On Dropbox & iCloud

Ben Brooks, on the differences between Dropbox and iCloud and what they mean to users:

Right now it’s hard to write on an iPad and not use Dropbox, but it’s been getting easier every day. I actually don’t store a single draft or even archive in Dropbox any longer. Everything is in the iA Writer iCloud storage — where the hell that lives I have no clue, but it also hasn’t matter either.

Dropbox is a power user tool/service/feature — a damned good one — just not something the average user is going to leverage in the way that others do. iCloud is a consumer level feature. It’s good enough for power users if they are willing to relinquish control and trust Apple, but mostly it’s a drop-dead simple solution for everyone.

It may be simple to show someone how to use Dropbox, but it’s even easier to show someone how to use iCloud. That’s the killer feature of iCloud: integration.

While I’m unsure of what “power user” really means, I do know that I’m firmly entrenched in the Dropbox camp. In fact, here’s what pops up every time I open Byword:

Byword File Sys

I’ve said this before, but I’m just one of those people – power users? – who feels more comfortable navigating a file hierarchy than, say, a simplified list, a la iCloud. That isn’t to say that iCloud a worse solution, though; to the contrary, Apple’s purposeful abstraction of the file system in iOS/iCloud is a wonderful thing for the majority of users. But I’m just one of those people who don’t mind the added complexity. Besides, armed with an app launcher like Alfred, I can just hit ⌘-Space, type a few characters, hit Return, and, boom, file opens. Again, that I don’t use iCloud for document storage doesn’t mean its bad; it just means that I don’t use iCloud in that particular context.

All this said, I wholeheartedly agree with Ben in that iCloud’s killer feature is its integration between iOS devices and the Mac, and that the iCloud philosophy is the way of the future. For most people, I’d say iCloud is the way to go, lest you want a whole bunch of folders cluttering up your desktop. For me, though, Dropbox is great and works really, really well.