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Saturday, June 22, 2013

I've looked at Clouds from both sides now

These days, I'm up in the clouds. Internet clouds, that is. With both an iPad and iPhone, iCloud makes it easy to manage my apps, photographs, music and more on my iDevices. And with Adobe Creative Cloud, I can download and install as many Adobe software programs as I want without incurring additional fees. One monthly payment covers it all.

I have iCloud installed on my iPhone, iPad and my HP laptop. For me, iCloud takes away all the drudgery I used to endure with my old iPhone. No more plugging anything into my computer, no more synching. Yay! When I plug my iPhone or iPad in to charge, it does an automatic backup into my Cloud. As well, I can go in and direct it to do a backup to the Cloud at any time.

The Cloud proved particularly beneficial when I moved up to an iPhone 5 earlier this year. In the old days, I would have had to open up iTunes on my computer, then attach the phone to my computer with a USB cable, wait for iTunes to recognize the new phone, have it synch, etc. Instead, I just initialized iCloud on my new phone, logged in with my Apple ID, and I was basically good to go.

With iCloud, installing an app on my iPad means the app also appears on my iPhone, and vice versa (unless, obviously, it's an app that is not meant to be installed on either; there are many iPad-only apps, for example). If I don't want it on the second device, I can just go onto that device and locate the new addition, press down on the app's icon until it hovers, tap the X, and it's gone. Gone, but not forgotten. I can go into the iTunes app on my devices any ol' time to have a look at what I've purchased and then reinstall anything there I'd deleted, if I want.

A good example of a practical use of iCloud is the storage of large media files like movies, television episodes and music videos. Last February, for example, the captain and I bought the February 14th episode of The Big Bang Theory in iTunes, as we had missed it that night and wanted to watch it. So now, when I go into my iTunes account and look at TV Shows I've purchased, there it is. If I want, I can download it onto my iPad or iPhone and watch it again. But it's a large file that I don't want taking up permanent space, so I can just delete it off my device after I've watched it. Should I fancy another look, I can just go download it again. It's mine, I bought it; it lives in my Cloud. It can also live on my device too, but in my opinion that's a waste of storage space, unless it's something I want to watch over and over again.

Apple's iCloud doesn't seem to have generated much negative feedback that I can find, but not so with Adobe's new Cloud offering. Adobe's Creative Cloud has caused a lot of controversy among Photoshop users, who balk at the idea of paying a monthly fee rather than an outright purchase price. The topic became even more controversial when Adobe announced that CS6 would be the last version of Photoshop it would sell as a standalone product. Going down the road, users will have to sign up for the Cloud if they want to use a newer version of any of Adobe's professional products, or switch to the more friendly Photoshop Elements, which is still being sold (for now) and is not part of the Cloud.

As Joni Mitchell wrote and Judy Collins sang, I see this issue from both sides now. I signed up for the Cloud and am happy with it. But, full disclosure dictates that I let you know I got it for a reduced price, as NAPP members were offered a discount on the monthly charge. If I hadn't been able to get it for a lower monthly price, I don't know if I would have signed up, as $50/month is way too much money for just Photoshop. To be fair, that fifty bucks per month also allows for the downloading of all the other Adobe professional products too -- Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom, Premiere Pro, Dreamweaver, Acrobat, etc. -- so it quickly can become a value. Just try adding up the purchase price of all those products and fifty bucks a month starts to look like a bargain!

For those who are definitely Photoshop-only users, a much lower monthly fee is available when subscribing to just one product, so folks who only want Photoshop can have it without shelling out a lot of money each month. Until July 31st, the Single App Plan can be had for existing CS users for as little as $9.99 US/month. That certainly seems fair to me and I think it shows that Adobe is listening to its existing user base and trying to accommodate the financial concerns of all its customers.

However, I still am uneasy with the idea that I don't "own" the actual products I download and should I choose to opt out of Adobe Creative Cloud, I've lost my programs completely, but I hope Adobe will address that sometime in the future. For now, I'm happy with the Cloud and plan to download Lightroom 5 soon and give it a spin. I've always been curious about it but never wanted to shell out the bucks to buy it. Now, I don't have to buy it; it's mine for the taking. Maybe not mine forever, but mine as long as I have my own Cloud.

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