There are other ways that Google and Apple compete in the cloud, that don't necessarily fall within Apple's "iCloud" nomenclature (though I suspect this won't last for long). Here's a quick look at how these compare.
iMessages is very much aimed at Google Talk, and it shows some real promise as an easy-to-use seamless app, much like Google Talk. But there's the limitation that Apple seems intent on placing on its innovations. iMessages is only for other iMessages users, and right now iMessages is an iOS-only app.
To be fair, Google Talk is only going to communicate with other Google Talk users, too. But Talk at least has the advantage of being available on Android devices and any browser. Google Talk is even available on the iOS platform through third-party apps.
In the realm of video conferencing, there is no clear winner. Even though FaceTime is only available over a WiFi or Ethernet connection, the video conferencing feature in Google Chat isn't available on all Android devices. When it's there, both video conferencing tools have nearly equal performance, but honestly, you'd be better off installing a third-party tool -- such as Skype -- to handle video conferencing.
Here we have a late entry into a field that's long been dominated by iTunes. Windows and OS X users have long enjoyed Apple's music and video store/player … even if they never owned an iOS device.
But just this month, Google moved it's Google Music tool out of beta, and hopes to contend with iTunes. Feature-wise, it has a ways to go: Google Music is still limited to just music, and it doesn't have access to as many record labels in its store -- yet.
And, curiously, while other Google services are "pure" cloud, you have to download, install, and run a Music Manager application to actually upload your music to Google Music. The tool, fortunately, is available on all three of the PC operating systems, so it's not a big hurdle -- but it negates Google's cloud only advantage.
Anyone who ever used Google Music in early betas may have noted the extremely long amount of time it took to upload their music (up to 20,000) songs to the cloud. That problem seems to have been improved. I was able to upload about 500 songs to the Google Music servers in about an hour (see Figure 7).
Figure 7: The new Google Music interface
For features and music selection, iTunes beats the pants off of Google Music. For cloud features, iTunes also holds its own. Music purchased on iTunes can be synced through the cloud to iOS devices. (For $24.99/year, iTunes Match will also let you sync songs that you didn't buy on iTunes.) Google will let you share music with any browser-based and Android system, wherever it came from (including iTunes), free of charge.
But iTunes has been at this a bit longer, and it shows for now. If Google can keep up its pricing and flesh out its offerings a bit more, then Google Music should be a strong contender.
For the most part, while Apple's features are just as strong as Google's cloud features, the company's insistence on having an Apple device somewhere pretty much negates any nifty features iCloud and other Apple services might have. If you own Apple devices, then you should do very well with staying in such a homogeneous environment. But if you don't have Apple products, or you have a heterogeneous set of devices (and a Windows/Android combination is very common), then you should stay with the Google collection of services, as they are much more ubiquitous and accessible by users of any device.
This article, "War of the cloud services: iCloud vs. Google, Do.com vs. Microsoft Sharepoint," was originally published at ITworld. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.
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