iCloud Goes Live (as Beta - for Developers)

Apple let iCloud go live late Monday, but it’s a beta rollout, and it’s open only to developers. The beta reveals that some of MobileMe’s Web apps will make the transition to iCloud, and the company also unofficially revealed pricing for adding additional online storage to their iCloud accounts.

iCloud Beta

iCloud Beta

iCloud is part semi-backup solution, part file sharing-to-yourself service, and part iTunes distribution system, and that’s just for starters. The company uses iCloud to make iTunes purchases (Music, Apps, iBooks, and TV Shows for now) available to all of your devices, and it will be at the heart of iTunes Match, Apple’s service for scanning your iTunes library, matching it to its own servers, and then making that content available to you anywhere.

It’s also at the heart of Versions, the company’s cloud-based file storage and versioning solution introduced in July with the release of OS X Lion. In addition, Apple is using iCloud to allow users to view their iWork documents (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) on the Web.

What’s new in the beta is confirmation that some MobileMe Web apps will making the transition to iCloud, including an address book, an e-mail app, and a calendaring app. Find My iPhone is there, too, as well as the above-mentioned iWork document viewing feature.

The other major feature of iCloud is Photo Stream, the ability to have all of your photos go straight to iCloud and then straight out to to all of your other devices. Like MobileMe before it, your contacts, bookmarks, and calendar information will also be pushed to your devices through iCloud.

iCoud comes with 5GB of storage, and your Photo Stream doesn’t count against that total. 9to5Mac noted that Apple has revealed pricing for adding additional storage. As of this writing, an addition 10GB (for 15GB total) is priced at US$20 per year, 20GB (25GB total) is $40 per year, and 50GB (55GB total) is $100 per year.

That’s $2 per GB after the first free 5GB of online storage, and comparisons are already being made to Amazon’s Cloud Drive, which charges just $1 per GB for additional storage, though Amazon’s service does far less than Apple’s iCloud.

No official launch data has been set for iCloud but Apple said at June’s World Wide Developer Conference that it would go live sometime this fall.