iPhone and iPad Mac

Better Than iCloud? 6 Superior Cloud Services for Apple Users

Khamosh Pathak 04-05-2017

“Apple sucks at online services” is a common complaint around these parts of the internet, and it’s kind of true. Apple creates awesome hardware and software but when you throw internet services and the cloud into the mix, the company’s rigid approach to product development actually works against it.


In some ways, the things that make Apple such a great hardware and software company make it bad at the cloud.

You’re probably using iCloud in different ways (sometimes not even knowing that you’re using iCloud). If you’ve ever felt that those options are not as feature rich or reliable, here are some of the available alternatives.

1. iWork for iCloud

mac office alternatives google docs

Apple’s iWork suite is pretty good How iWork Works: The Basics of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote Have you always dismissed Apple's productivity apps as unsuitable for your office needs? It's time to reconsider! Read More , especially now that it’s available for free for everyone. iWork’s design and feature set make it a great alternative for creating presentations and documents. But it just doesn’t hold up when you try and collaborate, or you try to use it in the browser.

If you’re going to collaborate on a document, Google’s options (Docs, Sheets, and Slides) are much better. For document collaboration, Quip and Dropbox Paper are also worth looking into.


2. iCloud Drive

dropbox mac

If you’ve ever given an iOS app access to your iCloud account Protect Your iCloud Account With These 4 Easy Steps Have you taken steps to make sure that no one gets access to your iCloud information? Here's what you need to do to make sure your iCloud account is as secure as possible. Read More , it would be saving files to your iCloud account — specifically, iCloud Drive What Is iCloud Drive and How Does It Work? Confused about what makes iCloud Drive different to Apple's other cloud services? Let us show you what it can do, and how you can make the most of it. Read More . It’s Apple’s version of Dropbox, but quite basic.

On the Mac, you can get to iCloud Drive by clicking on the shortcut in the sidebar in Finder. On iOS 10, you can open the iCloud Drive app to see the files and folders saved here.

Here are the two biggest reasons to say goodbye to iCloud Drive.

  • Lack of transparency — iCloud Drive on Mac won’t show you when its sync is active and there’s no way to manually pause or stop the sync.
  • Poor sharing features — iCloud Drive just doesn’t have a simple way when it comes to sharing files with absolutely anyone over the web.
  • Reliability — Just like iCloud, iCloud Drive just isn’t reliable enough.

The best alternative Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More is to use Dropbox. Google Drive trails in a close second.

3. Notes


Apple Notes is a built-in note taking solution How to Use Apple Notes as a Research Tool Apple's free Notes app can be an indispensable research aid on both a computer and mobile device. Read More , which syncs between devices using iCloud. The note taking functionality, while basic, is still solid. But sometimes there could be weird issues when it comes to syncing notes between iOS and Mac, especially if you’re not using the latest OS on both platforms.

If you’re looking for a note taking solution with more reliable sync, you should look into Bear (syncing, though, requires a paid subscription). If you want something more feature rich, you can go for Evernote Evernote 8.0 Is Here: What's New and Improved? Evernote is constantly evolving, and this latest version shows that it won't be slowing down any time soon. Here's what's new and what you need to know. Read More . Microsoft’s OneNote is another good free option The Best Evernote Alternative Is OneNote and It's Free The market is drenched in note-taking apps competing with Evernote. But there is only one serious Evernote alternative. Let us explain why that is OneNote. Read More .


You can also try rolling your own note taking system based on text or Markdown files What Is Markdown? 4 Reasons Why You Should Learn It Now Tired of HTML and WYSIWYG editors? Then Markdown is the answer for you no matter who you are. Read More synced using Dropbox (so you have transparency over the sync and control). Use a Dropbox-enabled note taking app on Mac and iOS (like Ulysses, Byword, or iA Writer).

4. Reading List

pocket app

Reading List is Apple’s implementation of a basic read-it-later functionality Use Safari’s Reading List for Offline Reading on Your Mac & iPhone Want to share articles between your iPhone and Mac? Use Safari's Reading List. Read More . It is built into Safari. You can add articles to the Reading List and they’ll be saved offline on all of your connected (Apple) devices. You can use Reader Mode 15 Essential Safari iOS Tips & Tricks for iPhone Users A surprising number of useful actions in Safari on iOS are hidden behind long presses, gestures, and 3D Touch. Read More to read the articles in a distraction free environment.

Reading List was actually inspired by the third party app Pocket and in a lot of ways, it is a better option. For one thing, you’ll find the Pocket app and extensions on all platforms: Chrome, Android, Windows, etc. Pocket is also more feature rich. You get more display options, along with text-to-speech and a personalized recommended feed.


5. iCloud Keychain

1password mac

iCloud Keychain is Apple’s convoluted and complicated way to save and sync passwords Should You Use iCloud Keychain to Sync Passwords on Mac & iOS? If you primarily use Apple products, why not use the company's own password manager completely free of charge? Read More  using Safari and iCloud. My experience with it has been anything but seamless. Sometimes there are database issues, sometimes I forget the Keychain password so I can’t sync it to other devices.

I haven’t yet found a transparent and reliable way to back up and restore iCloud Keychain when I’m formatting or reinstalling macOS either.

I think when it comes to something as serious as passwords and personal information, transparency and control should be on the top of the list — which is why you should use 1Password (or LastPass). 1Password is a completely local solution for password management (although for even more security, you can sync the encrypted file with Dropbox).

1Password has apps for Mac and iOS, as well as Android. If you’re looking for a cloud based and free solution, LastPass is worth looking into.

6. iCloud Photo Library

google photos assistant

iCloud Photo Library 5 Things You Need To Know About iCloud Photo Library Here's what you need to know about iCloud Photo Library, how it works and what it will cost you. Read More is Apple’s own photo backup and sync service. It automatically backs up photos from all your devices to iCloud. It has a few neat trick up its sleeve too. When your device is filling up, it can automatically delete old photos from your device (as long as they are backed up to iCloud) to free up some space.

In true Apple fashion, there’s no transparency to this. You can’t manually start this process. In fact, you can’t even pause the photo backup process.

There are a lot of options when it comes to photo backup services but the best possible option 8 Brilliant Search Tools Hidden Within Google Photos Sometimes it can be hard to find what you're looking for in Google Photos. Learn how to use these Google Photos search tools! Read More is Google Photos. The service will let you upload unlimited (compressed) photos for free, and some amazing features 12 Amazing Google Photos Features You Didn't Know About Google Photos is a well-known service, but it holds many little tricks. Here are 12 great features of Photos you might have missed. Read More  await. Just like Apple’s Photos, you can search for objects and scenes in photos and you’re able to set up shared albums easily.

It’s easy to manage your collection from mobile and the web, plus you have complete control over the sync process.

Reasons to Keep iCloud Around

If your iCloud email address is your primary point of contact, you should, of course, keep using that. If you’re all in on the Apple ecosystem, you can keep using iCloud for syncing contacts and calendar as well.

Then there are things you can only really use iCloud for, especially backing up our iOS device, including iMessage. There’s no real alternative.

Do you still use iCloud? What’s your preferred platform for data syncing? Share with us in the comments below.

Related topics: Cloud Storage, Google Drive, iCloud.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. bubba smyph
    August 17, 2017 at 2:11 am

    "iCloud Photo Library is Apple’s own photo backup and sync service. It automatically backs up photos from all your devices to iCloud. It has a few neat trick up its sleeve too. When your device is filling up, it can automatically delete old photos from your device (as long as they are backed up to iCloud) to free up some space."

    This is incorrect. "It can automatically delete old photos... to free up some space." This is wrong. iCloud deletes photos from its 'cloud' when it deletes it from your phone, unless you SPECIFICALLY back it up on a separate device like a mac or pc. Even then, having a TB of iCloud space and 'syncing' your iphone to the iCloud simply downloads ALL of the images on your cloud to your device. The only way to pick and choose is to turn off automatic upload, and only sync "shared photos/albums".

    iCloud is NOT a file storage server. It far pales in comparison to being able to store files remotely on dropbox or google drive, and NOT having to use phone storage.

    The gist is this: Unless you are specifically syncing a device with 2TB to actually store your files, DO NOT GET MORE iCLOUD STORAGE THAN YOUR PHONE'S CAPACITY.

  2. Pat
    May 14, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    I think Google Docs is amazing and SO easy. I used it recently to collaborate with a client BUT, and this is a big but: I thoroughly resent and distrust Google's privacy policy. I actually deleted everything to protect my client's info. I want an easy, reliable, flexible and private cloud application. And I'm willing to pay for that. I'm fully Apple Indoctrinated and have had my finger hovering over the GO button for iCloud for weeks but I'm holding off because I sense it's just not going to measure up. I've lost documents on Evernote. I am leaning toward Dropbox... I wish someone would just tell me which one to use and put me out of my misery. I'm actually emailing files to myself to work on when travelling, like a cave woman.

    • Chris
      January 2, 2019 at 11:09 am

      Email is one of the least private forms of technology so I hope you encrypt and password protect all files you're sending. If you wouldn't send something on a postcard, don't e-mail it!

  3. Deezy
    May 11, 2017 at 2:07 pm


    DropBox for file synching and sharing, very rock solid but not cheap. Also use File Transporter (discontinued) Google Drive and experimenting with ownCloud.

    Google Docs for document creation and collaboration.