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The Big iCloud Disappointment for Mac Users

ICloud does not sync Pages documents on the Mac

Consider this post to be a gripe. The gripe is about iCloud, the Apple voodoo that will keep all of your documents, photographs, and music magically in sync between your iOS and OS X devices. Just turn it on and it works, without any further effort on your part. Edit a document on your iPad, and there it is waiting for you when you pick up your Mac. Except that it doesn’t quite work that way if you’re a Mac user.

First a disclaimer: iCloud is in beta, so improvements could be coming on the Mac side of things. So yeah, this gripe is a bit premature. But for all the hype that surrounded iCloud (as with most Apple products), I was supremely disappointed to learn of one of its shortcomings.

Specifically, iCloud does not sync documents on the Mac side. I started using iCloud with photos, and that worked fine. I loaded some photos into iPhoto on my MacBook Air, and within moments they appeared on my iMac. Very pleased, I turned to Pages, a word processor and page layout program for the Mac. Digging around, I couldn’t find any settings that would let me enable iCloud. Looking online, I found the answer. While Pages documents will sync automatically on iOS devices, this doesn’t happen on the Mac. If you want to move Pages documents to or from a Mac, it is strictly a manual affair. You need to log into iCloud, and upload or download the document as the case may be.

Mac users can only hope that this functionality comes to the Mac. I understand why document syncing is important on iOS devices. The achilles heel (or strength, depending on your perspective) of iOS devices is the lack of a file system. iCloud is one way to work around that.

But I can’t be the only one who views working on documents on an iPad or iPhone as a huge compromise. Because it is a better document creation and editing device, the Mac shouldn’t have less iCloud functionality than its less-capable brother. (Yes, you can hook up a bluetooth keyboard to your iOS device, but at that point, why not just use a laptop if you have one? Hacking together a Frankenstein device surely doesn’t jive with Apple’s “it just works” philosophy, and smacks of doing something just for the sake of doing it.)

The bigger concern is whether the Mac is becoming an afterthought for Apple. Given how much revenue iOS devices generate, this wouldn’t be a surprise. Perhaps this iCloud disappointment is temporary, and exists in these early days of iCloud because the syncing of documents to and from devices with large storage capacities is a taller proposition. Perhaps Apple wanted to work out the kinks on simpler devices first, since fewer documents are probably created on iOS devices. We can only hope.

Have you used iCloud yet? What are your thoughts?