Monday, January 31, 2022

Getting Feedback to Apple

Becky Hansmeyer:

Reflecting on the whole iCloud kerfuffle, I think one major issue is that none of us know how to escalate a critical problem to the right person. Support folks usually lack an understanding of the context, the dev forums aren’t monitored, and radars are likely backlogged.

There’s a reason so many developers on Twitter include feedback/radar numbers in their tweets: they are more likely to reach the correct person/team here on Twitter. So, we find that problems tend to start on Stack Overflow/dev forums, then bubble up through Twitter —> media.

What’s the solution to this? Apple has already created successful Q&A environments where participants are heard, understood, and given feedback: the Swift evolution forums, and the WWDC Digital Lounges.

I realize it’s hard to scale that to a system that is: open year-round, and includes narrow access to someone from every single framework team. But something or someone has to act as a better switchboard: a “sure, let me transfer you to the SwiftUI department.”

As of right now, it is an absolute fact that Twitter is a developer’s best avenue for getting a bug fixed: IF they can get their tweet in front of an Apple engineer, either by having a large following or being retweeted by someone with a large following.

Alex Rosenberg:

Iff you had actual Radar access and iff you knew the component that they use to actually track operational issues with iCloud, then it would be 💯% effective. However, the culture is broken by secrecy and nobody outside that org would know or be able to see the correct component.

Matthew Cassinelli:

Yes. I know every specific bug for Shortcuts but to communicate them to my old team feels like harassing them and not actually being a friend.

It’d also take me 8 hours straight of filing radars for free for things that have been clearly broken for years


What does seem to work in situations like these IS to run to the press. I’ve seen issues from before I started seeing it reported on various sites. And when it cropped up on one tech site, all of a sudden it’s everywhere. Boom. Problem fixed in like a week?


I’ve currently used a Code Level Incident to get some extra eyes on FileProvider-integration, because the documentation is from 2017 (WWDC video + slides and not complete) and it’s buggy on a few sides.

My experience is that you can pay DTS to confirm that a bug is in Apple’s code rather than yours. Sometimes they will have a workaround to offer you. You can give them a bug number to associate with your case, but I can’t say that this seems to escalate the bug and lead to it being fixed any faster.

Dave B:

Tim Cook isn’t a product guy like Steve was. He doesn’t have hands-on knowledge or insight into the products. He’s an incredible businessman but not a product guy.

That’s why when there’s a problem with a product, people have to let him know so that he passes it down the chain to fix it.


The best way to call attention to these kinds of issues is to bring them to popular figures in the Apple community.


Update (2022-02-16): Rich Siegel:

There was a time when “write to DTS with the bug number” was a recommended course of action, and they’d either provide a workaround or explain in detail why it wasn’t possible. I think those days are gone, though.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

"What does seem to work in situations like these IS to run to the press"

I'm not sure if this is super surprising for a company the scale of Apple. Prioritizing bugs is incredibly difficult if you receive probably thousands of reports each week. Even investigating a single report might take an engineer multiple hours. Using the media as a prioritization mechanism might be the only reasonable option Apple has.

I’ve asked (in Radar) if it would help to use a DTS incident for Apple bugs, and always been told it won’t help, so don’t bother. My experience with DTS is as mentioned above: “here’s some sample code; don’t ask us how it works”.

"You can give them a bug number to associate with your case, but I can’t say that this seems to escalate the bug and lead to it being fixed any faster."

Nope. Never has helped me. Last April DTS confirmed an entire API apparently didn't work as designed, but could offer no workaround, and the bug report I filed still doesn't have a single comment on it. Sigh.

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