I like desktop applications. I like how fast they feel compared to Web apps, even when you have a really fast connection. Yet, there is no denying that the convenience of having your information in “the cloud” can’t be beat. Especially when you have a multi-computer and multi-phone environment, as I do.
Recently, the application that I use the most are not those that are in the cloud, but the ones the use it. My current favorite on the Mac is Dropbox. It transparently lets me keep the same files across computers. Using some trickery, this allows me to have the same files and settings between my MacBooks.
This integration with the cloud works even better on the iPhone. The lack of filesystem (from the user point of view) stops you from thinking about files in regards to where they are saved, and lets you mentally associate the files with which application uses it.1
Some desktop applications that deal with the Web manage to create an experience that is just as simple. Tweetie and NetNewsWire are better ways to experience than the original Twitter and Google Reader web apps. You get all the speed and native look that desktop applications provide and still take advantage of being able to log-in anywhere and have all your data.
This is what Apple tries to do in iPhoto and iTunes. Which drives many Windows users crazy. ↩