion. Upon entering the beta you will find links to Contacts, Calendar, Find my iPhone, a placeholder page for iWork and finally the web based version of Mail. Oddly enough, the iCloud beta doesn't seem to have the cloud music services, like the iTunes Match in particular.
According to ThisIsMyNext, the iCloud when accessed through Safari features some neat animations, local caching of Calendar data and an interface that's quite similar to the Mac OS X Lion:
The tipster who sent us the screenshots you see here said that, at least in Safari, iCloud offers some clever animations, the ability to locally cache calendar data, and an interface that matches the same apps in Mac OS X Lion — all the way down to providing full preferences within each web app. Apple previously said that iCloud would launch officially in the fall, so it’s likely that this release is meant just for developers despite those reports of non-developers getting access.
In addition to that, it seems that Apple also quietly updated the pricing structure for the iCloud. We already know that the service is initially available for free for the first 5GB. But if you decide that such storage size is not enough, then you can always opt for an upgrade: 10GB for $20 per year (total of 15GB iCloud storage), 20GB for $40 per year (total of 25GB iCloud storage) and finally 50GB for $100 per year (total of 55GB iCloud storage). UK prices should be similar to the US ones. In contrast, Amazon's Cloud Drive offers 20GB of space for only $20 with unlimited number of music for free.
In addition to the beta rollout, Apple has also released the updated versions of iWork for iOS and iPhoto for Mac. Both will now feature iCloud integration. With iWork for the iOS, users will now be able to create and edit their documents wherever they are in which they can seamlessly sync between multiple devices through iCloud. For example, you can edit a document in your iPhone and save them through iCloud, then changes will then reflect in real time when you decide to continue working on the document with your Mac.
iPhoto for the Mac is also getting a dose of the iCloud goodness as it now supports Photo Stream, a cloud-based service where users can keep their photos synchronized across multiple registered devices. [via ThisIsMyNext]Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback