First impressions of using iOS 5 and iCloud
Well as you know I have been chomping at the bit, completely desperate to get my hands on the latest operating system for the iPad and the iCloud that goes with it. On iCloud day I had to wait until three or four o’clock in the afternoon before it became available to me. As soon as I saw that it was available to download, I began the process. What I had to do first was to upgrade my Mac to 10 point seven point two. I did start to download of the iOS 5 update in iTunes also at the same time, but I found that it just made the Mac update come in so much slower. So I paused that download and had the Mac updates coming by itself. So one step at a time!
iOS5 Plus Latest Lion Plus iCloud Plus Apps – Snails Pace Internet
I have a very slow Internet connection here, it is rated at 1 MB download, but actually comes in at around about 880 kb, so the downloads will come in a very slowly. They actually took hours and hours to complete and it was getting towards the wee small hours of the morning when I was able to do any updating to my system. The update of 10.7.2 on the Mac was flawless and I had no problems at all with that part of the upgrade. I went into iTunes and I resumed the download of iOS five, then I had to wait another couple of hours. There was one more download that needed to be done to be able to have all of the dominoes in a row, that was iPhoto. The Photo Stream is part of iCloud and so that is why iPhoto was also necessary to do the full upgrade.
iCloud and iOS5 Downloads hammer Apple Servers
I actually left the download of the iOS 5 running and went to bed. The only trouble is, in the middle of the night. I couldn’t sleep and had to get up to go to the fridge to get a drink. It is always dangerous for a geek to do that, as geeks are unable to resist the lure of the computer. Normally a geek will go in and check e-mails and then go back to bed. Can you imagine how much more difficult it was to resist the lure, when there is a new operating system being downloaded. I just couldn’t help myself, I had to see if the download had completed.
The Amazing iPad did it while I was Sleeping
Not only had the download completed of iOS 5, but it had installed itself onto the iPad also. There were a number of tabs on the screen of the iPad that was necessary to answer some questions to set up iOS 5. I didn’t make a note of the items necessary to input some data to set it up, but one of was to allow the iPad to tell iCloud about the location of it.
On my iMac there was a dialogue box, it came up for iCloud and there were switches to switch on and details to enter. One of my main considerations was the iCloud e-mail, as I did not know how that was going to work out. In the past with the iTunes Apple ID account that I have, I did have an e-mail address, from when I used to MobileMe for about a year and a half. When I set up the mail account for iCloud, it seemed to take some time to set itself up and didn’t give me any feedback about my e-mail address. In the end what I decided to do was to guess that my new e-mail address would in fact be my old MobileMe e-mail address. I was right – and I was able to test that by sending an e-mail from my Gmail account to the iCloud e-mail address.
Using an Apple ID to Hook into iCloud
It was only when I decided to go to iCloud.com and to login with my Apple ID, that I found that it was possible to have alias e-mail addresses too. To set these up you open up the mail on iCloud.com and hit the gear wheel in the top right-hand corner to get to the preferences. In the second Tab you will see that there is a small amount of information about your iCloud IMAP account. You will see there is a description, a place to have your full name, your e-mail address and the e-mail address type. To the left of that there is a box and at the bottom of the box you can tap on the link for Add an alias. You can add up to 3 aliases, so far I have added two. I did try for one alias e-mail address name, but it was not available. Obviously somebody else had got in there before me.
With the alias e-mail address, you can give it a label colour and put a tick in the box to receive mail and send mail from this alias. Also in the preferences for the e-mail you can set the rules for the composition of your e-mails. You may decide to have the original message in there, when you reply, you can see which e-mail address you will send you messages from and you can also add a signature to the outbound mail. Within these preferences, also you can set up some rules for incoming mail and set up a vacation message if you need one.
More about iCloud.com
When you open up the website, you will see five icons, looming large in the middle of your webpage. You will have access to Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Find My iPhone and for iWork. Clicking on any of these icons will take you into whichever area of iCloud you want to use. Of course I clicked on each of these icons in turn, to see what was in them. When I clicked on the iWork icon, there was not much in their only some links to Pages to go and buy the iWork applications for the iPad. I did wonder what that was all about because I have actually bought those items already. After that I actually went off to spend some time at my Spanish class, when I got back I have been looking into it further, and it seems that I have to do some upgrades to the iPad iWork applications. Yesterday they were a whole load of upgrades to applications and today there are another bunch of applications needing to be updated. Obviously this upgrade to iOS five is a big one, all of the developers have had to do some sort of upgrade, to have the application ready for the new iOS.
The iCloud mail connection is not quite right
I tested e-mail by sending out an e-mail from the Lion mail application. I also tested the way that the e-mail was working, by sending an e-mail from the web iCloud site. There was a little bit of fiddling to do, to make sure that I had the correct passwords, but it did have it working. That was first thing this morning and now when I got back from my classes find that there is new difficulties with the e-mail application connecting to iCloud. Test e-mails I’ve just sent are not arriving in the Lion mail application. While I am sure that I will probably get this sorted out sometime quite soon, I am not really feeling very confident in the abilities of iCloud e-mail at this very moment.
If you do need to know more and you are struggling with anything, you can get to the help pages for iCloud. There is a small help icon top right-hand corner on the iCloud webpage, click on that to get to all of the help pages. Or if you click on your name, which is also in that top right corner, when you get your account details dialogue box, you will see in the top left corner another way to get into the iCloud help.
I went back into the mail application and did a bit of changing things and setting up and Lo and behold the mail is working properly. I am not really quite sure exactly what I did to change it, so that it worked again, in fact not sure that I even changed anything at all. Is just good to know that the iCloud mail is working once again.
Reminders and Notifications
If you set up a reminder using the new reminders app on iOS 5, as I did this morning in my iPad, when you want to see those reminders in the iCloud web pages, you will find them in the Calendar application. I tested it out this morning, the ability to create a reminder and I can see that reminder I created, in a sidebar to the right-hand side of the calendar window in iCloud.com. At the top of that calendar, in the centre you have day, week, month and list. To the left of that there is a toggle button which shows or hides your calendars in a sidebar on the left-hand side. To the right of those centre buttons is your notifications button. So far I have pressed,the button and it says I have no notifications. I wonder where those notifications will be coming from?
iOS5 and iCloud and the Calendar App
In the top right hand corner of the calendar window, you have another button which allows you to go to preferences and is also where you go if you want to create new events, reminders, calendars or reminder lists. There is some navigation available from that button too, where you can – Go to Today, Go to Date and where you can show and hide reminders.
At the bottom of the screen in that web page, you see a button for going to today’s date and in the centre, I really like the scrollbar which allows you to move forward and backwards in time, depending upon whether you are in the day, week, or month view. Then in the bottom right-hand corner there is the plus button, which allows you to create a new event. A dialogue will pop up where you can input the name of the event and the location, the times and dates and all of the other things that you would expect to find in a calendar event. It was necessary for me to go into the preferences for the calendar, so that I could set the dates to the correct format of day, month and year. I think it is a little bit odd to have the month first.
Getting back to iCloud and iWork
This article is all about the first impressions of iCloud, so I won’t apologise for the fact that I am jumping around from one subject matter within iCloud to another. So after spending some time getting the e-mail working right and also with just exploring various parts of iCloud, by that time I had the iPad, iWork application upgrades downloaded. So for my next trick I have reconnected the iPad with the cable to my iMac and I will see what is necessary to be able to use iWork documents with iCloud.
At some point in time during the setting up of iCloud, I did flick the switch to allow the iPad to be updated via Wi-Fi, so maybe I didn’t need to connect by USB cable. In any case though, doing this over cable will be faster because of the quite large files that I need to transfer to the iPad that I have just downloaded.
Document Types – Choose Your Poison
So the first thing to do once the new applications had downloaded is to open up the iWork iPad application, Pages. I just had one document in there and as I was about to open it up I noticed that that document was giving indications that it was being uploaded to iCloud. In iCloud.com web page, that document appears and to get access to it I have to click on download. Mind you it seems like that is something that you would do if you were not on your own Mac and instead you were using somebody else’s Mac. Or you could do that if you were working on somebody else’s Windows computer even , because there were options as well, to download as either a PDF or a Word document.
The next thing to work out, is how do I get iCloud to update files that are on my iMac or files that are on my iPad, in such a way that there is synchronisation so I can always pick up just where I left off. I opened Pages on the iMac and started to look for the file that I had just been working with, on the iPad. I did close the file first on the iPad as I would imagine there could be some problems, if the same file is worked on in two places at the same time. There could quite easily be some synchronisation confusion. In this first instance of trying out this feature of iCloud, it hasn’t actually worked for me. So much for intuitive use of Apple Apps – I had better do some reading of the help pages for iCloud.
Right or Wrong?
It seems that maybe I was doing it correctly, for in the documentation it says that to get documents from the desktop computer, you drag and drop it into iCloud. I took a Keynote file and dragged it and dropped it into the iCloud Tab that I had open in my Chrome browser. As I am writing this the 13 MB file is being uploaded to iCloud. I did think that the way that this was going to work was that a folder of Pages documents would automatically be uploaded to the iCloud, in the same way as happens with Dropbox. I am disappointed as it seems not be the case.
I have just opened up Keynote on the iPad and on the first screen I am being asked if I want to use iCloud. I answer yes to that question, the next screen asks me if I want to use Keynote or learn more about it. Next I am looking at the Keynote presentations previously uploaded to the iPad and already they are being sent to iCloud. As soon as the Keynote presentation became available from iCloud, it popped up as one of the Keynote files available for me to open. Of course it is necessary for it to be completely downloaded before it can be opened. I really do need a much faster Internet connection.
Not as good as I was expecting it to be
So after some testing of this iWork iPad with iCloud system of working on documents in more than one place and having a way to continue where we left off, I can say that it does actually work. It isn’t quite as seamless as I thought it would be. When it was being talked about by the geeks on the Mac podcasts and from my understanding I got from how it was talked about by Apple, I thought it would be more automatic.
Not the same as the versioning in OSX Lion
As part of OS X and Lion we have it so that documents can be worked on and they will have versioning, in as much as every 5 min any changes that are made to the file will be written to a versioning system, that is a bit like Time Machine. This allows us to go back to a file that we were working on yesterday, to take something that we deleted and bring it back again. I imagined that iCloud would somehow join up with that functionality, so that there would always be the latest version of the file available within iCloud. For that to happen there has to be some sort of continuous uploading and downloading to and from iCloud. Taking a step back to have a look at the way this works, it does seem to make sense with it as it is. If the system was continuously doing some uploading and downloading, then that could lead to some bandwidth problems and maybe even some synchronisation difficulties.
Keynote and how it works with iCloud
With the Keynote document that I just uploaded to iCloud, I noticed that in iCloud.com, when I clicked on it I was given the choice of how I wanted to download it. – Well maybe there is the choice about how you want to download a file? I have just taken another look, and with the file that is in iCloud that came from the iPad, when I select it with the cursor in Mac OS X Lion, I see the button to click on for download. From that button I have the choice of Keynote 09, PDF or PowerPoint. This will be very useful for my wife who has to work in a Windows environment. If she is at work and needs a file from iCloud that is in Keynote format, then she could choose to download it as a PowerPoint, so that it would be converted and ready to use, right there and then.
Moving files to iPad via iCloud
The other file that is in my iCloud Keynote folder is one that I just uploaded to iCloud. When I select that one, and I see the yellow border around the file, in contrast I do not get the option to download it. Maybe the iCloud system and the way it works knows that, there is no need to download it because it is the same file exactly as the one sitting here are my iMac computer. So for the next part of the test I go to the iPad and open the file there. Although there is some complaining by the iPad, that it is necessary for me to download extra fonts or themes, it does the job. At the same time as the iPad opens the file, the large icon for the file within iCloud in the web browser also changes from the generic Keynote icon to the image which is the first slide of the Keynote presentation. One more thing, in iCloud.com, with the file icon selected the download button is now visible. This is despite the fact that all I did was open the Keynote presentation. I suppose the fact that the iPad made some changes, automatically just because they were necessary to work with the iPad Keynote app.
More iCloud fiddling and twiddling to come
So this first look at iCloud in particular and iOS five slightly, is a very personal look at how it has worked for me on day one of having it available. There are quite a few things that I haven’t tried yet and there will be one or two things that I can’t try until I have the technology in terms of the latest and greatest and shiniest of the toys from Apple. Yes the iPhone 4S – we are talking about you. That latest iPhone iteration is not available in Spain until the end of this month and going on previous performance of the mobile phone providers here in Spain, I wouldn’t be surprised if it took longer than that.
In any case, look out for the next instalment of the iOS 5 and iCloud for iPad review, which will be coming out on a website near you very soon.