Living in the Cloud
4/17/2012 4:26:00 PM
While we have all been using cloud-based services for some time – think Gmail, Facebook, Twitter – it’s only recently that the cloud has worked its way into the everyday lexicon of our tech-driven lives. For this, we can probably thank Apple. Although Amazon and Google were just two of the many tech companies that were ahead of Apple in introducing consumer-based cloud services, it’s Apple’s iCloud – and the accompanying marketing onslaught – that will inevitably make cloud computing a household term.
Of course, Apple didn’t get where it is today solely on the strength of its marketing campaigns. Any hype it creates is invariably backed up by first-class products, and the iCloud service is no exception.
Like many long-term Apple devotees, I started out with one of the early iMacs and have steadily accumulated additional Apple hardware ever since. My current collection includes that still-functioning iMac, a MacBook Air, an iPad 2, and a newly-acquired iPhone 4S. The ability of all those devices to now sync with each other and display updated content is a huge leap forward in both enjoyment and productivity.
The iCloud service was introduced with iOS 5 when it was released in October of last year. Its primary function is to securely store your content, so it’s automatically available on any Apple device that you happen to be using. It not only stores your e-mail, contacts, and calendars but also gives you instant access to your latest music, movies, apps, photos and more. You never have to download or upload anything and iCloud handles all the behind-the-scenes file management.
On mobile devices, iCloud is activated and set up from the Settings page. On a Mac, the iCloud feature is accessed under System Preferences. iCloud can even be enabled on a Windows PC by installing the iCloud Control Panel for Windows (Windows 7 or Windows Vista Service Pack 2 required).
Once iCloud is installed, amazing things start to happen. Instead of logging on to iTunes to laboriously sync your music on each device, it’s already there waiting for you. The same with movies, TV shows, apps and anything else you buy – or have previously bought – from iTunes. And the iBookstore is just the same. Each book you buy is pushed to every Apple device you own, along with notes, highlights, bookmarks and even the exact page where you stopped reading three days ago!
But perhaps the greatest iCloud feature for me is the ability to sync documents using the iWork apps, including Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. Any document and any edit I make is automatically available on my MacBook Air and iPad 2 as soon as I log on.
Mobile computing and switching between devices has never been easier. The cloud finally means something for me on an everyday basis – and what a huge difference it has made!
Are you using the cloud to sync your devices? Share your experience with The Online Mom!