updated 09:35 am EDT, Wed October 12, 2011
Most iCloud functions still locked
As promised, Apple's iCloud service has today gone live. The most conspicuous sign of this is the activation of iCloud.com, which no longer has any beta labels. For most people however web functions are currently limited to Find My iPhone, since iOS 5 or an iCloud-compatible version of OS X Lion is required to tap into Mail, Contacts, Calendar, or iWork. iOS 5 should go public later today, likely around 10AM Pacific time, or 1PM Eastern; Apple has not said when OS X 10.7.2 will become available for Lion owners.
In the meantime, Apple has reportedly begun to populate Newsstand with publications such as Wired. Newsstand is accessible only to iOS 5 users, and provides a home for newspapers and magazines that is separate from other apps. A crucial function is background downloading, which fetches new issues automatically instead of demanding that a person open an app first.