Mac is going virtual. They’ve finally agreed they’re a hardware company (yay) and they’re trying to make it easier to install software. No longer will you go to the store, but you will logon to the App Store and download. Apparently the App Store is already bigger than Best Buy. The big news of the month was iCloud (and iTunes Match), where you can sync your data across multiple devices. Wirelessly. Okay, that is pretty cool. But the announcements didn’t get everything right.
The concept of mobile redistribution of applications is not a new one, but Apple, as always, is attempting to do it more elegantly than before. At the very least, the ability to sync (for free) my documents among multiple devices at once is worth the price of admission. I like to write on my iPad and my laptop, after all. While iCloud isn’t out to the public yet (Lion, the next OS 10.7, comes out in July, so I would expect iCloud by Christmas), we can speculate on how it will handle the sharing of more than just data.
Here’s what I think they need to have to make this a winner:
I have two laptops and three iOS devices. That means I have to run upgrades multiple times, and some of these are pretty big. Do you know what happens if your net craps out in the middle of a 200meg download of iOS 4? You get to start over! The new Lion OS is a 4G install, and it’s a disk-less revolution. Great, that means it’s cheaper ($30 vs $130), but that also means I have to download it for each computer I need to upgrade, and I have to pray my net doesn’t blow up in the middle. Which brings me to…
Backup to Disk
I know we’re going diskless, and that’s great, but if I legitimately buy a product, I should be able to sneaker-net if I want to. Frankly, it’s going to be faster than downloading if I have to upgrade more than 10 computers. I won’t bottle neck things with 10 concurrent 4G downloads all at once. While you can’t really do that with the iOS stuff, I wish I could use one download for all my iDevices. Of course, with the new idea of AirDrop we could…
Copy Between Computers
Why not come up with a way to flag up to 5 computers as your ‘home network’ and, if they’re all on the same IP range, let them share installs? So I download Lion, and then AirDrop it to my other computer. Done! To a degree, it looks like iCloud will be able to do this, but it seems to only be for data. For photos, music, documents, etc that’s great. Those aren’t all of what I do. I write code. What about webpages I work on? I like to have those backed up too. In fact, the best way to do this would be….
If I have a Time Capsule, why not let me store all my installers there, register my computers on TC, and then have a local repository of my paid for installs, so I can download them at any time? Think of it as having your own personal little cloud where all your stuff is there, and then when you want to re-install, off you go! Mind you, I already know from experience that if I restore from backup between computers, I can copy over all my apps and preferences. With the new iCloud they’re working on this for iOS apps, which is something they certainly can do. Then you can bring in ….
The real replacement for MobileMe would be MyCloud. Work with ISPs so you can plug a Time Capsule (now renamed Cloud Maker) into your network hub, and it automatically makes it so you can connect your registered computers no matter where they are. I would restrict full backups to LAN (local area network – i.e. only at home) only, but you can sync docs and whatever else you want no matter where you are (like DropBox, only at home).
So what do you say, Apple?