With no fanfare or public announcement, Apple has launched a mobile version of its Web-based interface for accessing iCloud services like Notes, Reminders, and Photos. Located at icloud.com just like the desktop version, this mobile site works on the default browsers for both iOS and Android devices (with some caveats for the latter) and has a more limited scope than users already saw on the desktop Web.
That smaller scope starts with the Web apps that are available: the mobile version only offers Photos, Notes, Find iPhone, and Reminders. By contrast, the desktop version also offers Mail, Contacts, Calendar, iCloud Drive, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and Find Friends. It’s possible Apple will add more apps to mobile Web over time.
You can look through the screenshots above to see exactly how it all works. Generally, the core features of a given app are included but with no additional frills. The Photos app lets you browse, view, and share photos (though the share sheet is much more limited than what you’ll see on the native mobile app). Notes lets you browse and write notes—you get the idea.
If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, you’ll be much better served by the more robust and performant native apps available on those devices in all cases. And if you have access to a desktop, you’ll get more functionality out of the desktop version of the website. That said, the main benefit here seems to be access to these features on an Android phone, as most of Apple’s services don’t offer native apps for Android.
Some things like browsing iCloud photos previously lacked strong solutions on that platform, and there are some people out there who, for one reason or another, live in both the Android and Apple worlds simultaneously across their devices.
However, it looks like Apple still has some work to do. News Landed, one of the first publications to dive into this, found a few problems with the experience on Android that prevented the use of certain features or made things that much more difficult. This looks like a start, and it’s a welcome one, but users will have to wait and see just how robust this becomes over time if Apple plans to optimize this experience and expand it.
Listing image by Samuel Axon