iCloud Problems? Now we are in the weeds!
So I just finished listening to last week's Vergecast. Amongst the droning on about drones and other less then insightful insights they talked about iCloud. Unsurprisingly, they have followed the current meme saying it's a total failure in living up to it's promise. Aside from some factual problems (listen to Accidental Tech Podcast for John Siracusa's educated take), they have fundamentally misrepresent iCloud from a user standpoint. There is a real problem with it that Apple needs to address, that Core Data won't sync easily. This is one small way developers can sync their data and syncing app data is a small part of iCloud. In fact Apple doesn't really even promote it on their iCloud site.
Despite hiccups on the back end Apple has in fact succeeded to a great degree in delivering on all of these promises. My mail and calendars sync, keynote documents update in minutes, apps I download on my phone are on my iPad the next time I turn it on and so on. In fact they work so well I haven't really thought about them until this news cycle. This is Apple's goal. It is also why the service that Apple calls iCloud is so hard to sum up. This is another problem the Vergecasters had but it should be seen as a success.
In my opinion were Apple went wrong was the marketing of iCloud. In trying to lump all of these services under one name and plastering it all over there packages they opened themselves up to consumer and tech writer confusion. They have also let a generally stellar service be dragged down by a problem with one specific implementation that needs attention. I would like to elaborate more on this later but to put it simply Apple has an issue with marketing. It's not just Apple though, the industry hasn't really nailed down what a cloud service is to the general consumer. Most people think of it storing data on a server but these services offer more then just storage. Apple has taken it to the extreme in trying to make people forget about file storage all together and just have all apps and services in sync without managing it at all. This, it turns out, doesn't work very well for power users but for casual use it really does. I don't want them to change this but I do want additional options for power users that allow for more specific use cases.
I think my frustration has really peaked with this iCloud stuff because I've grown tired of the claim that these other platforms have passed Apple. They have all gotten really really good. I am genuinely impressed with Android and now with devices like the HTC One and hopefully something coming from the Motorola acquisition the platform will keep getting better. Windows Phone and Blackberry are impressive in their unique interfaces and I hope they succeed enough to offer people good alternatives for years to come. But.... Apple has not fallen behind. They worked on an interface for 5 years before releasing it and they had an opportunity to do all of the things these platforms are trying but in the end they said no. They chose simplicity and have slowly added back features when they figure out a way to do it while keeping it simple. In a rush to outdo Apple, Android has added complexity which appeals to users like us. I get it, I like it but that doesn't mean Android is better, just different.
Now I'm droning on, but I hope Apple keeps doing things the same way. Waiting until they feel their implementation is perfect instead of rushing feature requests out the door. This doesn't mean they will succeed or cover all users though. And to Josh and crew, lay off the click-bait Apple headlines! There is nothing wrong with taking a reasoned view and putting any problems in perspective, but this iCloud problem... it just isn't.