Something I had noticed back in August while using the developer preview of Mavericks was that the ability to sync contacts, calendars, email accounts and bookmarks was no longer there. I had hoped this was something that would make an appearance again after Mavericks was officially released to the public but as people are finding out now, that is not the case. If you want to sync everything that once had a home in the “Info” tab in iTunes, you have to use iCloud, Gmail or an exchange server. This is a major issue for a lot of people for a number of reasons and while some suspect the feature will be re-introduced in a later update, I don’t think this will happen. Apparently the framework that made the syncing of this data possible in earlier versions of OS X, SyncServices, is no longer present in Mavericks. Apple is not known to backpedal on it’s decisions (green button in iTunes to activate the mini-player would be the exception), specially on something that affects a whole OS.
Why does this upset people?
A quick browse online and discussion with some people I know show the biggest concerns are privacy, not having internet access, legal issues and most prevalent; people just don’t like to be forced into using just one service or way to do things. I personally stopped syncing via iCloud ever since PRISM documentation showed Apple is somehow connected to it. Reading not too long ago that some (maybe most) parts of the iCloud service are hosted on Microsoft and Amazon servers makes me trust the whole service even less, but that’s just me. I had no issues syncing via USB as I connect my iDevice to the Mac at least a few times a day. Whatever someones reasons are for not wanting iCloud, they are good reasons to that person and those that did not want iCloud had an option not to use it, not anymore.
What are the options?
Options are limited and none of them are great. You can go back to 10.8.5 completely, install 10.8.5 on another drive or partition and boot up from that every time you want to sync or set up your own server. As far as I’m aware there is no 3rd part software available yet that can get us the option to sync locally back. Other services exist that would allow you to use their cloud service but this defeats the purpose for those that do not want their data online, transmitted online or stored on a server they do not control. There are still plenty of people out there with no or limited internet connection, these folks are screwed by default now.
Should I not use Mavericks?
If the ability to sync locally via Wi-Fi or USB is thát important to you, then I’d hold off for now. With this many people complaining about it a 3rd party may show up soon offering a hack/plug-in or alternative that works. However, not upgrading has it’s risks, thanks to a smart move from Apple. Right after Mavericks was released Apple published a document named “About the security content of OS X Mavericks v10.9“. This 8 page document proudly lists bug fixes, vulnerability fixes and exploit fixes that the new system has. This is good to know for those that adopted Mavericks and also really good to know for every hacker/cracker/attacker out there that, thanks to this document, knows what the vulnerabilities in older OS X versions are. Apple has not released any security updates for older OS X versions to plug these vulnerabilities so if you run a pre-Mavericks version of OS X you potentially have 8 pages of vulnerabilities to worry about now. This alone would be a good reason to upgrade.
I have been using Mavericks for months and it has been a rock solid OS since long before it was released to the public. I recommend it to everyone using a Mac that can support it. While experts like Graham Cluley make it a point to go public and say they’re not upgrading because of bla bla… it’s boring and stupid to be honest but even Graham will upgrade it older OS X versions no longer receive security updates. This is the smoothest OS upgrade I have done in a very long time and the pros definitely outweigh the cons. So if this whole iTunes sync issue is not a big deal to you, do yourself a favor and upgrade (after properly preparing of course).
You have a Mac, maybe more than one. Perhaps it’s time to invest $20 in the Server app and just experiment with running your own cloud. It doesn’t even have to be online, you can run a server to sync your contacts and calendars on your local network. It won’t work outside of your home but as soon as you step into your house and connect to the network all the changes will be synced with your very own server. Once you’re skilled in it’s use and have it properly secured you may even want to connect it to the internet and run your very own iCloud service that works wherever you are. A Mac mini would make a nice, energy efficient server for example. This is the route I took.