Since Steve Jobs unveiled iCloud at WWDC, many current MobileMe subscribers and potential iCloud users have wondered what will happen to the current web-based offerings for contacts, calendars, email and so forth. Josh Topolsky of This is my next claims that Apple PR has confirmed the current web-based interface will go away, replaced entirely by iCloud's new services.
Topolsky's point is that since Steve Jobs said nothing about iCloud having a browser-based interface option at WWDC, it means such an option will never exist. He also has confirmed that Apple's PR folk told him straight up that there will not be web access to calendar, email and contacts.
However, as Daring Fireball's John Gruber notes, "there is no reason to assume that iCloud as it will exist 12 months from now will be limited to what was announced one week ago." Considering we're more than a year away from MobileMe's permanent expiration date, that's a pretty big leap to make, even with the direct comment from Apple -- and it's one that's unsupported by evidence a MacRumors reader dug up.
According to MacRumors, a reader sent a calendar reminder to himself via iOS 5 and was able to view it on iCloud.com in his browser. Except for minor differences in branding, the iCloud interface was nearly identical to MobileMe's existing browser-based interface. If Apple were indeed planning on doing away with the web interface once iCloud launches, it seems odd for it to offer the service during beta testing (with the iCloud branding, no less).
While Steve Jobs has allegedly confirmed that iWeb and iWeb-based site hosting will be discontinued, multiple sources have seen evidence in both OS X Lion and iOS 5 that iDisk (or something similar) will still exist when iCloud launches. Additionally, the makings for a "Find My Mac" service have been seen in OS X Lion, and if such a service weren't accessible from a browser-based interface it would be all but useless.
Those who have speculated that Apple will discontinue its web-based MobileMe offerings once iCloud launches have yet to provide a compelling reason why Apple would do so. The potential advantage of simplifying device-data syncing would be more than offset by the very real disadvantage of never being able to access your data from any device other than those you've already registered with iCloud. Apple has to be smart enough to know that current MobileMe users occasionally have to access their data from computers other than their own, and locking iCloud users out from doing the same thing would be a huge misstep.
Yes, I believe there will be iCloud web apps. What shape they'll take remains to be seen, but even if Apple simply swaps the MobileMe branding out for iCloud and keeps the existing MobileMe codebase for the browser-based interface, that should be more than enough for most people's needs if they're trying to access iCloud from someone else's device.