Rumours are circulating before WWDC about how Apple will be supplying its iCloud service using a new version of its Time Capsule router come backup device. The idea is that the new version will contain a processor similar to that found in the iPhone and iPad and that it will run iOS and apps.
The ability to sync my apps and music using iCloud sounds great, but I’m beginning to get excited about the other opportunities that a device like this would bring. Would a device like this finally provide the impetus for people to have a personal server in their homes? People have long tried to get this sort of capability going, originally through their own PCs but more recently through PVRs, SmartMeter devices and appliances such as the PogoPlug. None have had the business model or the customer appeal to really gain a foothold with consumers. If this rumor turns out to be real, it smells like it has the possibility to work.
I have ranted recently about the possibilities of having collaborative apps (agents) running on “the cloud”. One of the advantages I postulate is the ability to take ownership of your data again. The idea is that each person have their own stable of applications/servers that can do things in the background but don’t have to run directly on the person’s phone. I think an app enabled Time Capsule provides exactly the right sort of platform to perform these tasks.
Hopefully, the way it works is that when you install an app, companion apps automatically get installed on the time capsule, or there is a way an app can direct companion apps to be installed. The app on the Time Capsule does all the repetitive, background and possibly battery draining tasks, so that the mobile devices don’t have to. If they can make the cooperative nature of the apps seamless, then this will be a game changing, “magical” move by Apple.
So does Google have an answer to this brave new world? Possibly. We know that Google are consolidating their Android and GoogleTV products to form a single code base, so the GoogleTV could provide these capabilities. Thats not supposed to happen till the end of the year, and the rumors claim that Apple have their solution is ready to go now. I think that Apple might really have a game changer on their hands here, and I’m excited by the prospect. What remains to be seen is how open they make it for 3rd party developers. If it is limited to the apple provided applications, then it won’t be anywhere near as exciting. Perhaps the next must-have application will be a TimeCapsule?
For those that are interested in the topic, I suggest looking at the video of Steve Jobs' thoughts on the matter from 1977 in the rumor article from macrumors.com).