The task of setting up my new iPad and iPhone recently was an eye-opener to the dependency I now have on cloud services. I expected it to take a few days to totally get all my stuff (email, contacts, calendar, photos etc) on the devices, however, it was a pleasant surprise to get it done in less than a few hours.
No, the credit does not go to the devices…it goes to the cloud! This is what my current setup looks like for the various personalized services and how I keep the iDevices and other laptops in sync.
Calendars: Google Calendar …setup using Google Sync on mobile devices. Work calendar is set up using CalDAV which is auto configured via a custom profile. Thunderbird Lightning CalDAV setup on the laptop.
Chat: Skype, Yahoo! Messenger…iMO app connects to all the common messaging platforms. Work IM is configured using the Oracle Beehive app provisioned via a custom profile. Pidgin IM setup on the laptop.
My Documents: Dropbox …although the native app is quite good, what’s even better is the GoodReader app for the iPhone/iPad that can sync with Dropbox as well as email attachments, Google Docs and WebDAV servers. Secured TrueCrypt containers also synchronize well with Dropbox,
however I haven’t found any mobile app that can securely browse and access those documents. Password-protected zip files (with AES encryption) have file names exposed and I have still not found any iPad app to open encrypted 7z files. Please comment if you have found any way around this. Update 07/29: iUnarchive app on the iPhone/iPad does open password protected zip files.
Not My Documents: Google Docs …this is stuff I want to read/keep but not use up my Dropbox storage and I could afford to lose e.g. pdf articles, free ebooks etc. Again, the GoodReader app does a great job browsing and downloading content from Google Docs. What could be made better is a sync feature as well as ability to view documents without downloading. Update 07/29: Using iUnarchive, I also sync the eBooks on the server with the built-in iBooks app.
Browser Bookmarks: Firefox Sync …using Firefox Home app on the mobile devices. Tighter integration with Safari or a native FF browser would have been ideal.
Pictures: Picasaweb …browse and upload using Piconhand app or show slideshow using the iShowPhoto HD app (both free). Picasa setup on the laptop.
Thanks to the cloud, personalizing and setting up any new connected device or laptop now only requires a few settings and app installation. Now that’s what I call magical.