I still need to explain what I think some of the facts I laid out earlier surrounding Windows 8 could mean, but before I do, I feel like I should share my thoughts on the implications of some of the under-appreciated synergies between OS X Lion, iCloud and iOS 5.
I’ve been chewing on this for a while, but I was finally inspired to post something after commenting on Amit Kumar’s post “The User Experience of Apple’s Upcoming iCloudBook.” In that post, Amit builds on an earlier blog post where he explains how he thinks certain features of OS X Lion portend a “cloud” notebook from Apple. Its some nice thinking, but I think its fundamentally flawed.
The reason? By focusing on Lion and the Mac, he’s thinking about Apple too narrowly. That focus might have made sense just a couple of years ago, but these days it’s important to remember that Apple earns substantially more revenue, and profit, from iOS devices than the Mac.
The real story, in my view, is how Lion’s new document model and incremental file versioning and storage, along with iCloud and iOS 5 combine to create the beginning of a seamless, pervasive computing environment.
I’ve linked above to an in depth discussion of Lion’s new document model and the file versioning and storage services that support it, but to put it briefly, apps built specifically for Lion are supposed to continually service changes to disk, while the file versioning and storage services help support compact storage of multiple versions of the same file and provide a standard way for users to access older versions. The key here though is the fact that the version on disk is never very far out of date, and that the changes are stored in a compact manner.
Now add iCloud, and this means that as long as some Internet connectivity is available, a user can have an up to date version of their documents available from anywhere, including their iPhone, or iPad.
Pull it all together, and you can do something like this:
You stay late at the office to finish a presentation you have to give in Denver tomorrow afternoon. You put the finishing touches on the presentation with Keynote, close your MacBook Pro, and hurry out the door so you aren’t late for your girlfriend’s birthday dinner.
The next morning, in the line for a latte at an Airport Starbucks, you pull out your iPhone, and open Keynote so you can review the presentation. Your laptop is still closed, on your desk at work, but the latest version of the presentation opens quickly from iCloud. You flip through the presentation until your order is filled. As you wait to board your flight, you sip your coffee and fix a few typos.
A little later, you fasten your seatbelt and pull out your iPad. While you wait for the flight to depart, you open Keynote, and make further changes to your presentation.
As you move from device to device, the latest version of your document is available to you without a second thought. It just works.