Tuesday, September 3, 2019

iCloud Drive Features Removed/Postponed

Max Seelemann:

PSA: Even iOS 13.1 beta did not bring back iCloud folder sharing. (Dropped in 13.0 beta 4 or 5?)

Catalina beta 7 still seems to be lacking major iCloud prime-time stability.

It seems that Apple has done a full rollback of basically all iCloud changes from Catalina / iOS 13.

The sync agent “bird” is back, as is “brctl”. Gone is the new “iCloudDrive” agent. No folder sharing until at least iOS 13.2, it seems. Maybe even iOS 14?

Better for us that this time, the rollback came during beta. I applaud that they rather don’t ship features then ship them in a broken state.

John Gruber:

Interesting but unsurprising news: it appears most/all of the iCloud Drive improvements announced at WWDC (pinned files that remain downloaded locally, shared folders) will have to wait until iOS 13.2 at the earliest.

iCloud Drive is simply far too important for it to be buggy.

Ish Abazz:

My iCloud drive is littered with duplicate folders. I’m not sure when in the beta cycle this happened but it’s a mess.

Anton Sotkov:

If app folders are missing from iCloud Drive on macOS Catalina beta 7:

  1. 1. Disable iCloud Drive in System Preferences → Apple ID
  2. 2. Run this command in Terminal: find ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/*/Documents -type l -maxdepth 0 -exec rm '{}' ';'
  3. 3. Enable iCloud Drive.


Update (2019-09-05): Craig Hockenberry:

And when I say lost, I mean really lost. Entire folders were either gone or corrupted. Apple’s mechanism to recover deleted files was of no help. The customers with weird folder duplicates were the “lucky” ones.


A few weeks later, Apple finally indicated that there were some issues with iCloud and the beta release. In the same week, they released a public beta and sent out an email to customers encouraging them to try out iOS 13.

We did our best to understand the situation and provide information to Apple, but it felt like we were tossing bug reports into a black hole. The most discouraging part was when we tried to open an incident with Apple Developer Technical Support (DTS). After writing up a detailed report, we were informed that they don’t support beta releases!


If a device is using an Apple ID that’s also being used on a non-beta device, then iCloud shouldn’t be allowed. If you install an iOS beta on your iPad, it doesn’t get to use any cloud services because it puts the data on your iPhone or Mac at risk.


As it is now, Apple is effectively telling you that your storage device will be unreliable for a few months. It’s like having a hard drive where the manufacturer tells you it won’t work well for ¼ of the year. Would you purchase storage with a caveat that “the drive mechanism may not work properly during the hot summer months”?


Gus Mueller:

I’ve been doing this long enough to remember when the .Mac APIs were built against an SDK. I understand why Apple ties iCloud API updates to OS releases, but I really wish they wouldn’t. Apple’s coders are smart enough to make things backwards compatible, and being able to deploy new iCloud APIs to last year’s OS release would be a nice win for everyone.


I’ve barely tested it this year, precisely because of the iCloud issues people were encountering.

Drew McCormack:

I think it is fair to say that Apple have always struggled with iCloud Drive, as this post from 2015 shows.

Markus Müller-Simhofer:

This years iOS/iPadOS release cycle was a mess. The first public beta was surprisingly early considering how broken the first beta seeds were. Even in the current beta many things are still too buggy. I’ll recommend everyone who asks me to wait for 13.1!

Michael Rockwell:

But I actually think having the ability to backup and restore all of your iCloud data is a more attainable first step that would mitigate a lot of fear from situations like this in the future. Essentially, Apple could prevent beta releases of iOS from touching iCloud data unless the service first confirms that the user has completed a download of an iCloud backup file. Then, if anything goes wrong, the user can at least restore from that point.

Michael Love:

A positive in this is that it makes it considerably easier for us to drop our long-suffering iCloud support in 4.0 and consign it to the curmudgeon-accommodating Pleco Legacy app.

I literally have a support email in my inbox right now about somebody losing their iCloud-synced flashcards due to an iOS 13 beta bug; if Apple’s willing to ship a public release with broken iCloud then it’s clear it can no longer be relied upon.

Update (2019-09-09): Jacob Pritchett:

I’m a musician, and within a couple of days of installing iOS 13 on my iPhone, my Logic Pro X projects (I store them in iCloud) were all replaced with 0 kB shells.

Even though I hadn’t installed Catalina on any of my Macs.

I’m also a digital artist, and I lost most of my art too.

The result is that I lost the better half of a decade of my music, including dozens of unreleased tracks. It was absolutely devastating.

I would never have thought that installing a beta on my iPhone (I’m an iOS app developer by trade, so I need to) could possibly cause issues on my Mac, which I specifically avoided updating to a beta because I use it for important projects.

Update (2019-10-11): Tim Hardwick (tweet):

Apple has delayed the introduction of iCloud Folder Sharing in macOS Catalina until spring 2020, according to its website.

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There is a reason I have yet to enable iCloud Drive on any of my Macs or iDevices, regardless of OS version, aside from a single testing-only environment using a testing-only iCloud account where catastrophic failure is tolerable.

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