August 4, 2011 7:53 PM EDT | by James Lee Phillips
After a few weeks of nothing but rumors regarding Apple’s hotly anticipated cloud-based storage service, iCloud, the first week of August provided a few choice bites of actual facts.
For one thing, iCloud.com has gone live, although many Apple fans will be disappointed to discover that it’s only for developers. Meanwhile, the rumor of iCloud pricing can be (mostly) put to rest, as the company gave official numbers for the cost to store data on Apple’s servers.
First of all, iCloud.com: while Apple itself has made no official mention of the website, inquiring followers were aware of the domain acquisition from at least June 1st, just before the announcement of the iCloud service at the WorldWide Developers Conferece. Less than two days later, the iCloud.com ‘lanyard tag’ log-in screen was leaked, and hasn’t changed since –
Apple also later confirmed that the site would serve as a web front end for iCloud when the FAQ page for the MobileMe transition was rolled out in the last week of June.
MobileMe’s Me.com website seems to be the model for iCloud.com, at least for the time being, and a number of the same services can be accessed from the front end (for example, checking Mail web-based e-mail, and managing Contacts details and Calendar events). A clear nod to the extended features that iCloud will offer is the iWork app, which enables iCloud storage of documents from iOS apps such as Keynote, Pages, or Numbers.
Since the website was discovered, apps have been seen with iCloud options, such as a a pre-release version of the aforementioned iWork as well as an updated iPhoto 9.2 beta featuring the iCloud-based “Photo Stream” option.
Apple has maintained the first free 5GB of online storage, while the bigger pieces of the cloud stack up in three simple tiers: $20 for 10GB, $40 for 20GB, or $100 for 50GB. Speaking of Photo Stream, the first 1000 images are ‘free’ (i.e., don’t count against a user’s data total).