March 5, 2011

How cloudy can the iPad get?

The iPad 2, along with future travel plans, made me think about cloud services. I’m a hardcore Dropbox user (got all my stuff there, except music, movies and apps because they take too much space) so this means I’m already pretty much living in the cloud, data-wise. But that’s desktop stuff, the iPad is different.

I use my iPad to

  • consume content (RSS feeds, books and web browsing)
  • participate in the social web (Twitter and Facebook)
  • write
  • play games
  • listen to music

That’s pretty much it. There are some tools outside of these areas, but they’re not worth mentioning, and almost always rely on an app checking something for me.

The content I’m consuming is online, no need for anything but apps with login there, or just the web browser in some cases. Very cloudy.

Participation is also account driven, I just need apps and/or the web browser to stay in touch with the social web. Again, cloud proof.

Writing is app based, but since all the apps I use for this (except Pages, which only gets used when I have to do fancy formatting) sync with Dropbox at the very least, this is also cloud proof.

Games are a problem. Not only do I need to get the oftentimes huge game, I also have savefiles and these are almost never stored in the cloud. That means that swapping one device for another means I’m losing my progress in games. This sucks, savedata should be stored in the cloud. Apple needs to solve this, preferably with Game Center but more likely as an app data sync feature in a future version of MobileMe. That’ll work too. Games are not cloud proof today.

Music is theoretically cloud proof thanks to Spotify, which I can use all over the world thanks to being a premium subscriber. However there are a lot of music not on Spotify (or the competing services), and if that’s not enough I’m a bit anal about the sound quality. My music collection is 100 GB+ and I would love to be able to stream it anywhere. Today I can’t, and until Apple solves it (in September, at the iTunes event?) this just isn’t cloud proof.

I don’t watch movies or TV shows on the iPad, because I can’t be bothered to format them for iDevices and then sync. If I could stream my media files I would. This is somewhat possible today with AirVideo and similar apps, so I expect to do this in the future.

I would love to have the iPad as clean as possible, and totally cloud friendly. When I buy the iPad 2, ideally I’d just download the apps I need and then sync the rest from the cloud services. This is the perfect cloud computer, in theory. In reality, it seems it still has ways to go.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.