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A walk through the beta of the new iCloud.com

The web version of iCloud was designed in 2011 in the image and likeness of iOS 5 so after the launch of the radical facelift of iOS 7 last June it was clear that Apple’s cloud service would follow sooner rather than later. And so it has been with the launch a few days ago of the beta of the new iCloud.com in the style of iOS 7 with the web versions of Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Reminders and Find My iPhone already adapted to the interface of the next version of the app’s mobile operating system.

Will you join me on my tour of the new iCloud.com?

A walk through the beta of the new iCloud.com
A walk through the beta of the new iCloud.com

We start of course with the iCloud home screen with the apps distributed as always but with the new iOS 7 icons and its background with an animated bokeh. The Pages, Numbers and Keynote icons are off-key and although we’ll talk about it later, hopefully they’ll change for the final release this fall.

Unfortunately, beyond these aesthetic changes, the initial menu still feels as heavy and out of place as usual, an imitation of iOS that here, especially compared to the work done with apps, makes less sense than ever. Since we’re imitating Apple, we should replace this view with an adaptation of the new Notification Center of iOS 7 that not only gives us access to the different apps but also provides us with a summary of our upcoming appointments, new emails received and other notifications. That’s my opinion, of course.

Mail

The new Mail is a faithful reflection of the iOS 7 application but at least for the moment it doesn’t offer much newness beyond the re-distribution of some buttons (like the preferences, now in the lower left corner) or a list of default colors in the send mail window selector. Of course, the search engine seems to work much better, both in speed and in the results offered.

Contacts

The phonebook has benefited greatly from the change in design, not only leaving behind the old imitation leather but offering in one single view our groups, contacts and the details of the selected contact. Infinitely more clear and comfortable than before.

Calendar

The calendar has also benefited from the clarity of the new design but unlike Contacts, not only does it not add the slightest novelty but for some reason it eliminates the list view through which we could see one after the other each of the commitments we will have in the future. Hopefully it will be a matter of beta and will come back in the final version.

Notes

In line with the previous examples, the Notes app has simply replaced the virtual leather agenda with something more functional. However, curiously enough, as in iOS 7, Apple has chosen to use a texture after all with the familiar grainy look of a blank sheet of paper , but with much less prominence than the old yellow lined pad.

Reminders

Apple muestra el futuro diseño de iCloud.com en su versión beta

Finally an app with some news. The reminders now have the same color code that we choose in iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, which we can change directly from here by selecting a list through the options button. More importantly, the old calendar has been replaced by a first smart list with all our reminders programmed for a particular date, simpler and more convenient than the previous system.

Find my iPhone

Here you can say goodbye to the texture with the typical folds of a paper map. And that’s basically all you can do. Searching my iPhone is identical to the previous version even in the use of Google Maps versus Apple’s own maps, a singular decision without much sense really. The only obvious difference in the new design is the merging of the device selector with the page title itself. The end.

A work in progress since 2008

The new iCloud.com is a tiny step forward for Apple’s cloud services. Yes, the new design is a welcome improvement, but the apple has been banging away at its efforts on the Internet since 2008 with the unveiling of that disaster that turned out to be MobileMe. iCloud already has over 320 million users, but I’m pretty sure only a small fraction of those actually use its website.

Compared to Google’s web services, Apple’s alternatives are nice, clear and very accessible, but also considerably slower and more limited in choice than its competition (the case of Gmail vs. Mail is particularly hurtful).

Pages, Numbers and Keynote are going to give it a strong boost of course, and here we see how Apple gives a good review to Google offering on the web three office applications that could pass for their desktop versions for OS X. The only negative note here is that all of them keep the old design for the time being, something that as we said will probably be corrected before their release to the public.

Having said that, just to point out the one that is still the great absentee of iCloud and together with iDisk, one of the casualties we suffered with the transition from MobileMe. I’m referring, of course, to the section where we can view and manage our shared photos, a feature that simply doesn’t make sense not to offer users and that would certainly increase its usefulness in iOS as well. Someday.

At Apple

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