Will OS X Mountain Lion’s Docs In The iCloud Kill Dropbox?


The Finder's new iCloud view works just like iOS. Screenshot: Pocket Lint
The Finder's new iCloud view works just like iOS. Screenshot: Pocket Lint

With Mountain Lion, Apple has finally tied iCloud to the Mac desktop. While iCloud has worked seamlessly on iOS since launch, moving documents between iCould and your Mac was embarrassingly awkward, involving web browsers, dragging and dropping.

Now, it has been shoved deep into the heart of the OS, in the form of a kind of alternate Finder.

At the top left corner of open/save dialogs you’ll now find two buttons: “iCloud” and “On My Mac.” On My Mac gives you the regular Finder file system. ICloud switches you to the now-familiar linen window seen in the file-management section of apps like the iOS version of Pages.

Here you’ll find documents that were saved into iCloud from any of your devices. Unlike DropBox, which acts like a de-facto Finder for your iDevices, iCloud only shows you the documents that have been created with the current app. In this way it feels a lot like iTunes or iPhoto in that you never have to touch the file system.

Some of you may have seen this style of window on OS X before. PDF Pen, an app for both the Mac and the iPad, uses a similar window to let you access the iCloud storage area shared by both apps. Here it is:

PDF Pen has been using a similar file-browser for a few weeks now

The iCloud Finder acts just like its iOS counterpart. Dragging one file onto another makes those pseudo folders that look like iOS Springboard folders; new documents can be created, and there’s a sharing button for exporting files to other places.

The easiest thing to say about this is that it means death to Dropbox, but I’m not so sure. While it is indeed very handy to never worry about where your files are, ever again, it is also very handy to be able to move files around in an arbitrary manner.

For example, If I hear of a movie I’d like to see, I can (theoretically) find and download the Torrent file with Safari on my iPad and save the file into a folder in my Dropbox. Now my Mac, back at home, is set to automatically open any .torrent files that appear in that folder. Thus the movie could (in theory) be ready by the time I get home. Try that with iCloud.

We’ll have more to say once we have gotten to play with Mountain Lion, but right now it seems like iCloud might just be OS X 10.8’s killer app.

  • Gary Reed

    I think dropbox will be fine. Now if Apple, Google and Microsoft start to offer free 20gb storage package and the bandwidth restriction can be resolved. Then Dropbox would Doomed.

  • Gary Reed

    I think dropbox will be fine. Now if Apple, Google and Microsoft start to offer free 20gb storage package and the bandwidth restriction can be resolved. Then Dropbox would Doomed.

  • Jordan Clay

    So, is there an iOS rumor buried in here too?   Maybe a new app baked into iOS 6 that works like  the drag and drop feature in OS X Lion?

  • Junaidkureshi

    No way, iCloud docs only keep docs of iworks, and dropbox keeps every extension even the way you want them in folders and works great with office for mac and even iworks. If they want to kill it then they have to be atleast like them.

  • Gregintosh

    I think it will be good to have Dropbox as an added backup to iCloud. I got 12GB free on Dropbox so no need to give that up. Plus, iCloud may or may not support all file types. What if I just want to store raw mp3s or something? DropBox is the way to go for that still. 

    But the days of DropBox are numbered, I think. Apple is just a few more refinements away from making it obsolete, but this isn’t enough yet.

  • prof_peabody

    Your example of the movie only works because it’s about file formats that are unsupported.  Otherwise, iCloud will let you do exactly the same things that Dropbox will let you do.  

    DrobBox will be (kind of what it is now), for “geeks” file sharers, and those that use old-school file systems.  Everyone else will use the built-in iCloud stuff.  Both will survive, one for the old folks and one for the new folks.   

  • urandom

    I don’t think iCloud can kill Dropbox until it will be crossplatform as Dropbox. You must admit that most of Dropbox users not Apple users, just because M$ still leads market of desktop OSes. 

  • Cindon83

    Im hoping for airdrop in iOS

  • Jeff Hardy

    I’ve upgraded to OSX Mountain Lion (developer seed) and don’t find many of the items you guys are talking about actually working. For example, I have no option in Finder, or in the Open/Save dialog box in Pages to do anything with the Cloud. I am logged in to Cloud, but it seems to be just a featureless as it has been since it was initially released. What am I doing wrong here?

  • FriarNurgle

    Ditto… that is unless Apple opens up iCloud to be more of an online storage drive, like iDisk or Dropbox. I would guess Apple could offer 5-10GB for free for people and charge competitive rates on more GB if needed. 

  • thewiccaman

    Or, Apple buys Dropbox out and integrates its features in the final release (Tweetdeck –> Twitter)? Just saying!

  • volodoscope

    Not sure, because I am sure that Apple will put restrictions to what kind of files can be stored there. Dropbox can take pretty much anything and even sync with other apps, etc.

  • thewiccaman

     Like I say, just a thought but with Apple, you never know …

  • Mike Rathjen

    I’m surprised you joined in a technical discussion about blatantly breaking the law.

    I guess it’s only jailbreakers that you hate with the wrath of a thousand gods.

  • aardman

    Apple already offered to buy Dropbox and the founder declined a nine-digit offer from Steve.  Very brave young man.

    What clearer signal can Apple send to tell you that they will be gunning for your business?  Well, he chose the greater risk and of course if Apple doesn’t wipe him out then he gets the greater reward of billions rather than millions.

  • al friede

    …if…..IF….? doesn’t buy dropbox, which i think they already tried to do if i recall correctly….

  • crateish

    Eventually, yes. I hope they kill my ‘need’ for Evernote too.

  • Steffen Borrmann

    Same here, no new dialogue boxes…hmmm

  • Jason Burns

    I don’t think it’s even about storage. Dropbox for me is about cross platform, and even if iCloud was the BEST solution, it’ll still be the best solution for 10% of personal computer users. The title of this article is kind of silly.

  • Steven King

    DropBox will continue to be the preffered cloud system until someone creates a more useful elegant system.

    Apple isnt`t anywhere near that yet…oddly.

  • John Howell

    Will it kill Dropbox? While Dropbox still works on windows, iOS, android, Linux, and OS X, and ANY application that can write to a folder on those systems, it will have no fear from iCloud.

  • Peter Dalebout

    Upgraded from 10.7.3 to Mountain Lion, but I do not have the iCloud save option within Finder, Pages etc.
    Other new features seem to work.

  • Harry Hersbach Tools

    I think Apple have to rethink the ICloud, Dropbox is not so hot anymore since Box.com is giving away 50Gb to user of Iphone/Ipad/Ipod in Nov/Dec 2011 and many Android devices in 2012
    My whole fam. has a Box.com account, i have 2 Boxes so 100Gb to keep everything in the clouds, and i use Mimedia 7Gb to keep my Music and Video.
    So i think Apple should join Box.com, to learn how to hit it Hard !

  • _mcat

    I love iDisk and will be sorry to see it go. iCloud/iOS file structure is not for me; I NEED a finder file structure. DropBox is the only answer, shame you can’t use multiple accounts at once.

  • sadirbabe

    Actually, MS already offers 25 GB free storage, called Skydrive.