Everyone and their brother is working on toppling Dropbox these days, including Google which is said to be close to unveiling a solution named Google Drive, basically a Google Docs storage system lending itself to their other web properties. While Apple is yet to introduce something akin to Dropbox, turns out users can now sync files between Macs – with a bit of trickery.
MacWorld discovered that any file put inside the ~/Library/Mobile Documents/ folder gets synced between Macs via iCloud. This is interesting because this folder was meant only to sync documents in apps that support the Documents & Data feature. MacWorld explains:
This doesn’t really matter. What is of use is that any files put into the ~/Library/Mobile Documents folder will automatically upload to iCloud and push to any other Mac you have that is signed in to the same iCloud account and has the ‘Document & Data’ iCloud preference checked. Lion even notifies you of version conflicts and allows you to resolve them when you open the document.
Of course, the finding isn’t terribly surprising. The trick simply uses the iCloud documents storage but it’s noteworthy because it indicates Apple has the backend file syncing infrastructure in place.
With iCloud, Apple retired some of the less popular MobileMe services, including iDisk which enabled Mac and Windows machines to mount their MobileMe cloud storage as a local drive. Per conventional wisdom, it would be prudent if Apple introduced a file syncing solution for Macs (possibly including iOS devices) down the road. It wouldn’t be hard to make this trick standard across all home folders, making a true Dropbox replacement – perhaps even allowing for the home folder roaming via the iCloud.
When Dropbox founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi turned down an $800 million Apple acquisition offer, Steve Jobs reportedly fixed his gaze on the young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, telling them with a mischievous smile that Apple was going after their market, dismissing their offering as “a feature”. Fancy that.