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The (Un)Obviousness of iCloud
And so it has gone with iCloud overall. I never really set out to use it to its fullness, but it has become integral to my computing experience. It should have been an obvious transition, but instead it was subtle. This past year came with migrations to two new laptops. The ease of setting up each blew me away both times. The combination of Dropbox (my data), Rdio (my music) and iCloud (preferences, OS X integrations, applications and everything else) is a powerful one and a testament to the time we live in.
I have previously written about how, for the end user, iCloud may as well look like “the operating system”.
When I think about it, I’m thankful for the kind of integration that iCloud provides. I use Calendar, Safari Tabs, and Find My iPhone on a regular basis and I enjoy their functionality. On the other hand, I’m less excited about iCloud Mail and its continuous downtimes, and I understand third-party developers who lament the poor state of iCloud sync and APIs for their apps.
Major shifts like iCloud take time. When you consider that Apple hasn’t traditionally been great at web services, what they have managed to make work reliably is quite a remarkable achievement. Yet, like Maps, average users don’t care about this: they just want their devices to work. And if Apple gave them iCloud, then Apple needs to make sure users can trust it.
As an aside, I’d point out that several friends of mine constantly ask me about iCloud — the things it does and what it is. Maybe my friends are lazy, but I’d go all the way out to guess perhaps Apple needs to tweak the initial guided setup to make iCloud even more understandable. I’ve always thought the short trackpad videos Apple embeds in OS X are nice and effective because they show features in context. Rather than using an animated cloud, short videos and actual screenshots would be a nice addition to iOS’ first setup guide.