Apple has quietly added a new data restore feature to iCloud.com, enabling users to rollback accidentally deleted documents, calendar changes and contacts. The new ‘Restore Files’, ‘Restore Contacts’ and ‘Restore Calendars’ features are hidden in iCloud.com Advanced Settings pane.
Seemingly unrelated to iCloud backup, Apple shows snapshots of your recently deleted documents and lets you put them back onto iCloud Drive. This means there is now a way to recover accidentally deleted iCloud documents for the first time, because there is no equivalent to the Trash folder in iCloud.
Similarly, Contacts restoration shows timestamped snapshots of your iCloud contacts database. Restoring to an earlier version reverts all changes made since the backup date. Unlike with files, you cannot individually restore single contacts. The same is true for Calendars.
Be careful to check the warnings below the window before continuing with a restore. There are some downsides to restoring certain types of data. Restoring calendars will cause invitations to be resent and sharing to be disabled, for example. Reassuringly, though, you can always go back to your current version if you restore the incorrect state as iCloud will make a new snapshot of data before proceeding with the restore.
In the Files tab, iCloud.com will display the number of days left until the file is permanently deleted and no longer able to be restored. The data restoration does not go back indefinitely and appears to hold about 30 days worth of data, although it appears to vary on a per file basis. Let us know how far back your archives go in the comments as it seems quite arbitrary.
Presumably, this restoration interface will be accessible natively on future versions of Mac OS X and iOS as its current location is quite hidden and undiscoverable. For people that have been asking Apple to bring Time Machine on iOS for years, this seems like a neat cloud-powered solution.