This weekend was more frustrating than most. I was going to show my wife some pictures I had taken on my iPhone. But within reach was my iPad. I picked up my iPad, opened the Photos app and my pictures were not there. What? Hmmm. So began the weekend hunt to figure out why.
First you must understand I try to avoid using iCloud (or anything that involves a third-party “learning about me”) as much as I can. For Books, for Podcasts, for Messages, for Notes, Music and Video I am unable to avoid using Apple’s syncing services. However, for Photos, Contacts, Calendar and Mail, I have some other options. For the later three I have my own hardware running OS X Server. But for photo syncing I want to continue syncing locally — between my Mac and iOS devices — when on the same Wi-Fi connection.
After playing around with Photos for about an hour it was clear this is not where the syncing magic occurred. After a little Duck-Duck-Go-Fu™ I learned (remembered) that iTunes is the master of all syncing between devices un-iCloud-ed. That seemed odd, but there is a reason. That reason is that iTunes works for Windows as well and was how Apple could make their iOS devices work/sync with Windows back in the day.
iCloud is probably wonderful for all these syncing services, but I have more paranoia than most when it comes to my privacy. Despite all the nice things Tim Cook says about Apple not being interested in my personal life, that policy is self-imposed and could change at any time for any reason. So I like to be as “independent” as I can.
If Apple wants to make syncing much simpler, it should rethink the way it does syncing locally. Photos app should sync photos. iTunes should sync music, videos and podcasts. Contacts, Calendar, Mail, Messages, etc do not use iTunes for syncing, so why should Photos? It is time to make syncing go with each application instead of being tied to whether you have iTunes running or not.
Finally, I was able to get things syncing with help from my son and remembering of how things used to be before iCloud. However, for someone brand new to the game, syncing with iTunes for your photos makes no sense whatsoever, and Apple should fix that. For those of us running OS X Server, it still boggles my mind why ALL these “iCloud” syncing services are not included as part of OS X server. Then one could easily create a fully independent and private version of iCloud. But then me and those like me are probably too small of a market to care about... I can’t wait for next weekend.
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