The other day I was on campus and I needed to do some homework for an online class. I don’t bring my laptop to school, just my iPad, but I wanted to use a bigger screen for this assignment. So I went to the library. The campus library has plenty of iMacs (not that I hate Windows computers, but I prefer the Mac), so I sat down and got to work.
I logged into D2L, the university’s online class portal, and checked out the work I needed to do. Then I started doing my research, logging into my iCloud account to make a note of a few websites I wanted to save. That’s when I realized: I have very, very, little important data that’s stored exclusively on my computer. Almost everything is in one of several various cloud services. From iCloud to Dropbox, almost everything I do comes off of the internet.
This has a lot of convenience attached to it. It means that if I don’t have my computer, all I have to do is sit down in front of any computer, type in a couple of passwords, and I’ve got all my stuff and I’m all ready to work. It also means that if I ever lose or break my phone, I can just sign in to everything and all my stuff is right there again. Heck, signing in with my Apple ID alone will give me 75% of my information in one fell swoop.
For lost devices, this will work for pretty much everything. For using a campus computer, however, it only works for things I can do in a browser. I can access my email in Safari, but I can’t use the Mail app. I can add links to pocket, but not, as I realized when trying to save those articles, my Safari Reading List. This is because using the Reading List requires me to sign into iCloud for all of OS X, not just on iCloud.com. Again, that’s great for a replaced device, but I’m not going to connect a public library computer to my iCloud account.
So there are drawbacks, but in general these days, I can sit down at any computer and start working as if it was my own, just by typing in a few passwords. Honestly, the biggest inconvenience is that I have to actually type in those passwords instead of the computer remembering them for me. But the fact that all my data is available to me everywhere, on every device, even if that device isn’t mine, is really, really cool. I remember listening to a podcast several years ago where someone said that technology is going to a place where all data is stored in the cloud, and each device, instead of storing data, just acts as a “window” into that data. It would no longer matter what device the data was stored on; instead you could just picked whichever window best suited your fancy. I think it’s safe to say that day has arrived. And I’m sure excited for it. ••