Visual QuickStart Guide: iCloud
Book Review

Visual QuickStart Guide: iCloud
Author: Tom Negrino
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Price: US $24.99
195 pages
ISBN-10: 0-321-81410-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-321-81410-4


When Lion and iOS 5 were released, I timidly stepped into the Apple iCloud experience and began using some of its offerings. Although I still do not use all of the iCloud features, what I have chosen to enable has been through my own trial and error approach. For those of you that have not yet ventured into the iCloud, the iCloud: Visual QuickStart Guide will definitely allow this to happen with ease.

Author Tom Negrino presents a well illustrated and detailed step by step guide explaining how one sets up and uses each of the current features available in the Apple iCloud. The ten chapters in this 195 page instructional book are appropriately structured to cover the entire process and allow quick reference to each of the iCloud features. The book also provides a detailed eleven page index.

The book covers getting started with iCloud, plus working with Mail, Notes, iMessage, Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders. It takes you through using iTunes with iCloud, backing up to iCloud, and configuring Bookmark Syncing, along with some useful Bookmarklets (bookmarks that contain a small JavaScript program) for iOS. Working with documents on iCloud and using iCloud to find people and devices are also included.

The book was written in the fall of 2011 and the author does point out limitations of this initial iCloud release that hopefully will be improved in future updates. He also addresses the transition from MobileMe to the iCloud. I never used MobileMe so features that did not transition to the iCloud were not a concern for me, but should be of interest to those who were previously adept with the service.

The iCloud: Visual QuickStart Guide addresses the hardware and software requirements for the Mac and iOS devices and includes the Windows PC platforms. I especially liked the information and instructions provided covering how to configure iCloud on the applicable devices. The author nicely addresses the current, and somewhat disappointing, web interface to the iCloud from the Mac and Windows PC. The author takes you through the necessary steps to interact with the iCloud after logging in at the iCloud web site. Having to log in to a web site instead of having this interface imbedded in the operating system seems unfinished and inviting an update. Hopefully, a future release of the iCloud will improve this interface.

I did identify a minor discrepancy in the chapter that addressed using Notes, and I forwarded my concerns to the publisher. The default account that is shown in an illustration in configuring Notes on an iOS device is not available on all iOS devices. The default account is correctly displayed on my iPod touch as shown in Figure 1 but is missing on my iPad as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 1
Figure 2

I had a good long telephone conversation with the author regarding this discrepancy, and unfortunately neither of us was able to determine the cause. Extensive efforts by the author to reproduce what I was seeing and what his book shows failed to uncover the reason why we were getting different results. I also spent a good deal of time attempting to reproduce what the book illustrates, and was unsuccessful. The discrepancy is essentially cosmetic and does not preclude configuring Notes on the iCloud.

Another minor problem I had with the paperback version of the book was the small size of some of the screenshot illustrations made it difficult to read the verbiage. The eBook version in iBooks is much better. The screenshot illustrations are all very readable in the portrait orientation, less so in the landscape orientation because of their reduction in size. In the PDF version of the book, the screenshot illustrations are very good and can be zoomed in. They will pixelate if you zoom in too much. The screenshot illustrations in the PDF version viewed on the Kindle app on my iPad were also very good and they will also pixelate if zoomed in too much.

If you are interested in going to the iCloud, this book is a very good addition to your library. The eBook version is available on iBooks for US $9.99. In my opinion, the eBook version is the better value, both in cost and in readability. I suggest you check your favorite bookstore or on-line book and eBook source for the latest sales prices.

Therefore, I am awarding the paperback book a Review Rating: 8 out of 10 and the eBook a 9 out of 10.

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