My relationship with Apple goes all the way back to the Apple IIe with a CP/M card and VisiCalc. I was one of the early Mac buyers, circa March 1984, and through the years I’ve purchased dozens of Mac models, from the lowly PowerBook 100 to mighty Mac Pros and pretty much everything in between. The number of times I’ve had to take a Mac in to be repaired in all those years can be counted on one hand (and two of the fingers were for the same Mac).
What’s my beef? It’s not hardware. It’s software. And not apps like Photos, or Safari, or Garageband (I’ll leave out iTunes because that’s in a complaint category of its own), or even iWork apps (Pages, Numbers, Keynote), which I find quite useful. No, Apple’s real problem these days is in the cloud; specifically iCloud.
Maybe it’s just the nature of storing files online and syncing data between devices that’s the real problem. Maybe it’s just too complex and Apple is something of a late bloomer when it comes to software. Maybe.
My list of ongoing struggles with iCloud and multiple Apple devices is not unique. A quick visit to Apple’s support communities reveals a widespread problem. Reminders? Love it. Syncs great between Macs. Not to iPhone or iPad (they refuse to update when changes are made on a Mac). Both Calendar and Contacts seem to sync up well between devices, but both are used and updated sporadically. Messages has a continuous stream of problems, with another outage yesterday. Apple’s iCloud email is so unreliable it cannot be used for serious communication. You know, like email.
Apple gets criticized publicly and repeatedly for its anemic cloud performance, and deservedly so. It’s obvious the company views cloud connectivity as a mere service, not a real product. Google, on the other hand, a company that I hold in low regard because of their practice of harvesting personal data for their own use, lives and breathes the cloud. For Apple, anything relating to cloud services seems to be a bolted on afterthought.
Unfortunately for Apple’s customers, many of us need to rely on those services to keep data synced between devices. Apple touts iCloud as a boon to Apple hardware owners, but doesn’t treat iCloud with the same care it does for hardware design. That needs to change because both Google and Microsoft are moving rapidly into a superior position in cloud services.
Now, a few more bones to pick. I have the 200GB iCloud storage level, but repeatedly get notices that there’s not enough storage for backups (over 100GB’s remain). But why don’t iPhone and iPad sync up to iCloud automatically, All. The. Time? It’s hit and miss. When I open iTunes on my Mac I’m asked to sign into my account. Three times in a row. Every. Single. Time. The iCloud bug in Reminders which prevented sync between Mac and iPhone was solved. By switching to Due and using it on Dropbox. That works perfectly.
In short, Apple’s hardware is to die for. Basic software, including OS X and iOS, may not be as feature laden as Windows or Android, but both are easier to use and more secure. Where Apple falls down, repeatedly, is with iCloud connected services. That needs to change because it’s obvious people are becoming more accustomed to storing files online, and streaming entertainment.