Published On: Fri, Oct 14th, 2011

The iCloud

 

If you think you can just simply log on the iCloud.com with your Apple login and use the Web suite, you’re wrong. It is not like the MobileMe feature we previously saw in iOS devices. Firstly, you need to ensure that your iOS device is using the iOS 5, which means that your iTunes should be upgraded to version 10.5 and you should also be syncing a mobile Apple for the update. iCloud is completely different. It is only exclusive to Apple hardware. It doesn’t let you upload any old files that you want.

This new feature is one of the most hyped and anticipated apps/features of the new iOS 5. In this article, we will give an exclusive look into what iCloud is all about and what you can expect to see from it.

Web Communication

Email: this email app is almost identical to what MobileMe was offering.  It looks more like an installed app rather than a web site. It has a three panel window which has folders on a sidebar that you can hide. It also has message headers and a preview option that is running down the center. The Messages content is in the largest area on the right hand side. The top of the window features a search box, icons for creating new folders and using email (to write a new one, delete them, add them into an archive etc.).

You can make a maximum of three aliases for emailing. The filtering option is also available that will move it to specific folders, forward it and deleting it if matches any criteria that you set. When you are not around to respond to your email, you can have your vacation message respond on your behalf to auto-respond. Every time you create a new email to reply to one, a new window will show up, unlike how you can make the most of on-page replies with Hotmail or Gmail. The email function also doesn’t allow for conversation views. You will also have to forget about watching YouTube videos in the box like you could with Hotmail.

Contacts: the contacts app looks just like an address book. Each contact can be assigned a photo as well as numerous numbers, notes and even a Twitter handle. I wasn’t able to import my Facebook Friends’ contact information in one motion, something that made me wish for Hotmail. One thing I dearly miss is having the ability to automatically consolidate multiple entries for the same contact. iCloud also doesn’t have the ability to support IM in the web interface.

Calendar: the calendar app gets a real-life cardboard look, with spiral metal rings and torn-off page remnants. It lets you create private and public calendars to add events and reminders. These calendars can be more than one by the way. But the problem that I faced was that I couldn’t figure out how to subscribe to a public calendar because there weren’t choices in the settings tab or for a New Calendar either.

Compatible Browsers: I used the Safari browser and Internet Explorer in the iCloud and I didn’t face any problems until I tried to change my user ID picture using Internet Explorer 9. A message was brought that said that in order to add or edit photos, you will need to download iCloud Extras for IE. However, this plug-in was not available at that time. When I tried to take this action on Mozilla Firefox, I didn’t face any sort of problems.

PhotoStream

PhotoStream is one of the features that has been flaunted the most by Apple and their iOS 5. It will automatically sync pictures that you have taken with your iPhone to the Apple server. At this server, you will have 5GB of storage available at your disposal. It can be upgraded to 15GB just by paying an additional $20 a year, or even 55GB for $100. Windows Live SkyDrive gives everyone 25GB for free, and you won’t even have to buy any specific devices. So what is the problem here? The problem is that PhotoStream cannot be used on the internet. You will have to open up pictures that have been stored on the iCloud, on either an iOS device or a Mac. For this, you will have to use either iPhoto or Aperture app. If I were you, I’d stick with Flickr and its iOS app if you want web access to your pictures. I realized one thing though; PhotoStream doesn’t seem to react to any of your photos past 30 days.

iWork

So the interesting thing here was that I couldn’t view my own work on the iCloud, and neither did it let me edit them, like Office Web Apps and Google Docs does. Okay, honestly speaking, it more of a disappointment than it was interesting. I managed to download documents in various file formats (iWork 09, M
icrosoft Office and PDF), but I just couldn’t view them or edit them from the web application. One thing that was appreciated was that I could upload a document that was one of the aforementioned formats form a browser, even if I wasn’t using an iOS device or a Mac.

Find My Phone

There’s not much I can say about this new feature. This service was previously a part of MobileMe, and it works the same exact way as it did then. Once you have set up this app on your iPhone, you can locate the device on a map and have the phone make a sound when it is remotely locked or erased. This app worked faster than under previous version of this app and the maps were a lot more precise too.

Summing Up

iCloud, no doubt, offers a great backup and syncing features for iOS devices but it is not the email, contact and calendar service that you would want as your primary one. You can get more full-featured services from the likes of Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail. Just because it’s Apple, doesn’t mean it will be out of this world.

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