There was a lot of speculation as to whether Apple would develop a web interface for its cloud services. All that speculation had been put to rest when Apple clarified that iCloud services would be available on the web and today, iCloud.com is finally live albeit in beta. It is primarily meant for developers to test iCloud features with their apps.
The web apps available through iCloud.com are Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Find My iPhone and iWork. As you would expect from Apple, the iCloud interface looks fantastic, right from the login screen to the web apps themselves. Apple has, at the same time, made no compromise in terms of speed and responsiveness of the web interface. In fact launching web apps like Contacts and Calendar (yes launching, because it is so familiar to the iOS Home Screen paradigm) take almost the same time as their native counterparts on iOS and OS X. The supported browsers are Chrome, Safari 4+, Firefox 4+, IE 8+, Opera and of course Mobile Safari.
iCloud.com borrows a lot of UI elements from iOS and OS X. Icons, alerts and the web apps themselves would look very familiar to iOS users making them feel at home while using the iCloud web interface. In the long run, this is what Apple wants to do, make their products feel the same throughout, be it on mobile devices, PCs or the web.
Since the service is currently in beta, it doesn’t offer a way to sign up for a free me.com account or use features like Photo Stream. According to MacRumors Apple has also cut off access to iCloud.com for non developers. So if you’re not a developer and can’t wait until the full fledged release of iCloud here is a video walkthrough of all that is available through the web interface currently.
Apple has also unveiled pricing plans for iCloud, which you can find below stacked up against other major players in this space.
As you can see Apple’s pricing is more expensive than Amazon’s Cloud Drive and is also limited to 55GB storage. But even heavy users would find it difficult to go past the 55GB mark since Apple doesn’t count purchased music, apps, iBooks, and Photo Stream towards the storage quota. Most users would in fact be content with the 5GB of free space Apple provides all its users.
iCloud and iOS 5 will be released later this fall.
We can’t wait to try out iCloud in its full glory, what about you?