Last week at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, there were the usual announcements of upgrades and new releases for iPhones, iPads, Mac OS, etc. This year was a bit different too with the announcement of iCloud. A lot of commentators greeted this announcement with an indifference, based on an assumption that Apple is belatedly jumping on the Cloud Computing bandwagon in the same way as many other manufacturers.
Google have long been pushing Cloud Computing with their productivity applications and Microsoft have followed suit with Office 365. Both organisations have been pushing the access anywhere of information based on a Web browser user interface model. This has many strengths but the Web browser as the client has many limitations too, not least browser compatibility. In contrast to the approaches taken by Google, Microsoft and many other organisations such as Salesforce.com, Apple have taken a different approach to Cloud access. Apple’s Cloud Computing strategy is not based on the browser. Instead they let installed applications access the data in the cloud. Firing up a word processor and beginning working on a document, the document is in the cloud automatically and transparently. The data can then be accessed by all devices that have the same Apple ID. This model of access has many advantages, enabling the applications to be richer than many of their browser based ‘equivalents’ but still making the maximum use of the benefits Cloud Computing can provide. A new developer API enables all applications to have transparent cloud based data access available.
It will be interesting to see how the iCloud develops. By taking the approach they have, Apple have gone against the tide, but in my view, in a way that definitely is for the better. Making use of the cloud should be transparent to the user and totally seamless. Next time you want to access a cloud based service and have to type in the URL, stop and think how seamless this approach actually is ! I look forward to seeing how iCloud develops and the impact/influence it will have on other companies and their Cloud Computing products.