Apple’s hardware and software releases have become global news events, something even non-techies know about. Practically everyone that is any bit informed about the phone industry at all knows Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 this week, enough so that its already sold out in preorders. Yet it’s a slightly unknown fact that Apple makes some very nice web apps for iCloud, ones that bring many of its well known native apps to any browser.
This past week, right along with unveiling new hardware and iOS software, Apple also upgraded its iCloud web apps. They’ve now finally dropped their beta tag, and gained the new Notes and Reminders apps that have become standard parts of iOS and OS X. Let’s take a look.
When Google threw its hat into the cloud storage ring a few weeks ago with Google Drive, it added another good service to a quickly growing niche. With Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Skydrive, Amazon Could Drive, and more, it’s tough to choose which is the best. Dropbox is the long-time favorite, and many of us already use it. Then, the tech heavyweights – Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon – have all jumped in as well.
File sync isn’t anything new in 2012, but it’s increasingly needed as we’re using more devices and sharing files with others more often than ever. At its core, file sync is file sync, but there’s still a lot of other factors to consider when looking for the best file sync service for your needs. Here, we’ll take a look at these services in detail to see which you should go with.
When Apple first announced iCloud at the last WWDC conference, it was unclear at first if iCloud would even have real web apps so you could check your email and calendar from any browser. The first iPhone shipped without native app support, relying instead on web apps to fill any functionality gaps, but the success of the App Store in iOS and OS X has made web apps a much lower priority for Apple’s platforms.
Then, iCloud finally trickled down to the public with iOS 5 and OS X Lion, and we were excited to see that iCloud not only included web apps, but really high quality web apps that were beautifully designed. They’re just about the closest imitation of their sister native apps we’ve ever seen on the web.
Problem is, most people just use the native apps on iOS or their Macs already. Plus, many of us already have our mail, contacts, and calendar in Google’s cloud, and don’t overly want to switch. That’s why I was wondering if you use the iCloud web apps. If you have an account, and have never tried them out, you owe it to yourself to go to iCloud.com and take them for a spin.
Question is: will you keep using them there, or will Mail, Calendar, and Address Book on your iOS device or Mac come calling again?
Ever since we heard about iCloud from Steve Jobs’ last WWDC presentation, we’ve been excited for the potential of the new service from Apple. It promised to make it so simple to keep documents, pictures, email, contacts, calendar, tasks, and more synced between your devices, you’d never have to worry about it again. Then, once we got a sneak peak at the web apps, it was even more apparent that iCloud was a huge web app initiative for Apple.
Fast forward to today, and iCloud is now in the wild, ready for anyone with an iOS 5 or OS X Lion device to signup for free. That’s the most interesting twist, though: iCloud is free, but you have to have an Apple device from the past 3 years with the latest software updates to signup for an iCloud account. Alternately, if you already had a MobileMe account, it can be converted to a new iCloud account. Once you’re signed up, you can get a free @me.com email address, and take advantage of Apple’s beautiful mail, calendar, and contacts web apps. Plus, you can keep data synced from compatible apps.
So, have you gotten your iCloud account yet? If so, we’d love to hear what you think of it. If not, what are you waiting for? Do you plan to get an iCloud account in the near future?
Apple is set to debut iCloud sometime over the next couple months, their fourth try at cloud-based services after iTools, .Mac and MobileMe. iCloud will feature some pretty major changes to Apple’s software lineup, mainly centring around the syncing of data between devices and iCloud.com. Although the lineup of iCloud services is radically different from MobileMe, the premise is the same: “Exchange, for the rest of us”.
However, I put forward that iCloud is, in fact, a completely different use of the cloud. This isn’t bad, and may actually be a more preferential one for the reasons I’m about to set forward. Change isn’t always bad, and in the realm of cloud data, Apple is pushing an interesting new precedent.
Apple just recently opened the floodgates to their new iCloud web apps, and in short, they’re easily some of the most impressive web apps online today. There was initially some speculation as to whether Apple was going to continue the tradition of MobileMe’s web apps and let you use iCloud online, or if they were going to only make iCloud work with OS X Lion and iOS 5 apps. The good thing is, there are iCloud web apps for sure, and they’re great. Unfortunately, they’re not quite ready for public consumption.
Dying to see what the new apps are going to look like, assuming nothing changed between now and when they’re fully released? If you’ve got an iCloud developer account, head over to iCloud.com, login, and check them out for yourself. We’ll wait. For everyone else, here’s a quick preview of what you can expect when
Unfortunately, for the Apple-consuming public, iCloud won’t be hitting us until the fall. That means we’re going to have to wait several months because all the cloud-based syncing magic becomes a reality for us. However, either for those going crazy in anticipation, or those who oddly despise Apple, there’s a range of online services that offer similar functionality.
Last week at Apple’s annual WWDC, Steve Jobs took the stage during the keynote address to unveil Apple’s latest product: iCloud. The successor of .Mac and MobileMe, iCloud was pitched as the unifier between Apple’s disparate computing devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Macs. With it, your data would be accessible anytime, no matter which of your devices you’re using.
After giving an initial description of the service, Jobs went on to describe the his views on files and the cloud around 82 minutes into the keynote:
Now some people think the cloud is just a hard disk in the sky, right? And you take a bunch of stuff, and you put it in your Dropbox or your iDisk or whatever, and it transfers it up to the cloud and stores it. Then you drag whatever you want back out and store it on your devices.
We think it’s way more than that, and we call it iCloud.
~ Steve Jobs, June 6, 2011
For the most part, Apple is know for beautiful hardware and intricately designed software that work great together. The missing part of the Mac and iOS device equation, for the most part, has been web apps and services. Even though Apple has had online services with .Mac and MobileMe for years, they’ve never had a solid online approach to tie together their devices and services.
The iPhone was introduced in 2007 without the ability to run native apps. Instead, Apple encouraged developers to create mobile web apps for their new phone. Once native apps were released, developers turned mainly to non-Apple web services such as Dropbox and Google Apps to synchronize data and more. Apple’s $99/year MobileMe was largely seen as a failure, and few of us used it.
That’s all changed now, with Apple’s renewed focus on the cloud with iCloud. This upcoming service will give free access to MobileMe’s Mail, Calendar, and Contacts, sync your iOS devices through the cloud, and let you backup your iTunes music online so you’ll never lose it. It’s shaping up to be one of the more important services for iOS and Mac users, and will even be useful to PC users who want to re-download their purchased songs from iTunes.
So, what are your thoughts about iCloud? Are you excited about using it, or do you plan to continue using other services to keep you life in sync. Does Apple stand a chance in the cloud computing world? Will Apple be the first to bring Microsoft’s dream of “three screens and a cloud” to reality? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the poll and comments below.
Apple took the stage at San Francisco’s Moscone West for their opening keynote at WWDC this afternoon, announcing (or rather, reasoning in the first case) Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5 and their new service, iCloud.
iCloud is the successor to MobileMe, Apple’s previous set of web apps that synced directly with other devices, whether they be powered by Mac OS X, Windows or iOS. However, iCloud builds on those, providing a much more refined syncing environment for your devices in terms of both data and media. (more…)