I’ve finally gotten around to exploring iCloud a bit, Apple’s new iOS 5 cloud computing service. I had downloaded iOS 5 when it came out, noticed some of the new features on the iPad (found the Find my iPhone / iDevice function very cool, especially in terms of sending messages to it), but didn’t delve into it too deeply, and certainly didn’t consider its school / one-to-one pilot implications.

But I went to icloud.com this evening and was terribly impressed with what I saw. Apple is now letting me do what I tried countless times to get Google to let me do (unsuccessfully, no matter how many times I tried): sync my iCal to the web and update it automatically.

I plan my courses on iCal, each course with its own calendar, as well as soccer, family, etc. I use iCal to generate syllabi for my classes: I print .pdfs of the course calendar, along with the general school calendar (letter days, other events, etc.), post them to It’sLearning and outside my door. This is a decent system, and to me worth some of the down sides, which are, of course, having to either fill out the calendar on my desktop (inconveniently located in the kitchen) or on one of my devices; before the iPad with the keyboard, this was much more of a pain. I tried to get them to sync to Google, so I could update the calendar via GoogleCalendar, but I could never quite get them to talk back and forth. I managed to get my Google school calendar (managed by the school) to download to iCal, but never my iCal calendars to upload to Google (which, for me, was the more important feature).

iCloud, however, does what Google couldn’t. I logged in to the web-based iCloud on my laptop, clicked on the iCal icon, and was presented with all of my iCal calendars. I added an event via iCloud and almost instantaneously it was on my iPad. In addition, I can share a specific iCal calendar via email (an unfortunate, though ultimately inconsequential, liability is that the two sharing options are either private-and-editable or public-and-viewable-only; I of course don’t care if the general public sees my syllabi, but it’d be nice to have a private-view-only option) so that anyone with iCal (I assume) can view the calendars. This means that, in theory (haven’t put it into practice yet), once I update a syllabus / calendar it is automatically updated on shared computers / devices.