- Apple’s iCloud has been redesigned with a new look and a bunch of new features.
- The homepage is now customizable and allows you to arrange quick access to features like your notes or photo gallery.
- Google Drive is among the iCloud alternatives available, but one expert says it can’t match the power of iCloud.
You might want to take a fresh look at Apple's iCloud online information service, experts say.
Apple recently redesigned iCloud with a more colorful and modern look, as first reported by MacRumors. The page now has an iOS-looking layout with tiles for your Apple ID account and Apple apps like Photos, Mail, iCloud Drive, Calendar, and Notes.
“Apple has made iCloud a central online hub so that each Apple user can find all their data in one place,” Natalie Boese, a digital organization expert, told Lifewire via email. “You can find not just your email, calendar, and contacts but also your photos, notes, reminders, your files on iCloud Drive and Find Devices. In addition, you can also manage your Apple ID, your Apple Care for your registered Apple products, your iCloud Storage plan, and HomeKit secure video. With the latest redesign, you can even customize the layout by changing the tiles so you can see things laid out just how you prefer it. This leads me to believe that there will be more apps available on iCloud.com to come.”
Better in the Cloud
The old iCloud look could be hard to navigate, but observers say you can easily access your data with its sleek new look. You can customize the homepage by putting specific items, like your notes or photo gallery, where you want. An option at the top of the screen allows you to create a new email, note, calendar event, and reminder. Or you can tap it to create a new Pages, Numbers, or Keynote document.
The most valuable part of the redesign, software engineer Percy Grunwald, the co-founder of hostingdata.com, said in an email interview with Lifewire, is that you can quickly access some of the apps or services that are on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad through the iCloud.com site, especially if you’re on a computer you don’t own or are using a PC. You’ll now see widgets with a tile for apps such as Photos, iCloud Drive, Notes, and Reminders on iCloud.com.
Apple's software is now almost on par with its world-class hardware, and that's something worth taking another look at.
"It replaces the old, boring iCloud homepage in which there were only icons for those apps," he added. "There's also a menu option where you can manage iCloud+ features such as Hide My Email, iCloud Private Relay, and HomeKit Secure Video. The bottom of the page shows details about your iCloud storage plan, such as how much storage you're using. There's also a data recovery option where you can restore deleted files, bookmarks, contacts, and calendars."
Where iCloud really shines is for those who have an iPhone but use a PC as their laptop or desktop, Boese said.
"Any notes you create on your iPhone are now easily created and transferred to the website," she added. "You can log in from your desk and use a full-size keyboard to create Notes or Reminders that will seamlessly show up on your iPhone. Never will you have to send yourself an email or text with a reminder when you don't have your iPhone nearby. You are completely set up in one central hub if you use your Apple ID with Apple's Calendar and Mail. No third-party apps needed."
If the new version of iCloud doesn't meet your needs, there are plenty of other options, even if they aren't Apple products. Google Drive, for example, contains a variety of cloud-native apps and can integrate with existing tools, such as Microsoft Office.
"Google Drive is a great alternative for iCloud," Grunwald said. "It is extremely user-friendly and integrates with just about everything. And for that reason alone, it is a worthy competitor to iCloud."
There's also Box.com which claims to offer leading-edge security and privacy, Office 365, and Google WorkSpace integration. Grunwald noted that the service is HIPAA compliant and has best-in-class OS integration. With a feature like Box Sign, the service enables secure e-signatures, making it a "great option" for business owners.
But Boese said to be careful before you switch. "Whether you're a PC user at heart or a fan of Apple and Google Workspace, there's not one company that has created an ecosystem the way Apple has," she said. "Apple's software is now almost on par with its world-class hardware, and that's something worth taking another look at."