iCloud will launch this fall. A lot of it’s features are already known, but lately I have been thinking about some additions that could really make it a kick-ass service.
After last weeks refresh I ordered a new Macbook Air. I know it’ll be a great machine, but I foresee one problem: storage space. Most of the bits on my current Macbook hold media. My iPhoto and iTunes libraries take most of the hard drive space. My new machine likely won’t have enough space to store my current libraries. Another problem is that my girlfriend will start using my old machine and would like to have access to the same libraries meaning I would have to manage them on two machines.
I would love my iPhoto and iTunes libraries to be in iCloud with multiple devices smartly caching the media for local access. Multiple people could also manage the same library so my girlfriend and I would both have access to exactly the same photos and music.
Some problems could occur though.
- If someone adds several gigabytes of images, it would take a while to upload. If the upload would be interrupted, by putting the laptop in a bag for example, it could take several days for the new images to arrive on other peoples devices.
- Getting media from iCloud could take a while thanks to slow internet connections.
Those problems can be fixed and the solution is actually pretty simple. An update to Time Capsule.
Time Capsule would act as the local mirror of your iCloud account. Adding photos to iCloud would first send them to Time Capsule over your fast local network. From there they’ll be uploaded to iCloud or be quickly pushed to other devices within the house.
If your device can’t detect your Time Capsule, because your not at home, it would connect to iCloud directly. Any updates while on the move would be pushed to iCloud which in turn would update your Time Capsule. It’s always online anyway.
For this to work OSX and iOS should be updated as well off course. Media libraries are a combination of the media files itself and a database of meta data. An example of meta data are image descriptions, faces and places. Those databases are only several megabytes for very large libraries.
When a change on iCloud occurs the meta database should always be synced first. That way the interfaces on all the devices could reflect the updated media even before the media has been downloaded. The devices should smartly cache media. For example only 5000 images consisting of the most viewed, most recently viewed and most recently added items. It could also smartly pre-fetch media.
iPhoto and iTunes in iCloud woud rock. Photo stream is a great start, but it’s not full iPhoto. And using Time Capsule as a local mirror would greatly speed up the experience. Apple probably is the only company which can create something like this and I would gladly give them some money if they do.