Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Stephen Hackett

The Hackett File: iCloud Pro

I recently spent some time thinking through and outlining the services I use for my data.

As a self-employed free agent, I have control of what services I use for my data. When we set up Relay FM, I knew we needed an email service that would allow us to use our own domain name, set up groups and provide contacts and calendars. We looked at three services:

  • Google Apps (now named G Suite, for some reason I cannot comprehend)
  • FastMail
  • Office 365

We went with Google Suite because it was easier to set up than FastMail and the admin tools were more powerful than what I saw at Office 365. The biggest reason for choosing G Suite was Google Drive. Myke and I would have ended up using it anyways, so having it within our business accounts was just a plus.

Of course, there are some people who will read this and have concerns about Google’s privacy policy. Some of those concerns are real, and some are FUD, but I know many nerdy folks who choose iCloud over Google for their personal data. As a business, I didn’t have that option.

iCloud is just not suited for professional accounts for several reasons.

The biggest is the lack of support for using your own domain. Sending emails to sponsors from an email address simply looks unprofessional. My company may only be comprised of two people, but I want every single aspect of it to be polished and professional.

Secondly, iCloud email isn’t as powerful as what Google offers. Apple does offer some server-side email filtering, but it is nowhere near as flexible as Google’s. I have nearly a dozen rules set up to send certain types of messages (such as show feedback) to certain folders so I can see it all in one place.

As a G Suite administrator, I have full control of the user accounts under my domain. If we had an employee who we needed to let go, I could change their password or revoke access to services quickly. If I need to set up a new group for something, it’s trivial to do so. iCloud lacks all of these tools. You can manage your own account, but even with a Family Sharing plan, the tools Google offers are far more relevant to dealing with corporate information.

As far as sharing information between accounts, things are a bit more murky. iCloud calendar sharing is far easier to understand and use than what Google offers, but contact sharing is easier with Google. Google Drive is much more powerful than iCloud Drive, which has no concept of sharing files whatsoever. There’s, but I’ll be kind and just say that Google Docs wipes the floor with it when it comes to stability and usability.

I don’t blame Apple for making iCloud so consumer-focused. While it has changed names a couple of times since iTools, Apple’s online service has always been built for the individual who uses multiple Apple products. They’ve never seen the need to expand it to business users the way Google took Gmail and Google Calendar and added a bunch of stuff on top to make Google Apps.

However, I wish Apple would look at this. I’m not sure I would have chosen it over G Suite (again, Google Drive is a huge deal for Relay FM) but I think a lot of people would.

[Stephen Hackett is the author of 512 Pixels and co-founder of Relay FM.]

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