Friday, April 29, 2011

What's So Great About The "Cloud"?

 The cloud is what will pull our PC's in to the Post-PC Age*; giving seamless integration to all our data in our our increasingly mobile centric lifestyles across multiple forms of devices (e.g. Desktop, Phone, Tablet, Automobile, TV).

In a previous post about the Post-PC age, I was reflecting on the prophetic foresight of Apple. In retrospect we can clearly see Apple set out on their current path at least as far back as the first iPod in 2001. Apple saw the technology in the pipeline and build a vision for a mobile future. The last decade has been patient and incremental steps, heralding in the increasingly mobile landscape that we live in today.

This "lifeline" which links the two platforms now has a name: iCloud

This will be cloud computing demystified for the average user. In typical Apple fashion, it will "just work", seamlessly pooling all of your digital content together across devices.

We can already see the usefulness of the cloud manifesting itself on a micro level on Apples platforms:
  • AirPlay is a relatively new feature for iOS. It is a way to "throw" media content from any mobile device to a nearby video/audio output devices.
  • AirDrop is a newly announced feature coming on OSX Lion. The feature will be a seamless file sharing method, "throwing" any content between nearby devices.
We are on the verge revolutionary leap into seamless integration between mobile iOS 5 and OSX Lion, but on a macro level that will not be limited by proximity (enabled by that massive data center Apple has been building).

Overtime, iCloud will expand in scale, scope, and capability.

On a closely related tangent, I also believe Lion will be the last iteration of "OSX". Lion is a stop gap, before the full unveiling of unified platform for our modern mobile age.

As a new mobile and integrated future dawns, OSX as a traditional immobile and autonomous platform (surrounded by fragmented devices) of the PC Age will fade into the anneals of history.

By the next major OS release, all of Apples devices are going to be rolled into one seamless experience. That's not to say iDevices and Mac's will perform the same functions. On the contrary, they will still perform vital and differentiated roles in our lives, but the paradigm division between the two will be invisible.

Today it is a common routine to bounce back and forth between PC's and mobile devices (sometimes juggling both at the same time), they are often seen as two different platforms, not complementary platforms.

Tomorrow this transition between devices will be intuitive and seamless, not only in the ability to access all your data, but just as importantly in how you access you data.

And it all began with the elegant and intuitive liberation of 1,000 songs from your computer so you could put them "in your pocket".


Anna said...

Speaking of cloud computing... have you discovered Evernote yet?

If I was going to make a product named iCloud, it would be like Evernote for your entire computer. It would take everything on your harddrive/phone/iPod/etc. - pictures, browsing preferences, documents and presentations, games & gaming preferences, calendar events and notes, apps, and so on - and it would automatically sync everything between devices and give you an online backup. If you bought a song on iTunes, it would save it to your iCloud account, so that you could play it on any device capable of playing songs, and so that if your iPod and Macbook Air both got stolen, you would still be able to get the song off your iCloud account again when you bought a new one. Same with buying apps and movies.

DK said...

Yes, Evernote is a good example of an early cloud application. Another great example is Dropbox. But both of these are at the application level, not at the platform level.

When it is baked in to the platform it will be much more integrated. You won't have to think about using it, it will just work.

I wouldn't be surprised if your vision of iCloud is very close in scope to the final product.

It will be interesting how iCloud will function, not only across devices of the same platform, but across platforms. Will I be able to access certain types of my content, like my whole iTunes library through iCloud on my PC at work? Seems conceivable.