5 ways Apple should improve iCloud

Apple's services are essential, but the company does need to strengthen its core

Apple, iOS, iCloud
Credit: Apple

A report claims Apple is combining its services teams within one campus at its first Cupertino campus as it strives to improve iCloud. It needs to. A Brand Keys report ranks the company last in the file storage category.

Head in the iCloud

Baked inside every Apple product, Apple’s iCloud services offer a range of useful features, not least the ability to seamlessly share files across devices.

It also saves device backups, image libraries and much more. Indeed, it does so much that it should be obvious to anybody that Apple’s free 5GB storage is inadequate, given how deeply connected its cloud storage system is to its products.

I’m not the only one who thinks this, a recent 63-person poll revealed that over half of those who voted think Apple should offer more than 5GB free storage, while just 26 percent of voters seem positive about current iCloud prices.

With Dropbox, Google, Box and others offering far more generous free storage capabilities, it seems self-evident that Apple should cut iCloud storage prices. But what else can it do to improve its service?

Go Pro

Apple knows that its iOS devices are gaining great traction across the enterprise. Ultra-secure, its platforms are in vogue with big firms choosing to use them.

These big firms are engaged in a rapid transition to Industry 4.0, in which automation and collaboration are becoming critical to future success. Addressing the latter need you have high-end collaboration services, ranging from team-focused solutions like Slack all the way to Microsoft Lync and bespoke services from Cisco and beyond.

Apple’s response has been to reach deals with Deloitte, Cisco, SAP, IBM and others to open-up the iOS enterprise. But it has done nothing for iCloud.

iCloud needs to be an industry-ready service consumers can also use. It needs to provide the best possible combination of utility, machine intelligence and security to augment the lives of both consumer and enterprise users.

Developers, developers, developers

It seems weird to me that when I want to share a Dropbox file it’s easy and flexible, yet it is nowhere near as easy and flexible to share files through iCloud.

Why am I unable to define who can open files, for example? What about the data created in such sessions? Why am I unable to track when files are looked at by other people, and if they have been shared? What about collaborative features?

I don’t think everybody needs features like these, but it makes sense for Apple to think about how iCloud can integrate with solutions that do provide them. That is why I think Apple should provide extensive Developer API’s. Third party developers should be able to use iCloud as the core for highly sophisticated file storage solutions for high-end users.

Online everything

I do sometimes wonder what will happen to my music collection if my circumstances change and I am no longer able to afford new hardware with which to access that collection. I also wonder why I can’t share Maps data on a website, or use a Web interface for Messages.

I know Apple recognizes these needs – why else does it offer iWork online?

While I think there’s an element of the traditional walled-garden model at play here, enabling cross-platform access to Apple’s services online would do a lot for brand loyalty, and would help dispel some people’s conviction that Apple is in some way “too controlling”.

It would also make sense to let users selectively decide which data they want to restore to their devices.

Simple problem solving

I consider myself quite familiar with Apple products, but I still become confused when working with some iCloud services. I have been using Apple’s services for a very long time, which means I have, .Me, .Mac, and iCloud addresses, and while these all work as an Apple login, I’d like a way to easily tell if I’ve used the same authorization on all my devices.

When it comes to photos, I’d like to be able to tell which album is where, and use of an online tool to help show me which settings to change and on which devices to combine all the images from multiple collections.

I’d like a flow-chart based troubleshooting and management system to help people make better decisions when setting up iCloud. “If you do this, then you should also do that. Here are the optimal settings for each of your authorized devices.” Many people seem to want to use multiple Apple IDs with their account, particularly those who had a separate iTunes account at some point.

Performance and reliability

There are occasional complaints about iCloud sync efficiency and speed. The Amazon Web Services outage last week underlined how Apple’s services can be limited by its use of that supplier.

Fortunately, a VentureBeat report last year confirms the company is developing its own infrastructure to lessen its reliance on others. “Apple isn’t happy with the fact AWS is not able to very quickly load photos and videos onto users’ iOS devices,” that report said. It remains to be seen if Apple’s teams can deliver the kind of performance and reliability customers expect from its service.

Do you have any ideas how Apple can improve iCloud? Tell the company via its iCloud feedback page.

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