At the same time, beta versions of the iWork suite for iOS and iPhoto have also been made available. And inevitably, many details have already leaked to the web.
iCloud is Apple's new "sync" service. When you create or edit a photo or document on your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Windows PC, it is automatically pushed to any other device you have chosen.
Thus, you can snap photos on your iPhone and have them ready to edit on your iPad in seconds, along with a safe backup on your home Mac.
The iCloud.com site is the online home for your data. There's a calendar, an address book, a mail web app, access to the Find My iPhone service and a new section called "iWork." These all look a lot like their iOS counterparts, right down to the icons.
This is no surprise, as even the awful MobileMe used a very iPad-like interface for its Mail web app.
Most interesting are the online versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Posted screenshots show that there is no editing or even viewing functionality yet. Visitors are told instead to launch the apps on their iOS device and switch on iCloud.
Perhaps there will never be a way to view your documents on the web, or maybe it will be added before the official launch.
Right now there doesn't seem to be any way to view your photos at iCloud.com.
Windows users needn't feel left out, either. Also available is the iCloud Control Panel for Windows (beta 3), which lets you configure iCloud on the PC. Photo Stream, contacts and calendars are supported, and presumably iWork documents might somehow be wrangled to open on the PC, too.
Cloud backup is also working in devices running the latest iOS 5 beta. You can choose to back up your camera roll (photos actually taken with the device), accounts, documents and settings to iCloud automatically whenever the iDevice is plugged in to power.
This is essential for anyone using an iPad as their main machine, and not tied to a computer with iTunes.
iCloud is free, and comes with 5GB storage. You can also pay for more. $20 per year will buy you 10GB storage, $40 will get you 20GB and for $100 you will get 50GB.
But before you rush out and spend the extra, remember that iCloud's storage quota doesn't include your photos, your iTunes music, you apps or your purchased books. In fact, 5GB looks like more than enough for most people. Extra storage can be purchased from within the iCloud settings app on your iOS device.
The iCloud service will launch to the public along with iOS 5, some time in September.
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