Blog articles can get dated. So when I first wrote this article in 2011, iCloud was not the best tool for one’s business. I wanted to give a brief update since I wrote the blog below. As I write this update, iOS 7 is the current operating system for iPads/iPhones. Apple has made a tremendous leap forward in the business world by adding some really great updates for business users. In more recent months, we’ve seen them add Apple Pages, Numbers & Keynote as standard business apps. If you are not familiar with these three apps, basically it is similar to Microsoft’s Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
By adding these three apps to the desktop, online version and mobile apps, iCloud is not a much more business friendly solution for small businesses. The calendar features seem to be the only area that is a little lacking compared to Google Calendar or Microsoft 365. Yet, it will do the job…it can work. If you are trying to use less 3rd party programs and simplify things, iCloud for your business is a good solution. You can use it for your email, calendar, contacts, word documents, spreadsheets and presentations! You can store your documents in iCloud too, but it is still not as powerful as Dropbox, 365 or Google Drive.
What I hope will come soon is that Apple will really make an iCloud for business. What I mean is that they market it to businesses in a way that lets us all know it is ready to handle a lot more. It still feels light and “personal.”
October 2011 Blog
First Off, Why Apple Again, David?
Each month, a growing number of consumers turn to two mobile devices, Android or Apple, for their personal and/or business needs. Although I like Android devices, I have given Apple iPhone two thumbs up for being the most business friendly. Two reasons:
- Apple was first to create the popular downloading of “Apps.” (i.e. App Store). Why is this important? Because developing an App is expensive, and an App on an iPhone does not work on an Android. Therefore, developers typically create an Apple App before they create an Android version. The Android Apps I’ve tried for business are typically more buggy, because Android has a lower standard for allowing Apps; the Android Market is open source, meaning anyone can create an App and post it. Apple has very strict standards and can take an App off their store at anytime. One good example is Facebook’s App for the iPhone and Android. The iPhone App is incredible and has 10x more features than the Android version. A business owner or employee can manage a business page directly from the iPhone App, but not from the Android (yet).
- It is just a very handy device and fun to use. The Android, to me, as very many cool features, but Apple has less moving parts on the screen. I get less distracted when using the iPhone and find myself playing around too much with the Android features. I stick to business on the iPhone!
Now for the Update on iCloud for Business
In mid October, Apple released what seems to be their biggest software update ever: IOS 5. It truly is remarkable. I wrote a quick summary of my favorite features last week. Because it is such a big jump from version 4 to 5, there are still a few bugs. I’d go ahead and upgrade your iPhones if you have not already, but just know you will encounter a few small bugs. Most of these bugs seem to clear up quickly, either on their own or when you restart. I’m sure their first update 5.1 will fix all these critters.
Now, Apple is claiming their biggest update in IOS 5 is the new iCloud (formerly MobileMe). What I read about iCloud sounded spectacular: updating Apps on multiple devices, taking a photo on your iPhone and it showing up instantly on your work/home computer, file storage, email, calendar syncing and sharing etc. I also realized that Apple sells primarily to consumers and not small business or Corporate America. I had many people ask me what I thought of the new iCloud and if it was a good tool for business. My answer is simple: iCloud is NOT a good business tool. It is meant for individual, personal use. Do I like iCloud? Overall, yes! It is easy to use. But I am very disappointed about a few things:
- Only one email per account: A family or even a business cannot have multiple email addresses within iCloud. Each person has to create their own iCloud account. The problem with this is…
- Photo Sharing is for Personal Usage: Because each person needs his or her own iCloud account, the new Photo Stream feature does not allow sharing with other iCloud users. It works with 1 account only. So as a business owner taking photos of a job site or business activity while using Photo Stream, the photos will be uploaded and streamed instantly to his computer, not to his marketing person, admin or another co-worker. That pretty much defeats the purpose.
- Can’t Delete Photos Easily: Apple offers 5GB of Free Storage. This will add up fast when you turn on Photo Stream. Once you take a photo, it uploads to iCloud. You cannot delete individual photos within iCloud. So if you take 5 quick shots of a job or person, all the bad ones are uploaded with the good ones. Now there are some techie work arounds, but with the first release of iCloud, Photos are there to stay in the clouds. You can delete photos on your phone and computer only. You can also wipe ALL photos off iCloud and start from scratch, but why would anyone want to do that? The idea of iCloud is to help consumers be more mobile and save everything off site to avoid hard drive crashes and provide easy access to info on the go.
- Calendar and Document Sharing Do Not Exist: The bottom line is iCloud is for a single user, you or me. If you want your co workers or family to share information, you can create 1 iCloud account, but it is not safe and is just not a good idea. iCloud will not replace Egnyte, Dropbox or Google Apps.
What should a business do with IOS 5 and iCloud?
I know some of you are thinking, “Run that by me again, Dave. Why is the iPhone better than the Android?” It is true that Android technology is a Google product, and I like Google. Yet there are too many devices and features to figure out with Android and only 1 with Apple: the iPhone. That’s it. Also, just because iCloud is not business friendly, doesn’t mean you need to ditch the phone. What I did was this:
1) I basically kept everything the same: Synced my Google Apps for Business account (compare with MS Exchange) with my iPhone.
2) I switched from MobileMe to iCloud for personal use. I use my iCloud account for Photo Streaming so I don’t have to download and upload photos to my computer. I then can take those photos on my computer and share the ones I want with others.
3) I continue to use Dropbox and Google Docs for my file storage. In short, the new upgrade is business friendly if you customize it to your liking. I am just not endorsing the iCloud for business, and I think Apple would agree with me that it is meant for personal use. I hope Apple releases an iCloud for Business! At this point they are rolling in the dough selling their new product to individuals. They don’t need to be all things to all people (just yet). It is good marketing. They know their audience!
What do you think of the new iPhone 4S, IOS 5, SIRI, and iCloud? Are you happy with the changes Apple made?