Apple iCloud review
The cloud services that Apple have recently introduced called iCloud is their answer to the way that computing is going on these days, as in into the cloud. For some time now it has been possible to use Dropbox for data and file sharing. I have recommended to my readers many times that Dropbox is the best way to have a another backup of your data in the cloud. I still have a free account and I have 10 GB of storage space available. Many times I have used Dropbox for having files shared to me and also for sharing files out. As you might expect from Apple, iCloud does work a little different from the way that Dropbox works.
Comparing iCloud with Dropbox
With the Dropbox file sharing, basically what you do is to have a folder on your computer, and you save your documents into that folder. These documents are automatically sent to the Dropbox account in the cloud and then they are made available to your Dropbox apps. This Dropbox application that you have on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or you could have it on an Android phone, can access your Dropbox files, when you are computing on the move. With iCloud the way that it works on your iDevices is that the service is baked into the applications. To start with, we see that from iCloud you can have your files that you work on automatically uploaded to the online servers. Then those files that you have worked on will be pushed out to your other iDevices. For the moment the Mac is not quite in the loop with iCloud. If I want to get a file as I have worked on in my iPad that is in iCloud, I have to open up a browser window with iCloud to download that file. One would hope that in time there will be file compatibility between the iOS files and the Mac OS X files of iWork.
The applications which have iCloud included in them at the moment are the Apple iWork applications, Keynote, Pages and Numbers. So if you are working on a Keynote presentation using your iPhone, then that file will be immediately available on your other iOS 5 devices that have been set to work with iCloud.
The iCloud technology has been made available to all Apple developers, be that for iOS all for OS X and we will be seeing more applications in time that will have the iCloud functionality baked into them. Already we have iCloud connecting up to our e-mail and as part of the iCloud deal we get an e-mail address that is @me.com. Already I have set up my iCloud e-mail address and I have it so that all of the other e-mail addresses that I was using before are forwarded to my iCloud account. That way all of the e-mails that I get, I can see in one place in the Mail application on whichever Apple Computer I am using. I expect that given time there will be a list of applications that are available with the iCloud technology and perhaps that will help us to make our choice whether we want to buy that app or not.
Pictures flowing in the Photo Stream
For me one of the most useful items that is included within iCloud is the Photo Stream. I really love it when I can take a photo on my iPad and within just a few seconds the picture has found its way into the Photo Stream that I am viewing on my Mac. That picture is also going to be on my iPhone as well. I have it set so that photos that get into my Photo Stream are automatically brought into iPhoto to be kept for posterity. Or at least until I decide that I want to delete them. It is good news to find out that the amount of space taken up by the photos in Photo Stream and there could be up to 1000 of them, is not counted in the amount of space available for free in the iCloud service.
Find my iPhone
If you want to locate your phone, then that is also a part of iCloud functionality. I can go to the iCloud webpage and I will see the icons that will get me into the corresponding iCloud service. There is e-mail, which is excellent to have, in case I want to connect to my e-mail over the web from somebody else’s computer. And in amongst the other icons there is an icon called find my iPhone. I can go into this section of iCloud, the find my iPhone web application and it will tell me where in the world is my iPhone or my iPad. In fact this application can also be used to locate your iMac or MacBook Air if they are registered with iCloud.
I just went in there and gave it a try and it was unable to find my iPhone or my iPad but it did offer to e-mail me if it was found as a later date. I am not sure why it didn’t find my devices, it could be something to do with that these devices would have to be found, using Wi-Fi triangulation. Maybe if I lived in a town rather than on the edge of a forest this would have worked.
Apple iCloud download
When you upgrade to the latest version of Mac OS X and you have the latest versions of the iWork apps, that is as much downloading as you need to do, to be able to use iCloud on your Mac. As I mentioned, the access to iCloud on the Mac is through the web browser. You have to have the latest version of iPhoto which connects up to the Photo Stream.
There is the iCloud download for your IOS devices and those devices do have to be the later models of the iDevices that are able to run iOS 5. You just have to connect your iPad or your iPhone to your computer by the USB cable and in the summary page of information for the device in iTunes you click on the button for Check For Updates. You can use the Find My iPhone application on your IOS device and you can do the iCloud download for that either directly on the device itself or through iTunes.
The Marauders Map otherwise known as Find My Friends
If you have somebody that you would like to stalk, although you will actually need their permission, you can use the Find My Friends application. This is another new feature of iCloud. What you can do is, to use it if you were having a meet up, all of the participants could give permission to be stalked for the day or the weekend of the meeting. Then at any time during that period any other people that are included will be able to look into the Find My Friends application and to see where everybody else went to. This Find My Friends Application could be very useful when people are on the way towards a meet up, for the way that it integrates with the GPS mapping. You could have the service tell you directions for getting to where the others have already congregated. Maybe if you have the iPhone 4S, you will be able to ask Siri to set this up for you.
As part of the iCloud service you can have the items that you buy from Apple through iTunes, such as your videos and music pushed out to all of your iOS 5 and OS X computers. So if you buy a song on your iPhone, then when you get home you will find that song is already in your iTunes library on your Mac.
With iTunes match which is available as a cost of $24.99 you can have all of the music that you already have in your iTunes library available to you, on all of your devices. It could well be that you have a ripped copy of a CD that you own and you will be able to stream that set of songs from iCloud – iTunes Match to your IOS devices. Another great benefit of this is that usually the version that you can stream and download to your other device from iCloud will be of a higher quality than the version that you have already. The iTunes Match service is supposed to be available from the end of October 2011. As of this date in November it is late and has not yet been implemented.
Contacts and calendars with iCloud
Having been a previous user of MobileMe, I was looking forward to seeing the way that contacts and calendars worked with iCloud. This is because in between using MobileMe and iCloud becoming available, I did try to do some synchronisation of my contacts and calendars using the Google services. It was not a complete success. The Google services were difficult to set up in the first place and never really worked out well, nor looked very good either. Before the advent of Google plus, I regarded Google as being well-known for making efficient software that was just a bit ugly.
There were one or two people that when upgrading to iCloud did run into a couple of difficulties with seeing duplicates of contacts or problems with the duplication of events in iCal. Much of the time this was due to unfortunate combinations of software and for most users it did actually work quite well. I prefer to use the Apple supplied software that came with my iMac, my iPad and my iPhone for the calendar functions and the contact list functions. I like the way that the address book integrates with other applications on my Mac or on my iPhone. I can start typing a name while in my mail application and it will give me the suggestions, so that usually I only need to type a couple of letters to have the full e-mail address in front of me, of whoever it is I’m writing to. It is also useful while I’m in e-mail to be able to click on a date and have that date pushed into my calendar app, iCal, as an event. Usually it will also take into consideration any time zone differences.
Apple iCloud review
Overall the introduction of iCloud seems to have been very successful. The one or two issues that did come up, such as the duplicating of some addresses for some people and the lateness of iTunes match are not too difficult to get fixed.
While it is very handy to be able to have the push technology used when you are working on your iWork applications, we will have to wonder how quick there will be any sort of take up from third-party developers. If there was a Scrivener for iPad application, it would be very useful to be able to work on whichever device and have my documents there and also available in the same condition in which I left them, while editing them elsewhere. Apple do certainly need to do something about making it possible to save documents in the same way on the OS X side of things, rather than making us have to do manual uploads and downloads of the iWork documents we have been working on.
iCloud review – Apple users worldwide are enjoying using iCloud and the crowd experience of iCloud will be found in an iCloud wiki. It is possible to go and look in the help forums on the Apple website, where Apple users have talked about their experiences and pooled their information about how iCloud has worked for them.