Apple has launched iCloud, their suite of apps that promise cloud syncing and the ability to access your music, photos and documents from anywhere. The site had been experiencing some service disruptions and users had reported problems with authenticating their accounts and accessing their Mail and Notes, the company said on its system status page.
The company’s iCloud launch has been slightly overshadowed by the upcoming sale of the iPhone and the release of iOS 5, which enables users to take advantage of Apple’s new, free service.
If you’re fully plugged into the Apple ecosystem, iCloud is great — it syncs with your @me.com e-mail address, your contacts, your iCal, etc. But if you’re a Google and Apple user, you’ll have to put in some time on workarounds to get all of your data together. Apple won’t let you use Google sync for Contacts, for one. So if you’re trying to put all your Google contacts into iCloud, you’ll have to disconnect the sync feature.
One solution would be to disable Google sync, sync with iCloud, then turn off your Apple sync and reactivate the updates with Google. But you’d have to repeat that dance fairly frequently to keep everything up-to-date.
To get Gmail on your iCloud account, you’ll have to forward all your mail to an @me.com account, which is probably not ideal for all users.
Other features in iCloud have their caveats as well. Photo Stream, for example, is great for people who never remember to sync their phone pictures with their iPhoto libraries. The service automatically puts your last 1,000 photos (or 30 days worth) of photos in iCloud. If you want to remove photos from the stream, however, you have to turn off all photo syncing. Users can manually add photos to the Photo Stream from their Macs by setting up the feature in iPhoto or Aperture, and dragging the photo you want to appear into your stream.
And if you want to sync your documents, spreadsheets and presentations, you’ll have to use iWork, Numbers and Keynote for iOS, which cost around $10 each.
In short, right now iCloud is a great tool for those who use Apple for everything — and a little bumpy for those who don’t. It’s not bad for a free service, but not the best option out there, either.