Blog Posts

Patching iCloud Sync

As you read before in this blog here and here, iCloud Sync is the no. #1 problem for users in Instacast. I originally thought iCloud Sync would be a great way to sync data between devices. However the light does not shine as bright as I'd like to. The iCloud Sync has a lot of problems, some because I'm simply not a sync algorithm expert, but mostly because iCloud is not working as it should. It just works, NOT!

I tackled a lot of issues with the recent updates, however a few problems remain. But first a short excursion about how iCloud works. Much like Dropbox, iCloud for 'Documents & Data' is a folder on your disc / flash memory. An iCloud daemon process registers for update notifications to this folder and uploads and downloads files to make sure the folder has the same content on every device. But unlike Dropbox, it is really not that reliable. It often happens that the daemon is not able to connect or simply stops working. To get a feel for this issue, you can do this:

  1. Make sure you are using the same iCloud account on your iOS device and on your Mac.
  2. Open the folder located at:
    ~/Library/Mobile Documents/J463EP3A58~com~vemedio~Instacast/Documents
  3. You should see a file called 'Instacast.icast'.
  4. Look at the modification date.
  5. Change something in Instacast on your iOS device and wait around 30 seconds.

If the modification data changes on your Mac, everything works as it should. If not,

  1. Open the Terminal and type: "sudo /usr/libexec/librariand"
  2. Type in your administrator password.
  3. If the modification date changes, then the synchronization works. If not, iCloud on your Mac is in a bad state.

This librariand command should not be necessary however. Everything should just work. There is a similar way of doing this with the Apple APIs, but in rare cases this does not work either. The result simply looks like an application error.

In Instacast 1.5.2 and Instacast HD 1.1.1 I tried to detect these circumstances, kick iCloud in the butt if necessary or alert the user if iCloud is simply not reacting in any way. I also added an option to reset the data in iCloud and upload the current state. This might solve the issue of iCloud being stuck.

But sure enough, I am still not convinced that I finally found the master fix. Apple should get its act together and do something. I will file the same bug over and over again until this situation gets better. I just hope that the current version is working a bit better for most users. Fingers crossed.

Another thing I added is synchronizing data of what has been downloaded. This option has to be enabled manually in the 'iCloud Sync' settings, since I am not sure if the behavior is what you expect. Just try it out and if it sucks, disable it again and let me know.

April 5th, 2012 • Permalink

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