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More Thoughts and Questions on iCloud

We now know there will be an option in iOS 5 to purchase more space in iCloud above our free 5 GB allotment. However, there's no indication yet as to how accessible space will be. What if I want to post a video to iCloud and password protect it for only my family to see (something I can do now with MobileMe Gallery). Will that be possible? Could I purchase extra space and move significant portions of files and folders from the current Documents folder on my MacBook Pro to space on my iCloud—something that I can do right now with the MobileMe iDisk? We don't know the answers to these questions yet or the original questions I asked on Tuesday.

Perhaps I simply want iCloud to be more than Apple wants it to be, and I'll need to look elsewhere for other, less integrative solutions.But that makes me go back to a more fundamental question: Is iCloud just about syncing content? So, it will sync calendar, contacts, email, and Safari bookmarks like MobileMe currently does. It will let me access any song I've ever bought from iTunes (already implemented this week) as well as songs that it can match or I can upload for an extra yearly fee. But do I really gain all that much from that over what I already have now?

Why stop there? I notice that while iTunes on my iPad and iPhone show listings for songs I've purchased and can now be downloaded as needed, why can I not also download movies and television shows I've bought through iTunes? Some have suggested that video is not included because of bandwidth—that AT&T and Verizon don't want heavy video downloads on these devices over their networks. And yet I can buy videos on them now and download them, assuming they're under 20 MB, and when they aren't, I have to use WiFi. Again, why can't I keep my video in iCloud, too?

And put entertainment aside for a moment. Do you know what would be really helpful to me? I would find it extremely advantageous if I could sync my entire documents folder to iCloud. Imagine being able to use any mobile device, to sit down at any computer—Mac or Windows—and have access to all your stuff. Why can't I simply keep everything there?

I currently have two hard drives in my MacBook Pro, after removing the optical drive (which I rarely need) and replacing it with a second hard drive using a Data Doubler kit from OWC. There are 142 GB of files in my Documents folder and 298 GB in my itunes folder alone. Why can't I just upload ALL of this to iCloud?

I don't plan to buy a new Mac this year, but one day when I do upgrade, do you know what Mac I'd really like to get? I'd love to get an 11" MacBook Air and use it as my only Mac. I'm totally mesmerized by its small size. The diminutive screen is not an issue. Already, whether I'm at my desk in my office or at my desk at home, I plug my 15" MBP into an external monitor. I've been doing this for a couple of years now. Yes, I sometimes use my Mac by itself, but I really don't need a 15" laptop screen anymore. I could get by just fine with an Air...

Except for one thing: hard drive space. There simply aren't flash memory cards for the MacBook Air—from Apple or third parties—large enough for the data I carry around on a regular basis. Therefore, Apple's iCloud isn't offering me a whole lot of new solutions based on what we've seen so far. It's still going to sync my PIM-type data, and while the easy access to purchased music on any device is nice, that wasn't really a pressing issue for me. I've been given a solution to something that wasn't an immediate problem.

But who knows? Maybe the iCloud will also work like an iDisk. Maybe I'll be able to access it directly just like any other drive mounted on my desktop. Since I'm already used to paying $100 a year for MobileMe, maybe I could pay the same amount for 200 or 300 gigabytes of space and upload everything. This would offer a solution to a real problem and let me upgrade to a computer with a much smaller hard drive requirement next time.

What about you? Does iCloud solve your problems or does it not go far enough? As always, your questions, thoughts, comments and rebuttals are welcome below.

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Reader Comments (9)

This might be sacrilegious here, but have you thought about Windows Live Mesh for syncing data across multiple machines? You're only allowed 5GB online, but assuming you have your own backup storage computer sitting somewhere, you can be constantly syncing all your data across multiple machines. I have mine and my wife's Documents folders in constant sync across our three computers so that it doesn't matter who is using what, we can always work wherever we are.

It works well across PC's and Macs too. My wife has a Macbook Pro and I have a Toshiba.

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Aubrey

The reality for my needs is that I actually don't need it to sync so much as be accessible. In that regard, I do have access to a Windows Sky Drive in my name, and that's like 25 GB, right?

And I don't consider your suggestion sacrilegious. If the move from MobileMe to iCloud causes me to lose services I currently have, all options will be on the table in my opinion.

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterR. Mansfield

Hi Rick

I love your blog, for the Christian comment and because of your comments re things Apple. (I use Apple-an iMac and an iPod Touch).

I have followed your comments re the upcoming iCloud...and listened to Jobs et al on the WWDC keynote address.

But then I got carried way and thought about deeper issues....see here comments put a bit of a dampener on things... :-)

I guess the trick is to enjoy things without being mastered by them....

OK....getting off my little soap box now....


will iCloud be in the new heavens/earth ?? :-) (joking)

June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

If anyone reading this has the same concerns or questions about possible loss of functionality in the move from MobileMe to iCloud, please voice your concerns at

June 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterR. Mansfield

SugarSync works very well for me, especially with MS Office docs. I'm a MMe user now and don't want every cloud file automatically downloading to my iDevices. I want to choose and even stream content instead of having local copies everywhere, even if they are in sync. My Dad has his 50th HS reunion site via iWeb and I guess he's out of luck now (see Macrumors). Bummer.

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndy O

I don't think this is supposed to be a full-fledged cloud computing solution . . . yet. But I'm betting that we're going to get the storage we need, and probably sooner than later. It's ironic that many were criticizing what they expected to be a mostly streaming based service. The criticism was that broadband limitations are still too great to make a streaming reliant system consistent and universal (or at least US-wide). That could be right. Others, such as you (and me), are wanting to essentially replace our need for local storage.

I think what Jobs et al is doing is actually really sharp. For the vast majority of users, this will be their first introduction to the idea of cloud computing. Only they don't have to think about "cloud computing" at all. All they need to know is that Apple now has a system where all their stuff will immediately and seamlessly sync to all their devices. They don't need to know how---and most of them don't even _want_ to know how. By people seeing how smoothly this works, Apple may just open the door to untechie, basic users being the first ones to adopt the cloud in large numbers. A lot of the 'uninitiated' are spooked by talk of storing all of their stuff in the cloud, or of having to try to stream all of their music or films. I think this is a brilliant, unintimidating, easily adopted first step.

With what Apple is investing in this, I can't believe that what we've been hearing is anywhere close to the whole picture. We're not at full-fledged cloud computing with this iteration of iCloud, but this could make iCloud so well-established that a real cloud-based system will just be a matter of a few upgrades---changes that for most will be behind-the-scenes and simply equate to new 'features' rather than a brand new, and scary, paradigm. But I do hope adequate storage for documents, video, photos, etc. is added soon, if not available this Fall.

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurt Parton

Ultimately, you're right, Curt. One thing I've learned about Apple (or perhaps S. Jobs) in recent years is that they rarely do things faster than one step at a time. They start small and build from there.

However, it's frustrating in regard to the transition from MobileMe to iCloud, because I think that those of us who were really pushing MobileMe to its limits (few that we may have been) are going to initially lose services.

At least THIS site isn't on MobileMe, but I've got hundreds of old posts at the old site on MobileMe that I'm going to have to manually convert, and I've got a year to do it (unless iCloud will still let me host at a address).

The in-between time is always difficult. I don't know how things are going to fall out, but I'm making contingency plans anyway.

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterR. Mansfield

I hear you, Rick. I'm right there with you, and I have similar concerns. I want iCloud to store all of my documents and all of my photos---and I'm willing to pay extra for the storage. I keep my iMac at my office, and the only computer we use at home is my iPad. I have a first generation Apple TV with a 1TB hard drive. I'd like to replace it with an ATV2, but not until I can access my movies and TV shows in the cloud. I'm really hoping they'll have more to offer us in the next few months---or at least by next June!

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurt Parton

I dropped Mobileme and started using Sugarsync instead of Dropbox. It does everything that Steve Jobs was talking about. That is my solution I use my Imac / macbook pro / ipad 2 and iphone. When I am over seas I use our PC and access everything via Sugarsync.
For this is the best solution until I know what I am getting from icloud.

June 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermkeline

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