The late Steve Jobs once proclaimed that iCloud was going to be one of the biggest revolutions for Apple users. It hasn’t been the perfect solution, and has only been available in dribs and drabs, but thanks to Mountain Lion and iOS 6 the vision for iCloud is now complete and we have to learn to live with it.
If you’re running Mountain Lion and using apps such as Pages, Numbers and Keynote you’ll notice that Mountain Lion wants you to store your documents in iCloud. You can opt out but it’s always presented as the first option.
Clearly documents in iCloud has some great advantages. The first and most important is the ability to access and edit your documents from anywhere.
This feature is great for novices who have struggled to keep their documents in sync across multiple devices. But in my view, documents in iCloud is an almost useless feature for those who need anything more than very basic file functionality.
For one, iCloud documents are impossible to share with others beside yourself. Compare storing a document in iCloud to using a mechanism such as Dropbox. If I store a document in Dropbox it’s available across all my devices (Windows and Android included) but importantly I can share it with others, something currently impossible to do with iCloud.
If you’ve got a good grasp of how the file system works, using a system like Dropbox also allows you to have a proper file/folder structure. If you use iCloud your filing ability is limited to a basic one-level hierarchy; you can create iOS-like springboard folders that contain files but you can’t nest folders in folders. So this functionality is all but useless to anyone with more than simple filing requirements.
While documents in the cloud feels like an early implementation that needs time to mature, Photo Stream is awesome. It’s the kind of set-and- forget that make Apple products so great.
If you haven’t turned it on, stop reading this and do it now.
Photo Stream automatically uploads all the photos you take on your iOS device into iCloud and makes them available on all of your other devices. If you enable Photo Stream on your Mac it can automatically import every photo you take on your device for easy storage. Likewise, when you import photos from your DSLR into iPhoto or Aperture it can automatically push these up to iCloud so they are available on all of your iOS devices
Best of all, Photo Stream is free so there’s no reason not to enable it.
I’d love to see Photo Stream become an iPhoto backup. Many of us have multiple iOS devices (an iPhone and iPad) and multiple
computers. I’d love for future iterations of Photo Stream to actually backup my entire iPhoto library and make it available on all my devices, functioning as a complete photo backup and also as a way to work effectively on all my devices.
I know it’s a big ask, given the ever expanding size of iPhoto libraries but it’s a service I think many would pay a reasonable amount for.
Another handy feature I love about iCloud is iCloud Tabs which makes it super easy to pick up browsing wherever you left off on any device. Simply select the iCloud Tab option in the Safari menubar and you’ll get a list of all the open tabs on all your devices.
Reading List, a companion feature to iCloud Tabs, has also been extended through iCloud and now keeps a copy of the web page you added to your reading list and makes it available offline.