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The Cloud, Day 18: Riding the Cloud from My iPad

The cloud adds capabilities and features to the iPad, making it a much more effective tool than it might be without the cloud.

30 Days With the Cloud: Day 18

There are a number of advantages and benefits to using cloud-based tools from a PC, but when it comes to mobile devices like my iPad 2 tablet, the cloud is essentially a requirement. For today's 30 Days With the Cloud post, I am taking a look at how the cloud enhances the capabilities of the iPad.

The iPad itself is awesome, but it has limited space for file storage, and even more limited options when it comes to ports to connect external storage. My original iPad was a 16GB model, and my iPad 2 is 64GB. Either way, though, I can't possibly store all of the documents, photos, music, and other data I have saved on my PC hard drive.

Instead, I had to be painstakingly discriminating about what to sync with my iPad. I wanted to have access to files, music, and photos, but I had to be very choosy about which ones were deemed worthy of occupying the limited space on the iPad itself. Or, I could turn to the cloud.

Box.net--now simply Box--has been a lifesaver with the iPad. The Box iPad app gives me complete access to the hundreds of gigabytes of data I have stored on Box. More importantly, though, Box is integrated with other third-party apps, such as Epson iPrint, Files Connect, DocsToGo, and even Apple's iWork apps like Pages and Numbers.

The Box app itself only allows me to view, comment on, and share links to the files. If I have an AirPrint-compatible printer, I can also print directly from the Box app. But, the connection between Box and apps like DocsToGo and the iWork apps enables me to use Box as my primary data repository for the iPad--effectively providing the sort of file and folder structure from a traditional PC that is lacking in iOS.

Of course, I could also just work in the cloud in the first place using Google Docs. The mobile version of the Google Docs site only allows me to create documents and spreadsheets, though, and trying to switch to desktop mode results in errors. So, for presentations, or other types of files I have to resort to using a native iPad app.

When it comes to things like music, I have enough MP3s to nearly max out my 64GB iPad if I actually stored them all directly on the tablet. But, with the launch of iCloud and the iTunes Match capabilities, I now have access to my entire music collection across all of my PCs and iOS devices directly from the cloud.

I have an entire library of Kindle books available from the cloud that I can read with my Kindle app, but I can pick and choose which ones to store locally. That means I can make sure I have some books on hand to read even if there is no available Internet connection, but I can also swap titles from my cloud library when necessary.

With access to iTunes, I can buy or rent movies and TV shows--which are then downloaded locally to watch. The download process takes quite a while, especially over Wi-Fi, but once it is done I have access to the movie with or without an Internet connection.

As long as I have an Internet connection, though, I have many more options for entertainment. I can stream movies and TV shows with the Netflix, or HBO Go apps. I can watch any NFL football game from virtually anywhere with the DirecTV Sunday Ticket app.

The iPad seems uniquely suited for--if not dependent on--the cloud. For most people, I recommend simply going with the base 16GB model of the Apple tablet, because if you connect with and use the cloud to its fullest, the amount of storage space on the tablet itself becomes more or less irrelevant.

Read the Last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With Windows Phone 7

Day 17: Cloud Entertainment Comes with Strings Attached

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