Apple @ Work: macOS 12.3 challenges with cloud file providers highlight benefits of in-browser enterprise file management

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With the release of macOS 12.3, business users of products like Dropbox and OneDrive should be aware of some challenges with cloud-based files and the Files Providers API. Unfortunately, with macOS 12.3, Apple has deprecated the kernel extension that was used for this solution. While both companies have plans to fix the issue, it highlights the need to continuously audit your vendors and workflows.

About [email protected]: Bradley Chambers managed a corporate IT network from 2009 to 2021. With his experience deploying and managing firewalls, switches, mobile device management system, Wi- Fi company, hundreds of Macs and hundreds of iPads, Bradley will highlight the ways in which Apple IT managers are deploying Apple devices, building networks to support them, training users, stories trenches of IT management and ways Apple could improve its products for IT departments.

Dropbox has always been a hack, but it worked fine

I’ve been using Dropbox for so long that I remember when their only iPhone app was a web app. Dropbox was a revolutionary approach to cloud file storage for personal users when it hit the market. It was better than Apple’s iDisk, and Google Drive wasn’t even a product back then – it was simple: a folder that syncs. Dropbox gave away 2GB for free to each user to convert people to a premium plan. Dropbox was so popular that Apple made them a nine figure offer in 2009. Steve Jobs called Dropbox a feature, not a product; he was both right and completely wrong. He was right that a folder that syncs was a feature, but Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive would become so entrenched in the business that they would become products for building workflows and solutions.

Dropbox pioneered this model, but others followed, including Apple with iCloud Drive. Today, Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, and Box are all vying to be your file sync solution. Additionally, cloud storage providers have replaced shared drives on many organizations’ servers. The folder that syncs the model became so popular that Apple ended up build an API for this, to ensure that the user experience was first-class.

Finder Sync supports applications that synchronize the contents of a local folder with a remote data source. It improves the user experience by providing immediate visual feedback directly in the Finder. Badges display the synchronization status of each item and contextual menus allow users to manage the contents of folders. Custom toolbar buttons can invoke global actions, such as opening a watched folder or forcing a sync operation.

Changes with macOS 12.3

With macOS 12.3, Dropbox and OneDrive had difficulty representing online-only files (those that are visible but do not take up local space). Both companies reacted quickly with updates or alerts, but I got out of this by thinking about vendor selection and what’s local versus what’s in the browser. These products have become very popular in the enterprise, and while it’s nice to have the files locally for quick searching etc., I think that highlights the benefits versus the risks of the type of applications you’re using locally versus what’s in the browser. For organizations that rely on Google Workspace, Google Drive Shared Drive has become a popular way to store and share files. However, as businesses grow, it is not possible to view all of these files locally on the computer.

My main takeaway from this is that while I strongly believe that businesses should get into cloud storage, there’s a part of me that thinks it’s simple to let these products stay entirely in the cloud instead of trying to integrate it into macOS Finder. might be a simpler solution in the long run. Dropbox and OneDrive have aggressively developed their web UI, while Google Drive and Box work better in the browser.

What do you think? Do the benefits of Finder integration for your organization’s file providers outweigh the complications as Apple evolves macOS? Leave a comment below!

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