On Monday, Apple announced its new cloud-based media service iCloud. The service allows users to store music, photos, and apps on Apple's servers and access them from their iOS devices, Macs, or PCs.
That's great for music and photography fans, but what about us cinefiles and gamers? Where's our love? For now, Apple isn't showing us much, but the potential exists to integrate the service with games and movies in a way that no one has done before, and it just so happens that I have a few suggestions about how that should come to be.
As a side note, I'd just like to say how much I'm looking forward to no longer being burdened by iTunes' restrictive nature when it comes to my music. Before iCloud, if I wanted to buy a song through iTunes at home, sync it to my iPhone, then transfer that song to my Tunes library at work, I couldn't. Which is ridiculous and antiquated functionality that I am very happy to see go.
This was an issue for years, and I'm surprised it's taken this long to see it fully addressed. So I guess a thanks to Apple is in order; however, it's one of those thanks a wife gives her husband after she's reminded him five times to take out the now-overflowing garbage, and he finally does.
If you've (literally) bought into the the Apple iDevice ecosystem and you're a gamer, you likely use both your iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad to game.
I personally prefer gaming on the iPad over the smaller iDevices, but will use my iPhone when I'm away from home. The iPad is more of a "couch/bed computer" and usually doesn't leave the relative safety of my abode.
So, when I'm on the bus or sitting in a theater alone waiting for my third viewing of "Thor" to start, out comes the iPhone. I use it to pass the time and distract myself from the fact that I'm sitting in a theater alone waiting for my third viewing of "Thor" to start.
Whether it's Infinity Blade or Cut the Rope, eventually the time comes when I need to stop playing, usually right in the middle of particularly difficult fight or level. Then, after the movie's over and I've wiped my eyes dry of tears--hopefully before my wife sees me--I'll want to continue my casual gaming experience at home, starting from the exact point I left off.
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Currently, I have no choice but to continue playing on my 3.5-inch screen, while the much larger and sexier screen of the iPad taunts me from the coffee table as only a foul temptress can.
I propose that Apple implements a way to store game progress info from your iDevice to the cloud and pushes it to your other iDevices, making the Apple ecosystem that much more appealing and also catering to what understandably could be my very particular needs.
Well, it's probably not that particular and it's not as if this is completely unprecedented. Open Feint allowed certain games to do this very successfully, so the technology exists in some form. I'm just waiting for Apple to throw us gamers a little iCloud love.
Now, I know Apple currently has no plans to allow users to stream movies via iCloud, and there are likely some carrier bandwidth issues that could make this a difficult proposition, at least via cellular. As a tech journalist I'm paid to take issues like that into account, but as a consumer, I just want the thing I want. The technical issues why I can't get the thing I want aren't important to me.
Netflix has great cloud-based functionality that allows me to stream a movie on my Xbox, stop it, and then continue on my iPad or PC, right where I left off. Unfortunately, getting a movie I actually want to see (and not just settle for) is such an incredible rarity on the service.
Being able to easily stream movies from my own library onto any of my iDevices at any time would make annoying, socially awkward gatherings with people I don't like or care about that much more tolerable if I knew I could, at a moment's notice, break out the opening scene to "X2" and sink back into a fanboy nerdgasm. Bad for personal development, yes, but great for geek cred (those things are usually antithetical anyway).
In all seriousness, I hope Apple is at least considering these avenues of iCloud implementation. The service has the potential to expand the appeal of Apple's ecosystem by increasing its usefulness the more iDevices you own. Here's hoping Apple doesn't limit that use to just music and photos.