Apple needs to work on iCloud

Did you know that Apple’s cloud service iCloud really started its life way back in 2000 as iTools? Then, it was a Mac-only service with email with @mac.com addresses, webpage space with HomePage, and storage space with iDisk. That later became .Mac (dotmac), which turned into MobileMe in 2008. Then, last year it became iCloud.



By (MAC TALK with Magnus Nystedt)

Published: Sat 24 Mar 2012, 8:09 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:02 PM

I’ve used all versions of Apple’s cloud service and although it’s become more slick, more integrated, and more functional, Apple still has a lot of work to do with it.

Take a very simple example of writing this article. I started with writing about half of it on my iPad with an app called ByWord (bywordapp.com). ByWord is a text editor for Mac and iOS, which lets you focus on writing, without the distractions of a lot of menus, buttons, etc. Since my iPad was already set up to use iCloud, I just had to set ByWord up to use it to store documents, and that was it. Setup was dead easy, and as soon as I had created this article, it was online with iCloud, or so I thought.

The point with something like iCloud is, of course, that your files will be stored online, in the cloud, if you like, and they’re then available to you, from all devices that are connected to that account. In my case, that would mean from my iPad, my iPhone, as well as my Mac. But when I started up ByWord on my Mac, the half-finished article was not available when I selected “Open from iCloud.” In fact, even after restarting ByWord, and trying to search for the file, there was nothing.

So back to the iPad I went, and after I had refreshed the iCloud file listing in ByWord, it did show up on the Mac. That just seemed a bit strange, that there would be that lag, when the point with cloud is that something is immediately available everywhere.

Problem sorted then, you’d think. Well, to a point. See, there is no way of accessing the iCloud storage directly. You can’t just open the iCloud storage in Finder on a Mac and see what’s inside it; you can only access it through apps that support iCloud.

That means, Apple doesn’t support you officially just opening the iCloud storage, but there is a way. All iCloud files are stored inside a folder on your Mac. You can get there by selecting “Go to folder” in the “Go” menu and typing in “~/Library/Mobile Documents.”

In my case, the folder that houses the ByWord documents is called “N39PJFAFEV~com~metaclassy~byword.” Not very user friendly, you say? That’s the point, that Apple doesn’t want you to mess around in there, and you could possibly break something if you do.

Apple has a killer service in the making with iCloud but it’s not quite there yet. Hopefully it will invest some of its billions of dollars to improve it. For now, I will keep using iCloud, but I will also wish that it could do more.

Magnus Nystedt @mnystedt


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