If you’ve ever been curious about Apple’s alternative to Office Online and Google Docs, but don’t own an Apple product, you may be in luck. The company is now allowing anyone to sign up for a beta version of iWork for iCloud – no Apple device required.
Apple’s beta.icloud.com site now shows a top banner suggesting anyone can sign up to use Pages, Numbers and Keynote for iCloud. You simply need to go through a sign up process to create your new Apple ID, and you’re set. You even get an entire 1GB of iCloud storage too.
In the past, simply having an Apple ID (such as for iTunes) wasn’t enough to access iCloud; you had to set up iCloud on Apple hardware first. Indeed, when I tried to access the non-beta iCloud site with the Apple ID I use for iTunes only, the site shut me out:
If I use the same login information on the beta site, however, I am asked to verify my account:
Once I enter the verification code sent to my email, I can access iCloud from the beta site with no problem. Say hello to Pages on Windows:
You can’t simply sign up for iCloud on the beta site and expect to have permanent access to the regular iCloud page, however; even after signing up through the beta, the regular iCloud site will still shut you out, except this time with a “connection error.”
And the move makes sense; while keeping native software tied to Apple’s hardware is logical from an optimization standpoint, it’s less so for cloud software using widely available internet standards. Opening up its cloud software to other platforms helps get more people onto Apple’s ecosystem, which can ultimately only be beneficial for the company.
We’ve contacted Apple for comment on whether this may be rolling out to the main site and will update if we hear more.