OS X Photos & iCloud Photo Library: Good, But Could Be Better

Apple has released Mac OS 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3 and with those releases comes the all new Photos for Mac OS X and iCloud Photo Library to sync your pictures to iCloud.

When Apple announced these two new items at WWDC in June of 2014, I became excited. I was a subscriber of the now shut down service Everpix, and I thought that iCloud Photo Library could be the replacement of that service but work natively with all of my Apple devices.

Photos

Photos is a good first effort to replace iPhoto after it’s thirteen year run. The program is minimalistic and is good in some areas but lacking other areas.

The areas that it is good in are performance, and in quick picture edits. The migrating of my iPhoto library that was 126GB in size at the time of conversion took only 15 minutes. If the library was on my internal SSD it probably would have taken less time, but since it is so large I have my library on an external drive. When the conversion was complete; I did a quick scroll through the pictures and was impressed with how fast it moved through just over 10,000 pictures. The editing controls are more advanced compared to iPhoto. I haven’t had a ton of time to play with them but there are more controls and the ability to finely tune them gives it an advantage over iPhoto.

The areas in which I feel that Photos lacks in are really more feature requests and I am hoping will get added into future releases. Much like the revamped iWork programs were stripped of features and then had them added back in is how I like to think of these “missing” items. The limited access to metadata was somewhat of a disappointment. Most people likely won’t ever use or most likely don’t even know much about metadata, but it would be useful to access and edit metadata as you could in Aperture. The preference pane is pretty lacking, and I am just not sure if that is by design or there are more preferences to come in the future.

Photos Info Window

Photos Info Window

iPhoto's Info Window

iPhoto's Info Window

Aperture's Metadata Window. Hopefully Apple allows Photos to have full metadata editing.

Aperture's Metadata Window. Hopefully Apple allows Photos to have full metadata editing.

Photos Editing Options

Photos Editing Options

iPhoto's Editing Options

iPhoto's Editing Options

Photos Preference Pane

Photos Preference Pane

iPhoto's Preference Pane

iPhoto's Preference Pane

So far my experience with Photos is promising and leaves me to believe that Apple has plans to introduce features that will just improve on a great lightweight application for managing photos.

iCloud Photo Library

With iCloud Photo Library you can choose to upload full resolution files to iCloud and keep a smaller resolution version on your computer and devices to save space. If you have the space to keep a copy of your photos on your computer I would recommend doing so. I currently have an iMac, MacBook Air, iPhone, and an iPad. My plan was; when I did switch my library over to iCloud Photo Library that I would keep a master library on my iMac that would back up to both Time Machine and Backblaze. For my other devices I would turn on iCloud Photo Library and select the option to Optimize Device Storage to free up space on my MacBook Air, iPhone and iPad.

iCloud Photo Library Options

iCloud Photo Library Options

If you notice; I chose to use the word was at the beginning of that last paragraph. I am sure that I will use iCloud Library at some point, but right now I have reservations due for a couple of reasons.

iCloud Photo Library Imports Everything

The main reason for my hesitation is that I have multiple photo libraries; the one library that I would want to use to upload to iCloud Photo Library is the library that I store pictures relating to my immediate family. The pictures that are of the most value to me are those containing my wife, children, and any picture that is relevant to that subject. My concern is the fact that if I turn on iCloud Photo Library; my iPhone will upload every picture in my camera roll to that library. I take a lot of screenshots, download pictures from Safari, Twitter and other places that I don’t want to be included in the library that I reserve for pictures of my family. I also use this library as the screensaver for my AppleTV and iMac. I don’t want to have random screenshots from my devices, or random pictures come across the screen while my children are staring at the television watching pictures, of mostly themselves, float by.

It would be a nice inclusion if the system could sort out screenshots automatically and filter them into their own album separate from the Camera Roll. I am not sure how pictures that are saved from apps like Safari could be sorted out into their own album. There may be a way for iOS to insert metadata into the picture at the time of the selecting the Save Image button and label it Saved From Safari, or whatever application you used, and then using that Saved From text as a trigger the photo could be moved into a Saved Images album that is also separate from the Camera Roll, excluded from iCloud Photo Library, but included in iCloud Backups.

Buttons that appear in iOS when you tap and hold a picture in safari to allow you to save it.

Buttons that appear in iOS when you tap and hold a picture in safari to allow you to save it.

I mentioned that I had Everpix earlier and the reason that it ties into this article is that I could tell it to target a specific iPhoto library and it would upload that library to their servers. I could if I so chose to, turn on automatic uploading of pictures from any device that I installed their applications on but the fact that I didn’t have to is why I liked it. I could be in control of what went into that library stored in the cloud. Then I could then let my wife or anyone else in my family have access to view the picture on their devices; which brings me to my next point.

Family Sharing - (Sort of)

My other hesitation is that Family Sharing isn’t a built in option. There are work arounds to be able to share photos with family members but it would seem like there would be an easier way. I would like to set my iCloud Photo Library as described above up on iCloud and have my wife, and when they are old enough, our children access the pictures from all of their devices. However I would be the one who manages the main family photo library and they would be able to view it without me having to manually drag the pictures to the family album.

I understand that this is a difficult problem to solve, and not everyone needs this kind of fine tuned precision over their photos. I am guessing though that there are many families out there that would like to control their pictures this way.

Preservation

It is great that we can take as many pictures as we want and or have the space to store them. On top of that we have the ability to carry those pictures around with us wherever we go. The problem that I see is the preservation of those pictures in the future. I am the one who currently takes the SD card out of the camera (or offloads them from my iPhone), in between importing the pictures I go through a renaming process that tags the pictures with a date and timestamp for the filename, and then I import them into iPhoto. Every couple of months I grab my wife’s phone and drag out all of her pictures with Image Capture, and go through the same process. All of that, as convoluted as it is, works fine for me. I am the digital file collector who curates our photos. My biggest concern is that if I were to get hit by a bus tomorrow; How will my family’s photos be managed and preserved?

Years ago you would have taken less pictures, they would all be developed and sorted into photo albums that could be pulled off of a shelf at any time. There was no technical knowledge required in passing those photos on to your spouse, and eventually your children. I know that I have to teach my wife about how I manage our photos, and where there are stored. That would give me some comfort that she knows if something were to happen to me that she knows where they are stored and will hopefully be able to manage them as I do. The comfort that I would have being able to use my iCloud account to store all of the family photos is that the pictures would be there and preserved for the future if and when my main computer died, if there was a house fire, or any number of unfortunate events that are likely to happen in life.

Apple has created these amazing devices that allow us to take pictures when we maybe wouldn’t have had a camera on us, or at least a device with a camera this good. Photos [1] are a very important and valuable piece of data that are irreplaceable. Memories are great but a picture can send you right back into that moment and help you remember something that you had maybe forgotten about that point in time. With iCloud; Apple also has an opportunity to help people preserve this precious data for generations to come.


  1. Videos are something that I left out of the article all together, but can be included in this statement as well. Photos manages the videos that you take with your devices, even giving them a dedicated album which is another area that makes it an improvement over iPhoto.  ↩

iOS 8 Feature Highlight: Medical ID

With iOS 8 and the Health app, Apple has allowed you to create a Medical ID card that you can enter vital information into, and if you so chose you can allow this information to be displayed on the lock-screen of your device. (Click here see how to set up a Medical ID.)

The purpose of this information being accessible from the lock screen is that if something were to happen to you, a medical responder could know who you are and any pertinent information that they would need to know if you were in a state that would prevent you from being able to communicate it to them.

Medical ID Information Displayed

  • Birthdate
  • Medical Conditions
  • Medical Notes
  • Allergies & Reactions
  • Medications
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Blood type
  • Organ Donor
  • Weight
  • Height

Barrier to Entry

Medical ID is a great addition to iOS, however I have some issues with its execution.

Information is Hidden

The main problem that I have with it is that in order to access the information you have to know it is there. Your phone has to be locked with a passcode so when the person slides to unlock the screen the passcode screen must appear. They then have to know to click on the Emergency button at the bottom left corner, and then click on Medical ID. There is no need to have that information buried and require that someone have the "training" to know how to get to it. Granted if a stranger finds you and decides to use your phone to call 911 they may stumble across it, but there is a greater chance they may be using their own phone.

There are just too many variables and assumptions that make me wonder why it is even there. As more and more medical professionals become aware of it they may know to look there, or the 911 operator may say can you go to the Health app and get me the following information? Until then I guess the best way to get it out there is to tell people to set it up and make them aware that it is a feature.

Not All Devices Created Equal

The second issue I have with it is in regard to Apple's continuing desire to keep all of their iOS devices segmented by choosing to not include an application on one device or to run a different version of the application on another device.

Health is yet another application that the iPad mysteriously does not get, it was the first thing I noticed when my iPad rebooted after upgrading because the Tips application was the only additional app that my home screen had. When I upgraded my iPhone it had Health and Tips. I am aware that you won't be taking your iPad out for a jog to collect health data, but Health on the iPad just makes sense from a standpoint of syncing your dashboard stats, and using Medical ID.

Over the weekend I help some family members upgrade their devices and I noticed on the iPod Touch that I upgraded that the Health app was included. This furthered my confusion, because if not the iPad why they iPod?

When I went to show the person how to set up a Medical ID for her son I was dumbfounded to discover that Medical ID was absent from the application. It is unfortunate because it would be the perfect scenario for Medical ID. My thought was this a great way for kids to carry around an identity; if they got lost an adult could get the required information to get ahold of parents. In this case he is an 8 year old child who has allergies which could be listed out in detail in this Medical ID and could very well be used to save his life. I did some research and saw that there were a lot of people who were disappointed that this was not included on the iPad as they carry their iPad with them everywhere as their only device.


I am hoping that in the future they will realize that all devices should get the same functionality and to make Medical ID more accessible to someone who isn't tech savvy. It could help save someones life by allowing for a more intuitive discover of the feature.

Forcing iCloud To Reset Syncing On All Devices

Update:

If you have upgraded to iCloud Drive you will not be able to force iCloud to sync using the method described below. From research I am seeing that the best way to force a sync is to reboot and it should refresh iCloud, and or to create a new document. I am still trying to figure out if there are other ways to force iCloud Drive to sync.

Note: Solution is below if you would like to skip the backstory.

I have heard the frustrations over how iCloud syncs and how much of a nightmare it is for developers to implement it into their apps. There are many developers who have created their own sync solution as a result of not being able to get their apps to work with iCloud syncing. There are also stories of people loosing their data while using iCloud.

I personally have never had a problem with syncing data from the apps that use iCloud to sync until my wife started having problems with 1Password a couple of weeks ago, which I detailed here.[1] Even though that was my wife’s data I am I.T. person for our house and I had to deal with the frustration of syncing not working.

Fast forward a couple of weeks later and I decided that I wanted to upgrade my laptop to a MacBook Air and prepare my MacBook Pro to sell it to fund the purchase of my new computer. I ordered the Air before selling the Pro because I wanted to make sure that I transferred all of the data over to the new computer before I wiped my Pro. I turned on my Air and went through the set up process signing into my iCloud account and turning on all of the features of the service.

The first app that I installed was 1Password[2] as a lot of my password are long passwords using the built in generator I would have preferred to have that installed on my machine before I proceeded to install anything else. I opened up 1Password, clicked that I am an existing user and it asked me where my data was. I selected iCloud and the window stated that it could not find any existing data in iCloud. I have an iPhone, iPad, iMac, and a MacBook Pro that I have never had a problem with my 1Password syncing between, so I was confused as to why it wasn’t finding the data now. Since having dealt with my wife’s 1Password issues a couple of weeks ago I thought I would have this fixed in no time. That would prove to be an incorrect statement.

My first move was to check my Mobile Documents folder, and I examined the folder that contains the 1Password data called 2BUA8C4S2C.com.agilebits.onepassword, and there were 24 files in it and the size was 867kb. I checked my iMac and noticed that it had 32 files in it and was 6.6mb in size. Another thing that I noticed was that my Mobile Documents overall folder size on my Air was 401mb, but on my iMac it was 557MB. I went into System Preferences -> iCloud and unchecked Documents & Data and selected Delete From Mac. Restarted the computer went to ~/Library and dragged the Mobile Documents.xxxxxx[3] to the trash. Restarted and re-enabled Documents & Data and waited quite awhile to make sure that all of the data had time to download. Upon opening 1Password I was greeted with the same window stating that my data could not be found. I uninstalled 1password, removing it’s associated preference files, and reinstalled only to receive the same error. Fed up with trying to make it work I ran the 1Password DiagnosticTool and sent their support an email.

The next night I hadn’t heard back from AgileBits so I decided to call up Apple. In my mind I concluded that the problem was with iCloud and not 1Password. The gentleman who answered the phone asked me why I had called and I let him know that I was having an issue with data not syncing with iCloud on my new computer. I said that I have it working with all of my current devices but it seems like not all of my documents are downloading to the Air. When he found out that the issue was with 1Password he said that there was nothing that he could because Apple does not support the syncing of third party apps with iCloud. He said that the developer must not have coded their application correctly and that it is an issue I need to take up with them.[4] I was instantly livid but kept my cool saying sternly You mean to tell me that this application works flawlessly on four other devices yet it won’t sync to this brand new computer, because it is an app problem? Everything points to this being an issue with iCloud not syncing properly. His reply was that he can understand my frustration and see how I would think that it would be iCloud. I was told that if I was having an issue with my Apple apps syncing with iCloud then he would be able to help me.

After not getting an answer from Apple I decided to open up Byword[2] since it uses iCloud to sync as well, and over half of my documents were missing. I opened up Safari, went to their website and sent an email to their support team. Within an hour I received an email from their support team that said:

Try logging in at http://icloud.com, go to Account Settings , Advanced and perform Reset Documents & Data. Does that fix the syncing issue?
Reset Documents & Data will not delete any of documents or data. It will simply reset the syncing information on all your devices that the sync process starts with a clean slate on all them.

I had not tried that because I didn’t know that the setting even existed. However it worked perfectly as described. It worked so well in fact that it fixed sync issues with apps that I didn’t even know I had a problem with, because my Mobile Documents was now 805MB now instead of the original 557MB that I thought it was. The conclusion that I have made is that it was a problem with iCloud syncing all along so below I have provided a couple of screen shots detailing how to force iCloud to re-sync to all of your devices.

Force iCloud Sync

Go to icloud.com and log in with your Apple ID.

From the iCloud home screen click on your name in the upper right hand corner.

Within the drop down menu click on Account Settings.

Click the Advanced row

Select the option to Reset Documents & Data. You will be taken to one more screen that tells you:

Reset and merge all documents and data on iCloud with what is currently on your devices. No documents or data will be deleted. More Details.

Click Reset Documents & Data again.

After that you will want to restart every device that is associated with your Apple ID and that has iCloud sync enabled. Any problems that you have had with applications syncing should now be fixed.

This option should be built into the iCloud Preference Pane, and the iCloud Settings for iOS instead of being an obscure setting on the web version of iCloud. When I called AppleCare the Advisor should have at least told me about this option[5] rather than trying to say that the developers at AgileBits must not know how to program.


  1. I actually take that back. I have had problems with Apple’s notes not syncing correctly, and disappearing. So much so that I use Simplenote now.  ↩

  2. Disclosure: Link is an affiliate link to the iTunes store.  ↩

  3. The xxxxx will be a series of numbers and be shown like Mobile Documents.92991882  ↩

  4. My first thought was you are really going to throw a developer under the bus like that? Developers are dropping the Appstore left and right, so it really isn’t in their best interest to be making comments like that.  ↩

  5. He may not have even known about it, but he should.  ↩

iOS 8 Music Recognition: Shazam or Apple's Own

There have been rumors that Apple will partner with Shazam to bring music recognition to iOS by using Siri. The user would ask Siri something along the lines of "What song is playing?" and Siri will pull in the results using Shazam's technology for recognizing music.

I have used Shazam since it came out and would love to be able to have the ability to find out what song is playing quicker. There are times that I am at the tail end of a song and by the time I get to Shazam the song is over.

The rumor that Apple and Shazam are partnering I think is plausible, but then I got an email from a service that I am a member of. There is an app by the name of Soundtracking. Their tagline is Share the Share the soundtrack to your life™. In a nutshell you have an app on your phone that will identify music either buy automatically identifying what song is currently playing from your music app, or if there is a song that is in your heard and you want to share your interest in you can search for the song, and finally if there is a song on the radio you can use their song recognition ability within the app to identify what song is playing.

Once you have used one of these three methods the app will bring up a picture of the album cover and if it is available a preview of the song. You can then write anything about the song, how it makes you feel or if you chose you can just post the song. While posting to Soundtracking you can also connect your account to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram.

Your posts show up in a twitter like feed, and you can follow other peoples feeds much like twitter as well.

This past week I recieved an email from them stating that thier Terms of Service had been updated. I usually don't read TOS changes, even though I should, but for once decided to read it. A paragraph in particular caught my eye.

THIRD PARTY SERVICES AND BUSINESS TRANSFER SoundTracking uses a variety of third party contractors, vendors, social networking services, and music content delivery providers to perform services such as application and website management and hosting, user account creation, out-sourced music audio features, and email marketing. In such instances, your personal information may be shared with these third-party services, providers, vendors, and contractors for the purpose of performing services and enhancing the user experience on behalf of SoundTracking, and in accordance with our privacy policy and the privacy policy with those third parties. These third parties may have a privacy policy that applies to you if it is a social networking service such as, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare or music content delivery service, such as, but not limited to, iTunes, Spotify, or RDIO, with which you also have a user account and have authorized to be connected to your SoundTracking user account. In addition, if SoundTracking or any of its services get acquired by another company, your personal information may be shared and transferred to that company.

The last line is what jumped out at me, and I immediatley thought of the rumors of iOS 8 having music recognition. Not only would they be getting the song recognition, but they would also be getting a social network. Apple tried to start their own social service withing iTunes, called Ping which was a huge failure. However it would make complete sense for Apple to take over an existing social network with an established user base.

Another feature of Soundtracking is the ability to listen to a song preview which is powered by iTunes with the ability to purchase the song from iTunes.

In their FAQ it is stated:

> What are the sources of music audio found on the SoundTracking service?

The music on SoundTracking is powered by iTunes, the digital music service owned and operated by Apple, Inc. SoundTracking is an official iTunes Affiliate service and allows users to stream 30-second previews directly from iTunes servers and purchase digital downloads of those songs. In addition to iTunes, users can also connect their Spotify and RDIO paid subscriber accounts using the SoundTracking iOS app, which is enabled by a direct integration with Spotify and RDIO under their Terms of Service.

I'm not sure that Apple is going to have the music recognition feature built into iOS at all, but think that it is something that is useful and could be included. I am interested to see what they do impliment and if they are going to give social networking a stab again. After all, Phil Schiller and Eddie Cue are already members. They both were earlier adapters, although Schiller's last post was 37 months ago, and Cue has never posted.

iOS Screenshots Settings

The iPhone needs to have a dedicated camera roll for screenshots. I am always taking screenshots with my iPhone when I see an album in iTunes that I want to remember to download later, capture a section of an iMessage conversation, need a receipt of a purchase that I made, and countless other situations. These screenshots I want to have available for quick access later but they get buried amongst the million pictures that I take of my daughter[1], and are soon forgotten. Then when I want to import my camera roll into iPhoto I have to sort out these screenshots by not selecting them in the import window, and then processing them from the phone by deleting the ones I have already taken action on or saving them somewhere else to process later.

Admittedly this problem is probably not one that the average user has to deal with. Honestly I would bet that there are more people who don’t know that you can take a screenshot with your iPhone than people who know that you can. So all that I am asking is if in the Photos & Camera section in Settings that there be a toggle switch to send screenshots to a separate camera roll.[2]


  1. That seems almost like a literal figure at times.  ↩

  2. These need to be in their own camera roll, not their own album. Albums only reference pictures that live in the Camera Roll.  ↩

iCons!!!!

I wrote in a post on the eve of WWDC, that linked to a supposed mock up of the actual icons used in iOS 7, that hopefully the new icons do not look like the "mockups" that 9to5mac leaked. Prior to that post i had written a piece expressing my concerns about the rumors that I had heard about Apple's move towards a flat windows 8 like design.

Unfortunatley the 9to5mac leak turned out to be true, and I think that it was an actual leak. The author tried to pass it of that they had their graphics department mock the icons up in photoshop. I was hopeful that they had a new graphic designer who hadn't had much experience creating icons, coupled with the fact that this person was creating them based on how they were described to him, or her. However these horrible icons are a reality of the next operating system. I just don't understand how anyone could think that these icons are passable for Apple's standards, but there they are.

The rest of the operating system, for the most part looks amazing; save for the akward translucency in certain places. The OS certainly is not flat. It has a depth to it, and I can't wait to have a copy of it to see how it works in person.

For a comparison of what the icons use to look like and what they will look like in iOS7 I have linked to a picture from an article on mashable.com

iOS icons

I would have prefered that the icons looked like these that appleinsider.com had posted before WWDC.

iOS flat icons

Is iOS 7 Laying the Path Towards a Larger iPhone?

During the WWDC Keynote Monday, Apple pulled the curtain off of their redesign of iOS. I have my thoughts on certain aspects of the design, such as iconography, but will use this post to speculate on some observations I made while watching the iOS 7 demos.

The operating system has seen a radical change, and one of the most prominent aspects of the design is the use of layered sheets for things like Notification Center, Spotlight, Control Center, and the updated Share Sheets. Apple states that "Technology should never get in the way of humanity.", however while watching the videos I noticed that with these new overlays it almost seems that the current iPhone seems a little small for this new design.

My wife who loves to watch the keynotes with me actually said out loud, about the same time I had the thought, "It almost seems that the phone needs to be bigger now." I couldn't agree more; I think that Apple may be setting itself up to introduce another device size into the iOS world. Certainly this isn't the first post to proclaim that, but watching the Keynote and seeing iOS 7 in action I thought it looked like it was designed to be on a device that has more screen real estate to afford to it.

I love the size and weight of the iPhone 5, and have often wondered how cumbersome a wider phone might be. Even though I laugh at the oversized Samsung phones out there; I think I wouldn't mind seeing a bigger iPhone introduced this fall. I don't mind that is, as long as I don't see people walking around with iPad Mini sized devices strapped to the side of their faces talking on them.

What iOS Looks Like (Hopefully Not)

After I posted my thoughts on flat design I checked a couple of my regular sites and saw that 9to5mac.com has a new post up called What iOS 7 looks like. They had someone in their graphics department mock up what the new icons look like. Say it isn't so...Here is an except from the post regarding the icons.

Yes, they are flat. Our in-house Photoshop guru Michael Steeber has mocked up (Above) the icons based on descriptions which closely match what I believe we’ll see tomorrow.

Thoughts on Flat Design

I have been using Apple products for the last 15 years, and I personally have a preference in how well the operating system of Apple products stands out against all of it's competitors. When I first started using the Mac it was running the classic mac operating system, or Platinum rather. When I got my hands on a copy of the first version of OS X I was informed that I shouldn't install it on my main machine because it is a little buggy, but I went ahead and did it anyhow even though I had one computer; that being my main machine.

Ever since laying my eyes on the Aqua interface I haven't seen a better looking user interface come along. Granted Apple has changed the look of it through the years, certainly for the better, but it always gives me a feeling that I am using a superior interface. One look at any version of iOS and you can quickly associate it's features with Aqua.

There have been a lot of rumors since the departure of Scott Forstall, and the control of software design being handed over to Jony Ive that iOS is going to see a radical overhaul. I would assume that OS X would follow suit, if not in 10.9 but in version 11. I for one do not like what I am hearing about the design direction, and I have seen mockups, and supposed leaks of the actual icons. These "leaks" look as if Apple is stealing their designs from Microsoft Windows 8. Personally I hated the look of Windows 8 when I first saw the screens of the OS. Everything in these flat designs seem so uninspired and generic.

WWDC is less than 12 hours away so we all will know soon enough the direction that Ive has decided to take iOS. I can only hope that he has not tried to do so much of a dramatic change in the little time he has had being in charge of the interface design. I would rather that iOS 7 and iOS 6 look exactly the same if I can have an iCloud that works better than what we currently have.

iOS Dictionary App?

dictionary.png

iOS ships with a handful of generic utility apps such as Calculator, Stocks, Weather and Voices Memos to name a few. These are not the only apps that come pre-installed; but they usually fall under scrutiny from a number of posts recommending that you quickly tuck them in a folder, and replace them with any number of apps from the App Store. 

One app that I realized that is not on iOS is a Dictionary app. You can select a word;  click Define and a style sheet displaying the definition appears. However there is not a full blown Dictionary app such as the one that ships with Mac OS X that you can search. Another feature of the OS X dictionary is that it has a built in Thesaurus. 

I know that a dictionary app isn't going to change the world or anything, but it is interesting to me to see what Apple choses to add or not add to iOS. With that said I am trying real hard to not launch into a long drawn out post about the fact that the iPad doesn't ship with the Calculator, or Voice Memos apps.

iCloud storage relative to amount of devices

Every iCloud user is given 5GB of free storage, and that can be upgraded to 20GB of storage for $40.00 a year or to 50GB of storage for $100.00 a year. I currently have my account upgraded to the 20GB of storage, as I was pushing the limit of the free 5GB of storage that was given to me. 

Recently someone I know made the switch from the Microsoft world to a Mac. The transition slowly starting with an iPad, then an iPod touch, and then eventually he bought a Mac for home use. A conversation about iCloud came up between the two of us, and he was complaining about the amount of storage that Apple offers for free. He voiced his concern that he has these multiple devices and only 5GB of free iCloud space. His thought was that if he buys multiple devices then he should get an extra 5GB of storage on iCloud for no extra charge. My response was, you only get 5GB and that is just the way it is. If Apple gave away 5GB for every device then almost no one would pay to upgrade their iCloud, and Apple wouldn't make money off of the service. (I assume that Apple doesn't really make money off of iCloud as much as it probably turns whatever profit they receive from iCloud upgrades into maintaining the infrastructure.)

Since having the the discussion I have started giving it some thought and I have started to change my feelings towards the subject. I still feel that 5GB per device is an excessive amount for Apple to give away for free, and that it would never happen. However I do think that Apple could compensate multi device users with additional storage space to a point.

In my case I have two mobile devices, and two computers. OS X does not fully utilize iCloud for storage, but I would guess at WWDC this year it will be revealed that the Mac is getting more iCloud integration and therefore it will take up more of that storage footprint. I don't really now what a reasonable amount of storage would be for Apple to give out, but even another 5GB for free would be welcomed. The problem however with this whole philosophy is how does Apple determine how much space to give someone, and what happens if that person sells their device, should they be able to keep their upgraded storage since they have one less device?

If I look at my iCloud usage the only OS X apps that are using iCloud storage are Pages, Keynote, and Pixelmator. I had recently considered purchasing Together 3 which I would chosen to use iCloud to keep all of my stuff in sync between all of my devices. Something like that would use a significant amount of storage over time. If I go to my iCloud settings and look at my total storage used is, it is 8 GB, so I don't even need the full 25 GB that I currently have, but I need more than the 5GB that was given to me. 

Since developers have such a hard time trying to implement Core Data syncing I don't think that this is such an issue right now. This is because a lot of developers choose to provide access to Dropbox, or they build their own syncing services for their apps. The majority of an iCloud users storage is taken up by iOS backups, but if Apple finally gets Core Data right and developers start using iCloud more for their app data, then I think people are are going to start finding the need to require more iCloud storage for their devices.

Whenever Apple decides to make iCloud functional for developers to use the service to sync their app data I think that they are going to have to either give storage increases for people who buy multiple devices or offer a wider selection of upgrades for storage, such as more tiers than their current offerings.

If Apple is boring then why are you writing about them?

The title of Henry Blodget's article just kills me.

I find his claims that Apple needs to make an iPhone with a better battery, laughable. I have an iPhone 5 and out of the 3, 3G, and 4 it has the best battery life I have seen in an iPhone. Apple is the leader in developing better technology when it comes to batteries.

Moron.

Wanted: Local iCloud Backups

The move towards the cloud is making it easier to get all of your data on all of your devices with little to no effort.

For the purpose of getting your contacts, calendars, bookmarks, reading lists, reminders, and notes on all of your devices, Apple's iCloud just works, as advertised. This has at least always just worked for me...so far.

I have completely switched my devices over to iCloud to let it manage this data, but I have been nervous ever since I turned it on. The fear is that I may wake up one day, open my contacts and there is nothing there. The same goes for all of the personal data I listed above.

All of these items could be manually backed up, but that would be time consuming and most likely something that you would easily forget to do.

It would be nice if Apple allowed users the ability to automatically download backups of these databases with the flip of a toggle switch. Having the ability to download a backup of this data, and allow it to save two or three revisions of that database would definitely make me feel more at ease with having my data in iCloud.

Even if Apple had been successful with all of it's attempts at online services, which everyone knows they have not, I would still be as leery with fully trusting that they would be able to protect this data forever.

For now I will just have to set reminders, and hopefully not be too busy to follow the process to manually back this data up so that I could restore it in the future if need be.

Samsung's New Strategy: Copy the Future instead of the Past

I love the title of the above linked article posted on CNBC.com. "Samsung Gets a Head Start on Apple With SmartTVs." You mean they are finally going to make a smart tv? Actually no this isn't their first attempt to make a "smart tv". They have been making what has been considered a smart tv for years.

Samsung has been making smartTVs for six years, but the company may have felt under pressure to release its new line early in the year because of speculation that Apple will roll out its own TV in the fall.

So in other words, because Apple is doing it (rumored to be anyhow), than Samsung has to step up and make one? The article goes on to state that it doesn't care what other companies are doing, but they are focusing their efforts on what they are creating.

The iPhone has been out since 2007, which revolutionized the phone industry, and brought about true smart phones. Samsung Followed. The iPad came out in 2010, and revolutionized what people perceived as tablets. Samsung followed.The AppleTV set top box has been out since 2007, and rumors have been present about Apple evolving the set top box into a TV of it's own since. It has been exactly six years, the same amount of time Samsung has been making smartTV's according to the quoted article, that the AppleTV has been on the market. Samsung rode the coat tails of the first two markets, and with the help of investing so much cash in trash advertising*, they have succeeded in growing their presence in at least the phone market. You would think that a company who has had six years of experience making smart televisions, and more experience in television design in general, would have been able to best Apple on this market. 

It seems to me that Samsung's latest strategy is to get ahead of Apple by taking rumored products that may be released in the future and come out with them first, or at least alert the media and let them know that they will be coming out with such products. They are coming out with a TV that will be able to run apps, do all of the tasks you can do on your phone assumably, and they are also coming out with a watch like device (of course this is a rumor), but where have I heard of that one before?

It is well known that Apple takes a long time to develop their products so they get it right. (The iPad has been in existence since as early as 2002) Even if Apple doesn't come out with a full fledged television, I am almost certain they will expand their TV brand. If Samsung does beat Apple to the market with a television equivalent to their phones, they might want to look into copying Apple in the innovation department or they are doomed to lose that market as well. 

*The Samsung Trash Ads comment: I say this because I cannot stand when a company directly attacks another company in it's advertising. Apple was never named in the commercials, but it is completely obvious that they, and their user for that matter are the direct target. I don't believe Apple's commercials have been so bold at all. If I am wrong and someone is willing to show me where than I will be happy to say that I am wrong. 

Skydrive...Why is this news?

There are news reports out today that Apple is app blocking Microsoft's update to their SkyDrive iOS app. I am not really sure why this is even news, but I will play along and give attention to it. However I will do so to prove that it shouldn't be news. Jared Newman over at PCWorld Writes:

Apple's policy on subscription revenues isn't a new revelation. The company first announced these rules in February 2011, and began enforcing them the following summer. In short, any app that offers a subscription plan must give a 30 percent cut to Apple in perpetuity, even if the subscriber stops using iOS devices. Apps aren't allowed to send users to the Web to subscribe, where they would be able to avoid the fee, nor are they allowed to set higher prices through the app to offset Apple's cut.

So nearing in on two years after the policy change Microsoft tries to submit an update to their app that allows people to make a subscription purchase and it seems to be their belief that they shouldn't have to give up 30% to Apple? It really is unbelievable that people are siding with Microsoft on this issue when all of this was huge news back in 2011 when Apple instituted the policy change. Microsoft should have known that Apple was going to push back.

Also Mr. Newman, about this line

It's hard not to draw a comparison between this disagreement and the recent Instagram-Twitter spat, in which Instagram removed direct Twitter photo integration in favor of sending users to its own website via links.

That is a stretch. It really isn't the same. Maybe if this were February 2011 when they initially instituted the policy change I would agree, but it has been well known if you offer a subscription service you have to allow that subscription to be purchased through the app and Apple gets 30%.