All my work files are on iCloud. All my Mac’s Documents and Desktop files and folders reside on iCloud, and they seem to sync well between Macs, iPhones, and iPads. What’s the problem? Apple has some work to do to add a silver lining to iCloud’s cloud.
Full On Cloud
Apple has yet to figure out a way to go full on iCloud. By that I mean an iCloud that is all encompassing; so attractive as to motivate customers to use it for everything– beyond passwords and bookmarks, more than Calendar and Contacts, but to a point where iCloud is as attractive and secure as our Macs and iPhones.
It’s not. iCloud needs more fixing.
First up is the price tag. 5GB is free. More costs more. But these days 5GB is anemic and insufficient for anything beyond Safari, Calendar, Contacts, and Keychain. I would love it if Apple moved to a 15GB entry level per device. Not per customer. That way I could get 45GB for Mac, iPhone, and iPad per my Apple ID instead of the anemic 5GB I get now.
Second is obvious. iCloud is not as secure as iPhone, iPad, or Mac. All three devices can be encrypted. No password? No entry. iCloud remains encrypted, too, but it isn’t end-to-end as it is with Apple’s hardware. Apple has the keys to whatever data you store on iCloud and that data is growing.
My iCloud account has Documents and Desktop files and folders. It’s home to Safari settings, bookmarks, Keychain, Calendar, Contacts, and… insert drum roll here… Messages. That means law enforcement can simply serve a warrant to Apple and the company can be forced to cough up my Messages. Encrypted on my iPhone, yes. Encrypted and accessible on iCloud.
That means someone who wants your photos, videos, spreadsheets, email messages, passwords, and more from your iPhone, Mac, or iPad needs a password for access. For iCloud, all that’s needed is the proper authority, password be damned.
iCloud does not yet offer so-called end-to-end encryption. Fear not. Dropbox doesn’t offer it, either.
Third, our online lives have become sufficiently complex and convoluted that most of Apple’s customers want a set it and forget it backup solution. That’s all well and good, but I want more granular controls and Apple’s doesn’t make that easy. In fact, it’s not even an option. For example, with iCloud the settings back up the aforementioned apps and files, and everything in Documents and Desktop. What if you don’t want some files backed up to iCloud?
You’re forced to move them elsewhere on your Mac. See? Granular controls for some users would be a plus.
Price, security, and controls are big issues for many of Apple’s iCloud customers. Apple needs to fix them to make it a truly trusted backup service.
Update: A few items remain encrypted end-to-end in iCloud, including Messages, even if stored in iCloud. Found it on this Apple support document.