Developers dish on iCloud's challenges

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And yet even with all of Simperium’s advantages, some developers may be wary about ceding syncing control to a third-party. With iCloud, developers and their users are trusting their data with Apple, which has a solid reputation and track record for protecting user privacy. Simperium co-founder Johnston says that the company has two approaches to assuage such privacy concerns: The first is that developers can easily configure Simperium to ping the developers’ own servers with updates, meaning that they can keep their own copies of all user data, instead of accessing it only via Simperium. Further, Johnston told Macworld, “We know there are some developers who will want complete control, and that’s where our open source option will come into play.” That open source option may be months off, Johnston says, but will allow developers to run their own Simperium syncing services instead, thus retaining complete control.

Still, there will always be developers like Tapbots’s Haddad, who prefer iCloud “because its a frictionless experience for users.” What’s more, Haddad says, since iCloud is built into the operating system, it can do things other competitive services can’t—like background syncing. “With iCloud, the OS can sync state without your application even running, [which] can be a big benefit to certain classes of applications.”

Send in the clouds

For developers to embrace iCloud more fully, then, Apple will need to find a way to make the service simpler to use, and more reliable to boot. All indications are that iOS 6 takes great strides on the “improving simplicity” front, but it’s too soon to tell whether the service’s reliability will improve, at the same time.

And even if it does, iCloud may never be enough to satisfy developers craving a deeper, more nuanced syncing approach than Apple chooses to offer.

If iCloud integration is still absent from your favorite app, it may well not be for lack of trying. Or perhaps, the developer is holding out for (or already working to integrate) an alternative syncing option better suited to the app’s needs—and yours.

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