December 2011 – iCloud to the rescue

Moving to iCloud

iCloud from Apple - connects everything!

What is iCloud — check out the Apple site for info here?  It’s a tool from Apple that allows you to wirelessly synchronize your contact and calendar information on the web.

We got our induction into the class of people moving to iCloud.  The primary benefit we are seeing so far is wireless access to our contacts and calendars — no longer are you connecting with a cable to synchronize your data.

We have been through the following so far with great guidance from Danny Sullivan’s blog.  The blog entry on iCloud has lots of useful information and experiences.

My office

The computer items involved:
  • iMac updated to Mac OS X Lion
  • Macbook update to Mac OS X Lion (a requirement)
  • iPhone updated to IOS 5 (a requirement)
  • Windows 7 Pro, HP desktop with iCloud control panel

I performed the setup from my iMac (my ‘primary’ source of information) and everything synchronized easily.  In Outlook 2010, I just needed to know to look at the iCloud calendar rather than the default calendar.  Also had to change the location of my contacts.  Otherwise, updates flow quickly and wirelessly.

My first client moving to iCloud

The computer items involved:
  • Windows 7 Pro Laptop
  • iPhone with IOS 5 (a requirement)
  • iPad 2

My first client experience with using iCloud occurred under duress (for lack of a better description) and not according to a ‘normal’ path.  In essence, her laptop drive failed while she was traveling.  During that trip, since she needed to view information on the internet, she purchased an iPad.  Somehow, I’m not clear on this yet, the iPad was loaded at the Apple store with her contacts and calendar.  I can only suppose that this occurred when she had previously converted her iPhone to IOS 5 and, possibly, enabled iCloud for her data.

The next step, when I finally got her home, was to setup her laptop.  I’ve used Outlook long enough to know now that any time I work on it that I should backup everything first.  Thus, before embarking on this adventure, I backed up the Contacts and Calendar information.

In this case, since the data on the phone was sourced from the computer, it would have seemed logical that we should simply setup the laptop with the iCloud control panel for Windows and synchronize the data.  Not!  When we did this step, everything was duplicated — everywhere.  Not to mention the fact that the contacts and calendar information were blank in Outlook — not blank, just moved to iCloud.

What we’ve seen so far

Calendar in Outlook – as many are discussing, iCloud grabs your data and moves it from Outlook to the iCloud calendar.  We saw duplication of all calendar information on my client system and this appears to have occurred because the computer perceived them as new entries rather than a synchronization of prior information.

Contacts in Outlook – they got moved to iCloud also and completely removed from the Outlook data file.  Simply updating Outlook to use the correct address book resolved that problem.  No duplication was seen here.

Information flows nicely – updates to calendar and contact information flows across the air quickly.

Mac iCal – if you are the type that needs automatic updates (I do!), ensure you set your iCal preferences to automatically update you calendar on a timed interval basis — you’ll see when you look.

To consider

Privacy – your contact and calendar information, through this tool, are now in the cloud and stored somewhere other than on your personal system.  Be aware of storing passwords or other personal information in this format to ensure you’re not exposed.

Large volume of data – if your contact list or calendar are enormous, you may experience slow loading time at the initial pass and afterwards.  For this, we are looking for more data to see how it works.