iCloud’s free tier hasn’t improved since 2011 – 5GB just isn’t enough anymore

Apple's iCloud service passed its 10th birthday in 2021, and syncing photos and messages between my iPhone, iPad by now, makes me feel as if the service has been around as long as the original iPod.

I remember when the iPhone 4S debuted with iOS 5 and iCloud in 2011, and being able to take a photo, then see it on my iPad 2 soon after felt like magic. You could argue that we've had the same method for email for years, as your messages have synced between your devices for much longer than Apple's service.

But while we've seen huge advances in iPhones and iPads, even a chip transition of the Macs from Intel to Apple Silicon, iCloud's free tier has remained the same, offering just 5GB.

When you consider iPhones that can record in full 4K video, with one minute taking up 440MB, you'll already be needing to pay for a higher tier of iCloud storage once you record for ten minutes. With this in mind, this is what I'd like to see for the free tier going forward.

Match the tiers with iPad storage

Displaying the tiers of iCloud storage

(Image credit: TechRadar)

We need to look at how the paid tiers have changed over the years, while the 5GB free tier has remained the same. These three tiers arrived with iCloud in 2011:

  • 10GB
  • 20GB
  • 50GB

2015 saw some changes to this:

  • 200GB
  • 1TB
  • 2TB

In 2020, we saw the latest change to the tiers:

  • 50GB
  • 200GB
  • 2TB

Across these changes, free with 5GB has remained the same. I've always been paying for the highest tier due to the number of photos and videos I both store and take on my devices, alongside keeping hundreds of files that were once on a OneDrive account, Microsoft's cloud storage service.

While the jump between 200GB and 2TB is baffling to me in how far apart they are, it's something I've come to accept, and it's the 2TB tier that I'm paying for each month.

But 5GB for a free tier is ridiculous in 2022. When I used to work at a phone store in a previous life, as soon as I discovered that there were so many photos that one customer had on their iPhone, I'd help set up an iCloud plan, mainly because they were adamant that they needed their photos to be on their new iPhone.

Setting this up would mean that the photos would be stored in the cloud, and a weekly backup of their iPhone content would be possible without facing the 5GB wall.

64GB free storage for all

But it's time for a change. This is what I'd like to see in the future for all the tiers:

  • Free: 64GB
  • 500GB
  • 1TB
  • 2TB
  • 5TB

The free tier should match the lowest amount of storage that's available on Apple's products – in this case it's the iPhone SE (2022) and the iPad Air (2022), both offering 64GB as an option.

It's not great to see these as storage options in 2022 regardless, but increasing the free tier could help with this. Backups would be possible with these devices, and you could store a good amount of photos and videos.

Our Deputy Phones Editor, Tom Bedford spoke to me about how he still constantly sees the 'iCloud storage is getting full' on the free tier he has with his iPad, and he's primarily a Windows and Android user.

5GB in 2022 makes no sense anymore – let's see a tier that matches the lowest storage option on Apple's devices, to help remove any anxiety about needing to free up iCloud space to create a successful backup.

And as a bonus, the paid tiers should see more choice – start at a tier for the users like me who have multiple Apple devices, to those who are content creators for the 5TB tier, who want to store hundreds of gigabytes on their iCloud Drive.

In this scenario, everyone wins. Apple can afford to allow users on a free tier of 64GB storage, especially with its services growing in revenue every year. iCloud has become a useful service for many, but mainly on the paid tier, and that needs to change so that it can benefit all of its users.

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iCloud’s free tier hasn’t improved since 2011 – 5GB just isn’t enough anymore

Apple's iCloud service passed its 10th birthday in 2021, and syncing photos and messages between my iPhone, iPad by now, makes me feel as if the service has been around as long as the original iPod.

I remember when the iPhone 4S debuted with iOS 5 and iCloud in 2011, and being able to take a photo, then see it on my iPad 2 soon after felt like magic. You could argue that we've had the same method for email for years, as your messages have synced between your devices for much longer than Apple's service.

But while we've seen huge advances in iPhones and iPads, even a chip transition of the Macs from Intel to Apple Silicon, iCloud's free tier has remained the same, offering just 5GB.

When you consider iPhones that can record in full 4K video, with one minute taking up 440MB, you'll already be needing to pay for a higher tier of iCloud storage once you record for ten minutes. With this in mind, this is what I'd like to see for the free tier going forward.

Match the tiers with iPad storage

Displaying the tiers of iCloud storage

(Image credit: TechRadar)

We need to look at how the paid tiers have changed over the years, while the 5GB free tier has remained the same. These three tiers arrived with iCloud in 2011:

  • 10GB
  • 20GB
  • 50GB

2015 saw some changes to this:

  • 200GB
  • 1TB
  • 2TB

In 2020, we saw the latest change to the tiers:

  • 50GB
  • 200GB
  • 2TB

Across these changes, free with 5GB has remained the same. I've always been paying for the highest tier due to the number of photos and videos I both store and take on my devices, alongside keeping hundreds of files that were once on a OneDrive account, Microsoft's cloud storage service.

While the jump between 200GB and 2TB is baffling to me in how far apart they are, it's something I've come to accept, and it's the 2TB tier that I'm paying for each month.

But 5GB for a free tier is ridiculous in 2022. When I used to work at a phone store in a previous life, as soon as I discovered that there were so many photos that one customer had on their iPhone, I'd help set up an iCloud plan, mainly because they were adamant that they needed their photos to be on their new iPhone.

Setting this up would mean that the photos would be stored in the cloud, and a weekly backup of their iPhone content would be possible without facing the 5GB wall.

64GB free storage for all

But it's time for a change. This is what I'd like to see in the future for all the tiers:

  • Free: 64GB
  • 500GB
  • 1TB
  • 2TB
  • 5TB

The free tier should match the lowest amount of storage that's available on Apple's products – in this case it's the iPhone SE (2022) and the iPad Air (2022), both offering 64GB as an option.

It's not great to see these as storage options in 2022 regardless, but increasing the free tier could help with this. Backups would be possible with these devices, and you could store a good amount of photos and videos.

Our Deputy Phones Editor, Tom Bedford spoke to me about how he still constantly sees the 'iCloud storage is getting full' on the free tier he has with his iPad, and he's primarily a Windows and Android user.

5GB in 2022 makes no sense anymore – let's see a tier that matches the lowest storage option on Apple's devices, to help remove any anxiety about needing to free up iCloud space to create a successful backup.

And as a bonus, the paid tiers should see more choice – start at a tier for the users like me who have multiple Apple devices, to those who are content creators for the 5TB tier, who want to store hundreds of gigabytes on their iCloud Drive.

In this scenario, everyone wins. Apple can afford to allow users on a free tier of 64GB storage, especially with its services growing in revenue every year. iCloud has become a useful service for many, but mainly on the paid tier, and that needs to change so that it can benefit all of its users.

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Microsoft makes phone calls to Ukraine free on Skype

Despite the fact that most users have moved onto Microsoft Teams, the software giant has released a new preview version of Skype which is now available to download for Skype Insiders.

Skype Insider build 8.82 includes a number of bug fixes and stability improvements as well as support for Google Play Store in-app billing to purchase credit, subscriptions and Skype numbers.

In addition to these performance improvements, the latest version of Microsoft's video conferencing software and VoIP service will also allow users to make free phone calls to Ukraine on all platforms. This means that those with friends and relatives in Ukraine will be able to call them without having to purchase credits though Skype users in Ukraine will also be able to make free calls to users in other countries.

In a forum post, Microsoft explained that it has added a list of non-profit organizations to the Skype Home Page so that people around the world can donate to help support the Ukrainian people.

Translated Conversations and Support Ukraine emoticons

Microsoft didn't stop at free phone calls to/from Ukraine though as the company has also added support for more languages in Translated Conversations on all platforms. With this feature, Skye users will be able to translate their phone calls to and from the Ukrainian language so that they can more easily communicate with people in the country. 

At the same time, Microsoft has added “Support Ukraine” emoticons on all platforms and Skype users will now be able to use “Ukraine Heart”, “Ukraine Handshake” and “Ukraine Pray” in their chats.

In order to test out all of these new features and show your support for Ukraine, you'll need to be a Skype Insider first but you can become one by signing up here.

Throughout Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Microsoft has been working behind the scenes to support the Ukrainian government by fending off cyberattacks and the company recently suspended all new sales of both its products and services in Russia.

Via ONMSFT

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Microsoft makes phone calls to Ukraine free on Skype

Despite the fact that most users have moved onto Microsoft Teams, the software giant has released a new preview version of Skype which is now available to download for Skype Insiders.

Skype Insider build 8.82 includes a number of bug fixes and stability improvements as well as support for Google Play Store in-app billing to purchase credit, subscriptions and Skype numbers.

In addition to these performance improvements, the latest version of Microsoft's video conferencing software and VoIP service will also allow users to make free phone calls to Ukraine on all platforms. This means that those with friends and relatives in Ukraine will be able to call them without having to purchase credits though Skype users in Ukraine will also be able to make free calls to users in other countries.

In a forum post, Microsoft explained that it has added a list of non-profit organizations to the Skype Home Page so that people around the world can donate to help support the Ukrainian people.

Translated Conversations and Support Ukraine emoticons

Microsoft didn't stop at free phone calls to/from Ukraine though as the company has also added support for more languages in Translated Conversations on all platforms. With this feature, Skye users will be able to translate their phone calls to and from the Ukrainian language so that they can more easily communicate with people in the country. 

At the same time, Microsoft has added “Support Ukraine” emoticons on all platforms and Skype users will now be able to use “Ukraine Heart”, “Ukraine Handshake” and “Ukraine Pray” in their chats.

In order to test out all of these new features and show your support for Ukraine, you'll need to be a Skype Insider first but you can become one by signing up here.

Throughout Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Microsoft has been working behind the scenes to support the Ukrainian government by fending off cyberattacks and the company recently suspended all new sales of both its products and services in Russia.

Via ONMSFT

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Namecheap offers free web hosting and domain registration to Russian anti-war websites

Namecheap is offering free anonymous domain registration and web hosting to all protest and anti-war websites in Russia or Belarus.

The domain registrar firm tweeted the free services will be available effective immediately in response to a call for nationwide war protests in Russia by Russian lawyer Alexei Navalny.

The news follows an earlier decision by Namecheap to terminate its Russian customers’ domain and web hosting services following the invasion of Ukraine – with the company’s initial deadline of March 6 extended by three further weeks. 

Free hosting for protest sites  

Namecheap said its decision to offer free domain and web hosting services is to help make it easier to share information online and take action against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company has previously also made exceptions for unique circumstances such as free press, information sources and essential health services.

A spokesperson from Namcheap told TechRadar Pro that the company has a substantial number of team members and colleagues in Ukraine who are currently being bombed and attacked by Russia. 

“In good conscience, we couldn’t standby and directly or indirectly support the Russian regime by doing business there any longer,” he added.

Russian and Belarusian customers who are standing up to their regime will have access to Nameheap’s customer service for more information.

“We all must do what we can to stop the war crimes that are being committed every day against the innocent people of Ukraine,” said Richard Kirkendall, Namecheap CEO. 

“Our hope is that by offering these services in an anonymous way, with no strings attached, that people within Russia that are currently under threat to not speak up against this war are able to organize and do so in a way that may minimize reprisals.”

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This Google update will help you free up much-needed space on your Android phone

One of Google's most unsung apps is getting a useful upgrade that could help you clear out unwanted items from your Android phone.

As the name suggests, the Files by Google app governs all the files, apps and other items on your Android device, but can often provide a somewhat cluttered and even confusing experience.

However, an update to the app is adding a number of new search chip filters to help you quickly and easily find items that can be deleted to free up cloud storage space.

Files by Google update

Search chips essentially look to display possible results as a user is typing in the search bar, offering autofill suggestions and other possibilities for what it thinks they could be looking for.

Now, users will see new filters when accessing the “Browse” menu in Files by Google. For example, selecting Apps within this menu will now offer the chance to filter out into certain groups – currently “large apps”, “unused apps” and “Games” – with each list also displaying extra information such as the size of the app and when it was last updated.

The app allows multiple filters to be active at the same time, so you could, for example, quickly spot which games you've installed but have never actually played.

The tool appears to be active now, so users should look to update their Files by Google app as soon as possible to benefit.

The company has also recently introduced chip search filters to a number of its Google Workspace software tools, including Gmail and Google Drive, giving users a faster way to find the exact file they are hunting for.

Going forward, instead of just using keywords such as “marketing plan” or “sales report,” which may return results that are too broad, users can use search chips to surface more relevant results.

The results can be file types, such as a Google Doc, PDF or image, but also related to a specific person, location (such as in a shared drive or folder) or when a file was last modified.

Via AndroidPolice

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Microsoft 365 is swooping in to try and steal G Suite free customers

Microsoft is making a bold attempt to steal G Suite users over to its own office software offering.

The company is offering a 60% discount on its Microsoft 365 platform to former G Suite customers unhappy that they will soon have to pay for Google's services.

Google revealed recently that it would be ending free subscriptions to G Suite services such as Docs, Sheets, Meet and Gmail, instead “upgrading” users to a paid subscription by May 1 2022.

In the market

“Organizations of all sizes rely on productivity and collaboration tools to get work done—they’re what keep business humming. If you’re a small business that’s relied on G Suite legacy free edition, we couldn’t help but notice you might be in the market for a new solution,” Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365 wrote in a blog post

“We’ve got news for you: today, you can get a 60 percent discount on a 12-month Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Business Standard, or Business Premium subscription, along with the help you need to make the move.”

The offer is exclusive to current G Suite legacy free edition users who purchase a 12 month Microsoft 365 subscription by August 2, 2022. 

Businesses based in the US will also get one year of free support with Business Assist for Microsoft 365, the company's platform that aims to help small businesses migrate and get up to speed quickly.

Google has not responded to the move yet, but Microsoft's bold action could pay off.

Many legacy G Suite users were left annoyed at Google's move, which will see the G Suite legacy free edition no longer available from July 1, 2022, with any users found not to have started paying after 60 days being locked out.

However a recent loophole could allow some non-business users a way out, with Google noting that anyone using G Suite legacy free edition for personal use and unwilling to upgrade to a Google Workspace subscription could possibly continue their current subscription for a little longer.

Google says it will automatically upgrade free users from May 1 to “an upgraded Google Workspace paid subscription” based on its analysis of the customer's usage and the features it thinks you'll need.

Google Workplace plans start at $ 6/user/month for its Business Starter option, with Business Standard ($ 12/user/month) and Business Plus ($ 18 /user/month) also on offer, providing an increasing level of services with the amount paid.

Google is offering a discount for twelve months, and won't start charging subscription fees until July 1, 2022. The company is also offering businesses who don't want to pay or upgrade the chance to export their data at no extra cost.

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The all-new version of Microsoft Defender Preview is available now, for free

Microsoft appears to have jumped the gun and released the latest edition of its Windows 11 security tool onto the app store early.

The Microsoft Defender Preview app can be downloaded and used free of charge, but the company has already warned it will only be free during the preview period.

In addition to providing a basic security overview, Microsoft Defender Preview gives details of security alerts that have appeared on different devices. Perhaps the most valuable feature of the app is that it makes it possible to easily check the security of a device without the need, necessarily, to have physical access to it.

Microsoft Defender Preview

In many ways, Microsoft Defender Preview is more of a security dashboard than a security app in its own right. The store listing says that the app lets you “easily manage your online security in one centralized view”, and anyone wanting to make use of the app will have to sign into a Microsoft account.

Once signed in, the app makes it possible to view the security status of any and all devices linked to that account. This can include a number of personal devices, but also devices owned by family members. Precisely what you are able to see here will depend on the type of subscription you are using after the preview period comes to an end.

Microsoft Defender Preview

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Free – for now

It is worth reiterating the fact that once the preview period comes to an end – and Microsoft has not revealed quite when this will be – the app will no longer be free. 

The company points out: “No subscription is required for Microsoft Defender Preview. In the future, Microsoft Defender will require a Microsoft 365 Family or Personal subscription”.

Some users have reported seeing a message informing them that “Microsoft Defender isn't currently available in your region”. But with no official word from Microsoft about availability, it is impossible to say which countries have failed to make the grade.

Via WindowsLatest

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There’s an all-new free version of Google Workspace for work

Workers looking to experience a host of the most popular Google Workspace software can now try for free thanks to a new offering from the company.

The new Google Workspace Essentials plan provides access to the likes of Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides and more as the company looks to offer its online collaboration tools to more businesses than ever before.

What's more, you don't even need a Gmail account to sign up – and it's absolutely free.

Free Google Workspace

“We’re rolling out a new version designed to help people bring the apps they know and love to use in their personal lives to their work life,” Kelly Waldher, Vice President of Marketing, Google Workspace, wrote in a blog post.

“The new Google Workspace Essentials Starter Edition is a no-cost solution for business users looking to enhance teamwork and unlock innovation with secure-by-design collaboration. With Essentials Starter, we’re making it easy for employees to choose their own productivity tools and bring modern collaboration to work.”

There are some caveats to the plan, as users will only get 15GB of cloud storage, down from the usual 30GB available with the basic Google Workspace Business Starter plan, which typically costs $ 6/user/month.

There's also obviously no access to Gmail either, but users will be able to hold Google Meet video conferences of up to 100 people for up to an hour, as well as access to Spaces, Google Chat, Sheets, Slides and Docs.

The news comes as something of a surprise, given Google had recently said it would be cutting down on users accessing Google Workspace for free.

The company announced that all G Suite legacy free edition users would soon be shifted over to a paid version of Google Workspace from July 1 in order to ensure they kept access to tools such as Gmail, Meet and Docs.

This had upset users who may have recently signed up for the software, particularly non-business users facing having to pay for the first time, with Google saying that anyone not signed up to a paid subscription by the July deadline faced being locked out.

Google Workplace plans start at $ 6/user/month for its Business Starter option, with Business Standard ($ 12/user/month) and Business Plus ($ 18 /user/month) also on offer, providing an increasing level of services with the amount paid.

Google plans to automatically upgrade free users from May 1 to “an upgraded Google Workspace paid subscription”, based on its analysis of the customer's usage and the features it thinks you'll need. The company is also offering businesses who don't want to pay or upgrade the chance to export their data at no extra cost.

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