recommended reading

The 'Apple Doesn’t Get the Cloud' Era Is Officially Over

Tony Gutierrez/AP

It turns out Apple didn’t fail at the cloud. It was just taking a while to wind up.

Many of the most interesting and potentially useful features unveiled this week at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference rely on the company’s iCloud service or otherwise involve network-connected devices talking to each other. The masses will be able to take advantage of these additions on their Macs, iPads, and iPhones later this year.


For Apple customers and developers, this has been a long time coming. iCloud—the last product Steve Jobs announced before he died in 2011—is an incredibly important strategic piece of Apple’s future. Yet its usefulness has always seemed underwhelming, as if cloud services were Apple’s lowest priority.

In the early mobile era, Apple’s iTunes thrived as the first mainstream sync service, building a strong bond between the Mac and iPod—and later, iPhone. (This was the basis for the iPod “halo effect” in Mac sales.) But iCloud, its sync successor, hasn’t been a standout. Even simple-seeming problems that Apple should have solved years ago—such as transferring a photo between an iPhone and Mac—are still unnecessarily complicated, often forcing users to rely on less-elegant solutions like email or competitors like Dropbox.

A New iCloud Era

But this year’s WWDC keynote carried a different tone, with a notable uptick in useful, cloud-centered announcements and more competitive pricing.

Some of the highlights coming soon for Apple customers include a vastly larger cloud storage library for photos; a Dropbox-like storage service called iCloud Drive; the ability to start writing an email on one device and finish on another; family sharing for iTunes accounts; the ability to sync text messages—not just Apple’s proprietary iMessages—between devices; and the ability to use a Mac or iPad to conduct phone calls via a connected iPhone. You’ll also more easily be able to beam photos between an iPhone and Mac using Apple’s AirDrop feature.

Apple SVP Craig Federighi at WWDC 2014
Sure, it looks like Dropbox. But you’ll love it. Apple video screenshot

Apple also introduced a handful of new cloud-centered features for software developers. These range from a service called CloudKit, which inexpensively powers cloud features for apps, to new dashboards for managing health and home automation apps, devices, and services, and a cloud-based app testing service.

More Like Google?

Some have recently criticized Apple for not being Googly enough, arguing that Google is making big, bold bets like self-driving cars, while Apple sticks to its narrow focus on consumer electronics. This is a mostly silly argument: Apple is only Apple because of this focus, and there’s no real reason for two different companies to behave the same, anyway.

But as Apple goes deeper with cloud services, there is actually something to learn from Google. One of the most important traits of a successful cloud-era company seems to be a healthy cadence of releases and improvements. Google and Facebook are particularly good at this. Yet Apple has always seemed to maintain a slower schedule, mostly announcing new features during its semi-annual keynote reveals. An acceleration here could be helpful, especially as Apple moves to integrate Beats Music, the streaming service it’s buying.

Now, three years since iCloud’s debut, things seem to be coming together. (We’ve certainly come a long way since Ping, Apple’s failed iTunes social network, and MobileMe, iCloud’s ill-fated predecessor.) Next, we’ll see if Apple can excel in cloud services the way it has in hardware and software design.

Threatwatch Alert

Credential-stealing malware / User accounts compromised / Software vulnerability

Android Malware Infects More than 1M Phones, Adds 13,000 Devices a Day

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.