On Thursday morning, a dubious rumor surfaced in Apple-land. A Twitter message claimed that Apple is working on iCloud Time Machine as well as a new series of AirPort routers. A viable idea or total nonsense? We take a look at that below.
The rumor is explicitly about a new form of Time Machine for the Mac, centered around iCloud. In addition, Apple is reportedly planning to introduce a new AirPort family. The writer of the Twitter message in question has a good track record when it comes to tips on future iPhone cases and the like. This is diminished, however, when it comes to discussing hardware.
Twitter won’t load because you didn’t give permission.
According to what is reported by my source l on macOS 13 there should be a version of Time Machine (Mac backup system) completely redone, integrated with iCloud Drive. In addition, Apple is expected to introduce new AirPorts in November #Apple #AppleRumor
– Majin Bu (@MajinBuOfficial) May 26, 2022
AirPort (or not?)
The introduction of the AirPort dates back to 2013. The router released by Apple had a distinctive tower shape and its controls were integrated into macOS by default. Later, various forms such as the AirPort Express , the AirPort Extreme and the AirPort Time Capsule followed. However, the entire project was discontinued four years ago. The rumor mills have been talking about new AirPort hardware for a while, well before that shutdown. Over the last year and a half, however, those rumors have dwindled to zero.
But new life was breathed into a number of rumors on May 19. Indeed, on that date Apple submitted an application to the FCC, the American counterpart of the Dutch Telecom Agency. The application contains details about a device called “A2657”. From the description it seems to be a kind of network adapter.
However, we don’t think it’s a new AirPort. Indeed, in terms of WiFi, it would only support 802.11n and also include NFC. Especially the latter is very unusual on a router. And with only 32 GB of storage, it won’t be a new version of the AirPort Time Capsule either.
The other part of the rumor is about a revamped version of Time Machine, integrated into iCloud Drive. It would have to be a radical redesign then, as this is completely different from how both iCloud Drive and Time Machine currently function.
Files you delete from one Apple device will also be deleted from all your other devices. An ideal backup solution should prevent such deletions from being synced. On your iPhone and iPad, you can use iCloud Backup. However, that is more of a middle ground between syncing and backing up.
Apple explains the differences in this support article. For example, device backups do not include data that is already stored elsewhere in iCloud, such as iCloud Photos, Notes and Calendar.
The functionality (Image: Apple / Edit: OMT)
Advantages and disadvantages of iCloud Time Machine
From Apple’s perspective, having its own backup solution is a great addition: it’s an additional means of keeping customers in its own ecosystem. In addition, it fits perfectly into the company’s vision for wireless devices. An ecosystem offering could also be positive for customers. Indeed, such an iCloud Time Machine service would no doubt be included in the all-inclusive Apple One subscription.
Apple does need to increase the storage available to customers to make this a viable service. Unless you set up multiple Apple IDs, the maximum storage you can buy is 4 TB. For a Mac backup, 10 TB is a more realistic size. Further, it’s not at all clear what Apple would charge for that much space, given current prices.
Speed is another factor to consider. Local network speeds sit at about 125 megabytes per second on average. However, a large percentage of users are dealing with upload speeds that, at less than 5 megabytes per second, are significantly lower.
If Apple brings back the AirPort, it will likely remain the primary backup solution for the Mac, external drives aside. Transferring files within a local network is much faster than uploading to iCloud. In addition, downloading an Internet backup to restore a completely crashed drive would take a very long time.
In that light, perhaps iCloud Time Machine could work in conjunction with the AirPort. For example, such a 32 GB device could hold only the most recent snapshots of your Mac system. Older snapshots could be stored in iCloud as a long-term archive.
The WWDC is coming soon
Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is scheduled for June 6. 2022. If the above rumors are true – and we’re not saying it’s true, because a lot of things would have to happen – it’s possible that iCloud Time Machine will be announced during this keynote. The hardware, as we’ve seen with Apple before, doesn’t necessarily have to come at the same time.
Regardless of whether the iCloud Time Machine rumor is true or not, new AirPort hardware is most welcome to us (and I think many other users)!