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Why you should care about CloudKit

Marco Tabini | July 29, 2014
If you've lived through the last couple iterations of OS X and iOS, you've probably had the opportunity to develop a special love/hate relationship with iCloud. Apple's cloud service suite is made up of many different parts and systems, and while it's great when it works, it also has a history of being prone to hard-to-diagnose outages and, for developers, obscure error messages.

Clear skies ahead

It's not hard to see that CloudKit greatly simplifies the creation of apps that revolve around multi-user collaboration. Previously, creating a group chat app like Glassboard, or a team-based task management software like Wunderlist, would have required a significant amount of work. A developer would have to set up the server-side infrastructure required to store and synchronize all the data, plus handle the communication between different users. But with CloudKit providing that service, developers can now focus their efforts on building a great user experience right inside their iOS and OS X code.

As an added bonus, Apple has had plenty of time to fine-tune the security that surrounds iCloud, and the company's current fixation with privacy — a much-welcome fixation, if you ask me — is likely to rub off on third-party developers, leading to more secure apps that are less likely to "accidentally" leak our data all over the Internet.

Of course, the flip side all of this goodness is that CloudKit, which is only available on Apple's devices and operating systems, contributes to locking both users and developers into the company's closed ecosystem, making it unsuitable for apps that need to run on multiple platforms. For smaller developers, however, it creates a unique opportunity to bring great software to an enormous audience with virtually no added investments of time or money.

 

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