iCloud beta available to devs, pricing revealed

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On Monday evening, Apple granted developers access to iCloud.com, Apple's online home for its new online storage and synchronization service. The service is intended to provide ubiquitous cloud synchronization features across all Apple devices. iCloud is still in beta, but it is expected to be officially released alongside iOS 5 this fall.

The bells and whistles iCloud provides appear to be very simliar to MobileMe, but with a few core differences which Apple outlines here. iWeb publishing, Gallery and iDisk will not be available in Apple's new cloud system, however some new features will be taking their place: iTunes in the Cloud, Photo Stream, Documents in the Cloud and Backup and Restore. As you may have already suspected, iCloud will also still sync your contacts, calendars and email just like MobileMe does now.

Apple also released more information about storage options and pricing. iCloud comes standard with 5GB of free online disk space, however users will be able to opt in for three pemium storage plans: 10GB, 20GB and 50GB.

Plans will require an annual subscription and the formula appears to be $2.00/GB (USD). In other words, 10GB will cost $20, 20GB will be $40 and 50GB tops the service out at $100 per year. Interestingly, that is about twice as expensive as Amazon's Cloud Drive storage per gigabyte, although one can certainly argue that iCloud offers a more extensive set of syncing services geared specifically for Apple products. 

A seemingly unusual maneuver for the company, it is also offering refunds for those who wish to cancel their service prematurely. Apple will be allowing a 15-day grace period for upgraded accounts and a 45-day grace period for yearly subscribers.

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