Apple Web Services Performance

The one major annoyance/frustration I have with my various Apple devices is Apple’s own web service performance. I see errors and frequent requests to “re-sign in to iTunes” with iTunes Match. It takes 15-30 seconds to load up a tab within the Mac App Store and sometimes even longer in the iOS App Store. Especially in the iOS App Store I get tabs that fail to load (timeout?) and won’t refresh, and I have to close and re-open the app.

Yesterday was my first experience with Game Center. I enabled it on my iPhone and iPad to try out Letterpress. On my iPhone for some reason I was unable to add friends until I rebooted the phone. The iPad allowed me to add friends without issue.

From what I understand the Game Center is also the back-end service for Letterpress. About 2/3 of the time I play a turn in Letterpress I get an error.

From what I can tell by the behavior, this is a response timeout error. The move is successfully posted to Game Center, but a reply is not received on the iOS device. This puts the game in a wonky state where it thinks it’s still my turn on the device but knows better on the server. I usually get two “-10001” errors followed by a “24” error, which appears to be when Game Center responds and understands that the play being sent has already been recorded.1

Letterpress is an extremely polished and well executed 1.0 game. The performance of the Game Center, however, makes it occasionally feel like a shoddy, broken piece of software.

This collection of anecdotes (an admittedly small sample size) doesn’t fill me with confidence that Apple is learning how to execute in the area of web services. On the contrary, it makes me concerned that they won’t be able to compete with services like Maps.

Apple is a hardware and software company, Google is a web services and big data company. They are each trying to move into the arenas where the other excels, but in both cases there is a lot of catching up to do.

  1. This is just a set of educated guesses based on my general knowledge of web services and observing the behavior of the app.