Perhaps The Police (my wife Luciana’s favourite band) knew this was coming, when they named their 1983 album Synchronicity. I am now seriously struggling to keep a plethora of devices and databases synchronised with each other, and could do with a little help. I’ve been doing this since my first Palm Pilot in 1998, and it’s still a minefield.
Right now, I need to sync the 800 or so contacts in my Outlook from my PC to my laptop, iPhone, and iPad. I have 6 active email accounts, from which mail is delivered to various permutations of these devices. Using iTunes, I sync different, but overlapping lots of songs, pictures, videos, apps and podcasts, with the iPad and several iPhones (including ‘er indoors, as you can have several devices using the same content bought on a single iTunes account). I have yet to find a means by which I can easily transfer videos filmed in hidef on the iPhone, to the bigger screened iPad for editing with iMovie.
As anyone with a passing interest in the integrity of relational databases will know, it is vital that same information is available everywhere, and that updates are quickly propagated to all devices. My own data challenges shrink rapidly when compared to any recruitment company attempting the same feat. But let’s not dwell on recruiters and keep the attention on me. How is Apple’s announcement of their new service, iCloud, going to solve my problems?
I’ve been using Dropbox for a while now, and found it to be very handy. As well as my PC, there are various mobile apps which can edit files stored in Dropbox. I can also easily share folders with friends and colleagues. However, I’ve found that this isn’t always reliable, and older cached versions are not updated when I access them (very annoying). I’ve also been trying GoogleDocs, which is very similar. One brilliant feature being that it saves changes to spreadsheets on a cell by cell basis. This means that several people can be editing a document, without the danger of overwriting each other’s data.
So am I happy to store crucial documents online? Maybe, but I certainly won’t be uploading my bank statements anytime soon. How about less vital files, like music, photos and videos? In this case security isn’t so important, but constant streaming access would be. In order for iCloud to work, I’d require permanent high quality internet access on all of my devices, wherever I go. If I can easily access my 20,000 music files, video boxed sets, and thousands of family pictures, then they just might have a customer (especially if Apple doesn’t ask where I got the music tracks from).
So here’s my shopping list. I want;
- All my contacts, tasks, and inboxes automatically synchronised.
- Music, video and pictures on the devices I need (with no duplicates).
- All purchased content, such as apps and Kindle books on the correct devices.
- Freedom to move videos from iPhone to iPad.
- I want iTunes to automatically detect and prevent duplicate files.
- I want to sync my Apple devices to more than just a single primary PC (or Mac)
If iCloud will enable me to do all of these things, then count me in.
Steve Jobs says it does.
I have now installed iTunes 10.5 beta and IOS5 beta (I have an Apple Developer Account), and it all looks very good. The only drawback so far is that iTunes Match, the iCloud music service, is only released in the USA so far. Due to PRS agreements not yet being signed, it may not be available in the UK till Q1 2012.
I’ll do a fuller report once I’ve played with IOS5 for a while.