Juli Clover, writing for Mac Rumors:
As of iOS 11.3, Messages in iCloud is back and is available for “testing and evaluation purposes,” marking the official return of the feature. According to Apple’s release notes, once iOS 11.3 beta 1 is installed, Messages will prompt users to turn on Messages in the Cloud when it is first launched.
Messages in the Cloud is automatically enabled for users who have two-factor authentication and iCloud Backup enabled, says Apple.
The new Messages in iCloud feature will be a welcome change for iPhone, iPad, and Mac users who prefer not to delete their messages. Over the course of several years, Messages can take up a lot of space. That space can now be freed up with the bulk of older messages stored directly in iCloud rather than on-device.
As a paid developer, I’ve been testing iOS 11.3 since its beta release. Quick, reliable and trouble-free message syncing between devices is a feature I’ve longed for and — at least between the iPhone X and current-generation iPad that have the beta installed — it’s finally here.
The utility of having Messages data backed up to iCloud is apparent: It saves space.
While the user interface of Messages syncing is opaque and therefore quintessentially Apple, a day or two after flicking the switch in iCloud settings, the space taken up by Messages in my iCloud storage ballooned from zero to 37.8 gigabytes. Despite a disconcerting lack of any activity indicator or progress meter, the end state proves that something did, in fact, happen.
Now that my Messages data is backed up to iCloud, Apple should take the next logical step and allow me to access this data through a web browser.
There’s a lot of information already stored in iCloud and available through the web interface. Photos and files come to mind as the most personal of these. However, if privacy is the argument against keeping Messages off the web, then the same people making this argument probably aren’t using iCloud anyway.
For intensely privacy-conscious individuals, there’s two-factor authentication that requires access to both a password and another device already authorized to access iCloud.
In my dream implementation, Messages on iCloud would offer more than read-only access. If I can send and receive email using iCloud on the web, I should similarly be able to send and receive messages.
SMS messages remain the one sticking point here since even iPads must pair with an iPhone in order to deal with those dreaded green bubbles. With efficient iCloud syncing, the plague of SMS becomes less of an issue because texts received by an iPhone are synced with the cloud no matter their source. Sending old-school texts could be handled similarly:
- Initiate an SMS message using the iCloud web interface.
- Upon hitting send, the message is synced to iCloud and shows up on the iPhone associated with the account.
- The SMS is sent by the iPhone and the status change — from pending to sent — is synced back to iCloud.
Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Photos, iCloud Drive, Notes, Reminders, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Find Friends and Find iPhone are all available through iCloud.com.
It’s time to add Messages to that list.