Why Does Apple Still Suck So Bad At Cloud & Sync Services? – Updated for 2016 With More Software
Apparently others are beginning to catch on to this problem, which I’ve been discussing in terms of syncing and other issues for apparently almost two years now. This week was notable for not one, but two articles by long time Apple aficionados bemoaning it’s seeming difficulty in getting the little things right, especially in software and sync services. No less a source than Walt Mossberg wrote an article this week on Apple’s software and sync issues, and Jim Dalrymple chimed in in agreement shortly afterwards, largely focusing on iTunes and Apple Music.
Sadly I’ve been experiencing this for awhile, and while the software has changed, my problems with Apple’s services have only increased.
Photos, iPhoto & Photostream
I had hopes that the move to Photos might solve my photo syncing issues, but I was to be disappointed. Eventually I was able to find at least a temporary solution to the problem of photos NOT syncing from my phone to my laptop, but if it’s Apple, and it’s supposed to “just work”, I shouldn’t have to search for solutions, much less go through a process familiar to me but not the casual user of opening the Library folder and finding several containers & files to delete. And I assume the problem will crop up again.
This one is bizarre and annoying and won’t go away. When Apple introduced the public beta program, I signed up and began testing the public betas of Yosemite when they came out. I’m not an idiot, and as I was using my main computer, when beta testing I was booting from an external Firewire drive with the beta installed on it; when I needed to do serious work, I rebooted from the computer’s drive.
Well within a few weeks I noticed that not all e-mail I received on my iPhone or Macbook Air showed up on my iMac … ever. I attributed this to potential issues with the public beta, and went through everything I could possibly think of and find to try and fix this problem.
Sometimes something would work and the mail would show up, but later e-mails would again stop showing up on my iMac. This issue has not stopped, and while I haven’t seen widespread instances of this in my searches for solutions, it does seem to happen to some people, and there’s obviously no easy fix.
The most annoying thing about this problem is that all the email shows up if I go to iCloud online on my iMac, but there’s no way for me to download those e-mails that don’t exist on my computer to the iMac, presumably because it’s all “just working.” Except it isn’t. And it won’t.
So I agree wholeheartedly with Walt Mossberg and Jim Dalrymple: something seems, maybe not rotten, but certainly a little off in the Apple software ecosystem, and as some of the commenters on those articles have mentioned, there seem to be some hardware issues as well.
Original Post (March, 2014)
Is Apple the Worst Company for Cloud Sync of Pictures?
If they’re not, whoever is really needs to be embarrassed. In case you don’t know, I’m a huge Apple fan. I’ve been using their products for decades, not because I’m brainwashed as Microsoft or Android fans would have you believe, but because I’ve used the alternatives (well, in the computer world, haven’t spent much time with Android … yet) and choose to use what works better for me. One of the supposed benefits of using Apple & iOS products is the tight integration between and among them. Except when it isn’t. Like with pictures.
Well Who Uses Their Phone to Take Pictures, Anyway?
Oh, right, everyone. And aside from the fact that my Sony NEX-6 can wirelessly move photos from the camera to the computer (theoretically anyway, I’ve only been able to make it work once) and from the camera to the iPhone (works like a charm), there’s no inherent way to wirelessly move photos from my iPhone to my Macbook Air. This seems particularly stupid to me, but who am I to judge?
But Wait, There Is An Apple Way and It’s
Photostream, which automagically syncs my latest pictures from the iPhone to iCloud and thence to any of my other Mac or iOS devices. Except when it doesn’t. Which seems to be ALWAYS and for seemingly randomly selected photos. For instance, there’s this set of four pictures (there were more, but we’ll use these as an example) taken at lunch yesterday (Update: Two years ago yesterday). The first one was NOT Photostreamed, the other three were. The first one was actually the second picture taken, so it’s not like it’s just dropping the first one. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no reason why this one picture from the group was not in Photostream and all the others were.
Or last night, where we visited some friends. Of the 17 photos I took during the evening, 12 were Photostreamed. Now in this case it WAS the first 5 that didn’t get put into the Photostream queue but again no clear explanation for why. If you’re thinking maybe it’s whether I have internet connectivity when the picture is taken, nope. I wasn’t online when ANY of these pictures were taken, and would have gotten online after they all were, in each of the two sets.
Google, Dropbox, Flicker, Anyone and Everyone Else is Calling
Really Apple, this isn’t that complicated (OK, the details are, but lots of other people seem to be able to do it). Apple’s developing quit a deserved reputation for failing at cloud services. The recent changes for iWork seem to be working very well. Several times I’ve taken advantage of having my Pages documents available on iCloud to work on them seamlessly between my desktop and laptop (I have not yet shelled out to buy any of the iWork apps on iOS). But the Photostream thing is ridiculous and frustrating, as it’s a (minor #firstwordproblem) pain to have to hook the phone up to the computer just to move a few pictures over, and yet every time I do have to do that.
To date I’ve resisted letting Google or Dropbox automatically sync/upload my photos when I hook up my iPhone or camera, but each additional frustration brings me closer to doing so.