Storing your stuff in the iCloud vs dropbox
For quite a long time now, nearly as for as long as the iPhone and iPad have been available, we have had the ability to store our stuff in Dropbox. Dropbox were very clever in the way that they published their Dropbox API, that led to the developers of other applications, to include Dropbox as a feature within their applications. Great to have 2 GB of Dropbox storage space for free and the possibility to increase that by telling other people about Dropbox, so that you could get up to 10 GB without having to spend a cent. So it was a genius move by Dropbox, which led them to being the de facto standard for moving files to iPad or copying files to iPad, for many applications. Now we are going to see a small battle that will be iCloud vs dropbox.
As soon as you put on 10.7.2 onto your Mac computer and also have iOS 5 on your iDevice, you have 5 GB of space available for free in iCloud. In this storage space you can store your device backups, contacts and calendars, iCloud email, documents and application data. As part of the deal, the content that you have purchased such as applications for your iPad and iPhone, music from iTunes, TV shows and books, get to be stored in iCloud, but don’t count towards the storage limit. So for many Apple users, that 5 GB should be plenty to be getting on with. Then of course there’s going to be a number of paid for plans ranging from $20 to up to $100 per year, that will suit even the most data hungry Apple user.
Paid up users of MobileMe Get an extra 20GB – Free for a While
MobileMe users that had an account in action when iCloud became available were also given 20 GB of extra storage space for free. There was a message though, that they would be expected to pay $40 to continue using the extra space, at the end of the time period that the free 20 GB was available for.
Quite often the things that are built into a system, because they are free and built-in will get used in preference to other facilities, even if those other services are also free. An example of that will be lazy Windows users that continue using Explorer as their web browser, despite the fact that it has so many security holes in it. So from this we could perhaps deduce, that unless iCloud is absolutely useless, which it isn’t, that there will be a large take-up of the use of iCloud by iPhone and iPad users. Apple when designing iCloud for us, had in mind that they would make it as easy as possible to use, and as painless as possible to set up in the first place.
What is the introduction of iCloud going to mean for the long-term battle iCloud vs Dropbox?
I would hazard a guess that Dropbox is still going to be a large part of the way that we use our iPhones and iPads. I doubt very much that the developers of the applications that use the Dropbox API will stop using Dropbox as a way of moving files to the iPad. It is good for us users to have a choice of how we do things and there would be huge complaints, if Dropbox was to be taken away from our favourite iOS apps.
Apple have done similar to Dropbox, in that they are making the API available to all iOS developers. So we can expect to see the iCloud way of working being made part of many applications, if it is easy to add to an application it could well be, that new applications from some developers might only include iCloud for file synchronisation. I think that we can be fairly sure anyway that Dropbox is not going away any time soon.
iWork iCloud synchronisation is a bit of a disappointment
One of the things that we expected to see with the iWork applications from Apple, is that it would be possible to do fully synchronised round tripping with documents. You would be able to work on a document on your iPhone, perhaps a Numbers spreadsheet, stop what you’re doing on it and move to your iPad to finish the work. It was also expected by many Apple users that it would be the same process, to be able to open the same file on the Mac and continue working away. Well it is possible, but it is not the same in terms of synchronisation. Because the file type is not exactly the same on the Mac as it is on iOS, what you have to do is to download from iCloud, a copy of the file so that you can open it in iWork for OS X Lion. Then to get that file that has been changed in OS X back into iOS, you had to do a drag-and-drop from the Finder into iCloud. This is not the same as having synchronisation, that is so good that you don’t know it is there. I do hope that something is done about this to improve the situation.
The future of iCloud vs Dropbox
So as it stands at the moment with the iCloud vs MobileMe and the iCloud vs Dropbox, we can see that iCloud does still have a little way to go in order to properly shine. iCloud iDisk does have some excellent possibilities for changing the way that we work on our computers and iDevices, it will be interesting to see how this works out over the next year or so. Right now it is in the hands of the third-party developers, as well as with Apple itself, as to how good and how pervasive iCloud will be in the future.