10/19/14 19:00:23

Please don't make us use iCloud anymore

iCloud has never delivered what Apple told us it would do. The lie started with iDisk, which then became iCloud, and now is iCloud Drive. I really would want to love iCloud, but the reality is, it doesn’t work. iCloud is a complete mess of utter bullshit.

The reason I write this is because one of my favorite iOS apps has just been released in a new major version. Its rock-solid sync engine replaced with iCloud. Now it’s not working anymore. I’m writing about Drafts 4.

iCloud could be the bestest thing, but in the end, it has to deliver. It never has. Let me explain.

Under iOS 7 iCloud had the issue that it sometimes just stops working altogether. Calendar, Contacts, and Documents. All apps just “freeze” their content and are unable to upload or download changes. The fix was to reboot the device. If that didn’t help, then you could go to icloud.com where Apple had a checkbox to reset iCloud. This involved rebooting all devices. When the devices finished the reboot they received an event from the iCloud servers that told them to upload their latest documents’ status again. This resulted in a lot of sync conflicts, but also made iCloud work again.
Fortunately this issue didn’t happen too often. Maybe once a week or so, for most users, but now we have iOS 8.

When I see users report a problem for an app, most of their problems is not because of the app, it’s iCloud.

Obviously I’m using more apps than just MindNode. There’s been another app that I dearly love, in fact an app many users love. They are also using iCloud as their syncing backend. On iOS 8 their app suddenly stopped syncing with iCloud. The same issue as on iOS 7. Documents just stop updating. Rebooting didn’t help. I was suffering through the iOS 8 beta, hoping that the final version of iOS 8 would resolve sync issues. iOS 8 was released, it didn’t fix anything. I was wondering how their support handles this issue, and also, obviously, I wanted to get my data syncing again. I’m not going to mention the devs, because their app is a) very popular and b) their response has been very straight and honest, and I don’t want to discourage people from using their app.

Don’t use iCloud. iCloud Drive is a complete mess. Stay away from it.

I congratulate their honesty.

On iOS 8, the previous fix still works, but now this “fix” has to be applied for each app individually. One app stops syncing? Reboot the device!
I reboot my device about three times a day now, just to get iCloud syncing back, just for one specific app.
If that doesn’t fix it, well, users report that you can delete the app and install it again, then sometimes iCloud does seem to come back. If not, well, try installing the app again. If that doesn’t fix it, you can always restore the device, which usually fixes the problem.

Things that do not work for me:

This list is not complete, but those are the apps that I use most.

Greg Pierce, if you read this, please bring us the old sync engine back. It worked so spectacularly well that I was wondering why Drafts was the only app that used Simperium as its sync engine. I cannot figure out why you would switch away from something that worked so well, to iCloud. In order to make a switch to something else necessary, I think, the other thing has to be better than what you had. iCloud is not better.

This article is a little bit older, I’m writing this on the weekend. On Drafts 4’s release date, I wrote the following:

I installed Drafts 4 eagerly as soon as it came out. I had 4 drafts, and I deleted two of them. Since then, the changes haven’t been synced to the other device. It’s now 8 hours past, a couple of reboots later, still nothing. I don’t want to delete and reinstall the app, because the actions, and now the “keyboard” too, still don’t sync. (There’s a feature request in this paragraph.)

I beg every developer who reads this. Please don’t make us use iCloud anymore.