With the latest operating system release, Yosemite, Apple is the closest it has been in a long time to figuring out the cloud. With the previous version of iCloud you could not actually see what files were in Apple’s cloud. You could also only save files from Apple apps and a few other App Store blessed apps. It was a strange way to run a cloud even for Apple.
Days before Yosemite’s release I heard rumors that you could see your files on iCloud using a Windows 7 or 8 device. That turned out to be only partially true, it would work but only if you also had an iOS 8 device. Since I am married to the map-happy world of Android that did me little good.
When Yosemite was released, I downloaded it and installed it on my backup Mac, my infamous iMac. I have been around long enough to not install a first round Apple operating system release on my production machine, but other than a couple of fonts that refuse to work and the things that I share from iPhoto disappearing into a black hole, the upgrade went almost as uneventfully my last triple upgrade a year ago.
What I really wanted to see with Yosemite was if Apple was truly making some progress in the cloud. It turned out that they are. It still has an Apple gotcha or two, but iCloud looks a lot more like a real cloud solution than it did a year ago.
I have uploaded and downloaded a variety of files from my Windows 7 & 8 machines and my Mac Mini running Mavericks. iCloud appears to work flawlessly on all of them assuming you don’t try to use Opera as your browser or try to save directly from Mavericks. When I do that, I still cannot see iCloud folders or find the file once I have saved it. It appears Apple does not want me to use anything on my Macs except Yosemite.
When I login from a browser, there are folders and I can see what is in the folders. The interface is slick. Uploading and downloading works well and seems speedy.
I was even surprised that I could get iCloud to work on Xubuntu Linux using Firefox. You can also easily email a file with your iCloud email account. If you are using Pages, Numbers, or Keynote, you can share a document. The iCloud options are only slightly less flexible than the ones you get from your Google Drive.
Options for Google Docs
One Drive, Box, and DropBox all have slightly different options. On DropBox and Box, you can set when a link to document expires. Box has some additional options as you can see.
For uploading and downloading documents, all of them, now including iCloud work very well. If you want to edit documents on the web, either iCloud or One Drive are pretty good options depending on your platform preference.
However, if you have an Android tablet or phone, you will be out of luck with iCloud. I could not get it to work on my original Kindle Fire or my Nexus tablet. I am actually a big fan of One Drive on my Android devices. I am able to access and see Word and Excel files without any problems.
iCloud is a workable solution for storing files and offers iPhone and iPad users some benefits that my ecosystem does not let me test.
There is only one complaint that I still have with iCloud. I can download files from iCloud to my ten year old dual G5 but I cannot upload them.
Somehow it seems like enabling uploading of files from an old computer would be more important than downloading files to it, but I am not going to lose any sleep over it since Dropbox works fine. I am just happy to have a ten year old computer that still boots and allows me to rummage around in the files once in a while.
So compliments to Apple on making some substantial progress with iCloud. Now if Apple would just figure out that supporting Android would not be the end of the world, a few of my friends who have Android and iPhone smartphones might be able to use iCloud instead of Dropbox.
That is it from North Carolina's Crystal Coast where Macs are scarcier than people who don't like water.