Apple's iCloud service loses its beta tag and gets the iOS 7 look ahead of the OS launch. New iPhone 5C and 5S users will find more practical features via the newly-free apps Pages, Keynote and Numbers, showing signs that Apple's cloud play is starting to mature.
iCloudy With A Chance of Apps
Rather like the Apple TV dongle, iCloud has had the feel of an experiment or a touch of novelty about it, not helped by that looming beta tag in the corner. Find my iPhone and Photo Stream were the only real benefit for most. To herald the launch of iOS 7, and a growing focus on all things cloud Apple has redesigned and updated the service, ripped off the beta tag and let it lose ahead of the iPhone and iPad OS 7 update.
Now that it has the added benefit of the newly free productivity apps (announced back at the iPhone 5S launch), the arrival for new users of Pages, Numbers and Keynote (while still with Beta tags on) could give iCloud some real momentum as they switch on. Old stagers meanwhile will use their iDevices for more productive tasks and losing that fear of storing documents in the cloud. While Google's Drive and Docs might have a massive userbase advantage, at least Apple can start picking up momentum.
If you haven't tried the app betas, each of them provides a series of instantly available templates that are easy to fill in via your browser. There's a neatly designed styles and content management pane down the right-hand side, with shape and image management controls. You can then share these documents and they become instantly available on your iOS device through iCloud. It certainly looks a lot slicker than Google Docs.
A Clean Look and Feel
The new version looks distinctly lighter than the old design with the thinner iOS 7 font in evidence, remember iCloud first launched back with iOS 5 and hadn't changed much until now. With iPhone 5C pre-orders now well under way and iPhone 5S launching on 20 September, Apple will have a few million new users on-board who will find iCloud as part of the install process, and now there's more practical features to use, should more easily gravitate to using it.
Long-time Apple users may well already be fully integrated into this way of thinking, but for the rest of us, iCloud could now be a more regular part of our daily online lives. As cloud storage grows in use and size, and connectivity improves, how long before everything that used to live on that expensive flash RAM in our devices is moved to the cloud, allowing for less expensive Apple hardware?