Some may be forgiven for thinking that The Cloud was something Apple invented due to the high-profile launch of iCloud – it’s much touted system for sharing content seamlessly between iDevices and Macs – but it was a ‘thing’ long before it was an ‘iThing’.
The ubiquity of internet connectivity has enabled cloud computing to blossom in recent years. Now there are the online file storage and sharing services like Box, Microsoft’s Skydrive and others; cloud disk drives like that provided by Dropbox (and the upcoming file system integration of Windows Skydrive); and automatic content syncing systems like iCloud.
The ultimate goal of cloud computing is beyond such storage and syncing of files and moves all of your apps and data onto remote servers operating in a similar way to the thin-client terminals that those of us old enough remember fondly. Google’s ChromeOS running on ChromeBook laptops are the first foray into this new world however they assume a mostly connected situation and online OSes and apps won’t be replacing Windows, MacOS and desktop apps anytime soon though their features and functionality are improving all the time.
The most useful aspect of the cloud for me so far has been syncing of data. To be able to add an item to my to-do list on either my laptop, netbook, tablet or, using the webapp, my work laptop and know that it’ll be there when I fire up one of the other devices is a joy. My app of choice for this is Wunderlist but others have similar functionality. (I also use the similarly syncable Evernote for more in-depth notes). The same is true of having files I use on the laptop synced via Microsoft’s servers to my netbook whilst being simultaneously backed-up in the cloud as well.
The future may not be entirely based in the cloud but in huge server farms cooled by Arctic fjords our data will be shuffled between our devices and shared with our friends, seamlessly and effortlessly.
And I won’t have any excuses for forgetting to do something on my to-do list.