Apple took its first major step towards unleashing its iCloud service upon the masses today by opening the beta version of the anticipated cloud service to developers through its iCloud.com site. We took a look at the current setup and were impressed with the ease of use and intuitive interface. The service allows users to sync their iOS 5, OS X, and Windows devices via Wi-Fi, meaning you can download a song or app from iTunes onto your iPad and have it automatically pushed to your iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac, or Windows PC.
The same goes for photos users take on their iPhones or iPads. Once a picture is taken, and the user has an active internet connection, the image is saved to iCloud and automatically pushed to each of the user’s other iOS and Mac devices. The last 1,000 photos you take will be saved on your devices, and iCloud will store all of your new photos for up to 30 days. Mac users will be able to store as many photos as their hard drives can hold. Mail and Calendar can also be synced across your devices. IWork files from Pages, Numbers, and Keynote can also automatically be synched with each of your iCloud-enabled devices. If, for instance, you make changes to an iWork document on your iPad, those changes will automatically be reflected on your other Mac and iOS devices.
While perusing iCloud’s features we were glad to see that Apple’s minimalist design translated well into the new service. The home screen currently only provides you with access to Mail, Calendar, Contacts, iWork, and the Find My Phone feature. Anyone who has used an Apple product in recent years will have no problem navigating the interface, and neophytes should become accustomed to the format quickly. We especially like that Apple included a small iCloud icon in the top left corner of each app the returns you to the iCloud homepage. If you are looking to access the iCloud Beta you’ll need an Apple developer account, otherwise consider yourself out of luck.