Friday, October 14, 2011

iOS5 iCloud - Not as open as I had hoped!

I have been using dropbox for a year or two now and when I heard that iOS5 would have iCloud features baked into it, I got all excited! Finally I can get rid of all my 3rd party cloud services and manage everything in iCloud! It made sense at first, knowing that all my music would be in the cloud anyway (for me thats about 30gig of space right there!) but now that I've played with iOS5 for a bit with cloud features enabled...not as awesome as I had hoped.  Dropbox is still the champ in the cloud storage department, if you ask me.

Lets just jump right to the kicker. All the cloud services sync up to any ios device you own, and appleTV. thats fine, but still very limited. How can I access icloud without ios? Say, with a pc or a linux laptop? The only option I've found is the icloud web interface...which is rather dissapointing.

And my first visit to turned into an "um...what?" moment.
  • Dude, where are my pictures?  Photostream isnt even viewable from here? Wacky! I'm guessing you might be able to sync up photostream with itunes on pc, but havent even looked yet - kind of pointless thing for me anyway, I'd rather have it available on the web.
  • Contacts and calendar? Ok, sure, thats neat but not something I use since all that is on my iphone already.
  • Mail and FindMyPhone are old services rolled into the new icloud domain. The mail is just mail (if you setup a me account) and the find my phone stuff isnt cloud storage related.
  • iWorks is the only service they expose that is an actual cloud based service, but its locked down to folks who paid for iworks apps on ios.  Since I dont have iworks, I cant truly test out what this service even does. I assume it renders a web app version of your files, but my guess is they wont allow file downloads (that seems to be the key point for all their icloud stuff - no direct file access, you must use ios x_x)
..but the good stuff about icloud so far for me
  • Cloud backups. No more syncing my phone with itunes! Hooray! I really hope we can do iphone updates over the air in the future too so I could remove itunes from my pc if I really wanted to.
  • Sync music/video from itunes over the air.  Again, nice to be able to keep my device up to date without plugging in to sync with itunes.  I could start using Linux now that I dont need itunes to keep my iphone in sync! yay!
And thats really. But those two things, cloud backup and music/video sync over the cloud are really huge!  That alone makes the service worth wile in ios5, but I really wish they would take the time to open up the icloud service to expose more data to non ios devices, even if only via web apps. Something that I can use my pc, mac or linux box to access without itunes.

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