Dropbox: What iCloud should have been

Posted on by Mike Evans

The title of this post is a paraphrase of the often-heard refrain about MobileMe and Dropbox: Dropbox is what MobileMe should have been. But the sentiment is no less true when applied to iCloud. Rumour has it that Apple tried to buy Dropbox but were rebuffed. For the Mac user this is a pity. iCloud for the Mac is a non-event and I hope fervently that this disdain is but a temporary aberration.

As Stephen Hackett said last week, iCloud on the Mac sucks. I find it incomprehensible that Apple did not think to expand OS X compatibility beyond the usual MobileMe features that have been working, off and on, for several years.

The main area of omission is in document syncing. If you are using a couple of iOS devices, say an iPhone and an iPad, your iWork documents now sync reasonably well. You can even bring your Mac data down to the iPad and work on your Numbers or Pages files. But try getting it back again: You face a convoluted export process and risk duplication of file names or, worse, genuine loss of data. In fact, to be brutally honest, this is not synchronisation. It is confusion.

To make matters worse, we have lost iDisk which, although never as good as Dropbox, did at least fill a corner if pushed. It seems that the only way to keep a wide variety of data files in sync between Macs is to use Dropbox.

My password file, hosted by 1Password, sits in Dropbox. My Bento files are there, my MarsEdit data is there. In fact, ALL my current data is on Dropbox and the synchronisation works perfectly. Never have I had the slightest problem with overwritten data except by my own doing (as a result of having a data file open on two computers by mistake).

When iCloud was announced we all assumed it would be better than MobileMe. So far, I am mightily disappointed, not that this will worry the new hundreds of millions of iPhone users.


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