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The PC: the poor citizen in this (Apple) digital world

What these words have in common?

  • iCloud
  • iMessage
  • iChat
  • iDisk
  • FaceTime

Besides beginning with the letter “i” for most of them, they all reflect the poor citizens of the Apple digital world. Here is why.

Why iCloud is on the list? It is because there is no way (yet) to edit a synced documents on the Mac or the PC. These devices aren’t really part of the “sync documents to all devices” principle which is one of many features of iCloud.

Why iMesssage is on the list too? Well, this app is nice on iPhone et iPad has they seamlessly merge SMS and text messages in the same application. But I think iMessage should be available on the Mac and the PC as they are still part of our day to day digital life. They form the big picture or our workflow or event entertainment tools. Having to take an iPhone just to pick up on the new text message and to answer it is kind of awkward.

What about iChat? This application barely received some attention from Apple in Mac OS Lion. Still no integration with iDevices. Could this app received the iMessage treatment? Apple seems to care less and less about the desktop. I’m not even thinking about porting this thing to Windows. Never going to happen.

What about iDisk? Upgrading to Mac OS Lion to iCloud makes this icon disappear because iDisk don’t have any equivalent on iCloud. The fact that Apple didn’t bring it to iCloud could send a message that they no longer think that a feature like Dropbox isn’t part of their vision of PCs because these devices are about to disappear from the digital landscape but I disagree entirely with this (there is this story of Steve Jobs failed attempt in buying Dropbox that could explain this too). PCs will be there for quite a while and having this feature of a disk on the cloud that sync to many device (just like Dropbox) seems to be very important to a lot of people. This other story seems to imply that people at Apple still think they iDisk or similar feature is still very important for the Mac OS. 

Finally, when Apple launched FaceTime with iPhone 4 in 2010 then later for Mac, they said that it was based on Internet standards and it was a big deal. But, we are sitting now at the beginning of 2012 and there still no sign of FaceTime on Windows to complete the portrait. Why? I think Apple is missing an important opportunity of expanding his reach in the digital world. Why not make it a real standard and make it available for Android devices?

I look forward in 2012 for Apple to bring some life into these services and complete their vision of the cloud that encompass the old PC and Mac devices as they are still very important to us (and even to Apple according to they latest quarterly results).

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iCloud’s 85 millions users

According to Apple’s conference call today following their financial results announcements, we’ve learn that iCloud has a whopping 85 millions users already. Wow. this seems like a lot of people using a new technology that wasn’t available just last september. But, is it really a lot of users?

If I compare that number to the sales figures of iPhones, iPads and iPod touches since iOS 5 came out last october (15 millions iPads, 37 millions iPhone and nearly 10 millions iPod touches) plus all iOS 5 ready devices sold since 2009 (iPhone 3GS can be upgraded to iOS 5, remember), these devices account for much more than 85 millions. So why is that?

Well, recently I started to ask a simple question to new owners of iPhones: did you configure your iCloud account. I would say that 2 out of 3 responses I get is: what is iCloud? I try to explain them that when they setup their devices, at some point there was a step where you could use your Apple ID as your iCloud account. They don’t remember or they don’t really know what I’m talking about. The last thing is maybe there is a lot of users still on iOS 4. This could explain why 85 millions users on iCloud may not be that many after all.

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Apple, please, fix iCloud on the desktop

Last year along with iOS 5, Apple launched iCloud, a service where users can store photos, music, backups of their devices, sync photos across many iDevices, store documents. iCloud is a behind the scene service You don’t really touch it, only apps and system services depend on it. Also, beside iCloud announcement came the demise of MobileMe including one of its service called iDisk.

One of the main problem with iCloud is on the desktop. Editing a document on the iPad with Keynote will be synced among other iDevices but on the desktop, you’ve got a web interface where you have to download the document before being able to edit it. If you want to put it back in iCloud, you will have to upload it. Awkward to say the least. No the best user experience. I understand the desire of Apple to hide technical things a file system (we don’t really get one on iOS; it is hidden from the user). But at the same time, the usefulness of the iCloud service is diminished along the way. 

What I would like it that Apple come out with a updated Mac OS X 10.7 version where the desktop would be show a permanent device called “iCloud”. Opening it would reveal a list of folders named after each applications name that publishes documents. For example, folders of Pages, Keynote or Numbers would be shown where the user would get the documents they can edit on the cloud. Editing a document in the cloud would simply means double-clicking it like any other documents. For the fastest user experience, Apple could take a clue at Dropbox by keeping local and synced copies of the documents in iCloud.

As you can see, I’m not asking for a revolution, just something that would be a morphed iDisk into iCloud services.

What do you think?

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