Apple has been at this cloud thing for a long time. Born in 2000, iTools became .Mac in 2002. Six years later the service was again rebranded, this time as MobileMe. Along the way much has changed. Many components have been dropped; iCards, iReview, McAfee Virex downloads, HomePage, Slides Publisher, Groups, and Web Bookmarks are all long gone. I’m sure there are others I’ve forgotten.
In fact, without looking at the MobileMe site, I couldn’t tell you everything MobileMe currently provides, even though I’ve been using the service since it was called iTools. That’s because I primarily use MobileMe for one very important thing: syncing. My personal computer is no longer the center of my digital life. Between work, home, and on the go I routinely interact with several different communications and computing devices. Whenever I touch one of those devices, I want updated calendar data, synced email, all of my Safari bookmarks, and access to my most important files.
While iDisk is handy, I don’t use it any more. Dropbox simply does synchronized online storage far better than iDisk. It’s dead simple. It does not cause Finder to hang. It does not chew up resources. It just works.
The combination of MobileMe and Dropbox performs so well for me that I almost don’t even think about it any more, which is a far cry from the iTunes experience. I’ve moved iTunes libraries from one Mac to another. I’ve removed iTunes permissions from Macs. I’ve gone to the hassle of creating shared libraries on the iMac that my wife and I use for music and movies. I’ve accidentally deleted movies and albums from libraries because I didn’t realize iTunes had moved files around when I performed a minor version update. I’ve performed the frantic Spotlight search and seen the blank results window. To say iTunes provides a suboptimal media management experience is an understatement.
Regardless of what other features are to be found in iCloud, Apple needs to bring the seamlessness of MobileMe app syncing and Dropbox file syncing to media purchases. Let me buy it once and play it on any of my Apple devices. I want to manage playlists, not libraries. If Apple can make that happen, I’ll be happy with iCloud.
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