Fully sync, mate

By | 2011/02/04

I have a simple question for companies producing iOS apps – why do you all suck so badly at sync?

I don’t want to hear any garbage about:

(a) Apple doesn’t have an API for it; or

(b) You don’t like syncing options via iTunes.

For the most part, I’m actually not talking about that. What I’m talking about is two things that are either just not done at all, or done so badly that I’d have more synchronisation success by pissing into the wind:

(a) iOS <-> iOS device synchronisation;

(b) iOS App <-> Desktop app synchronisation.

In the case of the first, it’s extremely rare yet also extremely logical. Take all those TODO style apps – Things, ToDo, etc. Why can’t two people who are using the same app just, while they’re in proximity of one another, sync a set of tasks, or a project? Don’t start on the craptastic answer of “we can sync via the cloud” or “we’re going to offer sync via the cloud”. Let’s compare the cloud sync vs the regular sync model. First, we have regular sync:

Local SyncHmmm, that looks pretty straight forward, huh? An iOS device connected to a wireless LAN communicates with another iOS device also connected to the wireless LAN. Instead of the above though, we get:

Cloud based syncIn that model, an iOS device connected to a wireless LAN pushes its data up through an indeterminate number of hops until it hits a cloud sync server, which then pushes its data all the way back down to the same wireless LAN to another iOS device that’s sitting right beside the first. After that sort of round trip, my data needs frequent flyer points…

Then there’s the absurdity pedalled by some apps – Bento is a classic example – where you’re allowed to sync between a desktop/laptop and an iOS device, but you have to do it via a wireless network. This model resembles the following:

Desktop syncClearly it’s possible to do wireless to wired networking sync. Things for instance, completely unable to sync between iOS devices, can sync to an ethernet based computer without any issue. As long as they’re on the same network, Things will sync between the desktop and the iOS instance. Violá. It’s like magic! Well actually no, it’s like networking.

I’m really sick and tired of companies that are taking a half arsed approach to synchronisation. You choose, but you can only be one of the following:

(a) Inept

(b) Incompetant

(c) Lazy

(d) Inconsiderate

If you’re going to offer sync and don’t offer full sync, go back to the drawing board.