Does iCloud mean anything to us at all?

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bodsham
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Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:09 am Post

I probably used up half the bandwidth in Kent last night downloading, after several attempts, IOS 5 for my little-used iPad and then 10.7.2 for my Macs. I now wonder why. I thought iCloud was meant to be a Dropbox alternative. If so DB must be chuckling. Seems to me to be one more way to lock people into Apple.

Is there any chance it will have some use for Scrivener at some stage? I read your earlier post, Keith, in which you spoke of the difficulty of synchronising packages against single files. So no need for a repeat of that. But do you envisage iCloud support at some stage?

I have to say I'm less than impressed that, when you finally get iCloud running, typing 'security' into the help function reveals nothing at all about encryption. Of course with Apple's own apps you can password protect the file so that may not matter so much for them. But it certainly would with a Scrivener project.

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KB
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Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:13 pm Post

It doesn't mean much for us yet, I'm afraid. The trouble is that the documentation is a bit sparse at the moment - there *is* documentation, of a decent standard, but as is normal with new technologies, it really just gives the developer the basics and then some examples of implementing it for fairly standard cases. As always, Scrivener isn't a standard case because of the file format it has to use, and it is unclear to me how I could push Scrivener projects to the cloud bit-by-bit and ensure they all sync without any issues, and deal with problems of the same project being opened in two places and so on.

The trouble is that, for all of the "It just works" mantra at WWDC this year, it is still ultimately an online service, requiring an internet connection, collision-detection and suchlike, so it doesn't solve the many problems of syncing, especially for complex formats such as .scriv files.

However, iCloud investigation is certainly on the roadmap - but it's a big thing, with many potential problems in the implementation, and while I'll always try to adopt new technologies that are relevant as quickly as possible (as with Lion full screen and suchlike), I have to be a little more circumspect about technologies such as iCloud and Versions which, if implemented wrong, could lose the user's data. So I will be waiting to see how it is adopted in other programs (I don't think it's even in any Apple Mac programs yet), to see what further examples become available, and to see how iCloud progresses. I'm not sure it will offer much more than Dropbox for a while (although obviously that will in part depend on developer adoption), and I have been reading about how the not-so-great reputation of MobileMe may give some pause when it comes to iCloud, too.

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Keith
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bodsham
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Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:15 pm Post

Thanks for the full explanation. Matches my feelings exactly. Sounds like a lot of work for something that's no better than Dropbox. Hell - the thing doesn't even work with desktop Pages - only the pathetic IOS apps - yet, and I can't believe Apple haven't even addressed this point publicly.

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marcoiac
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Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:33 pm Post

ICloud already works well for iWork files. Amazingly well, in my short experience: you make a change in a file on the iPad, it's right there on the iPhone and the cloud. All files get seamlessly synced between the cloud, the iPad and the iPhone. And you can download them on your laptop at any time (as long as you have a connection, of course!)

But as Keith says (or Kevin? OK I am kidding...) hard to see how this is going to affect the Scrivener community

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bodsham
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Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:38 pm Post

But who can write a book on an iPad or iPhone? If it synced Mac to Mac it might be of use to me.

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Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:01 pm Post

My wife is using iWeb to publish updates about her current paintings. With Apple just dropping all support for web hosting, I'm not all that eager to make use of yet another service they might yank out from under my not-so-technical spouse. If $100 a year per person wasn't enough to get them to keep iWeb going, then $0/year/person makes this kind of thing a sure-fire cost-cutting measure should they decide it's not a raging success.

I'll stick with Dropbox, whose livelihood currently depends on the service they're providing. Until they get bought out by a company I don't trust.
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marcoiac
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Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:14 pm Post

bodsham wrote:But who can write a book on an iPad or iPhone? If it synced Mac to Mac it might be of use to me.


Well, you can access your cloud from any computer, as long as you have a connection. However, iCloud does not sync on any Mac. It syncs automatically only on iOS devices. With the Mac, you need to download/upload to communicate with your cloud

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Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:30 pm Post

Well yes if you go to a web page and upload and download a file manually. But that's not a patch on Dropbox, Sugar Sync, even Windows Live. It's not even a patch on iDrive which they've now binned.

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Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:46 pm Post

Right, it'd be an improvement to have an iCloud folder in your Mac(s) a la Dropbox. Eventually they'll get to that, hopefully

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Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:42 pm Post

That's the part that they need to get really right, as iDisk was/is a huge mess. Hopefully (if they are pursuing real synchronisation with Macs and not just web portal up/downloads) they've junked all that WebDAV based code and are going with the FS+client model that modern systems are using now.
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marcoiac
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Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:18 am Post

I am not sure what they are doing, and with the Mac you can only download/upload, so far, but with iOS devices iCloud pushes flawlessly. I make a change in a big keynote file on the iPad and as soon as I check on the iPhone the changes are right there. They seem to happen in real time(which is -of course- not truly possible, but it's close enough you dont see the difference)

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Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:45 am Post

Given that the iOS versions of programs like Pages don't support a number of features from the desktop versions, I wonder how they will get push working properly between OS X and iOS anyway, without causing minor data-loss.
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Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:49 am Post

This is the second majorly 'meh' upgrade of the year from Apple, alongside Lion. If they hadn't released the 13 inch MacBook Air, which I think is the best laptop ever made, I'd start to be having my doubts.

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Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:53 pm Post

KB wrote:Given that the iOS versions of programs like Pages don't support a number of features from the desktop versions, I wonder how they will get push working properly between OS X and iOS anyway, without causing minor data-loss.


Of course you lose the features not supported in iOS (some of them really important ones, like comments and track changes!), but that happened even before iCloud. Indeed, Pages is quite useless right now for using it over the cloud, unless you are working on something on your own. Most useful thing, at least for me, is Keynote. I can give a lecture showing slides using the iPhone.

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Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:28 pm Post

bodsham wrote:This is the second majorly 'meh' upgrade of the year from Apple, alongside Lion. If they hadn't released the 13 inch MacBook Air, which I think is the best laptop ever made, I'd start to be having my doubts.


I am thinking of getting a 13 inch MBA, I am tired of carrying around my 17 inch MBP. It does have a nice screen, but it's heavy and bulky. I could use the MBP as desktop computer. I gather you are quite happy with the MBA. Is there anything in it that you don't like or you think should be improved? Thanks