October 13, 2011

iOS 5 and iCloud Day

I call this: mac,phones,tech — Posted by KP @ 2:06 pm

I’m a little behind the curve because I spent all day yesterday in a theatre with slow wifi, so I just got around to doing the iOS 5 upgrade last night between 1 and 2AM, which I napped through, and then went straight to bed when it was done. The good news is, I appear to have missed the rush on the servers.

This morning I awoke intending to learn about all things iCloud, but after an easy and successful upgrade to Lion 10.7.2, I hit the wall of server meltdown that is no doubt occurring at Apple’s state-of-the-art, size-of-the-state-of-North-Carolina data center.

So here I sit, periodically clicking through the dozen or so screens of the iCloud sign-up process, only to meet rejection. It reminds me very much of the process of applying one’s Google+ invitation when it first came out.

The reason there are so many screens to click through is that Apple has done a nice job of making sure you understand the consequences of changing your MobileMe account to iCloud: stuff is going to go away. Mostly shared calendars are going to break unless the people you’re sharing with are also on iCloud. I, for one, have never used shared calendars on MobileMe or .Mac, but that’s mostly because not everyone wanted to pay $100 a year for a service that barely worked, and so I had few people to share with. Now that it’s free, maybe it will be a more attractive competitor for Google Calendar.

Also, some of the more obscure things that MobileMe synced (like dashboard widgets, keychain info, and mail accounts) are not synced with iCloud.

There are two other caveats to the upgrade that were cause for some slight concern:

1. All the Macs you sync with must be running Lion I have my old MacBook Pro on Snow Leopard as a contingency for needing to use something that doesn’t work in Lion. So right now I’m creating a Lion partition for that computer, so I can sync it with iCloud (which should be cool), but still boot into Snow Leopard in emergencies.

2. The iCloud sync app for Windows requires Vista or newer Sue me, I don’t think a Mac user should pay for two copies of Windows 7. So my Boot Camp partition is on 7, and my gaming rig still runs XP. As you might gather, I don’t do a whole lot of fancy modern gaming on it anymore. As a matter of fact, I’m currently not playing anything at the moment. You might wonder what the point of even turning it on is. There’s not one, really. But when I do I like to have my bookmarks synced to Safari. So now apparently I won’t be able to do that.

Let me tell ye: I’m not paying like $200 to sync my bookmarks to a computer I rarely use. And frankly, I’m not putting another dime into that computer unless I receive another windfall from whence it came: an overwhelming amount of disposable income from a Broadway show.

I still haven’t quite figured out how iCloud is going to impact my life. I like the idea that my stay-at-home Mac will share more of the same files. I’m hoping that somehow this means I can carry less of my music library on my iPhone, but still be able to quickly download a song or group of songs from the cloud if I find I need them (and yes, I mean need, professionally, not just feel like listening to). The 32GB capacity of the iPhone 4 was pretty sad when it came out over a year ago, and for me is the biggest incentive to get a 4S. I would like to be able to fit a few movies (and about 60 episodes of West Wing, if we’re dreaming big — even 64GB isn’t gonna cut it) on my phone in a quality that will look good on the retina display, and right now I can fit like 1 or 2 at a time. So I’m curious to see how much iCloud can do to reduce the importance of having a large amount of local storage.

But for now, I will have to keep trying again, as the screen suggests. And somehow I don’t expect the experience is going to be any better, with millions of people uploading their entire media libraries at once, until things have a chance to settle down a bit.