iTunes and iPhone OS via the cloud
on the whole, it feels retrograde. It creates an impression that the iPad does not stand on its own. It’s a child that still needs a parent. But it’s not a young child. It’s more like a teenager. It’s close. So close that it feels like it ought to be able to stand on its own. Daring Fireball on the iPad’s USB leash
Just recently, it has been discovered that Apple is interested in investing in sync capabilities with the cloud. Breaking away from the USB sync paradigm is something that all iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users would enjoy. The Apple Blog, today
I think Apple has got to be moving towards a proper cloud sync solution. That’s what the Lala acquisition was about. Not just music sync, like Lala, but all iDevice data sync. via the cloud. You can organize what you want synced on either your iDevice or your desktop in iTunes, but the actual syncing is no longer dependent on a usb cable, and its not dependent on iTunes on a desktop either.
This last point is really important, because the iPad currently requires access to another computer, which seems like a flaw in the product. But fixable.
One thing I’ve noticed which also point to the integration of Lala technology in iPhone OS, is a subtle, but important, change in the way iPhone OS 4 betas handle data storage, syncing, and deleting. In previous iPhone OS versions, if you have a song on your iPhone, delete it, it got deleted from the filesystem. To get that song back on your iPhone you had to re-sync it to iTunes which recopied the whole MP3 back to your iPhone.
What I’ve noticed with the OS 4 betas is that when I delete a track from my iPod Touch, it merely gets hidden from the Music app. I’m sure that if I changed enough data on my iPod that the actual blocks of memory in my iPod got written over, then the mp3 would be lost and to get the song back on my iPod, then iTunes would have to re-copy the mp3. Instead, what happens is that if you delete a song, and then later have iTunes add that song back to your iDevice, it checks first to see if that song is actually still on your device’s SSD (just invisible to the Music app), and, if its still there it just un-deletes the track. Much faster. When I upgraded my iPod to OS 4 beta 4 and it deleted the 4,000 tracks that were currently on my iPod, it only took between an hour to two hours to sync all 30 GB of data back to my iPod; in OS 3 it took a whole night.
This change is subtle, but key to moving to cloud sync. Of course, the first time you copy all your data to your iDevice will either require a USB or just take frikkin’ forever, but eventually the fact that OS 4 doesn’t delete your data until it needs the space will make cloud syncing massive data much faster and realistic over wifi. And it works very similiar to the way Lala works.