iCloud beta ready for testing

Apple’s iCloud beta is here. Users with Apple ID are now able to use the cloud service. iCloud is Apple’s answer to unshackling its users from reliance on storage devices. Within iCloud, your mail, contacts, calendars, iWork applications and Find My iPhone will be accessible.

Since it is in beta, it does not include certain functions such as the cloud music gallery, known as iTunes in the Cloud. iTunes Match, the ability to add your own music files to the cloud is also absent from iCloud beta.

The service can be accessed via iCloud.com for those using iOS 5 (available to Apple developers) or Mac OS X Lion.

Users are also able to download TV shows from the cloud — this function was recently added to the iTunes store and these shows can be viewed on Apple TV.

Along with the introduction of iCloud comes the pricing structure. Apple gives the first 5GB free to all users, adding 10GB to this will cost US$20 and the price climbs up to US$100 for 100GB. This a bit more expensive than Amazon’s Cloud Drive, which gives 20 GB of space for US$20

Mashable reports that the “initial conclusion is that the iCloud beta is a modified version of MobileMe. It includes similar interfaces, which isn’t a surprise. The addition of iWork support is a welcomed addition though, as is the simplistic and universal interface for all of Apple’s cloud services.”

Apple’s competition is vast when it comes to cloud storage with heavyweights such as Google, Amazon and the veteran Dropbox all playing for user attention.

However Apple is now richer than the US Government therefore it is possible that it could leverage its considerable funds to create a cloud farm (endless amounts of servers which store the user’s data remotely) which could rival Google itself.



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