Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Cloud-Based OS X Accounts

At WWDC in 1997, Steve Jobs described his vision of the future:

I have computers at Apple, at Pixar, at NeXT and at home. I walk over to any of them and log in as myself. It goes over the network, finds my home directory on the server and I’ve got my stuff, where ever I am. And none of that is on a local disc. The server…is my local disc.

A lot of people saw iCloud, remembered this bit of history and, naturally, drew connections between them. But, while iCloud has gotten really good, it’s not exactly the “login from anywhere” experience that Jobs describes here. For that, we need something a little closer to what Dan Moren is proposing:

As wary as I am about Apple’s integration with cloud services—and I am, well, rather wary—I sometimes feel like the company doesn’t take things far enough. So while you can, these days, get pretty far using the web-based iCloud interface to access a lot of your data no matter where you are, I’d love to see Apple take things a step further and offer cloud-based user accounts for OS X.

I’m not quite prepared for a future where my entire home directory is stored on Apple’s servers, for lots of reasons: Apple doesn’t have the best track record with cloud services, the NSA still exists, and so on. But it would be so freaking cool to be able to sit down at any computer and log in as myself, and it would make it that much more manageable to own a very powerful desktop computer and a lightweight, stripped-down notebook. Like, say, the 5K iMac and the new MacBook. And I’d like to point out that a fresh Yosemite setup uses your Apple ID and password for your local user credentials.

Just saying.