As one of the many people grandfathered into iCloud from a paid .Mac/MobileMe account created many moons ago, today’s email reminder from Apple about the end of my free storage extension struck a chord:
As a thank you for being a former MobileMe member, you received a 20 GB complimentary storage upgrade when you moved to iCloud. Your upgrade expires on September 30, 2013.
When it expires, your iCloud storage will be automatically adjusted to the free 5 GB plan. Note that you are currently using 5.26 GB of storage. If you exceed your storage plan on September 30, 2013, iCloud Backup, Documents in the Cloud, and iCloud Mail will temporarily stop working.
To continue using these iCloud features without interruption, reduce the amount of iCloud storage you are using or purchase a storage plan by September 30, 2013.
For more information, see this article.
After this reminder, I opened Settings and took a look at what’s eating up my storage space. Top of the list: Backups, using 4.2 GB of storage (up from 3.6 GB according to my last screenshot of System Preferences a few weeks back). Now, it should be noted that the figure includes backups of both my iPhone and iPad.
Don’t mistake this as a rant for the fact that come September 30th I’ll be paying for iCloud storage - my iCloud Documents and Data usage will be skyrocketing in the coming months I sense - and yes, you can manually tweak your backup to exclude apps should you wish. However, with 88 apps on my iPhone - and a 100MB Camera Roll explicitly excluded - unticking apps that use under 100MB to exclude them from backup is a time consuming process, and not one that the average user should need to do. At the end of the day, what’s more meaningful to the average user: “Your iPhone is backed up” or “Your iPhone backup takes up 2.3 GB”?
Much as Apple is offering free versions of iWork with a new iOS device, it’s time to stop tying backups to a storage quota and simply say: “We’ve got this. Your iOS device - no matter how much you’ve got on it - will be backed up”. iCloud Backup likely started people automatically backing up their devices for the first time - a great achievement in and of itself. It’s time to make these backups invisible, “just” a part of the service and reflect Apple’s multi-device ecosystem.