Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cloud Computing and Tablet PCs

The other day I wrote about battery life and why it is such a vital component in the development of mobile devices. Without an efficient battery and a CPU designed to use less of its power, a mobile device isn’t very mobile. Because I’ve been discussing hardware and innovations in the manufacturer space, I wanted to move to the other side of the spectrum and how software is helping to advance mobility – specifically through cloud based programs.

If you spend any amount of time using a tablet PC, smart phone, or netbook, you likely use a cloud based service. These services include tools like Dropbox and Evernote which store your files and notes on a non-local server so you can access them from any device. But, file storage is only a small part of cloud computing. The real exciting part of cloud computing is the advancement of web-based apps – programs that can quite literally take the place of OEM software, often for free.

Google’s confluence of web apps has been quite popular for some time now, and Windows has followed up with their own app-based service on Not only can you create free Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents using, you can directly integrate the new Microsoft service with Facebook, allowing you to generate a friend chart, resume, or slideshow with the data provided by your Facebook account.

Create something useful and you can even share it with other users through the Docs Gallery. The basic idea behind cloud computing is fairly simple, but it’s the application that gets me truly excited – the fact that so many more things are possible when millions of people have access to those documents at any point in time.

Creativity is fantastic, but manufacturers, businesses, and consumers alike are attracted to cloud computing for one reason above all else – it allows expansion of what those devices are capable of. Right now, processor power in tablet PCs and other mobile devices is still less than ideal. Devices capable of the battery life we seek are forced to sacrifice multi-tasking and advanced feature sets to get it, while other devices are left with weaker batteries due to tech provided. Cloud computing allows devices to access more resources without expansion of local storage or processing power.

And then there is the issue of security. Right now, security on mobile devices is one of the primary concerns of enterprise users. If you lose your tablet PC and it has confidential figures for your next sales presentation on it, what can you do? Someone has instant access to data they should never see. However, by storing those figures in the cloud and accessing them only when necessary through a secure connection, they are never at risk.

The Tablet can essentially contain no vital files and be protected at all times. Of course, implementation is important here. Corporations cannot simply open a giant Dropbox account and store all their important files there. Careful creation and moderation of a cloud system is required – it’s one of the major points of focus in enterprise development for tablet PCs at the moment, and one of the major issues with the iPad – its minimal support for those expanded platforms.

As mobile computing becomes an increasingly important part of the business landscape, so too will the cloud. Whether you prefer local apps or enjoy the web-based programs being developed by Google and Microsoft, I can practically guarantee that at least part of your daily work will be done in or with the use of the cloud in the years to come. 

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