I’ve rebranded my column from Computer Corner to Tech Talk. Why? To reflect how computers have evolved from “the PC sitting on your desk” to “the tech you carry around all day”.
Think back to the days when the family would crowd round (or fight over) the only computer in the house. When you used dial-up internet and waited for 10 minutes for a song to download. How things have changed. Now, you catch up with your favourite shows on iPlayer while tweeting on your tablet and messaging on your phone. Then you jump onto your laptop to do some research or your console to play a game with friends. Switching from wifi to mobile data, you carry on regardless of whether you’re in the house, on the bus or even half-way up a mountain.
Interestingly, this was Apple’s dream back in the early eighties. “What we want to do at Apple, is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes ... And we really want to do it with a radio link in it so you don’t have to hook up to anything and you’re in communication with all of these larger databases and other computers.” One of the keys to the success of this dream is the communication with the “other computers” or what we now term the Cloud.
The Cloud still has an air of mystery but is just a short way of saying “software and services that run on the Internet, instead of locally on your computer” (Re/code). With the average broadband speed now 825 times faster than that old dial-up connection, it’s now not an issue to store huge amounts of data elsewhere and access it on the fly.
So, when you store pictures on Google photos, you’re using the Cloud. When you read email on your iPad, you’re using the Cloud. When you post to Facebook, ask Siri a question, update a shared document, stream a Netflix movie … well, you get the idea!
Using the Cloud means that, whichever device you have to hand, you can carry on exactly where you left off. Of course, it helps if the apps you use synchronise across all your devices. If you’re invested in the Apple world, you should find that everything works beautifully. And Windows and Android play nicely together, a cooperation that I imagine will only get stronger as Microsoft is moving to use Google’s software in its Edge browser.
“Cloud is about how you do computing, not where you do computing.” Enjoy the freedom that it brings.