iCloud…Should I Use It?
November 27, 2013 3:50 AM   Subscribe

Just curious if I should use the iCloud? Will it make things complicated for me? Make it easier? Do I need it? Am I using it already??

Ok, full disclosure…I am a PC user who has been using Apple products for the past 8 years or so. I am on my 3rd Shuffle, second Nano, I have had the iPod touch (sold it) and now I use an iPhone and recently acquired an iPad Air (within the past week).

I use iTunes (on my PC) to manage my music library and I do a lot of things manually (I am sure there are more efficient and easier ways to do stuff, but I use what I know and am comfortable with.

So up until now, I have no need to use iCloud. Or I don’t think I have needed to use it. I am not 100% sure what the iCloud is, but I am assuming that it is Apple’s ‘virtual?’ storage and syncing place?? Since I use a PC and an iPhone, I had no need to share (and synch) information between my PC and iPhone. I have my email accounts linked up to my iPhone and I use a Yahoo! Calendar that is linked to my Yahoo! Email as my calendar on the iPhone. I only manually sync my music, podcast and apps from iTunes to my iPhone when I want to (and I am fine with that). I want to control what songs, pictures, apps and podcasts are sent to my iPhone, and I don’t want iTunes to autofill, etc.

Anyway, now that I have an iPad Air, I am wondering about syncing between the device and it got me wondering about the iCloud. I can see it having some benefits and other negatives. Here are some things off the top of my head:

- One of the biggest con’s I heard about iCloud was with the Camera Roll. I read somewhere that if you took a picture with your iPhone, it would be synced to the iCloud Camera Roll (or Photo Stream) and these photos could never be deleted. This isn’t something I want.
- I would like to have my current iPhone calendar also on my iPad. Can this be done? Or, can it only be done in the iCloud? If I make an appointment on the iPhone, will it get synced to the iPad?
- Likewise, can I have the same Contact list (the app) on both devices? I can see the benefit of having these synced.
- What happens if I put my Yahoo! Mail app also on my iPad? If the iPhone and iPad are next to each other, will both alert me for mail?
- I want to have separate information on both the iPhone and iPad, meaning, I want to have separate pictures on my iPad than iPhone; I have no music or podcasts on my iPad (and want to keep it that way), but I have my iPhone filled with these. I don’t want to have both “synced’ to have the same material (if this is in fact what the iCloud is for).

To be honest, I don’t even know if I am using the iCloud already or not! All I know, if that a couple of iTunes versions ago, a lot of my songs doubled up and a little cloud icon showed up next to a lot of them, which really messed me up.

There you go. Long winded, I know, but I love my iPhone, use it hourly, manage it manually (which I like) and now that I have an iPad, I am wondering if the iCloud can help or hinder me. Looking for any suggestions or tips you can send my way. Thanks!
posted by dbirchum to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You have good control over how (if at all) you use iCloud in the iCloud screen of your Settings app.

Plenty of iOS users, including me, choose to use just one iCloud function: Find My iPhone. That service will, as the name implies, let you track your device remotely from a different device, if you lose it or someone takes it (and it is turned on and not in Airplane Mode).
posted by kalapierson at 3:59 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

On my Mac (I'm lazy and not getting an iOS device), I have the option to turn iCloud on/off for: Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Notes, Safari, Keychain (new for Mavericks), Photos, Documents & Data (I think this is a Mac OS only thing), Back to My Mac (again Mac only, I think) and Find My Mac. This is roughly what it is on my iPod.

I currently do have it enabled for Contacts, Reminders and Notes on the Mac and on my iPod. (I've been using Google Calendar, so Calendar is off.) When I've used the Calendar in the past, it has worked. I think the iCloud mail setting is only for the built in mail app and you'd control the push notifications for Yahoo! Mail separately on the iPhone and iPad. I have a first gen iPad, so it doesn't have a camera, but I think turning off iCloud for photos should keep your photos separate.

I believe the option for music is in iTunes. However, if I subscribe to a podcast on my iPod, it'll show up in the podcasts app of my iPad (or vice versa), but not download.
posted by hoyland at 4:10 AM on November 27, 2013

PC user with iPad and iPhone, here. I use iCloud for exactly what you'd like to use it for, except I also love having my photos sync. Nice to know they're backed up if something should befall one device or the other, and also easier to send longer email with photo attachments with the larger iPad keyboard, etc. Also nice to look at them on the larger iPad screen. I don't sync everything possible, because of space mostly, but I do also have Find My iPhone.
posted by clone boulevard at 6:20 AM on November 27, 2013

My pix go away when I delete them. (Using PC, Win7, iPad Air.)

I can't really find a downside. iPad is backed up, up there. Painless. Free. If I need more space, I can buy more.

Not quite dropbox, which I use for PC-PC sync of some stuff, and a kind of stupid large-file repository when i need to send someone a large file. (I prefer links to attachments.) Still, amazingly useful. I take some pix on my iPad, which I do a lot do document things I am doing, like field engineering, repair, white board sketches, equipment labels, process charts... and boom, they go to the cloud WHEN I AM ON WIFI, not when in the field. No penalty on power usage, as is the case with dropbox on an iPad.

try it. kinda free.
posted by FauxScot at 6:29 AM on November 27, 2013

As others have mentioned, you can choose which items to synchronize with iCloud on a per-device basis. Mrs. alms and I synchronize our contact lists but not our reminders, calendars, etc.

Each device has its own camera roll, but devices can also optionally have photo streams which are synchronized via iCloud. You can delete photos from a device and from a photo stream.

iTunes Match is the awesome. It puts your entire music library into the cloud, where it is accessible on any of your devices as long as you have an internet connection. You don't have to worry about what music to put onto your device and what to leave on your PC. This now works for many movies and TV shows as well (though not all --- contractual stuff).

Backing up to iCloud is a good thing. It happens automatically in the background.

Since Apple launched iCloud and iTunes Match I pretty much don't sync or backup my iPhone with my computer anymore. That's a big improvement. Photos and movies still require some manual management, but hopefully Apple will fix that in iOS 8.

From what I've heard, iCloud is not a great document management system and it can be hard for third-party developers to use. But the built-in functionality works very well.
posted by alms at 6:47 AM on November 27, 2013

iCloud backup is fantastic. I sync everything to it and back up to it, and when my phone was stolen last year, the new one had all my stuff - contacts, apps, preferences, photos - within a matter of minutes of booting it up inside the Apple Store and connecting it to the wifi.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:51 AM on November 27, 2013

Honestly, if you have one near by, make an appointment at the Genius Bar. I was in the same boat as you. I was familiar with some of iCloud's features but unclear about the order of operations with others.

Not only will they answer all of your questions, they will help you set it up as well.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:38 AM on November 27, 2013

I use iCloud to sync my calendar, contacts, and email across my 3 Apple devices. I don't sync photos because my phone and iPad don't have enough memory for that.
posted by cecic at 8:44 AM on November 27, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks folks.

I learned a LOT by reading your responses.

I am convinced to at least try it. There are no Apple stores anywhere close to me (at least a couple of thousand miles - i think the closest one would be a 2 hour flight).

How and where would I get started? Do I go to a website first?

Suggestions for how to start? I mean, I would like to only sync one thing at a time, in order to get the hang of it. Contact list for example. Then notes. Then Calendar... how would I go about doing this.

Thanks again!
posted by dbirchum at 3:58 PM on November 27, 2013

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