In a recent thought-provocative post titled “Where does Tim Cook store his PDF files” I argued that if you live in the Apple world and don’t rely on 3rd party software, it’s very difficult to have a unified solution to store and sync PDF files.
I concluded that post with the hope that OS X Mavericks and iBooks would solve the problem. In this post I’ll discuss where we stand.
OS X Mavericks solution
Right now you can store PDF files in the iCloud space of:
iBooks is very elegant and finally users can store books in PDF in a separate application from iTunes.
The confusion of this system is that:
- PDF files stored in iBooks still open in Preview.app
- In order to sync those PDF files with an iOS device you still need to use iTunes.
My take on all this is twofold. Firstly, Preview.app remains the default open-all-files application in OS X. It would have been overkill to duplicate Preview features in iBooks. In this way iBooks can remain a streamlined application to only store and organize iBooks and PDF files.
Secondly, synchronisation remains an open discussion. There are two reasons for this:
- Contacts and calendar sync with an iOS device through iTunes no longer exist in iTunes 11.12. This makes me think that Apple now sees iCloud adoption high enough to consider it as the only point of sync.
- AirDrop between OS X and iOS is not enabled.
We can look at the two previous considerations in two different opposite ways.
During the presentation of iCloud Steve Jobs said that Apple was demoting the Mac to a normal device. The centre, the truth if you will, of all documents is iCloud. iCloud sync is robust enough to allow Apple to introduce iCloud sync in iBooks also for PDF files in the near future. The days of iTunes sync are definitely counted now.
The alternative solution would be to have AirDrop extended to allow document transfers between OS X and iOS. The question is if Apple sees this solution worth the effort. If this is Apple’s preferred solution we might have to wait another year for the release of iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 (?).
In the meantime I’ll continue storing my PDF books in iBooks and sync through iTunes.