Apple’s iCloud Launch Off to Rocky Start for Some

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Happy iCloud day, or day after, or maybe still day-to-come for those of you having trouble getting the darned thing to work. Apple’s iCloud technically launched alongside iOS 5 yesterday afternoon, but some of you seem to be having a heck of a time unlocking the silver lining.

What kind of major Apple update transpires without a few technical glitches? To paraphrase Giancarlo Esposito in the mind-blowing season finale of Breaking Bad, no kind of Apple update at all.

(MORE: Whoops, Apple’s iCloud Mail Service Goes Kaboom)

The irony: Steve Jobs spent much of this year’s WWDC talking up iCloud and claiming “it just all works.” He followed that with a comedy gold “You might be saying ‘Why should I believe them? They’re the ones that brought me MobileMe’.” Because MobileMe’s launch was a mess, or in Jobs’ words: “It wasn’t our finest hour.”

iCloud, or the third iteration of Apple’s .Mac online sync and storage service originally launched in 2002, is supposed to be Apple’s finest hour. It’s the company’s answer to “how do I keep all my devices in sync without really doing anything?” You create, iCloud stores like an invisible file clerk, handing off and redistributing silently and seamlessly. And so far, for those who’ve managed to get it working, it seems to do just that.

But getting there isn’t for the fainthearted. For starters, just putting the software pieces in place to trigger the signup process can take hours sucking down a massive iOS 5 update, or another that’s over a gigabyte for OS X Macs. If you tried that yesterday, as the entire Apple-verse scrambled to grab Cupertino’s latest freebie, it probably took most of the afternoon or went long into the evening. If you had the experience my Techland colleagues did, you had to try more than once, as the process sporadically aborted.

(MORE: It’s Out: Apple iOS 5 (and More) Downloadable Now)

I was 50% luckier. My install of iOS 5 went off without a hitch (though I neglected to sync my local content beforehand, thus losing a few choice photos of a recent Beirut concert to Apple’s image wipe—chalk it up to “bad user on device error”) but the OS X update on my current-gen MacBook Air hung just moments after the install started. After waiting nearly an hour, loathe to abort mid-install, I finally forced my computer off, rebooted, then reinitiated the update to get it to take (it finally did).

From that point, you’re walked through a reasonably straightforward signup process that culminates in MobileMe trading places with iCloud, or mostly anyway. The MobileMe icon’s still there under System Preferences, but clicking it just brings up a bunch of “Your MobileMe account has been upgraded to iCloud” messages. The iDisk tab still works, but I’m not sure why Apple didn’t just swap out the MobileMe icon for an iDisk one.

Apple’s also gotten pickier about your sign-in ID if you’re accessing your iCloud data through a browser. Visit the snazzy new iCloud homepage and you’ll need to use your email address rather than just your ID (that is, your email address is your ID). Try your old ID without the “@” appendage and Apple tries to send you to an “Apple ID Update Required” page (which, incidentally, is throwing up a “The requested application was not found on this server” error this morning).

But—and Steve Jobs certainly knew this—nothing really “just works.” Even pencils need sharpeners. Consequently, you’ll find as many annoyed Apple users as thrilled ones if you pull up Twitter and search on “iCloud.”

“Did anyone else lose all their contacts when switching over to the iCloud sync on their iPad?” wrote Twitter user jeremiahherbert.

“Anyone else get the error that says my email is unverified with iCloud and check my email. I have no email from apple,” wrote Twitter user thespacedmonkey (and in response, yes, my brother was having this same problem last night).

“iOS 5 upgrade failures so far: iCloud backup, mail synchronization,” complained Twitter user mik3cap.

“iOS 5 and iCloud launch not Apple’s finest hour either,” opined Twitter user marcobarrios.

And then you have the holdouts, who haven’t switched to Lion yet: “I wish iCloud worked with all of Macs operating systems. I am still on Leopard,” wrote Twitter user iheartpolrbears.

Or the ones who haven’t been paying attention: “iOS 5 is pretty awesome, but idk what iCloud is!” wrote Twitter user NoelFord.

Me, I’m just happy yesterday’s over, and hopeful Apple’s wrangling its servers back to something like stability. It’s been a frustrating past month or two, with all the pre-iCloud MobileMe-related server glitching.

Read more about the life and legacy of Steve Jobs in the tribute book from TIME—Steve Jobs: The Genius Who Changed Our World

MORE: Apple: iOS 5, iCloud Both Launching October 12

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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