November 30, 2012

Like the wee trash can on your computer screen...

iCloud and the problem with opaque sync:

...iCloud was meant to make data ubiquitous -- to magically handle syncing everything that really needs syncing between iOS and OS X devices, so users simply have the most up-to-date stuff, backed up and available, all the time and everywhere, without worrying. And it is. Except when it isn't. And when it isn't, it's almost as opaque to developers building against its APIs as it is to users wondering where their stuff is. So what to do?...
My main peeve with Apple through the years is that the excellence of their gadgets hardly extends to anything they do with networks. That's almost always where I experience frustration. Possibly the focus the on one leads to a blind spot on the other.

Apple pioneered in making your file system something you could see. Almost touch. You put your little pieces of paper into little folders. Drop them in a little trash can when you are done with them. That's psychologically very satisfying for the average user, and conveys information much better than a command-line interface. So it bewilders me that they have never done much to make networks visible. There's no way, for instance, to "see" your local network of printers and routers and scanners. This would seem like a no-brainer to me. Why isn't there the equivalent of the "desktop?" Why can't I "see" my printers or my print queues?

Likewise, why can't I see my documents "flying off" towards the Cloud? With maybe some visual indicator of which version is replacing which? Or my e-mail account settings, why should they not be visible as icons? Ones that I can save, or drop into another-mail client?

I had big hopes for iCloud, but now I hardly use it. I mostly use Evernote, which I've come to love.

Posted by John Weidner at November 30, 2012 10:05 PM
Weblog by John Weidner