iCloud Fail: Here’s What Developers Say Apple Did Wrong

Frustrations among the developer community are beginning to run high, stemming from issues that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been having in regards to its management of its cloud-computing platform, iCloud. The third-party developers, who design apps to sell on Apple’s app store, are asserting that iCloud fails to “just work,” when it is the one Apple program that was designed to do just that.

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Following a less than impressive attempt at clouding with the MobileMe program, former CEO Steve Jobs pledged to do a better job with iCloud. Now it seems that Apple is struggling there, too.

The frustrations are culminating around the inability for developers to sync their data between devices, which is a driving benefit of using cloud-based solutions. Moreover, the difficulties arise out of a specific promise that Jobs made in 2011, when he demonstrated the service. ”It just works,” Jobs exclaimed.” Everything happens automatically, and it’s really easy to tie your apps into iCloud’s storage system.”

Now, third party developers are running into problems with the system, since it is apparently not as easy to sync data into the cloud as Jobs implied.

“iCloud hasn’t worked out for us,” wrote Daniel Pasco, CEO of development studio Black Pixel this past week. “We spent a considerable amount of time on this effort, but iCloud and Core Data syncing had issues that we simply could not resolve.”

According to The Verge, the problem is this: Apple has failed to improve the way it syncs databases (“Core Data”) with iCloud, yet has continued to advertise and market iCloud as a hassle-free solution.

Pasco and Black Pixel are not alone, either. ”The promise of iCloud’s Core Data support is that it will solve all of the thorny issues of syncing a database by breaking up each change into a transaction log. Except it just doesn’t work,” said a very prominent developer who asked not to be named.

iCloud errors, which can lead to corrupted files or data loss, may jeopardize customer loyalty for the independent developers. “I too have been receiving customer complaints and one-star ratings,” wrote developer Brian Arnold, in Apple’s support forums. “I have yet to receive a suitable response as to why the problems are occurring, or what I might be able to do about them.” Arnold is not alone — Apple’s support forums are full of similar complaints, and asking about solutions for the issues.

“iCloud with Core Data is a developer’s worst nightmare,” a developer told The Verge. “It’s frustrating, maddening, and costs hundreds of support hours.”

The Verge continued to say that programs that Apple uses in iCloud, such as Keynote, use a simpler, document-based syncing solution, which Apple reportedly keeps a much closer eye on to ensure the program remains up and running. However, for Core Data syncing, Apple drops the ball on its oversight, and sometimes on its own feet. The Trailers app, which uses Core Data, will sometimes lose track of user favorites. As one developer put it,  ”The best Apple technologies are ones they use themselves.”

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Apple has remained fairly mute on the situation. At the Worldwide Developers Conference in 2012, the Apple desk was swamped with people trying to find out why iCloud was so hard to implement, and what they could do about it. Apple’s response was “just wait until iOS 6,” and now that iOS 6 has arrived with little to no improvements for iCloud, developers are now counting on iOS 7 to help patch up the issues — if it’s not too late. As Apple continues to not address the issues, developers are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their services with the company. As one put it, “If Apple doesn’t fix it in iOS 7, we’ll have to abandon ship.”

Apple declined to comment on The Verge‘s story.

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