When Apple announced their major upgrades a couple months back, our mouths watered over the new perks coming with OS X Lion and iOS 5. Among them, an incredible advancement called iCloud, which would wirelessly and automatically update your music, photos, calendars, bookmarks and documents across all iDevices.
Well iCloud.com is finally up and the lucky few developers with access are the envy of tech geeks worldwide. Here’s what we know so far: iCloud will be available in iOS5 and OS X Lion 10.7.2 and essentially replaces MobileMe aka .mac aka iTools (remember that?).
It looks like 5GB of storage will be built in (free) with additional storage options available. It works like an in-app purchase on iOS, as in you buy with your Apple ID, which is really cool.
The new features have their ups and downs, especially considering the product is still very much in beta. Luckily, we have some sneak access to the mobile component through the developer package of OS x Lion and our own Craig Keller. can give us the lowdown on the good, the bad and the ugly:
Safari bookmarks sync works great, like magic. I turned the service on and about 15 minutes later I picked up my iPad only to notice that all of the bookmarks from my Mac (and some that I had synced to Mobile Me LAST YEAR) were magically on my iPad via iCloud! Previously, I had experienced a catastrophic hard drive failure so it was a great treat to see that some sites I had forgotten to re-bookmark were magically on my Apple iOS devices.
Calendar sync was buggy at first, it created a bunch of duplicate entries and duplicate calendars in the iPhone calendar app, but that seems to have been resolved over time. This now works great and is super convenient. The feature allows me to create a calendar with an alert on my phone and it will automatically appear in iCal and vice-versa.
Address Book sync suxsuxsux. This is super glitchy and has been since the first beta. It’s a constant battle with iCloud to delete contacts (especially duplicates that it likes to create). Several hours were wasted fixing issues caused by iCloud in Address Book/iOS contact sync. It’s really frustrating, but the convenience of this feature, once stable, will be the biggest heartthrob of the services.
Document sync, is a decent tool that I have little interest in. Documents take away from your 5 GB (whereas purchased music, apps, books, TV shows, and photo stream don’t count against the free storage) and only iWork documents will sync thus far. I don’t use iWork, not a fan, and therefore have no use for this feature though I’m sure some people do.
Photo Stream, another thing I have no desire to use. I don’t like the idea of my pictures automatically being uploaded to the Internet without me explicitly choosing which specific photo to upload. I don’t need/want all of Saturday night’s photos to exist anywhere on the Internet and I especially don’t want them to be put there automatically or transparently by my phone.
App sync rules, this was a great move for Apple. When I download an app to my phone it automatically downloads it to iTunes and my iPad, which is super convenient. It cuts down iTunes sync times my phone is connected to my computer (to backup data, preferences, etc.). It’s also really cool to be able to have the apps show up on my iPad, so convenient. A nice little perk is the capability to download apps that you’ve downloaded in the past right from the App Store (even those which are no longer available in the App Store). Previous to this it was impossible to re-download an app if it wasn’t available in the App Store. Now, older apps that were once permanently lost are able to be reclaimed quickly and easily.
Find my iPhone/iPad/Mac is a super cool feature. If you lose your phone, you can find it and send it a message, make it play a tone, wipe it, etc. If you log into the website you can even track it on a map in real time. One night forgot my phone in my girlfriend’s car and didn’t even realize it. I used Find my iPhone when I couldn’t find it and was surprised to see the dot that represented my phone traveling down the road towards my girlfriend’s house!
iCloud mail is another feature that I have but haven’t tried yet. You get an @me.com email address and apparently it pushes your email services to your device. My only grudge against mail is that [email protected] was already taken. Insert sad face here.
Overall it’s going be awesome, its super transparent and it will be incredibly convenient. The web app is sexy, though very beta at the moment. I haven’t accessed it personally, but it looks dope in videos… pretty self-explanatory.