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Inside OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion GM: using iCloud as the smart, automated way to store documents

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 
In OS X Mountain Lion, iCloud begins to take shape as the smart, automated way to store documents on a per-app, device independent basis, incrementally displacing the local file system that non-technical users have long struggled to comprehend and replacing it with a cloud-based service that connects and synchronizes desktop and mobile devices via the Internet.

Steve Jobs debuted Apple's iCloud strategy last summer at the company's 2011 Worldwide Developer Conference. Over the past year, iCloud may have appeared to be simply a renaming of Apple's beleaguered MobileMe, as it has principally provided the same email, contacts and calendar services that MobileMe has since 2008 (and .Mac had since 2002). However, Jobs' vision for the future of iCloud went well beyond the commonplace internet accounts at the heart of MobileMe and its .Mac predecessor.

Jobs initially outlined his vision for cloud computing in a presentation at WWDC 1997, where he described the cloud storage network technologies put into place at NeXT over the previous decade. At the time, these features were simply too complex and expensive to broadly offer to consumers. However, fourteen years later Jobs described at WWDC 2011 how Apple would be deploying iCloud as the "next big insight."





Jobs' "big insight" focused on the problems of having multiple desktops and mobile devices, each with its own local file system storing documents, music, photos and other media. "Keeping these devices in sync is driving us crazy!" he said. ?We?ve got a solution for this problem. We?re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device. We?re going to move your hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud.?

iCloud takes shape under OS X Lion

Seven years ago, speaking at the "All Things Digital" conference in 2005, Jobs noted that "in every user interface study we?ve ever done," Apple found that "it?s pretty easy to learn how to use these things until you hit the file system and then the learning curve goes vertical. So you ask yourself, why is the file system the face of the OS? Wouldn?t it be better if there was a better way to find stuff?"

Jobs then contrasted the conventional OS-level file system for managing documents on a computer to an email application, explaining that "there?s always been a better way to find stuff. You don?t keep your e-mail on your file system, right? The app manages it. And that was the breakthrough, as an example, in iTunes," Jobs stated.

"You don?t keep your music in the file system, that would be crazy. You keep it in this app that knows about music and knows how to find things in lots of different ways. Same with photos: we?ve got an app that knows all about photos. And these apps manage their own file storage."

Six years later, Jobs unveiled iCloud as the solution to multi-device, cross platform media and document access, moving a variety of data stores that were once tied to a particular Mac into the cloud.

iTunes Match


"iTunes in the Cloud," and in particular its iTunes Match feature (above), would allow users to access their Mac's entire iTunes music collection from their iOS devices, for example, while iCloud's new PhotoStream feature (below) let users see their photos anywhere, from mobile devices to their Macs to their living room television via Apple TV. New purchases from the App Store, iTunes and iBookstore can now appear on any other device the user owns, automatically, via iCloud.



With iCloud, end users don't have to think about where those individual media or app files are stored or how, any more than they have to worry about the precise changes in voltage or magnetic fields that store the bits that represent the data in those files.

In addition to managing apps, photos and music, Apple's iCloud continues to link together users' Macs and iOS devices with network Mail, Contacts, Calendars and Safari bookmarks (and now open tabs, as shown below), having added "everywhere access" for Reminders and Notes and Messages and FaceTime.

iCloud tab listings


Related networking features are also tied to the same iCloud account, including Game Center friends and achievements, Back to My Mac remote access, and the Find My iPhone and Find My Mac services for locating, alerting and remotely wiping missing devices.

Mountain Lion & Documents in the Cloud

The big new iCloud feature in Mountain Lion, however, is completed support for Documents in the Cloud, the foundational network architecture that erases users' dependance upon manually managing documents in the file system.

Apple first debuted the feature in its mobile iWork apps, allowing iOS users to, for example, start work on a Pages document on their iPhone, subsequently make changes on their iPad, and then access the same up-to-data document on their iPhone again for presentation or printing.



In Mountain Lion, developers can add iCloud's "Documents in the Cloud" features to their own apps, allowing users to access and edit documents stored in a central repository (Apple's iCloud servers), so there's no need to manually manage version control or sync updates between a user's computers or other devices.

Additionally, Apple supports cross platform editing of documents between iOS and OS X, erasing the boundaries and limitations of the conventional local file system, physically stored on a single device. While this may sound similar to basic cloud-based file sharing such as Dropbox or Apple's iDisk from ten years ago, it's a lot more sophisticated under the hood, particularly in terms of its app-based security model, as is described below.

Apple hasn't yet released support for "Documents in the Cloud" in its own OS X iWork apps including Pages, Numbers and Keynote because this feature requires the as-yet-unreleased OS X Mountain Lion. But last year, Apple updated its iWork apps to support the new features of OS X Lion after its public release, including Auto Save, Full Screen apps, Resume, and Versions. So it makes sense to expect new OS X updates to iWork as soon as Mountain Lion ships.

On page 2 of 3: iCloud's Documents & Data


iCloud's Documents & Data

While iWork's desktop cloud support hasn't yet arrived, other apps Apple bundles with OS X demonstrate iCloud's "Documents in the Cloud" model in Mountain Lion. This support is dependent upon the type of documents and data an app uses.

For example, in Mountain Lion, Safari 6.0 makes transparent use of iCloud to store and display the tabs open on other devices (as noted above), as well as the user's Reading List and other Bookmarks. Reminders and Notes similarly share their data across a user's devices without explicitly saving actual documents, just like Mail, Calendar and Contacts.

Bundled applications that are oriented around saved documents, such as TextEdit and Preview, illuminate how iCloud's "Documents in the Cloud" will function. By default, both apps offer to save new documents to iCloud (as depicted in their Save dialogs, below).





When targeting iCloud as a save location, the disclosure triangle that would normally allow users to browse files and folders in the file system is greyed out. There's also no button to create a new iCloud Folder (you create these like iOS, by dragging file icons together. As on iOS, "Folders" in iCloud are not standard file system subdirectories, but simply organizing features that only exist one level deep.)

In previous builds of Mountain Lion, the disclosure triangle did function, and presented a more complex view of iCloud's files within TextEdit (below), complete with file type options, a button to create a new folder, and a Finder-like sidebar of other locations in the file system. That's all now gone in the latest build.



Rather than trying to make iCloud appear to be an extension of the desktop file system, Mountain Lion treats iCloud as an alternative location outside the file system, and which doesn't work like the file system (no nestled hierarchies of folders, for example). In contrast, OS X has always treated removable devices and remote servers (including MobileMe's iDisk) as if they were an expansion of the file system, rather than a parallel universe of storage. Dropbox cloud storage similarly presents its files as a local folder within the user's home directory. So iCloud's presentation is a new concept.

Stated simply: while iDisk, Dropbox, local servers and removable disks are all presented as in being in a hierarchical structure rooted to the local computer, iCloud and its contents (including documents and organizing folders) exists in an entirely separate world distinct from the local computer's file system.

iCloud without the cloud

In order to explicitly not save files to iCloud, users can simply pick a folder in the local file system (including on a remote server or to a Dropbox folder) instead when saving. The same standard popup menu also allows users to specify saving a file to iOS-style Folders created within iCloud (below, a "Screenshots" Folder is listed as a save target, as well as local disks and Finder sidebar "favorites").



The advantage to saving files to iCloud is that they'll be managed by Apple. You don't have to worry about which desktop you saved a particular file on; as long as your system is connected to iCloud, you'll see the same set of files across all your systems (and mobile devices, in the case of cross platform apps such as iWork titles).

What happens when you work offline with no Internet connection? It appears OS X mirrors all of your iCloud files locally, as even when unplugged from the Internet, you can still see the files you've saved to iCloud. You can also save files to iCloud without a network connection. Of course, they will continue to be cached locally until you again connect to the Internet.

As with the new ultra streamlined, option free iCloud save dialogs (show above), open dialogs showing the files available on iCloud have a simple interface reminiscent of iOS: a distinct, dark linen background with icons that can be selected and grouped into Folders (as depicted below). There are two view options: an icon mode and list mode offering some additional file information.



From on open file dialog, local files you've saved while offline appear with a iCloud "dotted outline" icon. In file icon view, the document's icon is badged "waiting" to indicate that the file hasn't yet synced up with Apple's servers (and therefore won't be accessible from other systems until it does).





iCloud not found in the Finder, but still searchable

iCloud-savvy apps show what documents the user has created and saved to iCloud within these special, simplified save and open file dialogs, but those files don't show up anywhere in the Finder. That is, until you perform a Spotlight search.

If you go looking for an iCloud repository of files in the Finder akin to the previous .Mac/MobileMe iDisk (or Dropbox), you'll come up empty handed. There's nothing pertaining to iCloud in the Finder sidebar, no icons on the desktop, no Dock icon, nor any other clue that there are files you've squirreled away in iCloud. But perform a Spotlight search for an iCloud file and it immediately appears in the results within a Finder window (shown below). Why?



Because iCloud isn't part of the old file system concept that the Finder was intended to put a face on. Jobs wasn't just speaking hypothetically when he asked, back in 2005, "why is the file system the face of the OS!?" While he presided over the development of the original Macintosh Finder back in the early 1980s, he also, with iCloud, helped to conceptually craft the beginning of its demise 30 years later, much the same as he did in both introducing and then later eradicating 3.5" floppies.

The reason iCloud doesn't have a static "spot" in the Finder is because iCloud's "Documents in the Cloud" do not exist as system-wide files. Each application's iCloud files are tied to that application. Graphics and PDFs you work on in Preview and save to iCloud are only visible within Preview. TextEdit files you create and save to iCloud are similarly only visible when you're using TextEdit.

Other applications, including a hypothetical bit of malware designed specifically to erase your local files, can't access TextEdit's iCloud documents because Apple has created a new layer of per-app security that erases the notion of a shared file system that every app can access.

This type of security is similar to the concept of multiuser accounts, where two or more users can securely log into the same Mac, but don't have access to each other's documents saved within their private home directories. Apple has taken the idea of multiuser security (new to Mac OS X a decade ago; the Classic Mac OS didn't offer this in the 1980s and 1990s, even while Unix and Windows NT did) and has applied it to applications.

This "new in Mountain Lion" concept of app-level security isn't new at Apple. It's already been in practice on iOS for the last five years. iOS apps store their own files within their own local sandbox. There's no Finder for iOS, because there's no public file system for users to wade through. Such a design couldn't be imposed upon Macs because the Finder and its wide open file system already exist.

However, iCloud offers a new opportunity for enhancing the security of file access between apps, and for greatly simplifying the user experience of document management without requiring users to deal with the complexities of a file system, including the physical barrier imposed with saving files to a particular device in an era where we now regularly use multiple devices from mobiles to desktops.

On page 3 of 3: Files aren't stuck with a specific app

Files aren't stuck with a specific app

When users first hear of iCloud's new per-app security model, one of the first reactions is a fear that their documents are now stuck inside that one app, and can't be shared. This isn't actually an issue however. If you want to move a screenshot from Preview to Photoshop, for example, you can still save the graphic file explicitly to the Desktop or any other location from within Preview. You can also search for the file in the Finder and "Open With" whatever app you'd like.

This is because Apple has given users the implied permission to do anything they want to do with their files. When you move a file out of iCloud, or tell the Finder to open an iCloud-saved document with another app, the system immediately grants you permission to do this on the fly, just as if a user copies a file they want to share from their secure home directory to a file server accessible by other users.

For example, if you Spotlight search for a TextEdit document you've saved to iCloud, the document appears in the Finder and can be opened in another application, such as Pages, even though that app doesn't currently even support iCloud yet. The system handles the duplication and local saving of that file, and Pages can begin working on it just as if iCloud never existed. The original document remains in iCloud, tied to TextEdit. Pages (or any other app) can work on its copy, and save it to the file system just as always. It doesn't get the benefits of iCloud, but it also doesn't suffer from any new artificial limitations imposed by iCloud security.

On the other hand, rogue apps that try to go around the user's back and maliciously access, edit or destroy a user's iCloud documents will simply find those documents are off limits to them. Mountain Lion sandboxes apps from accessing iCloud files belonging to another application unless the user has specifically indicated that they want to provide access. This creates an important new security barrier that significantly hampers the potential for spyware, viruses and other malware to do bad things to your data, all without creating any real new hoops or hassles for users to navigate.

The only way a piece of malware can access iCloud documents is if it can orchestrate a "social attack" that convinces users to manually copy each of their app's iCloud files into a non-secure area, a much more difficult task than simply getting itself installed within the local file system and then wrecking havoc on all the files located there. iCloud's new per-app security is as big of a leap ahead as user permissions were for OS X a decade ago.

Get ready for the future of documents

Greatly increased security isn't the only benefit of iCloud of course; once your app's documents are in the cloud, you can access them from any other Mac and from your mobile iOS devices. You don't have to think about how to move documents around, and don't have to manage different versions (that's done by the system, which can roll back changes thanks to the Versions feature (below), no need for saving separate copies of each of your files, each with different names or stored in different folders).

Lion Versions


Apple didn't just think up iCloud and its security model in the last year; it's been in the works for a long time. And during that time, the company has rolled out a series of foundational technologies that enable it to work, from Spotlight indexing (so you can find cloud-based files as quickly as local ones) to AutoSave and Versions (so you don't have to manually manage each incremental change of a document at specific intervals, each being saved as its own file) to Time Machine's graphical backup and restore user interface. And of course, iCloud's unique interface and security characteristics also borrow from iOS.

These all contribute to automating the file system so users don't have to deal with it directly. iOS devices have always had a local file system; it's just not visible and exposed to the user. In the future of OS X, file level operations (and security) will increasingly be handled by the system itself so you don't have to set up and manage complex hierarchies of files that are at risk of being lost when a hard drive mechanism fails or when a specific bit of hardware is lost or compromised by malware.

iCloud doesn't solve every problem. Unlike DropBox, you can't currently share your iCloud files with other users directly, or manage on a folder level what files are being synced where. It isn't a solution for storing huge files such as gigabytes of video, something that other cloud storage solutions do address. It also isn't a way to put files on the web for sharing (as iDisk once did).

Apple may adapt iCloud's feature set to handle new tasks like these in the future, but for now, iCloud offers users a much simpler way to work with their documents, increased security, increased mobility between devices, and lays the foundation for secure cross platform file access, something that will be pioneered by Apple's own iWork apps once Mountain Lion ships.

Get ready for the future of data, too

In addition to greater security and simplicity in handling documents, recall that iCloud also offers app developers a way to securely store bits of data, as Safari, Reminders and Notes already do in Mountain Lion. This is also an important new leap in bridging the divide between different computers tied and between the desktop and mobile devices.

Developers can now offer to store users' data, from a checklist of items like Reminders to a bit of state like the open tabs in Safari, and make them available via iCloud to a mobile app. Developers can already build their own mechanisms for moving data around between Macs, or between their OS X and iOS apps, but iCloud provides a secure, central and simple way to offload this task onto Apple's servers.

And because both iOS and OS X users are now prompted to set up a free iCloud account when they begin using their system, developers can be reasonably assured that the majority of users already have an iCloud account (unlike MobileMe, which was only used by a few million paying users).

The upside to using iCloud for sharing data between systems and between Apple's desktop and mobile platforms is enhanced simplicity for developers, enhanced reliability for users (as each developer isn't tasked with working the bugs out of their own home-rolled data sharing system), and again, vastly increased security from malware intrusions like spyware and viruses. Once iCloud becomes the primary way to store such data and private documents, even successful viruses will find they have nothing of value to snoop and little they can maliciously destroy, even if they can manage to get themselves installed.

The downside to iCloud

What's not to like about iCloud? Apple's integration and security work on iCloud does intrench its position as the most successful mobile device provider. That means users will have a new impediment to trying alternatives, such as a Google branded tablet or a Microsoft branded phone. You can still buy competing devices, but Apple's iCloud will make the alternatives less attractive for the same reason the App Store makes it less attractive to peruse options that can't run iOS apps.

On the desktop, while Apple supplied an iDisk client for Windows users under .Mac and MobileMe, there's not really any way to make iCloud's documents broadly available to Windows users (without defeating its entire security model). That means iOS users who save their mobile documents to iCloud will have to go out of their way to manually email or otherwise export those documents to a Windows PC or tablet.

In addition the the proprietary "Walled Garden" nature of iCloud that ties it to Apple's own desktop and mobile platforms, users also can't shop around for iCloud storage; Apple's servers are the only option. There's no way for Google or Microsoft or Dropbox to set up a server that iCloud users can use instead. That means if you become dependent upon the service, your only option is to pay Apple for extra storage after you exhaust your initial free allocation.

Of course, you can still use cloud storage offerings from vendors such as Google, Microsoft and Dropbox just as you can use other companies' email, calendar and contacts accounts. They just won't work in the same integrated way that iCloud does. And of course, other vendors offer their own proprietary, integrated services and features that aren't available to Apple.

Additionally, while Apple can claim that iCloud is the only significant cloud-based service that hasn't suffered a major security debacle resulting in the loss of user's data (unlike Google, Microsoft, Palm, Nokia, and seemingly everyone else), that's really only the case because Apple changed the name of MobileMe, which launched as an embarrassing fiasco and never managed to pick itself up off the ground. Apple has a lot to prove in the area of being competent in providing reliable, scalable network services.

Under MobileMe, downtime was largely just a brief annoyance (in part because nobody was taking it seriously). With iCloud, Apple has raised the stakes dramatically, because iCloud incorporates a variety of services, including Documents in the Cloud, which are critical to have available at all times. So far, Apple seems to have put sufficient resources into iCloud to shed the perception that it just isn't very good at tasks beyond its core competency of building software platforms and the hardware devices that run them. It still has some ways to go however.

As a whole, iCloud offers a compelling solution to the complexity and security issues of the conventional security system, bridges the gap between desktops and mobiles, and opens up the potential for all kinds of new cloud sharing features in third party apps. And it does so without erecting any artificial anticompetitive barriers to alternative cloud services. For both users and developers, iCloud represents a great leap forward. For Apple's direct competitors, it represents a significant competitive challenge, as long as Apple can prove itself competent at hosting the cloud services it has rapidly billowed out over the last year.
post #2 of 68

This does not work yet as it should...

While this all sounds nice, and theoretically might be a nice DB replacement, it just doesn't work right now.

 

The major file app vendors, Readdle and GoodReader, have both attempted to implement iCloud support on their apps, and both have failed.  One has pulled the feature, and the other sent me a support request stating "iCloud as implemented does not seem to work very well."

 

Omni, one of the best developers for the Mac desktop, has similarly given up on attempting to use iCloud to sync for its apps that are not using its own servers (OmniOutliner for example.)

 

So -- while this all looks pretty, and may work between Macs with 10.8, it does not appear to be functional yet for mobile devices.  Perhaps some necessary bits are not there yet until iOS6.

 

Here's to hoping this all works out in our favor, but the rollout of this has been weak.  Don't expect a Dropbox replacement anytime soon.  SJ should have paid for them when he met with them, whatever price they wanted.

post #3 of 68

iCloud files aren't that sandboxed away. From Finder or Terminal, you can navigate to ~/Library/Mobile Documents to see a list of folders corresponding to iCloud-supported apps. For example, com~apple~TextEdit, where inside you'll find all your TextEdit files. You can even put files there manually and they'll show up in TextEdit's iCloud interface. I've actually made use of this with iFiles as a generic cloud storage option between OSX and iOS.

post #4 of 68

Uh. iTunes's a pain. I hope they don't mean to say that iCloud's going to turn into a mess....
 

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

Reply

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

Reply
post #5 of 68

These remarkable new technologies will basically kill Microsoft and the Windows ecosystem. There's no way they can compete with this deep level integration across all devices only consumers want: Apple devices. Game over Microsoft.

post #6 of 68
Very good article, explaining Steve's vision!


it also shows that in the rare cases where Apple encounters failures, or relative unsuccess, it comes back later with something that capitalizes on the lessons learned ...
post #7 of 68

As storage increases time machine backups will automatically go to the cloud.

post #8 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by eksodos View Post

These remarkable new technologies will basically kill Microsoft and the Windows ecosystem. There's no way they can compete with this deep level integration across all devices only consumers want: Apple devices. Game over Microsoft.

 

Never used SkyDrive ? or Office 365, or the new Office 2013 ?

 

These are not "remarkable new technologies". They are great technologies, as long as you're not locked in, and it's great they are also available in the apple eco-system


Edited by mausz - 7/20/12 at 6:12am
post #9 of 68

what do we do if the cloud disappears?

post #10 of 68

You get the files from your local cached copy ;-)

post #11 of 68

Ok, I have a real problem with the term "Cloud". Back when the Internet was just opening up to businesses and the general public, technical presenters would draw a network diagram on a whiteboard and represent the Internet as this Cloud picture.  That's about all Cloud really means. The cloud represented the Internet at large.  ie.. don't worry about it, it's out there in the Cloud.  Jobs in 1997 wasn't talking cloud he was talking NFS distributed storage.  I recently read an article about how a developer setup a cloud to do his work on an iPad.  Well in reality he rented a Unix shell account from a provider, remotely connected to that shell using Secure Shell SSH.  Utilized GNU Screen (or tmux) to maintain a connection on the remote host even if he lost his actual connection.  This meant he could pickup where he left off if his iPad lost it's 3G connection, etc.  Add in a Bluetooth keyboard and essentially what you have is a 25+ year old VT100 dumb terminal that happens to have a roaming cellular data connection and WiFi and it fits in your bag and has a 10 hour battery life.  Course it's just a Unix shell prompt and the developer did everything in ViM/eMacs/SFTP/SSH. etc.

 

What "Cloud" is really all about is merely high speed, redundant, distributed, storage, and virtual machines.  Take all that virtual technology, let it replicate across data centers, give it huge amounts of super fast storage and 10GbE/Fiber data transfer speeds and suddenly you have a Cloud that can be public or private.  The term Cloud is a buzzword catch all for all this new way of thinking about data centers.  

 

So what we have is technology that's been around for decades all coming together to make something new.  The advances in CPU's to optimize virtual machines made the largest advance.  Now SSD technology is starting to build super fast caches for disk arrays, that will eventually replace physical disks with SSD disks.  Virtual machines in many nodes and clusters and software virtual networking inside the virtual environment (no physical Cisco rack equipment, etc. except at the Rack level).  Running just about any operating system inside the virtual machines and pushing the hardware to maximum levels so you are not wasting electricity or physical space.  (i.e. used to have entire racks running 85% idle waiting for a sudden peak load at say quarter end processing, etc.  Now you have Virtual Machines taking up that idle 80% and allowing for a burst of processing only when you need it.  i.e. allocate additional CPU's, RAM, and disk I/O when necessary).  

 

iCloud just sync's at the moment, what little storage you are provided is merely short term 30 days or so.  Photostream is no different than document storage  It just pushes the documents and App data back to all your devices.  It won't keep it on the Cloud servers forever or you will certainly need to buy more storage and perhaps that will start happening soon. Don't need to keep your data in the Cloud if it's sync'ing across multiple devices.  Your laptop, desktop, iPad, and iPhone would have to be destroyed at the same time to lose everything.

post #12 of 68

Interesting article about iCloud in iOS6 and Mountain Lion.  However the real interest is the hiding of the file system for uses, like Mac in 1984 did for command line, and Job's insight into this in 1997 [and earlier].  Post-PC is more than PC+ with touch and mobile, its also about abstraction like Mac 1984 did for Apple and MS and CP/M DOS.  Mac was not DOS+.

post #13 of 68

I hope the update to iWork includes retina support.  I tried enabling it and got a bunch of weird glitches so I had to turn it back off.

 

Also, iCloud needs better cached file coherency. When it works as they describe, it's great, but for some reason when sharing Pages/Numbers documents between my iPhone<->wife's iPhone<->iPad, it'll inexplicably decide to use days-old versions from the local cache rather than downloading the latest version from iCloud.  It's not a connection issue, it happens on full-strength 3G (consistent >600kB/s real world download speed in other apps) and even on wifi.  I haven't gone a week without having to do needless manual conflict resolution.

post #14 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

[snip] the local file system that non-technical users have long struggled to comprehend [snip]

This is such a depressing statement for those of us who use macs because they are beautiful Unix machines.

post #15 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by jukes View Post

This is such a depressing statement for those of us who use macs because they are beautiful Unix machines.

 

Agreed.  But it is sadly true.  I die a little inside every time I see a user who has no clue at all whatsoever how the file system is arranged.  It's depressingly common on both the Mac and PC sides.

post #16 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by jukes View Post
This is such a depressing statement for those of us who use macs because they are beautiful Unix machines.

 

So non-techies are going to be able to view their files a far more intuitive way. Big whoop. Did they remove Terminal.app? Until that happens, there's no cause for complaints.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #17 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by jukes View Post
This is such a depressing statement for those of us who use macs because they are beautiful Unix machines.

 

So non-techies are going to be able to view their files a far more intuitive way. Big whoop. Did they remove Terminal.app? Until that happens, there's no cause for complaints.

What's with the attitude? My comment says that it's depressing that non-technical users struggle to understand the local file system. There's no complaint hidden there. In fact, I spend 95% of my Terminal.app time sshed into Red Hat systems, so I wouldn't even really care if they want to hide the local file system for non-OSX server installations as well---though I'd probably end doing the 5% of my local shell work in a VM in this case.

post #18 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by jukes View Post
My comment says that it's depressing that non-technical users struggle to understand the local file system.

 

And I question why that should be.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #19 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by jukes View Post
My comment says that it's depressing that non-technical users struggle to understand the local file system.

 

And I question why that should be.

That's a fair question. I suppose it's the same reason that an expert in any field finds it depressing that people don't have a basic understanding of something that is both simple and fundamental to things that they rely on. It's laudable that Apple is trying to provide an alternative that makes the system more accessible to a broader audience, and they have a long history of success along these lines, but it still makes me sad that it's necessary for this particular issue.

post #20 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by umrk_lab View Post

Very good article, explaining Steve's vision!
it also shows that in the rare cases where Apple encounters failures, or relative unsuccess, it comes back later with something that capitalizes on the lessons learned ...


I hope and (mostly) believe you are right.  So, so far, iCloud gets a C- from me.  I actually liked MobileMe better because it wasn't nearly compelling enough for me to be tempted to use it. But now I've started using iCloud and, so far, so so at best.  It does not "just work" as advertised.  Photostream alone remains frustrating, even though they allegedly fixed it.

post #21 of 68

The article doesn't mention the privacy implications of using iCloud. Do all Mac users really want to trust strangers with their personal data?

 

Apple says that users' data is encrypted on its servers. That's true, no doubt, but who has the encryption key? The user doesn't; Apple does. The iCloud Terms and Conditions provide:

Quote:
You acknowledge and agree that Apple may, without liability to you, access, use, preserve and/or disclose your Account information and Content to law enforcement authorities, government officials, and/or a third party, as Apple believes is reasonably necessary or appropriate, if legally required to do so or if we have a good faith belief that such access, use, disclosure, or preservation is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with legal process or request; (b) enforce this Agreement, including investigation of any potential violation thereof; (c) detect, prevent or otherwise address security, fraud or technical issues; or (d) protect the rights, property or safety of Apple, its users, a third party, or the public as required or permitted by law.

 

So you're giving Apple representatives essentially unlimited access to your data, without your consent. I'll never accept those terms, and neither will anybody else who takes privacy seriously.

 

Apple could have implemented iCloud with optional client-side encryption at no extra cost, using a key controlled only by the subscriber, as some other cloud-storage services have done. The fact that it hasn't done that shows its contempt for customers' privacy.

post #22 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

So non-techies are going to be able to view their files a far more intuitive way. Big whoop. Did they remove Terminal.app? Until that happens, there's no cause for complaints.


Remove Terminal.app?  Sigh ... that would truly signal the second step to saying bye to the dawn of computing (end of punch cards was the first step).

post #23 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Jobs then contrasted the conventional OS-level file system for managing documents on a computer to an email application, explaining that "there?s always been a better way to find stuff. You don?t keep your e-mail on your file system, right? The app manages it. And that was the breakthrough, as an example, in iTunes," Jobs stated.
"You don?t keep your music in the file system, that would be crazy. You keep it in this app that knows about music and knows how to find things in lots of different ways. Same with photos: we?ve got an app that knows all about photos. And these apps manage their own file storage."

 

 

And when you receive an email containing a message, copies of several related Word documents, a coupe of spreadsheets, and many photos of today's condition of the job site, some  inline with  the email, some embedded in the word docs, some as footnotes to the spreadsheets, you want them all together in the file system under /projects/project x/...

 

It is up to the user to decide where and how to store their stuff.  Nobody in their right minds would take physical copies of the mentioned items and put them in seperate cabinets, one for photos. one for spreadsheets, etc.  They can and will arrange them by project first, with  certain subfiles as they deem proper.  Or by type of item, if they are so inclined.

 

The point is that Apple wants to impose their "one size fits all" system rather than allowing the user to decide whether or not to use Apple's system. For many users, splitting things up is the antithesis of their object oriented style of working.

post #24 of 68

I agree, just spent about 3 hours arranging my files in folders and sub folders. I like knowing where everything is, and how it is organized. My kids have no interest in this and simply use spotlight to find their files. However, Spotlight often misses files and if I had to rely on it, there would be lots of files I would not be able to find. Hard to see this as an improvement.

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post #25 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluefish86 View Post

 

Agreed.  But it is sadly true.  I die a little inside every time I see a user who has no clue at all whatsoever how the file system is arranged.  It's depressingly common on both the Mac and PC sides.

It is not necessarily true that people have no clue. The file system is basically based on what people have been doing for years - filing. There is a desktop and there are drawers, shelves and filing cabinets. Most people will understand that and if related to a computer I think most people get it. But that isn't the problem... To see what the problem is go and see how most people organize their desks, their cabinets and drawers and filing cabinets. The theory is simple, it is putting it all into practice that is hard. I think for most people it is against their nature to be super organized and structured in a 'logical' way. 

 

What complicates life on the computer is the ability to duplicate and the reluctance to delete. (There is a little hoarder inside every one of us!) 

 

I think Apple is on the right track here. Mostly we use the most recently used files which will be accessible from with each app. Using Spotlight is also brilliant - it is the digital equivalent of yelling to your mom / wife / kids "where the hell is my [insert named item here]" and not getting any lip in return. 

post #26 of 68

I know people who have trouble comprehending cut, copy, and paste. Yes, I'm serious.

post #27 of 68

One of the big problems with the iCloud implementation is this statement: "Graphics and PDFs you work on in Preview and save to iCloud are only visible within Preview."  I use multiple documents for the same files, particularly graphics and PDFs.  The solution, open that application and save a copy to the desktop.  In other words, the solution is to not use iCloud.  It may work for people with a few documents that they want to share, but I have multiple projects that I am working on and many of them are similar, but this method would require me to name them all very carefully so I would be able to know which one I was looking for.  In each of my projects, I have a Matlab file names analysis.m, which is my main analysis function that is based on previous analysis.m files, but customized for this project.  When I search, I end up with about 50 analysis.m files and the current search makes it very difficult to find the exact one I am looking for.  Now, when I want to open up two of them so I can compare the differences in TextWrangler, I will have to copy them to the Desktop and open them up.  Now, I end up with 52 versions and two of them are the same.  How do I get those copied versions back into the cloud?  On a related note, how do I delete files from the cloud?

 

I'm not against changing the way I do things, but the current implementation is far inferior to using DropBox.  I can see almost no instance in which I would want to use iCloud other than as an easy way to get a final presentation into Keynote on the iPad.

post #28 of 68

Not sure if you can help with this.

 

I want to install Mountain Lion but guess what?  When I formatted my HD last year, I used “Master Boot Record” for the partition map scheme instead of GUID Partition Table”.  Never knew that had to be the case.

 

I did a Time Machine backup yesterday (took like 12 hours!!).  Now I have to reformat my HD using my OSX 10.5 Leopard disk.  But here’s the thing, my Time Machine backup has OSX 10.6.8.  When I perform a restore, will it put 10.6.8 back on?  Or do I have to install 10.6 Snow Leopard, run the updates and THEN perform a restore?

post #29 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quevar View Post

One of the big problems with the iCloud implementation is this statement: "Graphics and PDFs you work on in Preview and save to iCloud are only visible within Preview."  I use multiple documents for the same files, particularly graphics and PDFs.  The solution, open that application and save a copy to the desktop.  In other words, the solution is to not use iCloud.  It may work for people with a few documents that they want to share, but I have multiple projects that I am working on and many of them are similar, but this method would require me to name them all very carefully so I would be able to know which one I was looking for.  In each of my projects, I have a Matlab file names analysis.m, which is my main analysis function that is based on previous analysis.m files, but customized for this project.  When I search, I end up with about 50 analysis.m files and the current search makes it very difficult to find the exact one I am looking for.  Now, when I want to open up two of them so I can compare the differences in TextWrangler, I will have to copy them to the Desktop and open them up.  Now, I end up with 52 versions and two of them are the same.  How do I get those copied versions back into the cloud?  On a related note, how do I delete files from the cloud?

 

I'm not against changing the way I do things, but the current implementation is far inferior to using DropBox.  I can see almost no instance in which I would want to use iCloud other than as an easy way to get a final presentation into Keynote on the iPad.

I suspect you fall outside of 'normal use'. In your case, as in many other who need to file things away in a particular way in order to keep track of projects etc, the best system is the traditional file system, tailor configured by you to suit your specify needs, imo. If you need to work across devices you can use dropbox or sugar sync or similar. 

post #30 of 68

I've been using Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud solution and I like it a lot.  Right now I have my entire Document, Music, Pictures, and Movie folders automatically syncing to the cloud which I can access via iPhone app or any Mac/PC web browser. As far as I can tell, it's vastly superior to iCloud. 

post #31 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

It is not necessarily true that people have no clue. The file system is basically based on what people have been doing for years - filing.

The odd thing is my computer is pretty well organised, filing wise. My physical desktop is a mess.

Most people I work with stick everything o their computer desktop. The idea of a file system makes no sense.
When I read about iCloud I find it limiting, but I know just about every colleage and student I work with will take to it like the proverbial duck to water.
I also think I will find it very useful for sharing work stuff with my iMac, MacBook air and iPad, and my work MacBook pro. The only limiting factor there is... Microsoft office.
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post #32 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quevar View Post

One of the big problems with the iCloud implementation is this statement: "Graphics and PDFs you work on in Preview and save to iCloud are only visible within Preview."  I use multiple documents for the same files, particularly graphics and PDFs.  The solution, open that application and save a copy to the desktop.  In other words, the solution is to not use iCloud.  

I am not sure what your problem is. Did you miss the part in the article:

 

Quote:
Files aren't stuck with a specific app

When users first hear of iCloud's new per-app security model, one of the first reactions is a fear that their documents are now stuck inside that one app, and can't be shared. This isn't actually an issue however. If you want to move a screenshot from Preview to Photoshop, for example, you can still save the graphic file explicitly to the Desktop or any other location from within Preview. You can also search for the file in the Finder and "Open With" whatever app you'd like.

 

Or am I missing something?

post #33 of 68

"displacing the local file system that non-technical users have long struggled to comprehend"

 

Since when do users have trouble comprehending the filesystem? It's a fairly intuitive structure, with "folders" containing "documents", just like a filing cabinet works in real life.

 

I don't think Apple is giving users enough credit here. There's nothing hard to comprehend about a filesystem. Even my mother, who is about non-technical as can be, understood it with minimal explanation!

post #34 of 68

So far iCloud has been a big disappointment, similar to the way MobileMe was.

 

Tab syncing? Might be nice for a few people but I never leave tabs open long enough to ever worry about that. Bookmark syncing was a nice idea but poorly handled. Took me days to recover from that disaster. What is missing here is that there are certain sites that I may want bookmarked on one computer (say a work computer or a home machine or my iPad) but no way to control what gets synced to what computer. It’s called privacy and efficiency.

 

And now I will have even more invisible directories taking up space on my computer! I may be an old fart but I use the directories to organize how I do my work and how I handle my leisure. I can easily have hundreds if not tens of thousands of files at any one time. A nightmare to find the one that I am looking for. And don’t suggest Spotlight! I have always got uneven results from using it, when it works its great, when it doesn’t it’s worse than useless.

post #35 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by rmusikantow View Post

I agree, just spent about 3 hours arranging my files in folders and sub folders. I like knowing where everything is, and how it is organized. My kids have no interest in this and simply use spotlight to find their files. However, Spotlight often misses files and if I had to rely on it, there would be lots of files I would not be able to find. Hard to see this as an improvement.

Just how many times have you done that?

 

Can't agree with you about Spotlight though.

 

Just about every week I get a call from a friend, colleague or client having problems finding a file. Thank goodness they are smart enough to use Macs. Unfortunately they are not bright enough to go much beyond querying what they think is the name of the file they are looking for. 

 

With Spotlight's extensive indexing metadata, I can't think of anything that it couldn't find. This is particular true if you minimize your search terms as you go, e.g., using partial names to start with, rather than entering the full title which if misspelled can only be problematic.

 

In addition, there is nothing more complementary than Smart Folders, (which uses the Spotlight engine) to optimize search strategies. And, in particular, to help organize your files in folders and subfolder as you have done.

 

And with what is in store when iCloud and Mountain Lion finally meet, I find it hard to see that this is not a significant improvement.

 

P.S., I know that I will get disagreement here, but even in my particular endeavour as a developer and manager of massive database solutions, even I have to rely on my favourite 'finder', i.e., my wife. As she says, "Too bad Spotlight can't tell you were you left your car keys."


Edited by Onhka - 7/20/12 at 10:56am
post #36 of 68

Unfortunately,

 

This does not work well with Non-Apple devices.  As a result, it is nearly useless to me.  I will have to continue to use DropBox as it is a true multiplatform system...
 

post #37 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by chabig View Post

I know people who have trouble comprehending cut, copy, and paste. Yes, I'm serious.

 

that is why they only give kids scissors with rounded ends and make sure the paste they use is non-toxic and edible.

post #38 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Onhka View Post

I am not sure what your problem is. Did you miss the part in the article:

 

 

Or am I missing something?

 
Yes, the next part that I wrote.  The solution posed is to make a copy of the file to the local filesystem (either by searching for it and editing it or saving it from the original application), so I end up with a duplicate of that file, which is not very efficient.  Then, when searching, both of those files will show up, which is not very intuitive.  If I open it another application, then there will be yet another duplicate.  When I save one of those in a new application, how does the new version get synced with the others or can it be put back up into the cloud and associated with the original application?  So, in the end, I am left with multiple versions of the same file, but at different states and found either within one application or by searching, in which case they all show up, but with little to differentiate them.  That sounds like a mess to me.
 
This is the same issue that iOS has with files.  When I get a file, I open it with a certain application, edit it, then open it with another application to do something else with it.  In the process, I end up with a slightly different version in each app.  Isn't it a little ironic that the solution posed in this article to using iCloud in this case is "Don't use iCloud."  Unfortunately, on iOS devices, there is no alternative, so these issues are very limiting.  Take for example working with DropBox.  How can you edit a file so that it will go back to other devices?  With a file system based approach, you open it, edit it, save it, done.  Very simple.  In iOS, more steps and very unintuitive as you send the document from app to app.
post #39 of 68

I'm not a big fan of this... for some applications it will be very nice (game saves :), but for other work I'm not a fan yet:

 

 

  1. ICloud is only available to applications in the App Store. The App store has severe limitations: No migration path for applications originally purchased outside the app store, no major upgrades (as in "paid for upgrades") and now required sandboxing. The latter means that many applications can't go in the app store.
  2. In many instances, it makes sense to group files together across applications - e.g. to have some PDFs, word processor files, spread sheets, presentations that are all part of the same project in a common, shared directory. Two of these - "grouped together across applications" and "shared" - match poorly with iCloud.
  3. I dread to use crappy icloud interfaces I've seen for handling many files - e.g. the number of word documents I've written the last five years.
  4. Going via the desktop for sharing information is stupid for one file, and mind-numbing for a project of files.
post #40 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quevar View Post
Yes, the next part that I wrote.  The solution posed is to make a copy of the file to the local filesystem (either by searching for it and editing it or saving it from the original application)

No. Why make a copy. Simply open the save file in the 'other' application.

 

Now you do have to files that may contain the same graphic(s), however, they are not a duplicate of either.

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