iCloud vs. Exchange, Gmail: Pick your choice wisely

iCloud vs. Exchange, Gmail: Pick your choice wisely

Summary: With iCloud out the door, many have struggled with problems and conflicts that delete everything. Should you join the iCloud bandwagon, or does everything 'just work' already?

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Now that Apple's next-generation email and cloud service is out of the door, many existing MobileMe customers will simply move over to iCloud without a fuss, and with no hassle.

In between the Gmail and Hotmail student population, there is a neglected MobileMe market.

While probably in the single figures in terms of marketshare percentage, many students with Macs or iPhones -- and there are a lot of them -- MobileMe is nevertheless a viable and solid supplement to the external college or university email address many students have.

However, many enterprise customers -- a subject rarely approached in my own writings -- will discover that their corporate email does not play fair with iCloud. As hard as it may seem to face up to, amid the glitz and the worldwide excitement of the cloud-based product, iCloud email, contact and calendar synchronisation is only truly designed for those with a @me.com email address.

But as MobileMe transforms into the iCloud service, many existing users will be unaffected. Others, such as the vast number of those who bought a new Mac product shortly after the summer refresh of products, will have had to make do elsewhere, as new MobileMe accounts were suspended until iCloud opened its doors.

In short, it's one or the other. There is an excellent post on the topic by Danny Sullivan, for which I invite you to read. You really do have to pick one or the other, or face a nightmare of synchronisation issues or conflicts that rarely resolve.

But iCloud is more than data sharing. It's music, photo and content sharing, too. Where does it leave users? Ultimately, it leaves them choosing. And, unfortunate as it is, I cannot make that decision for you.

If you are lucky enough to have gotten out of the iTunes bed on the right side, and understand the nuances in its vast array of options, synchronisation capabilities and other features, then iCloud serves as a fantastic music product.

It takes a while to get there, but combined with iTunes Match and 'iTunes in the Cloud', you can reach music nirvana.

iCloud goes beyond 'simply email'; it has options, and those options can be tweaked to synchronise only photo or document content, photos and bookmarks. Just because you have the option to tick everything, does not mean you actually have to enable every feature of iCloud to get the most out of it.

Ultimately I suspect it falls down to the devices you have, and who you would rather keep your data with.

If you have an iPhone running the latest iOS 5 operating system, it makes sense to enable iCloud for your personal email account, provided you backup your content first -- simply to be on the safe side.

Apple makes the ecosystem experience seamless, while for those running Android or BlackBerry phones, not everything will synchronise. If you have a multiple of any Apple product -- whether it is a combination of two or more Macs, or a Mac and an iPhone -- connecting the two to iCloud seems and proves in most cases logical.

However, porting email and content from one provider to Apple, like Gmail email and calendar data, can prove risky, particularly if you have something to hide.

Apple has little to no public history of publicly and transparently stating the number of occasions users' data has been accessed by U.S. authorities, or other government law enforcement agencies around the world. Unlike Google, which has an open transparency report each year, disclosing how many requests were made and for what reason, Apple does not, and neither does Microsoft.

On the other hand, Apple has signed up to a campaign against warrantless data inspections by the U.S. government. One of the key elements to the Digital Due Process campaign asks that the government should "obtain a search warrant based on probable cause before it can compel a service provider to disclose a user's private communications or documents stored online".

This step by Apple affirms the company's commitment to data security, but still does not negate the fact that the company is nevertheless. Facebook is on the list, along with Microsoft -- both companies for which have handed over data without informing the customer of the fact, and if anything make it easier for law enforcement to do so with in-built 'legal request' forms.

iCloud is not for everybody, nor should it be. Though tempting to synchronise everything, others have struggled with the switch, fraught with synchronisation problems and conflicts that delete everything from the servers.

What is clear, however, that as another cloud computing service, one should be aware of the limitations of their devices, and how Apple versus the outsourced cloud company that handles your data, hands over that data to the authorities when requested.

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Topics: Mobile OS, Apple, Cloud, Collaboration, Google

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20 comments
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  • Why should I switch?

    I really like GMail and configuring it as an Exchange server on the iPhone seems to work just fine. Is there any reason why I would spend hours to migrate my Google Apps email account to iCloud?
    toddybottom
    • RE: iCloud vs. Exchange, Gmail: Pick your choice wisely

      @toddybottom: Nope, not one.<br><br>Both Gmail and Hotmail support Exchange ActiveSync which is supported by iOS, Android (for Gmail it's Google Sync integration works better) and Windows Phone (for Hotmail it's Windows Live sync integration works better).

      Also as you say: iOS (plus Android/Windows Phone) also supports Exchange too for Google Apps.
      bradavon
  • RE: iCloud vs. Exchange, Gmail: Pick your choice wisely

    I'm personally not moving to the cloud until someone can guarantee that my data can't be nabbed by a government wanting to sift through my data. Granted, I think I'm damned low on their radar, but the concept irks me and as long as that power exists I'll keep it on drives inside my house where they need a warrant to get inside.
    Ididar
    • RE: iCloud vs. Exchange, Gmail: Pick your choice wisely

      @Ididar The government could nab your data now, even if you store it locally.
      dfl274
      • RE: iCloud vs. Exchange, Gmail: Pick your choice wisely

        @dfl274 not on the encrypted drive, no.
        pupkin_z
    • Thanks to the Patriot Act, the Government

      @Ididar, does not need a warrant to enter your home. Thanks to ol Gov Bush, and Congressional Repugs, Law Enforcement can enter your home, and detain you indefinitely without trial or legal counsel.
      Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
      • RE: iCloud vs. Exchange, Gmail: Pick your choice wisely

        Rethugs?

        Blame Democrats too, since they extended it with a Democrat-ran congress. Under Obama as well.
        Michael Alan Goff
    • you think govt is the problem??

      @Ididar

      I would rather have govt look at it than corporations. Yes because Google provides me gmail for free, it has the right to look into my private emails for showing me ads?

      I would rather worry about Google sifting through all my data and profiling me. Govt can look at my data once under extreme circumstances, but Google looks at my email everytime i send a mail.
      DontBeEvil
  • Zachary forgets to mention that Apple is the rare case when user can choose

    ... real privacy and security of their data. If users choose this option, no one ever, including Apple's staff or whatever authorities can access to user's information, unless <b>they will take hundreds of years of computational resources to crack the encrypted data,</b> which remains truly transparent only on end-user device. This is possible because the password is not stored in any form on Apple's servers; other parts of encryption keys only, which are useless without user's password/key.

    This is nothing like most of other services, where EULA says that the service provider can see all your data even if it "protected" and will give it away on request by authorities without even letting you know anything.

    Apple has nothing to handover, only a useless chunk of data which will take hundreds of years to crack.

    So while Apple is not open about how many enquiries it receives from the authorities, it actually does better job than just in a PR department.
    DDERSSS
    • Say What?

      @DeRSSS <br>Restored to factory/new my iPad 2.<br>When asked, I went to setup the MM and iCloud I put in the incorrect password for my iCloud account. The system knew it was incorrect and was not on this iPad2.<br>If not stored there, where are they keeping it?
      rhonin
      • I was decribing encryption mode, not regular password access; obviosly, ...

        @rhonin: ... regular password is stored on Apple's servers, since there is no other way how one could connect to an account.<br><br>However, alongside with this unsecured to Apple and authorities default mode, truly secure mode is offered as I described above.
        DDERSSS
    • DeRSSS, you did forgot to mention that

      @DeRSSS
      Apple's EULA says that any of your information residing on their servers can be seen even if it "protected" and will give it away on request by authorities without even letting you know anything.

      Apple has plenty to hand over, you just do not know what data of yours is being handed over.

      :|
      Tim Cook
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  • RE: iCloud vs. Exchange, Gmail: Pick your choice wisely

    Very misleading headline. Not three words about Exchange or Gmail
    Evil(er) Overlord
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  • RE: iCloud vs. Exchange, Gmail: Pick your choice wisely

    I don't understand how the title relates to the main body of the article. You mention Gmail and Exchange in the title - then you promptly switch gears to talk about Gmail and Hotmail. I assume that you are referring to the consumer offerings from Google and Microsoft. Then you stick this large graphic with what looks like a stricken out Office 365 logo in the middle of the article. You mention Exchange in your article all of Zero times.

    What exactly are you comparing against what? Is the article about cloud email providers that you can use with Outlook client (the Daggle article is largely about that)?

    Are you talking about small businesses to which Gmail in GAPE and Exchange Online in Office 365 Small Business is targeted at?

    Regarding privacy, all three companies GOOG, AAPL & MSFT have to comply with the law of the land - the interpretation and boundaries of which are well-known and apply uniformly - intent is irrelevant really.

    This is just a bad, bad article - in terms of research, coherent thought and usefulness.
    Chewber
  • RE: iCloud vs. Exchange, Gmail: Pick your choice wisely

    1. Stick with MobileMe (iCloud), Gmail, Exchange or Hotmail for Mail/Calendar/Contacts
    2. Use iCloud for everything but Mail/Calendar/Contacts.

    Microsoft and Google already offer fantastic Mail/Calendar/Contacts syncing. Why switch, just to keep it all on the same provider?

    iPhone equally supports Exchange and Exchange ActiveSync (for Hotmail or Gmail), so it will sync Mail/Calendar/Contacts from each just as well as iCloud will.

    If you're still using a legacy e-mail provider (e.g - Yahoo, ISP e-mail etc...) then it comes down to whether you use 100% Apple hardware (iCloud is a viable option) or a mixture (go with Hotmail/Gmail). That's in the consumer space, enterprise then you remain with Exchange or Google. Apple don't do enterprise.

    Personally even if I had 100% Apple hardware I'd still go with Hotmail or Gmail. Both aren't connected to only one ecosystem in the way iCloud is. iCloud does support IMAP, so you can use it on non-Apple hardware but you won't get Contacts/Calendar sync because it "only" supports IMAP (no Exchange ActiveSync).

    Which nicely puts me back to my original two points.
    bradavon
    • gmails out

      this use to be true however gmail just removed active sync from ios.. if you have it setup it will still work but soon as you have to upgrade your device or wipe it you wont be able to setup active sync after that.. Microsoft is the best email client atm however if you are all about apple may be a good time to move to the icloud email.. up to you really... but apple has some work to do in the cloud before i move over.
      jecaron
  • RE: iCloud vs. Exchange, Gmail: Pick your choice wisely

    I agree with bradavon, Consider using iCloud for everything but "Mail/Calendar/Contacts". Contacts and calendars work great using MS Exchange or GMail.


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