For what seemed like a lifetime, it was nearly impossible to access your photos, notes, and reminders in iCloud using an Android smartphone. Applications dedicated to iCloud services were – and still are – simply non-existent on the Play Store.
To make matters worse, iCloud.com did not offer any mobile media. Yes – you can “access” it by switching your browser to desktop mode, but the user interface responded abysmally. But that has changed.
Apple recently upgraded iCloud.com, which means that a handful of iCloud services – Photos, Notes, Reminders, and Find My iPhone – are now available in mobile format.
So if you have an Android smartphone, you can finally use it to view and interact with these services, albeit to a limited extent.
Start by going to iCloud.com, using Google Chrome or any other browser on your Android smartphone. Log in by entering your Apple IDs.
If two-factor authentication is enabled for your Apple ID, enter the code you receive on your iPhone, iPad or Mac to continue.
Alternatively, you can also request a text code on Android, provided that the mobile number associated with the device is configured as the trusted number for your Apple ID.
Then you may want to “trust” the browser when prompted, just so that you don’t have to repeat authentication multiple times on subsequent attempts.
Once connected, you should see the available services listed in a compact mobile format on the iCloud dashboard. At the time of this writing, you can only access four services: Photos, Notes, Reminders, and Find My iPhone.
Point: Create a home screen shortcut to the iCloud dashboard for faster access. If you’re using Chrome as your reference browser, for example, open the Chrome menu and then tap Add on the home screen.
Tap a thumbnail to access the desired web application. You can also view a limited set of account details by tapping the Account Settings link.
iCloud Photos lists all of your photos and videos you’ve uploaded as thumbnails, sorted by date.
By tapping on a thumbnail, you zoom into the photo – you can then browse your library by swiping the screen. After that, swipe down to return to the thumbnail view.
At the bottom of the screen, you have additional tabs that allow you to check your albums and shared iCloud links. Right above the tabs, you have a nifty download option that allows you to download photos and videos located on your Android device.
You can also select multiple items to download. Just make sure to keep the browser tab open until the download progress indicator fills up.
Tap the Select option in the upper right corner of the screen to select one or more items from the photo library.
You can then use the Plus icon (three dots) to download, hide or create albums, the Share icon to generate shareable links or the Trash icon to delete the selections. Useful stuff.
Overall, the web app works well on Android, although it can be a bit slow at times. You just don’t expect the same level of features – like the ability to edit your photos – that you get from the native Photos app on iPhone or Mac.
iCloud Notes will display all of your folders and notes that you have created over time on your iPhone, iPad or Mac.
You can also create new folders or delete existing ones directly from your Android smartphone using the plus and gear icons at the bottom of the screen, respectively.
After opening a folder, simply tap on a note to edit it or create new notes from scratch using the New Note icon. However, you cannot lock, move, or delete notes.
But compared to iCloud photos, the Notes web app has many problems. Often the notes do not load or the on-screen keyboard may disappear completely. Quite boring. Hopefully these problems will be fixed in the following site updates.
iCloud Reminders is quite limited in terms of functionality. Although it easily shows you your lists that you have created on an iPhone or Mac, it will not allow you to insert new lists. This corresponds to the desktop version of the web application, so don’t expect it to change.
You can create new reminders in existing lists. But again, you can’t configure them the way you can on an iPhone or Mac (like adding the time or place, prioritizing tasks, adding subtasks, etc.).
Therefore, you may want to use the web application only for simple tasks such as adding strange tasks or checking things in your lists.
Find my iphone
Despite being connected to iCloud.com, Find My iPhone requires you to log in every time you want to open it – for good reason. You also need to go through two factor authentication (if enabled).
Therefore, consider adding your Android as a trusted number to your Apple ID. That way, you won’t have to rely on an iPhone or Mac for authentication codes.
Point: To add a trusted number to your Apple ID, visit the Apple ID management portal.
Once you’re in the Find My iPhone portal, it’s as usual. Just tap a listed device and you can use the Play Sound, Lost Mode and Erase iPhone functions as needed. The user interface works well and you should have no problem locating your devices.
The account-related items listed on iCloud.com are pretty much basic. There is only an indicator and iCloud storage commands to change the time zone and language.
There is also a link to the Apple ID management portal, where you can configure security settings (such as adding a trusted number), manage devices connected to your Apple ID, change information related to payment, etc.
However, you can access this portal without actually visiting iCloud.com in the first place.
Despite their limitations, being able to access and use iCloud Photos, Notes and Reminders on Android is a breath of fresh air for those of us who don’t like being trapped in the Apple ecosystem. The inclusion of Find My iPhone should also allow more flexibility and security when on the go.
Of course, these web applications still require serious optimization (especially notes). But things seem to be going in the right direction, at least for now.
Are there any differences between iCloud and iCloud Drive? Check out the next post to understand the similarities and differences.
Last updated March 3, 2020