I need to start by saying that I’m a big fan of iCloud. The way that my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air all stay effortlessly in sync is wonderfully convenient. I love that I’m writing this on my Mac but, without doing anything, I will be able to carry on writing this on my iPad later. As Steve Jobs liked to say, ‘it just works’.
Not having to worry about losing contacts, calendar appointments, emails, photos, documents, bookmarks - and having access to them via any of my devices - is something I have come to really appreciate. The release of Apple’s new operating system takes the functionality even further and we’re only going to see iCloud become more and more central to everything Apple does.
Great, But Not Perfect
That said, iCloud is far from perfect and there are a number of issues that I’d like to see addressed to take iCloud to a whole other level of usefulness.
My main issue is that iCloud works purely on an individual basis. Every user has their own, exclusive account. This of course makes perfect sense. My concern though is that not only does every individual have their own account, but that each account has very limited means of interacting with anyone else’s account.
Let me give an example. Me and my wife want all of our photos to be stored on the same Photo Steam. Whether I take photos on my iPhone or she takes them on hers, we want to each have access to both sets of photos. We don’t want to each have separate stores of the photos we take.
At the moment, if we want to load up Photo Stream on the Apple TV or in iPhoto, we can only see one set of our photos as only one iCloud account can be connected to each of these. And whilst it’s just the two of us since our daughters are too young for their own iDevices at the moment, what about families where there are multiple iCloud accounts but a real need to share and interact with each others content? Photo Stream is just too individualist for family scenarios.
I should add that iOS6 will be bringing some additional sharing functions for photos. And these are a good step forward, but they still don’t go far enough. I’d like the option to be able to choose to have a shared Photo Stream with my wife where we can seamlessly and automatically share the same photos we take on our different iDevices.
It’s worth mentioning that, for now, I’ve found a way around the problem. I have set up both our iPhones to share one of our iCloud accounts for Photos and Documents. This is a work around of sorts, but far from ideal.
Shared Read/Write Access To Documents
A similar issue to what I’ve described with photos occurs with Documents in the Cloud. All iCloud accounts are isolated from any other account and, whilst I can easily send documents to others, I can’t setup a shared document that others can edit.
I realise this makes iCloud more complex, but I’m sure that I’m not the only one with scenarios that require more from iCloud. As a case in point, me and my wife have a budget spreadsheet. We both access this and update it throughout the month. It simply wouldn’t work to be sending copies back and forth to each other.
What I need is the ability to share access to this file on my iCloud that grants my wife read and write permissions so that we can both make the changes we need to.
Again, I’ve created a work-around by setting us both up with the same iCloud account, but that’s not how Apple have intended it to work, and it isn’t without problems.
I don’t expect Apple to role out sharing of this sort to corporate levels (though, why not?), but some basic features to meet the scenario of our monthly budget spreadsheet would really take the usefulness of iCloud to a whole other level.