Apple is testing improvements to iCloud.com designed to make it easier to use — and has unveiled a new look and a few new tricks to reflect features recently introduced in its operating systems.
iCloud services for the rest of us
If you are one of the millions who use iCloud with their iPhone but no other Apple product, you probably use the online service to access your digital content from other devices.
iCloud is Apple’s sync service that acts as a secure online supporting actor for many of the apps and services its customers use. While it has been through a handful of incarnations, there has always been some form of online access at iCloud.com.
It’s useful if you are away from an Apple device, don’t have iCloud for Windows installed on a PC, or want to access your iCloud content from an Android device. The new enhancements should make Web-based access easier than before.
Now with added widgets
The new design offers previews of content held inside its various apps within a new tile-based window that feels a little inspired by iPhone widgets. You can tap the plus (+) and minus (-) buttons to add and remove items to this screen, so you can use this as a shortcut to the apps you need to access most often.
With tweaked toolbars and button locations, the idea is that the iCloud site will be easier to navigate. One nice new feature in the Photos tile is that this now offers you your most recent images, though it would be good to permit users to choose a specific gallery, given that most people’s recent images aren’t necessarily the best pictures they have.
The top border of the new iCloud service offers you the equivalent of the home button (iCloud) to take you back to the landing page. It also offers:
- A (temporary) button to open Feedback Assistant.
- A button denoted by 16 dots that takes you to apps, iCloud+ features, and access to your iCloud storage, iCloud Plan, and Data Recovery it also allows you to customize the iCloud home page and offers a link to the iCloud User guide.
- A Plus button, which you use to create something new in one of your applications.
- Finally, at the far right, a button to access iCloud Settings and to Manage your Apple ID.
Nothing much has changed
After spending some time kicking the new interface around, I’ve found most features remain relatively similar, though some buttons in some services may have moved around a little. While they’ve had a little TLC, most iCloud features work in the same way.
For example, to recover data, just tap the Data Recovery item, tap the relevant Restore command, and see a list of recoverable items. Check an item in the list to select it and then tap Delete to get rid of it irrevocably or Restore to bring it back. Apple keeps items you delete for 30 days before completely eradicating your file. These are stored in the Recently Deleted folder on iCloud Drive.
The new beta version offers access to Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Photos, iCloud Drive, Notes, Reminders, Pages, Numbers, Keynote and Find My. The apps will provide you with access to documents created and saved within their dedicated application folder on iCloud Drive. All you need is an Apple ID to access the service.
But iCloud+ services are easier to manage
The one new addition is a much clearer interface to help you access and handle iCloud+ Features, if you use the service. Within this section, you’ll find a way to manage your Hide My Email accounts and Custom Email Domains.
There are also tiles that basically inform you that you must use a device to manage your Private Relay, HomeKit Secure Video, or Family Sharing settings.
Apple has made this a little easier, as you can ask iCloud to send a notification to all your Apple devices that will take you to the relevant setting to make such changes. One thing that hasn’t been introduced is more granular control of the data you have stored in iCloud – editing and managing storage dedicated to “Other” remains impossible.
Apple hasn’t said when it intends to complete the switch to the new service.
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