Daniel Eran Dilger
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Apple posts new iCloud login page as a revamped MobileMe, iWork.com

Apple has posted a not yet fully functional login page for its new iCloud service, representing a revamped version of its existing Mail, Contacts, Calendar and Find My iPhone MobileMe apps as well as newly integrating the document sharing features of iWork.com.

The new iCloud login page, which appears as an Apple Store-like name tag on a lanyard, enables some users to log into functional apps. Other users are presented with an iOS-style popup asking them to migrate their data from MobileMe to iCloud, a feature which isn’t yet working.

Hope for mobile users

The iCloud login page is also available from mobile devices, suggesting that Apple will finally make its web-based apps accessible from iOS devices. 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.

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.

The new iCloud apps

The first user to report successfully logging into the new service, Rafael Fischmann of the Brazilian MagMagazine blog, presented screen shots of the new Mail, Calendar and Contacts apps, all of which have adopted a new iPad-like appearance.

The new service also includes iCloud for Keynote, Pages and Numbers, which “stores your documents and keeps them up to date on your devices and the web.” This new service goes above and beyond the former iWork.com, which simply enabled users to share documents over the web to other users, with a web app client that enabled others to view and comment on documents even without owning iWork.

The new iCloud for iWork apps incorporates “iCloud for Documents,” a new storage and sync feature that third party developers can incorporate in their own apps to allow their users to keep documents in sync across the users various devices, updating changes made on one machine across every other instance of that file, automatically.

The first 5GB of documents users store within iCloud will be free, while Apple appears set to make 10, 20 and 50GB options available annually for $20, $40, or $100, respectively.

Missing in the transition from MobileMe to iCloud is the Gallery and iDisk web apps, which are largely replaced by similar functionality offered by iCloud’s Photo Stream and Documents features.

  • relativity

    iThink iCloud will be much more successful than mobile Me ever was. That $99/year was a screaming ripoff from the very moment of Steve’s staged announcement. I did not see anything from the offerings worth a Benjamin. iCloud’s inclusion of iWork will be its killer feature not its iTunes cloud integration (although that will be a great come on). Spotify has the all-you-can-eat “cloud” music figured out and they look to be the iTunes killer. Ouch!

    With that said, iThink Google will also try to match iCloud feature-by-feature. Although not as svelte as any of iCloud’s web apps at the moment, they’re just as functional – g+, gApps, gDocs, gPicasa+picnik, gMail, more. With a little spifying up with more CSS3 and HTML5 those same apps will look just as polished as iCloud’s in short order.

    Google’s cloud storage rates are also much more edible at $5.00/year for 20GB! Imagine that. All Google needs now is to buy Spotify and/or Sonos to fill their cloud music hole. That is a perfectly practical combination.

    Yes, iThink that iCloud will be a game changing cloud offering for Apple devices. But will iCloud just another name in a long list of failed Apple web offerings – eWorl, iTools, DotMac, mobileMe? Have you checked your Ping profile lately? Me neither.

  • http://www.bezark.com ajbezark

    This appears to be a page for Apple Developers only. I tried to sign on, but the page said only Developers were allowed to participate in the beta.
    Has any non-Developer gotten into the iCloud beta?

  • airmanchairman

    “Damnation with faint praise” comes to mind as the best description of the previous asinine comments, clearly coming from someone who has never used MobileMe and yet purports to know all about its strengths and weaknesses.

    Syncing services and FindMyiPhone alone have saved my bacon several times in the past few years to justify the yearly price tag, which is set to get even more affordable (i.e. free) with iCloud depending on how modest your data needs are.

    However, it is iWork in the Cloud (combined with Versions in OS X Lion and iOS5) that shows the greatest potential to “embrace and extend” the Cloud, bringing tangible and ground-breaking productivity gains to the average (I did not say power) users of Apple’s office applications.

    Imagine starting a lengthy Numbers project at work on an iMac, working to a tight deadline and getting a third done before shutting down for the day (no need to save on OS X Lion, remember). iCloud also saves “the truth” and when you board the train, boat or plane, out comes your iPad to continue where you left off (Wi-Fi, 3G or iPhone tethering available as networking options). You get another third done before shutting down to alight and head for home, where you simply fire up your MacBook to continue where you left off and complete the last third – all without using any thumb drive, CD or WebDav sneaker nets or even having to fire up your iPad or remote connect to your work iMac.

    I wonder whether Microsoft will have the foresight and magnanimity to integrate Office applications with iCloud? It’s only a matter of time and gradual evolution before even more powerful applications become iCloud enabled (as well as iPad friendly); a time will surely come when we will wonder how we worked without these features in our primitive PC-era past.

  • relativity

    @airmanchairman

    “Syncing services and FindMyiPhone” are not worth $99/year. Those should have been “Free” as with the coming iCloud’s. If it was worth it for you then more power to you. Not everyone is as prone to leaving their expensive iThings just anywhere.

  • relativity

    “…it is iWork in the Cloud [sic] that shows the greatest potential…”

    So you do agree with my assertions. This is a power user’s feature of iCloud and should be charged appropriately. All the other fluff like those above listed should be free to all iUsers. The storage upgrade is a good start but Google has a better deal. Apple should offer 1TB for $99/yr imo for all your media storage in the cloud. Why not?

  • alansky

    “Missing in the transition from MobileMe to iCloud is the Gallery and iDisk web apps, which are largely replaced by similar functionality offered by iCloud’s Photo Stream and Documents features.”

    Where did you get that idea? Photo Stream does only one thing: It indiscriminantly uploads all your most recent photos to the iCloud and distributes them to all your other connected devices. From where I stand, this is a colossal waste of bandwidth and storage space. Even the most casual snapshooters normally throw out many if not most of their photos before uploading their favorites to some kind of web gallery. Photo Stream uploads everything and displays nothing. There’s no web gallery at all. If you want to share your photos, which almost everyone does nowadays, you can share your unsorted, unedited masterpieces with whoever happens to be in the same room. That’s it.

    iCloud’s Documents feature, on the other hand, does I’m-not-sure-what. There’s no mention in anything I’ve read that iCloud users will be able to upload files in any format and share them by sending a simple download link. It’s theoretically possible that iCloud Documents does include this kind of functionality, but that’s a totally unjustfied assumption at this point unless you know more than the rest of us.

  • alansky

    “iThink iCloud will be much more successful than mobile Me ever was. That $99/year was a screaming ripoff from the very moment of Steve’s staged announcement.” —relativity

    Hundreds of thousands of MobileMe subscribers beg to differ. MobileMe’s best features (Galleries, iDisk and Back to My Mac) were easily worth the price of admission all by themselves. Most of MobileMe’s functionality can be replaced by a combination of iCloud and a handful of other services (some free, some not). But if you want all of those services in one place—not a chance! Not without MobileMe. Personally, I’d have paid the yearly fee just for iDisk and the photo gallert, which was without a doubt the best, most attractive and easy-to-use photo hosting service on the planet.

  • Donald

    “Personally, I’d have paid the yearly fee just for iDisk and the photo gallery, which was without a doubt the best, most attractive and easy-to-use photo hosting service on the planet.”

    I agree completely about “Gallery.” It was excellent.

    I can only hope that we might yet see Gallery folded in with paid storage as an optional service.

  • http://www.sistudio.net studiodave

    I do/did pay for .mac/mobleMe for the iDisk and contact, calender iPhone things because I need to share files that are 15-100mb quite often. I hope there will still be a way to share these password protected files with iCloud and my G5 because I will not be getting an Intel Mac for 3 more years.

  • alansky

    “I hope there will still be a way to share these password protected files with iCloud and my G5 because I will not be getting an Intel Mac for 3 more years.”

    Dropbox is a very good free alternative for file-sharing. The Dropbox app should work on any Mac running OS X 10.4 or higher.

  • http://www.sistudio.net studiodave

    I use dropbox but it’s not the same thing

  • alansky

    “I use Dropbox and it’s not the same thing.”

    Dropbox is primarily a file-syncing service, but isn’t it true that one can send people download links that enable them to download files that you have placed in your Dropbox folder?

  • http://www.sistudio.net studiodave

    You can share folders but Not password protected. I just tried it and the folder is available to everyone with no way to protect it.

  • http://www.sistudio.net studiodave

    Checking the dropbox site you can share file but the person you share with will need a dropbox account. With MobleMe I saved and password protect the share then send the email, the recipient receives the email clicks the link enters the password and download begins on Mac or PC without needing an account.

  • alansky

    I stand corrected concerning Dropbox. Anyone know of a real alternative to iDisk file sharing? The fact that Dropbox doesn’t replace iDisk underscores the fact that MobileMe has a combination of genuinely useful features that will be hard to replace. If MobileMe is a rose, iCloud is plastic flowers.

  • Donald

    Bear in mind that Apple tends to be secretive. Has there been any statement indicating that Gallery and/or iDisk specifically would be discontinued? If not, I wouldn’t assume the worst. We may see valuable components/features of MobileMe reappear, packaged in different ways. But perhaps that’s just wishful thinking!

  • relativity

    “Anyone know of a real alternative to iDisk file sharing?”

    I do use Dropbox and you are right about the security of your files and folders. Try LiveDrive (http://www.livedrive.com) cloud backup. They give 2TB as the cheapest tier for $7.95/mo. That is not a bad deal. They offer file/folder security but I haven’t tried it. Come back here and let us know how it goes.

  • alansky

    “Has there been any statement indicating that Gallery and/or iDisk specifically would be discontinued?”

    See for yourself. Apple’s MobileMe “transition” FAQ page makes it fairly clear that iDis, Gallery and iWeb publishing are going bye-bye:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4597

  • alansky

    “Try LiveDrive (http://www.livedrive.com) cloud backup. They give 2TB as the cheapest tier for $7.95/mo. That is not a bad deal.”

    Thanks for the suggestion. 2TB of storage (and that’s all you’re getting) for $96 a year. Makes MobileMe sound like the bargain of the century!

  • Donald

    “See for yourself. Apple’s MobileMe “transition” FAQ page makes it fairly clear that iDis, Gallery and iWeb publishing are going bye-bye: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4597

    Having seen that previously myself, I knew that it didn’t actually answer the question.

    The lead-in was: “Following is a list of MobileMe services and whether they will be available or not in iCloud this fall…”

    This is quite different from saying: “Following is a list of MobileMe services and whether they will be available or not in iCloud.”

    Nowhere do they make the statement that Gallery and/or iDisk will be discontinued. They only state 1) that they won’t be available in iCloud in the fall; and 2) that people should take steps to move their data by the 2012 deadlline.

    Have they been careful NOT to say, “We will no longer be providing a Gallery service”? Possibly so.

  • MacinScott

    I never paid more than $69/year for MobileMe and that was the best $5.75/month that I’ve ever spent. The equivalent of two trips to Starbucks for most people.

    The sync features (Address Book, iCal, Mail and Safari bookmarks) alone were reason enough to subscribe. Kept my home iMac, work iMac and iPhone perfectly in sync for years — all without ads!

    All you had to do was buy the boxed version on Amazon each year and enter the code. Why anyone would pay $99/year is beyond me.

  • alansky

    “Nowhere do they make the statement that Gallery and/or iDisk will be discontinued. They only state 1) that they won’t be available in iCloud in the fall; and 2) that people should take steps to move their data by the 2012 deadlline.”

    Well, I hope you’re right, but sounds like wishful thinking to me. I will say that there has been a storm of protest in the Apple discussion forums over the loss of these features. Although it doesn’t happen very often, it is not unheard of for Apple to change its mind about something if enough people protest.

  • MacinScott

    With a free offering like iCloud, Apple will instantly have success attracting consumers. Even if they don’t pay for additional storage, they will find it difficult to leave Apple’s eco-system where everything “just works”.

    In turn, Apple will continue to sell more iPhones, iPads and Macs because no other company can offer the ease of use and integration that Apple has.

    I’d also gamble that Apple will add additional features before the MobileMe cut off date next summer.

  • kerryb

    I have found mobile me worthy of the $99 other will disagree but then we are free to buy into it or not. My biggest hesitation with iCloud is the possible loss of the photo gallery that we have in MobileMe. I keep several galleries to share with friends, and several galleries to keep images of inventory for quick reference. iWork looks good, I presently keep a spreadsheet on my idisk which I have to download onto my iPad when traveling and then sync back to my Mac. This step will be removed and is most welcome.