In a relatively quiet launch, Apple Inc. announced Tuesday it has released its much anticipated cloud storage service, iCloud, ahead of its fall release.
iCloud is a cloud-based storage platform where you can store music, photos, apps, calendars, documents and more for free, associated with a person’s Apple ID account, and pushes it to all their iOS devices.
First announced in June at the WWDC 2011 conference, the cloud sync and media streaming service allows users to sync files, apps, app data, and media across iOS devices, Macs, and PCs.
Apple’s willingness to market the service as a “cloud” offering to its customers proves just how the cloud has become a mainstream consumer technology.
It should also impact the direction for companies involved in the infrastructure hosting businesses in developing the back-end for the consumption and storage model that will emerge, following iCloud service’s full release.
The beta is open to any user with an Apple ID, the beta release offers web-based versions of Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Find my IPhone and iWork. However, it does not include music streaming service, iTunes Match.
Using iOS 5 or Mac OS X Lion, the service can be accessed at the iCloud.com website, which features a similar front-end to the MobileMe service.
MobileMe and its corresponding website will officially be discontinued on June 30, 2012. Apple said that MobileMe features will continue to work until that time, and even well after users move over to iCloud, which should give users of iWeb, iDisk, and the Apple Gallery service plenty of time to transfer their files to other web hosts before MobileMe’s full demise.
“MobileMe Web apps are currently blocked from iOS mobile users, apparently because Apple’s mobile browser does not support the ‘real Web’ well enough to work acceptably with them. This prevents iOS users from accessing a secondary account,” AppleInsider reports.
Smartphones and Tablets running on Android and other mobile users are similarly blocked from accessing MobileMe, and get the same “download the iOS native apps” message iOS users get, despite there being no MobileMe native apps that Android or other mobile users can install.
Users of iCloud beta can browse their webmail, manage their contacts, view and edit calendar events, and access the Find My iPhone tool.
The beta also includes a new app for iWork, which provides details for iCloud’s file storage for documents generated in Keynote, Pages and Numbers iOS applications.
The service features a log-in screen that resembles the same one that was leaked in advance of Apple’s official iCloud announcement at WWDC.
At the time, it was unsure whether the service would feature a Web-based front-end, but Apple eventually confirmed it would just a few weeks later.
Apple also released the official pricing structure for iCloud. The first 5 GB of storage on the service are free. After this point, users will be charged an $20 for an additional 10 GB, $40 for 20 GB and $100 for 50 GB. [via Mashable, IB Times and Redmond Pie]