Apple quite evidently plans many interesting improvements in its iCloud service this year. So, what’s going on?
What we know so far about Apple’s iCloud plans
Apple at WWDC made several announcements that will be reliant on iCloud – these include obvious things like new services and support for new functions, and less evident topics around sync, data, and artificial intelligence (AI).
Most recently, the company began beta-testing Touch ID and Face ID access to iCloud.com online, meaning that if you happen to be using an Apple device (Mac, iPad, iPhone), you can access your online iCloud services with the touch of a finger or a quick eye scan.
This may also be Apple’s way of testing the privacy-protecting Sign-in with Apple service it intends to launch later this year.
What else is Apple planning?
We know the company has been quietly plotting a course to iCloud enhancements for some time. Apple at WWDC made several more key announcements that put iCloud at the center of new services:
Find My App
Apple’s Find My App will help you find friends, phones, and Macs when it launches later this year. I’ve explained how this will work here, but don’t ignore the claim the company intends to introduce its own tracking tags for use on other items: bags, bikes or cars, for example.
If these claims prove correct, then iCloud will soon become an essential item-tracking service, meaning you’ll be able to find all your most precious things using iCloud (app or online) and the Find My App/Service there. I guess the tags will include some form of Bluetooth beacon tech.
WWDC 2019 saw Apple announce a router kitemark scheme.
This means you’ll be able to put a firewall around your home accessories to prevent them from becoming vulnerabilities hackers can use to climb into your home network. It will also levy security standards that router makers will need to meet. Given how vendors in that space are fast recognizing the need to deliver better security, it’s no surprise they are signing up to support this.
HomeKit devices are controlled by the Home app on Apple devices and synced using your Apple ID, so it seems inevitable you’ll see a cloud-based Home app at some point – particularly now that the endpoints are better secured.
HomeKit Secure Video
Most connected security systems upload video to the cloud for analysis and storage. That’s fine, but it also means those assets are shared and stored somewhere you have no control, which means you just don’t know what happens to them.
Apple’s answer to this is HomeKit Secure Video.
This lets the cameras send video to the iPad, HomeKit, or Apple TV for analysis. The video is then encrypted and stored on your iCloud account.
You get told if activity is seen, and 10 days of video storage are included for free (though you need to subscribe to the maximum storage iCloud account).
As explained to me, you as a user will be able to watch any video captured or stored in iCloud from a registered device, with decryption taking place on board the system.
Now that Apple is developing biometric protection for online iCloud accounts, is there much to prevent it from creating an online portal through which we can explore and view our home security clips?
iCloud for Messages, Files
Other Apple services also make use of iCloud. Along with a much-improved search, Messages will gain a whole bunch of memoji’s and animoji’s, and it will let users define their profile image, which will be automatically used by any device that syncs to iCloud. The mighty Files app will gain the ability to collaborate on folders, as well as files, using iCloud Drive folders, which of course are also accessible online.
You’ll also see Safari downloads saved to a new Downloads folder in iCloud Drive; this too will be accessible via iCloud.com online.
I’ve been considering all these enhancements, and I think Apple may make one or more of these features accessible via iCloud online. Perhaps reconfiguring the servers to support some of this is why iCloud fell over a few times on July 4.
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