Apple Coalesces Cloud Services with New iCloud Drive and Airdrop Sharing
Apple’s iCloud Drive takes Dropbox head on. Launched at WWDC 2014, iCloud Drive resembles Dropbox with a similar file system to store files related to each app separately in the cloud. Such files can be synchronized with Windows, iOS and OSX even if you do not install any iCloud apps. Windows users can access iCloud Drive but Apple is yet to open up APIs for the Windows Phone and Android platform. However, it is easy to access files using Mac but on other iOS devices you have to fiddle a bit. Apple has not yet created an iCloud Drive app for iOS. This means users must launch an iCloud Drive storage app to access files independently of related applications. iCloud Drive does come as a boon for Apple device users but it may not convert other cloud drive users that offer similar or even more reliable services despite competitively priced offerings of $ 0.99 per month for 20 GB and $ 3.09 per month for 200 GB. Apple is focused on cloud as can be seen from the fact that it switched off local syncing for iTunes and gave cloud storage an iOS 7 interface followed by iWork for iCloud for collaborative working on documents in addition to tweaking iCloud to address syncing and reliability issues.
There have been developments on the AirDrop front too with Apple making it easier share files between mobiles and computers. Apple has introduced a Handoff tool using which a user can switch between an iPad and a Mac in real time while working on a document. Handoff works with all Apple apps including Maps, Calendar, Pages and Safari and its new feature uses proximity sensor to detect the presence of an iPhone and automatically set up a mobile hotspot enabling users to continue working on a Mac or on the iPhone. Handoff even allows users to use their Macs as a phone, able to make or receive calls. The iMessage service sends SMS through the iPhone to other iPhones or other brand devices. Handoff is a nice development since it allows seamless interfacing of apple mobile devices and desktops, a precursor to the much awaited OSX Yosemite scheduled for release before winter.
From an Apple user’s perspective iCloud and Handoff are two nice developments that enable convergence of mobile and desktop technologies with cloud, making it easier to upload and access as well as share files.