A few years ago I made the switch from microsoft products to Apple, and I haven’t looked back. I’d always used Today, Apple announced iCloud, its new cloud service which joins mobile devices, desktops, and other machines running the apple OS. Basically the service breaks down like this:
Users get 5 gb of free online storage space, but as a bonus, anything you buy from the Apple Store that requires storage space is not charged against your account storage.
So, for example, the following items do not take up any of your 5gb space:
- your purchased music
- photo stream
The items that do take up space are
- camera roll
- account information
- other app data that tags onto the app itself
Apple’s announcement puts the release date this fall, when IOS5 is set to come out. If you’d like to be notified of the release so you can instantly download it, visit the notify me link at Apple’s website.
Cloud Services and Online Storage
For those new to the term, cloud based computing is world without wires. Files are stored and edited in the cloud, without needing to take up any hard drive space on your computer. It’s important for several reasons:
- It allows you to unplug and travel, and still have access to important files.
- It makes for amazingly easy backups. Never again have to worry about losing a file on a crashed hard drive.
- Data can be kept secure on company servers and retrieved only with passwords.
- Data can be shared with other collaborators, making projects editable in real time.
- It helps to unify applications across single platforms.
Perhaps the most well known cloud offering is the Google platform of products which includes mail, docs, calendar, contacts, and other apps. For years, they have all been free, and easy to access through your internet browser. I keep much of my business and personal documents on Google, and for just a few extra dollars a year I have over 20 gb of space. No more hard drive, no more back up drives, and no more desktop Free Agent drive. Good riddens.
Apple is the latest company to offer cloud services with iCloud, which seems like it will be an improvement over its mobile me service, which it has been offering for several years now. Compared to what Apple promises to offer with iCloud, mobile me seems outdated and clunky.
I recently wrote about Amazon’s foray into the cloud, which is more for music and movie storage than documents.
Of the three providers, Apple and Google are the most ubiquitous content creation platforms, while Amazon has been playing mostly in the book, music, and video publishing arena. However, Amazon did just announce its Kindle sales have topped print book sales for the first time (only took 4 years). That’s an interesting development to watch out for in the future.
I left Microsoft off the list because their cloud offering is next to worthless. Microsoft Live and Live Office has been around almost as long as Google, but offers only a fraction of the service and is not user friendly at all. Microsoft is working on a new version of a cloud service, and they’ll undoubtedly announce some half baked product so the world doesn’t think they’ve fallen helplessly behind, but for a company which makes a good portion of its profit off video game sales, I wouldn’t expect too many great features from its cloud service.
Apple IOS5 – Wireless Uploads
Perhaps the most interesting news of the iCloud release comes on the heels of the Apple IOS5 update, which promises to offer synchronization between Apple devices without using wires. No more tethering ipad, i phone or itouch with your computer. This makes transferring files from cloud to computer and back and forth between devices like AppleTV a very impressive, and efficient, task. Same goes for Apple TV, a product I’ve been using for some time now, and love the functionality it offers with saving gbs of pics, movies, and tv episodes. Combined with the Apple store functionality, I can rent or buy movies and season pass tv episodes, even those not offered by Netflix or those bankrupt Blue guys. What’s their name again? If I didn’t like watching cable so much too, I could probably do away with that service altogether and save a few bucks, but I digress.
Google has made great inroads with the Android and Chrome platforms and now that the Chromebooks computer is hitting the market it will begin giving traditional PC products a run for the money, if not replace them altogether, like it has done in the cell phone world.
Either way, it’s an exciting time in the computer industry, and we all look forward to interacting with this technology as it continues to improve in functionality, and in the numbers of ways we can use it in our lives.