Software, Sync and the Cloud

A number of years ago Craig Mundie at Microsoft started talking clearly and openly about the need for software to developers to avoid hitting the “power wall” and learn to develop for multi-core chips. 

The logic at the time: software engineers previously hadn’t had to deal with developing parallel software. 

You can argue whether this effort has served Microsoft well as multicore chips have found their way into every server, desktop and mobile device. 

These days, I think we have a different sorts of software challenges. Specifically sync and cloud. Yes, our processors now all have multicores, but the real issue is that our users have all gone multi device. 

Many of my favorite mobile apps don’t save state as I move from one device to another (iphone to ipad or mobile to desktop). 

As an example, consider one of my favorite pieces of software — Adobe Lightroom. It is indispensable to me. 

But there is no easy way for a 3rd party to build an iPad version of it since Adobe doesn’t seem to care to. 

Adobe hasn’t designed anything to handle sync. Nor, is there an easy way to keep my master catalog and images on Dropbox. I’ve tried. Many times. 

Lightroom assumes you keep everything on one computer and have one big honking local disk.

What year is this again?

And Adobe Lightroom isn’t the only one guilty.

iTunes has no real sense of multiuser, multi device, or the cloud. This weekend I hit yet another wall with iTunes. 5 machine limit with their wonky DRM rules. We have 3 kids and two adults. Many people in this family have more than one device. I find we are buying multiple copies of the same song. Yes, it’s first world problems but the reality is we are not alone. 

But I guess it’s too easy to pick on poor iTunes as it’s likely one of the worst designed apps around. And on top of the poor design, we have to deal with studio rules on top. 

Ok, another example. I was playing EA Fifa 13 on my iPad mini earlier today. It’s absolutely amazing. But that also has no sense of cloud or sync. I can’t start a game on my iPad and pick up my iPhone and keep playing. Why can’t my state be written to Dropbox or iCloud or something else?

I’ll end this post with the following thought. Our apps need to be mindful of sync and the cloud. Ideally we can choose the latter and get the former along the way.