Migrating from Google Apps to iWork and MobileMe

For the last several years I’ve been an avid user of Google’s cloud apps, especially Google Docs. I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of features and interoperability with Apple’s iWork suite of late. I’ve also been concerned about what Google may be doing with the work I entrust to their services. It’s my understanding that Google scrapes through GMail accounts collecting data that they use  for targeted advertising. This troubles me a great deal, and especially if this occurs in any of their other services. Even though no person read my email, I’m still a bit squeamish about this.

Google apps were handy because they were available anywhere I was and from any type of operating system I was using at the time. But, I have migrated away from Windows to Apple products, and have a number of devices that affords portability of my work, notably my Macbook, iPad and iPhone. Thus it is a very rare occasion that I’m without one of these devices when I need to get work done. I also have migrated away from MS Office and prefer to do my work using Apple’s iWork suite of tools. If I need to, programs in the iWork suite like Pages allows me to export documents to their MS Office equivalents. But where’s the “cloud” in this transition?

Admittedly, Apple has been slow to offer a cloud capable version of its iWork suite. Apple has the iWork.com service, still in beta, that permits one to share a copy of a document to a server for review by colleagues. Realtime collaboration is not possible at this point. As an aside, I’ve always wondered how useful it is  having multiple people working on the same document in real time. Apple has their MobileMe service that for a $99/year fee gives you 20GB of combined email and file storage and 200 GB of monthly data transfer (upgradeable storage for an addition fee). Documents created in the iWork suite, well any files for that matter, can be stored in your iDisk and accessed as if they were stored on an external drive. What I like about Apple’s approach is that I can use my full-featured iWork programs on my desktop or laptop to access cloud stored documents from anywhere I have an internet connection. For the iPad I simply have to download a copy of the file, and then upload changes back to my iDisk. A bit more cumbersome, but I don’t do a lot of “serious” work on my iPad (though this is changing as the iPad evolves).

So at this time I’m in the process of migrating away Google’s services as the Apple iWork/MobileMe combination provides me with a better experience.  Google largely makes its money from advertising, and hence has to find a way to monetize their “free” services. Even though it is somewhat expensive, moving to Apple’s MobileMe service eliminates my privacy concerns associated with Google. Apple is also bringing a large server farm online in the near future, so a cloud-based iWork suite may be in the offing. Until then, I’m satisfied with the work flow that they are able to provide with MobileMe.

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About Michael Ritter PhD
Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, science textbook author, educational technology blogger, podcaster, and freelance media consultant.

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