Why Apple’s iCloud doesn’t just work

“‘It just works,’ the Apple marketing slogan goes. But for the syncing features in iCloud, that promise has proven too good to be true,” Jon Mitchell writes for ReadWriteWeb. “On Thursday, the first iOS app launched that eschews iCloud in favor of a new third-party service called Simperium. If you use an iPhone or iPad, you’ll want to know why.”

“iCloud is not a discrete thing. It’s actually an ad hoc bundle of different syncing technologies, and they’re just buggy enough to be unsettling to users,” Mitchell writes. “We take Apple at its word that ‘it just works,’ but every so often, an app that syncs with iCloud takes five or ten painful seconds to open. This only has to happen once in a hundred times to shake our faith in the system.”

Mitchell writes, “Our instinct is to blame the app when it’s actually iCloud’s fault. Greg Pierce, the developer at Agile Tortoise released Drafts 2.0 and Drafts for iPad Thursday, and he decided to avoid this problem. Drafts (which I love) is the quickest way to jot anything down on the iPhone, and now it syncs to the iPad version. But rather than take the heat for iCloud’s problems, Pierce decided to make Drafts the first app to sync via third-party provider Simperium.”

Much more in the full article here.

33 Comments

    1. “This only has to happen once in a hundred times to shake our faith”…so, 1% occurrence of waiting 5 or 10 seconds? Is using the gripe of death on that iphone?

  1. @dtkreutz nailed it. This isn’t news or an article of any kind. The entire thing is written as an ad for a note taking app. Of course they want to get traffic to it, so they use a sensational headline.

    I can’t understand why MDN would post this.

  2. No web synching system will work perfectly all the time. We’re dealing with the internet! I personally have had almost zero issues with itunes match or iCloud. I love it and I’m 100% satisfied. Sometimes hick-ups happen, but it’ll always be like that, no matter what company you’re going through. Like I said before; We’re dealing with the internet and shit happens. Apple; Great damn job on iCloud and itunes match;) I no longer have to do any back-ups and my iPhone/ipad and macbook is perfectly synched and have yet to let me down. The article is stupid!

  3. They ought to read the developer documentation about iCloud integration before they post such nonsense. iOS devices run an iCloud daemon in the background, and apps register for notifications from that daemon to do things with iCloud. Heck, Apple provides examples specifically discussing why your app shouldn’t wait on iCloud and you should do it “this” way to not be blocked by network latency issues.

    1. Yes, but do you expect a journalist to actually research such easily available information before posting a story?

      Sorry, I meant a PR writer shilling for a developer’s app. My bad. Most actual journalists are dead anyway.

      1. All true. I can’t help but wonder why Apple’s PR department doesn’t get proactive in countering such articles. The legal department is pretty proactive, why not PR, too?

  4. Everyone’s needs are a little different of course..but I don’t see the need for iCloud at all. So I can have the same song on my iPhone as on the computer? well…okay…but it’s sorta so what.
    So I don’t lose files? Well…I get a message on my iPad frequently that says I need to upgrade because I don’t have enough storage in the cloud so I turned it off…it’s pointless for me…Can someone explain to me (and I’m seriously asking because I don’t see it )…why iCloud is a good thing, a necessary thing, a useful thing?

  5. I use iCloud to sync across all of my devices and I don’t find it a problem, provided your network connection is fast enough.

    But even then I find that the sync process takes a bit longer than I thought would be necessary given the amount of time needed to update a Numbers spreadsheet whenever a cell is updated. I usually sync when there are multiple cells updated because the update process can consume up to a minute every time. Contrast this with less than a second if you saved the same spreadsheet to a local drive. It can be a bit frustrating to wait for the sync to complete.

    Also if you make minor changes to Notes, it does take about 15-20 seconds to sync which is unacceptable. Contacts, reminders and calendar sync quick enough, about 1-2 seconds, but Notes and Mail need faster syncing.

    1. There are sort of three ways to implement iCloud storage in an app. It sounds like Numbers is using the most inefficient one: Update the entire document all at once with every change. The most efficient way is using CoreData, and letting just transaction logs move between devices (a transaction being some subset of changes you’ve been making).

  6. The apparent lack of iterative backup in iCloud is making me hold off on using it. I have a time capsule, time machine, dropbox, but no way to access backups of iCloud docs? Especially in a system where if you ruin a doc in one place, that ruin gets synced to all your other devices instantly?

    Someone please correct me if I’m wrong about this, but that’s a problem.

    1. My god I’m sick of idiots whining “I miss galleries”. I guess Apple is really still the best at keeping secrets. Galleries are now called journals in iCloud. Much prettier and more customizable. Yep that’s right pick a bunch of pictures, arrange them the way you want and share them with all your friends and relatives. It’s just that simple.

      1. Really?
        So you are saying that my 75 year old father can create and share photo albums as easily as clicking a button in iPhoto on his iMac?

        Well I have been doing this computer thing for a long time and that option simply doesn’t exist.

        When you go to the Apple store they tell you to use Facebook or Flickr.

        Do either of these provide one click creation or “ease of use” functionality that Apple actively markets?

        Nope.

        You are more then welcome to point me in the right direction as to where the iPhoto product page mentions journals.
        http://www.apple.com/ilife/iphoto/

        It is just that simple.

          1. The point is I am taking my geek hat off and looking at it as a consumer – like my 75 year old father.

            I don’t care if they call it MobileMe or iCloud – Their solution worked and now it doesn’t. I don’t care how or why. I just don’t work.

  7. All this was was a bloated Advertisment for some software named “Simperium”.

    Tell you what Jon Mitchell who ever you are, looks like someone just picked up your Advertisment.

    Now how much did this Jon Mitchell get for pushing this so called iCloud replacement, reading the direct link shows this bonehead is getting a payoff from the named company.

    Not a story but a glorified Advertisment, just like the ginsu knives, make it look like its a real show without it being one but plug away at your items you want to sell.

    Next ->

  8. I am a songwriter and being a big apple fan I decided to move my songwriting to Pages for iOS so I could go from iPhone to iPad and eventually my Mac with everything in sync. I have around 500 files and now they don’t show up on my phone, I can’t open them on my iPad and just a few of them show up in Pages on my Mac with Mountain Lion. I’ve spent 4 hours in an Apple store with various techs only to be told to go home and call Apple Support. It has been a complete frustration to me as I can’t get any help from Apple for the situation. The truth is iCloud doesn’t work as promised. I have gone to the app Songwriter that features Dropbox backup.

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