So What Is ‘Cloud’ And Why Should I Care? (Part 2)

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Big Brother

Privacy advocates are also concerned abo data spying although those that use Facebook or Twitter on their phones sign elaborate disclaimers (the legality of which is cloudy) before use, these companies, and Google too, want to sell you advertising They aren’t providing a public service They want to see what your hobbies are, what kind of food you like and where you do these activities On smartphones, this is manifested through GPS tracking so if you go to the Manchester CBD KFC once a week it detects a pattern, and may place ads on your app or social network advising you of specials on in that store.

Some customers love this kind of integration, seeing it as a neat modem service. Others are worried about the implications of such ‘benign’ observing.

The death of the text message

The death of SMS text messaging has long been exaggerated. But the more smartphone users boost their data usage, the more redundant the old text message will become. Texts can now be sent over the internet, similar to d Skype call (which will one clay replace phone calls too). Apple now has iMessage built in (blue colored text messages to those that also have iMessage enabled, as opposed to the green of a traditional, paid (or SMS) - but this will only work for Apple devices Other popular cloud based messaging services include WhatsApp which works on both Android and Apple devices, and Viber. which combines Skype-style internet phone calling with text messaging.

Music and movies too?

Let’s face it, having to sync your music between all your devices (via your laptop) is annoying.

The aforementioned ‘lockbox style cloud storage services allowed you to upload your own movies and music (subject to copyright laws), which provided a temporary solution.

Nowadays, more companies are jumping onto a more service based model from the point of sale.

Having to sync your music between all your devices (via your laptop) is annoying

Amazon, for example, has just started its new service ‘Autorip’ in the US for select CDs sold. Something of a misnomer (no music is actually ripped’ from the CDs you buy), it means that when streamed version is instantly available to you.

Third party app/music services such as Spotify, Rdio and Grooveshark allow you to purchase music from their app stores and stream it directly from their servers in the cloud. These songs aren’t directly downloaded to your smartphone although some, such as Nokia’s first party Nokia Music, offer ‘down loaded’ versions for offline listening (such as on a plane) on its Lumia devices.

Streaming apps, such as Spotify, are a great (and cheap) way to listen to audio on the go.

Streaming apps, such as Spotify, are a great (and cheap) way to listen to audio on the go

Google Music, Amazon Cloud Player and Apple’s iCloud all offer their own cloud streaming and audio purchase services for their particular devices, connected to their various music stores.

Movies will go the same way, once 4G is more established - this has been limited by mobile broadband speeds. Even so, Netflix, Sky and Amazon’s LoveFilm are all offering pared back experiences, and can be used on Wi-Fi and 4G. Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App store both offer smartphone and tablet movie downloading and streaming.

Most of the big players now oiler users options for storing their music and movies in the cloud - which also saves you a ton of space on your tablet or smartphone

Best buys:

iCloud - all the music of Apple’s App Store (paid per purchase) in the cloud for free. Otherwise, the initial 5GB is free, expandable by paying.

Spotify - unlimited music for $14.9 per month, including downloading to listen offline. It has a 30 day free trial.

Grooveshark - unlimited music, for free. It has recently been booted from Google and Apple’s app stores over legal issues, but is still available through your mobile web browser.

Rdio - unlimited music with an in-App subscription for $22.5 per month.

The main services


Essentially preinstalled on all Apple devices, it includes Safari, Notes, iTunes (music movies and TV shows), Photos, Calendar, Contacts and Mail, everything from the App Store and the iBook store, alongside Apples iCloud Backup and Find My iPhone services. It is activated by signing into your Apple account on the phone. You can check which apps are using what in the 5GB allowance (and upgrade it) by going into Settings-iCloud Storage and Backup on your iPhone or iPad menu iCloud isn’t as open as the other platforms, but is seamlessly integrated into Apple’s OS - you don’t have a ‘folder screen’ or a webpage you can view and drag and drop files into, unlike the other offerings on this list. It also doesn’t offer a PC desktop drag and drop interface either.

The main services

Plans are:

·         Free to 5GB

·         10GB added is $21 per year (so 15GB total)

·         20GB added is $42 per year (25GB total)

·         50GB added is $105 per year


Google hasn’t become a mayor tech multinational by chance. Its cloud offerings are mostly free, and include Gmail, Google Drive (storage) and Google Docs (document creation and editing) The Google Play Store, home of all its apps, music, movies and books, is pay per item The Chrome Web browser will sync bookmarks, search histories and your logins through your accounts. Overall, Google’s cloud offerings are more techie’ and less user friendly than Apple’s or Dropbox. The incorporation of Google Docs makes it a powerful tablet work tool for the road warrior. As with Apple the first 5GB is free.

Plans are:

·         Free to 5GB

·         25GB is $2.50 per month - $27 per year (30GB total)

·         1TB is $50 per month

·         16TB is $800 per month


The Godfather of them all, Dropbox has become synonymous with mass online storage, and its famously easy to use interface (now freshly redesigned too). It uses the ‘lockbox’ model, and is platform agnostic. This suits users of diverse plat forms, rather than being chained to Google or Apple devices. Drop-box just doesn’t care - it’s web based for most, but has apps for Apple’s iOS, Google Android and Windows Phone 8. Its apps and online interface are the best in the business, basic and simple to use. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t have intermediate storage plans - it’s free up to 2GB, but the next pay plan is 100GB absolute overkill for casual users.

Plans are:

·         Free to 2GB, then up to 18GB (through tasks, such as referring friends to the website etc.)

·         100GB is $10 per month (£6.20) or $100 per year (£62)

·         200GB $20 and $200 per year

·         500GB $50 and $500 per year

Microsoft Skydrive

Skydrive follows Google’s model more than Dropbox’s or iCloud. It is more a platform that ties together Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Surface tablet settings, contact books, emails and bookmarks. But it also has the only ‘proper’ integration with Office 365 for workers, and links again into Microsoft’s whole Live service - namely Skype and the others.

Skydrive follows Google’s model more than Dropbox’s or iCloud.

Skydrive follows Google’s model more than Dropbox’s or iCloud.

However, while it works brilliantly with Microsoft’s own services, it doesn’t have the app integration the others on this list have - the same problem that has been plaguing all of Microsoft’s operating system offerings over the past few years. Microsoft only offers yearly plans, which may be less flexible for casual users.

Plans are:

·         Free to 7GB

·         20GB is $10 per year

·         50GB is $25 per year

·         100GB is $50 per year

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