Apple is an interesting beast. Few companies have disrupted as many industries as Apple. Products are often best of breed in design, durability, usability– Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad come to mind. Some components of those products, particularly those that interact between devices are terrific ideas, poorly implemented.
OS X Mavericks debuted with Keychain synchronization between Apple devices using iCloud. Most of the time it just works so logging into websites or connecting to email is much the same on a Mac as on iPhone and iPad.
Apple’s iCloud has hiccups from time to time which means updated user IDs and passwords don’t get passed from one device to another. Even worse, if you have multiple email accounts and want to keep them synchronized between devices there are plenty of extra steps (security certificates constantly ask for permission to be used).
I’ve looked around for other solutions. Keychain sync must be difficult because there are few options. Keychain2Go does some of what OS X’s iCloud Keychain sync does, but differently, more convoluted and it comes with a price tag.
Again, the idea is great. We need what iCloud Keychain sync should do, and what Keychain2Go wants to do. Both are good at storing securely other important data, though the process to add documents is convoluted. Typical of Apple, documentation is skimpy, so you would expect Keychain2Go, a commercial version of Keychain management, to be better. It’s not.
I’m comfortable with the encryption for both, but valuable data is only a password away from being stolen. Two-factor authentication, anyone? In the case of Keychain2Go, which has been around longer than OS X Mavericks, Apple took a good idea and implemented it Apple’s way; simple and out of sight, including the sync.
Keychain2Go needs your devices to be on the same local network to sync, which is a big drawback. Hello? Dropbox? iCloud?
Apple’s implementation of Keychain sync is a behind-the-scenes, set-it-and-forget method. My preference is to be able to see and interact with the Keychain. On the Mac, that’s fine. On iPhone and iPad, not so much. I’ve taken to using 1Password on Mac, iPhone and iPad. Again, much like Keychain, it works better on the Mac, and isn’t fully integrated to Safari on iPhone and iPad (but the Dropbox sync works flawlessly).
The thing to remember about technology is that it’s always a work in progress; always changing, mostly improving, and it’s important to keep up. Keychain usage is vastly improved over just a few years ago, but it’s not flawless, not seamless, and syncing between multiple devices isn’t quite there yet.