Google One is the value-driven on­line stor­age locker I want icloud to be

It’s not just about gi­ga­bytes.

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY MICHAEL SI­MON

As I write this, Ap­ple’s World­wide De­vel­op­ers Con­fer­ence is right around the cor­ner, and we all have our lists of things we’re hop­ing to see: bet­ter Siri, a mod­u­lar Mac, a cheaper Homepod, Face ID on the ipad Pro. But there’s one prod­uct in des­per­ate need of an up­date that would in­stantly gen­er­ate an ex­tended ap­plause break from the key­note crowd.

No, I’m not talk­ing about the Mac mini. I’m talk­ing about icloud.

icloud has been a bone of con­tention for Ap­ple users ever since its de­but at

WWDC 2011. A re­place­ment for the Mo­bileme ( go. mac­world.com/ mbme) paid ser­vice—which re­placed .Mac, which re­placed itools ( go.mac­world. com/i2me)— icloud was sup­posed to be the free on­line stor­age we all wanted. Like the ser­vices of yore, it in­cluded backup, email, and on­line stor­age start­ing at 5GB and go­ing up to a ter­abyte or more for a monthly fee.

That was fine in 2011. But while Ap­ple has added things like itunes Match, Photo Library, and Key­chain to icloud to build it into a fuller-fea­tured ser­vice, it still lags in com­par­i­son to the on­line stor­age of­fered by Google and Drop­box. And now Google is beef­ing up its own paid stor­age plans in an ef­fort to put even more dis­tance be­tween it and icloud. And it’s get­ting harder and harder to de­fend icloud.

ICLOUD EV­ERY­WHERE

Any­one who al­ready pays for a Google Drive ac­count will be au­to­mat­i­cally up­graded to Google One ( go.mac­world. com/gone), bring­ing a smat­ter­ing of ad­di­tional fea­tures for the same (or less) money. That in­cludes “one-tap ac­cess to ex­perts” and “ac­cess to ex­tras from other Google prod­ucts, like cred­its on Google Play or deals on se­lect ho­tels found in Google Search.” And Google prom­ises more ben­e­fits over time. Google has also added fam­ily shar­ing to match Ap­ple’s own Fam­ily Shar­ing fea­ture. That means for just $3 a month, five fam­ily mem­bers can get 40GB of stor­age a piece. And if they want even more space, two ter­abytes costs $10 a month on ei­ther ser­vice. In fact, the two ser­vices are re­mark­ably sim­i­lar when it comes to monthly cost:

icloud

50GB: $0.99 200GB: $2.99 2TB: $9.99

Google One

100GB: $1.99 200GB: $2.99 2TB: $9.99

But pric­ing and free­bies aren’t the main ap­peal of Google One. It re­mains to be seen what Google will add to the ser­vice in the way of free­bies, but as it stands, Google One is every­thing icloud isn’t, namely an ex­ten­sion of your phone, PC, or Chrome­book. It’s a way to ac­cess all of your files wher­ever you are. It doesn’t mat­ter what de­vice you’re us­ing or even what plat­form—all of your files, pho­tos, and video are ac­ces­si­ble wher­ever you go. Even on a Mac, it of­fers a great way to keep your files and pho­tos synced ( go. mac­world.com/buyf) at all times.

Google One isn’t just a sim­ple re­brand­ing of Google Drive, it rep­re­sents a phi­los­o­phy of con­ve­nience that used to be in­grained in Ap­ple’s prod­ucts too. icloud Drive is avail­able on Win­dows, but where’s the An­droid app? Ap­ple’s IOS back­ups are far bet­ter than they are on An­droid, but on the Mac, icloud back­ups are lit­tle more than sync­ing of your ser­vices. I un­der­stand that 5GB is far too lit­tle space for a full PC backup, but why not of­fer icloud Mac back­ups as an op­tion for paid ac­counts?

With its new One plans, Google is send­ing a mes­sage to its users that there is no bet­ter place to store your files. That’s not the case with icloud. Power users may be able to use it to its full ex­tent, but from its lame free tier to its value-poor sub­scrip­tion plans, Ap­ple of­fers lit­tle in­cen­tive for the av­er­age user to up­grade for any other rea­son than to stop re­ceiv­ing out-of-space alerts.

ADDING VALUE

Google is putting con­ve­nience first. I un­der­stand that Ap­ple needs to sell way more iphones than Google needs to sell Pixel phones, but de­vel­op­ing icloud into a full-fea­tured, stand-alone cloud ser­vice won’t push any­one over to An­droid. If any­thing, it’ll get some An­droid users to switch.

Even if you ig­nore the fact that Google of­fers three times the free stor­age space that Ap­ple does (15GB ver­sus 5GB), the real dif­fer­ence be­tween the two plans is that icloud doesn’t give any real in­cen­tives for up­grad­ing to a paid plan. Back when itools turned into .Mac, I was happy to pay $99 a year for a full suite of ser­vices, in­clud­ing Backup for all of my de­vices, idisk, and a cool email ad­dress. Now I groan a lit­tle each time I get my monthly email from Ap­ple in­form­ing me that it has charged my ac­count $3.

I re­cently con­vinced my dad to pay $1 a month to in­crease his icloud stor­age to 50GB, but it wasn’t an easy sell. He wanted to know why he needed to pay just to have enough space to back up his three IOS de­vices. It’s a good ques­tion. I even­tu­ally won the ar­gu­ment by break­ing it down to pen­nies a day, but there should be a bet­ter an­swer. Here’s hop­ing that Ap­ple pro­vides one at WWDC. ■

If you pay for Google Drive, Google One is the new home for your files.

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