Broken Apple #26 – Bookmark syncing between OS X 10.10 and iOS 8 without iCloud (not possible)

I didn’t write an article for a long time because live was filled with other things. But this problem has been nagging me for a long time. So let’s go.

Apple and Privacy

On 13th feb 2015 Tim Cook held an impressive speech at the cybersecurity summit and called privacy a ‘life and death’ issue and warned of the “dire consequences” in sacrificing the right to privacy. It was an impressive speech and who could disagree? Great job, Tim!

So how can I sync bookmarks between OS X, Apples desktop operating system, and iOS, it’s mobile counterpart for iPhone and iPad in the year 2015? Apple’s answer to this question is „Use the iCloud“.

Cloud security

Before the Snowden revelations people called me paranoid, now no longer. And we have more than enough proove that using Cloud services leads to situations, in which you loose control over your data. I don’t want to go into too many details, but just give some thought to the question, under which jurisdiction your data is stored, and if you are aware of all the locations, the servers of the various Cloud-Services like Dropbox, iCloud, oneDrive, to name a few, are located in. Are you fully aware of the data protection laws of all those countries? Are you even able to find out, where exactly the servers are? Maybe servers exist in more than one country. To which exact server are you talking, when using your Cloud service?

Let’s ask some more questions: who has access to those servers? What if state agencies request access? Will the company give access or not? Under which circumstances will access be granted? Will they give out all data they store about you? Will you be informed? How can you control, who has access? Very simple: You can’t.

Bookmarks

Bookmarks may seem like a trivial thing to give out of your hands. But if you actually spend some time thinking about it, they are comparable with a unique fingerprint. How many people in the world do you think exist, who have an identical bookmark structure? Also the more you have, the uniquer your bookmark folder becomes. Think of it as some form of digital fingerprint. By now maybe it becomes clearer, why Apple is so keen on getting customers to load as much data as possible into the iCloud. I won’t start about Photo-Upload and worldwide capabilities of facial recognition all over the place.

The above and other reasons, which would make this post much longer than it intended to be, lead me to the conclusion, that in my live, there is no cloud services. I have to say regarding the developments in the last two years, I’m pretty happy with that decision. Also I don’t feel left out or that I’d be missing anything. Life is great.

Local sync to the rescue

After discovering in shock that Apple killed local USB sync for Calendar and Contact data in OS X 10.9 (they added that functionality back in 10.9.2) it turns out that OS X 10.10 Yosemity and iTunes 12 do not offer any option, to locally sync bookmarks between your desktop computer and your mobile machinery. Just to be clear what we are discussing here, a bookmark sync is a rather trivial thing. The fact that today you can easily import and export all your bookmarks from one browser to the other, shows how simple this is. It can be done via an html file. That’s all. But one of the richest companies in the world is not able to offer this functionality to it’s customers?

Let’s give Apple a call

First off, Apple records all calls. If you inform them, that you will do the same, they hang up. Which is an interesting start and shows the disparity of how Apple sees it’s rights and it’s customer rights. You have none but must accept their rules. A senior Apple advisor, whom I’m not allowed to cite, informs me that there is no option to locally (USB or WLAN) sync bookmarks between the two operating systems. But he has a solution ready: download and install iTunes 10.

Back to reality: iTunes 10 could not be installed on 10.10. It also could not be installed on 10.9. It did install on 10.8. All this was information not given by the Apple Advisor. Then I connect my iPhone to OS X 10.8 with iTunes 10.3.1 and get a load of error messages. Concluding with an error message that iTunes 11.2 is required to sync with this iPhone. But iTunes 10 is the last version, able to locally sync bookmarks.

iTunes 11 required

It just works – No it doesn’t just work!

So here I am highly frustrated, wishing, I had bought a Jolla, Ubuntu or Mozilla phone with a more open approach, not forcing me into services, which I am not going to use.

If a solution to this problem exists, please let me know in the comments and if you are as annoyed by this as me, please do get in touch with Apple and let them know, that you want local sync for your bookmarks. I’m baffled at the people celebrating this decrease in core functionality as progress. SpinDoctors at work.

Oh … and Apple, it’s time to put your functionality where your mouth is.

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