Apple's iCloud Drive: Late, but integration, UI matters

Apple's iCloud Drive: Late, but integration, UI matters

Summary: Will iCloud Drive hurt the pure plays such as Dropbox, Box and a bevy of others? Not immediately. However, iCloud Drive will be used since services are becoming embedded seamlessly into the software.

icloud drive
iCloud Drive: About time.

In a move that puts it in competition with the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive, Apple launched iCloud Drive. The move aims to provide cloud sharing and synchronization of documents to Apple's installed base.

Speaking during Apple's WWDC keynote, Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, highlighted iCloud Drive and how it integrates with the company's latest OS X, Yosemite. iCloud Drive is designed to hold docs from iOS, OS X and Windows for good measure and will integrate with third party document providers.

CNET live blog from WWDC

iCloud Drive highlights two key points:

  1. Apple is behind the curve in services since cloud drives are everywhere.
  2. But Apple has a big installed base and can gain traction quickly by integrating cloud services better with its user interface, software and hardware.

Here are a few data points that highlight how Apple's penchant for software and hardware integration applies to the cloud.

  • Yosemite and mail are integrated with iCloud Drive. Mail can be encrypted via iCloud Drive and picked up.
  • iCloud Drive comes with a UI overhaul and basic storage is an easy add on.
  • iCloud Drive links iOS and OS X better.
  • Docs are available in Finder and tagged as well as synchronized.
  • Every photo taken on an Apple device will be backed up to iCloud. 
  • The pricing goes like this for photos. First 5GB is free; 20GB for $0.99 per month and 200GB for $3.99 per month.

Will iCloud Drive hurt the pure plays such as Dropbox, Box and a bevy of others? Not immediately. However, iCloud Drive will be used since services are becoming embedded seamlessly into the software. Apple may not be a cloud front runner but is playing to its strengths---integration and UI.

Topics: Storage, Apple, Cloud, Mobility

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  • This is how it should always have worked

    The one thing I've never liked about iOS, and hated they tried to do it to OS X is the "we don't have a file system!" thing. Apple wanted you opening apps and getting docs from there, but I've always taken a document-centric view of computing.... it is what I want to do that matters, not which app I have to go in.
    • Missing a key component

      Dropbox and Google Drive I can use across all my OS's.
      iCloud Drive - not.

      Till that gets fixed, it remains less than useful.
      • I believe there's web access.

        Also, there should be access to iCloud via a control panel and some nifty software for Windows in the same way there's currently access to iCloud photos with the iCloud control panel in Vista, 7, and 8.x.
    • What you may have forgotten is...

      That Apple had a 'cloud drive' network first--and people simply didn't use it. The difference now is that it's far more integrated and automatic than its predecessors.
      • There were reasons for that . . .

        There were reasons for that . . .

        In a hybrid PC/iOS environment like mine, using documents with iCloud really sucks.

        I can't access documents in the iCloud via PC at all, really. There's just no UI for it.

        I've also heard that there's quite a few bugs with iCloud, so I generally avoided it anyways.

        Also, Apple's current handling of photographs is pretty sucky right now - it uses a "photo stream" that deletes photos after a period of time. It looks like that will change, but until then it's best to use something else for photos.

        All of my apps support Dropbox anyways, so I use that. Dropbox is great for cross-platform support.

        iCloud is a miserable experience right now. It really is. Only thing I use it for currently is music.
    • Huh?

      Since 1984, I've been using Macs, DOS and then Windows and still use Macs and Windows and this is strange news to me! I never recall getting any impression that Macs don't have a file system - what do you call the Finder? The big departure with the Mac from DOS was storing all documents together instead of clustering them in directories around the program they were created by; and this was copied soon thereafter by Windows too.

      What you are describing - "opening apps and getting docs from there" was a characteristic of DOS and never of Macintosh, nor of Windows. I have always opened my Mac documents by double-clicking - never by starting the program first and have never seen any literature from Apple telling me to start the program first! Only exception is when the program is already opened and I want to take advantage of the "Open Recent…" menu command.
      • They've tried to "iOS-ify" Mac OS X, especially after 10.7.

        While you could still bring the full file system out to play or hide it completely, this does begin to fix the massive problem of no file system access on an iOS device. Going in and out of iTunes to load and unload documents from random programs was about as annoying as it gets.

        What could make this better, however, is if you could plug your iDevice into a computer and have full access to whatever is on it without those documents hitting iCloud. Or even over WiFi.
        • The iOSification of OS X has been greatly exaggerated.

          Aside from some aesthetic changes, the only thing they’ve done is make it a bit tricky to access the user’s library folder. Understandable, since mucking around in there can be disastrous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Aside from that, the file system is still as accessible as ever.
  • OneDrive?

    I mean, really? OneDrive has all of them beat right out of the gate.
    • This article is not about OneDrive, and no it doesn't

      DropBox is easily OneDrive's equal. OneDrive has the built in Office editors which is great, but has worse multiplatform support than DropBox, and maxes out at 2 gig files (DropBox does not.)
      • No it's not about OneDrive

        But mentioning the competition to iCloud is legitimate (as the article does) and comparing the services is not unreasonable.

        From the article, I'm not 100% sure what advantages it offers, unless you are all in on Apple.
      • OneDrive is superior in many ways

        DropBox is no where near as good on the autobackups of pictures, videos, etc cross platform. I also believe the newest updates to OneDrive eliminate the 2GB limit (I've uploaded larger files to my OneDrive account).

        It won't be too long before DropBox falls way behind. MS is working on developing cross platform app data storage that can sync in OneDrive. They've already done it with games and more app data standard pushes are coming to go with the push for .NET everywhere.
        Jeff Rickel
        • Already has those . . .

          "DropBox is no where near as good on the autobackups of pictures, videos, etc cross platform."

          It works for PC and iOS. Not sure what you think the problem is.

          "MS is working on developing cross platform app data storage that can sync in OneDrive."

          Which Dropbox already does - YNAB is one example of an app that uses it.
  • Apple is really upping their game

    If they keep doing this, I'm going to have fewer and fewer reasons to use Windows for anything other than gaming.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • They should do Windows iCloud

      A lot of iPhone and iPod and iPad users are Windows users and always will be. This would be more compelling if they added at least a Windows client. Microsoft has a Mac client, and despite what I said about it only being DropBox's equal, it is certainly a better solution for anyone who is on more than Apple's stuff.
      • That'd be nice

        I'm just pointing out that Apple seems to be removing a lot of my complaints quickly these days.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • I'm sure they will

        iDisk was Windows compatible, iCloud currently has a Windows control panel, so I don't see iCloud Drive ignoring Windows users.
  • Bahahahaha...iCloud Drive

    What a funny name... but I guess it suits iFools.
  • Back to iDrive, Thank God!

    Thank God that Apple realizes the folly of dropping iDrive. I like OneDrive and Dropbox, so don't get me wrong. However without a folder/document approach these apps were not fully used by myself on iOS because it lacked the organization/ecosystem. I hope the new Pages, Numbers, and Keynote iOS apps can create folders. Additionally I new app for iCloud Drive would be nice as well.
    • iDrive could have been amazing

      if Apple had better integration with it in OS X and it wasn't too soon for the market; after all, it was released when the average internet connection for a consumer was less than 1 megabit download and 512 kilobit upload.