The update to iOS 5 must be getting close, because Apple is rolling out more of the features we heard about in March at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
The newest feature is iCloud, Apple’s cloud-based storage service that replaces its MobileMe service. The cloud storage will be rolled out in full when iOS 5 hits. Apple fans will be able to make use of iCloud for various functions, including storage of files online rather than on their hard drives. In the meantime, only users with developer accounts can access iCloud.com.
For iOS users, iCloud is already functioning in some capacity. Apple’s iPhones and iPads are now able to sync with purchases from iTunes using iCloud rather than needing to be plugged in to a desktop or personal computer. It means that even though you click the “Buy” button on iTunes on your computer, the download goes to your iPhone, and vice versa. You can also access everything you’ve purchased through iCloud on any of your devices to re-download items you’ve purchased.
Right now, Apple’s iCloud.com site is live and the service is available in a beta testing form for developers. But some OS X Lion users with regular Apple IDs have claimed that they've signed-in at iCloud.com and started perusing and claiming features. As TechCrunch points out in its story, there are also a fair number of web apps associated with iCloud as it operates in the browser. And while many of the iCloud features are available for testing and development now, several of Apple’s music features, like iTunes Match, are not online yet.
Along with some of the iCloud features and the web apps that will go with accessing them, Apple has also rolled out the pricing tiers that will be available for accessing the services. Apple is offering 5GB of free storage to all iOS users, and anything you buy on iTunes – be it apps, music or TV shows – plus photos in your iCloud Photo Stream, don’t count against the 5GB cap.
For users who need more space, Apple offers three additional plans: 10GB over the 5GB free offering for $20 per year; an additional 20GB over the free offering for $40 per year; and a $100 per year tier that offers an additional 50GB of storage.