Categories
Apple iCloud

My Ongoing iCloud Issues (And a Possible Fix)

When technology “just works” it is absolutely fantastic. It can allow us to do things that we never thought possible. Technology can provide us interactions and efficiencies that were mere ideas only a short time ago. However, when technology goes awry, it can be a complete disaster. This is exhibited with my ongoing iCloud issues.

The Issue

The issue I am having with iCloud is that I cannot upload any files to iCloud Drive. When I do, it just sits and pretends it will upload the files, but it does not. The same goes with downloading files from iCloud Drive; no files can be downloaded. This renders iCloud entirely useless.

Now, this may not be a big issue if I only used iCloud randomly and sporadically; but that is not the case. I use Apple’s “Desktop & Documents folders” syncing feature, which allows any files I create in m “Documents” or “Desktop” folders to synchronize to all of my Macs and iCloud. This includes being able to access the files from within any application or on my iOS devices. Due the inability to upload or download any files to iCloud, these features are entirely broken.

Backstory

This actually began on December 1oth, 2019 after I upgraded my iMac to macOS Catalina 10.15.2. My MacBook Pro is usually on the developer version of macOS and it did not exhibit any of this behavior and was synchronizing files without a hitch. At first I thought it might have just been a fluke and that iCloud needed time to resynchronize everything. After a few days of not being able to synchronize anything, I contacted Apple Support.

Apple Support

When I contacted Apple support I was connected with a tech support person who attempted to help me. We did some testing, which included trying to upload files to iCloud on all of my devices and on different networks, rebooting the device, but none of these steps had any effect.

Since the first tech support person I contacted was not able to find a fix, I was transferred to a specialist. Over the course of a couple weeks we did various things, including:

  • Creating a test file and uploading it (does not work)
  • Creating a new account and trying to upload a file (does not work)
  • Trying to find any offending files that were not uploading and remove them (had no effect)
  • Uploading files via the web interface (which did and does still work)
  • Creating a file at a specific time and then gathering the logging information for 24 hours

After all of this testing and nothing working, the issue was sent to Engineering. Engineering came back with some questions and requests, and required screenshots on iOS of the issue. One of the things they requested was to install a configuration profile to gather some data. The log that was uploaded ended up being well over a gigabyte in size; and that was when it was compressed.

Partial Fix

Due to the complete hassle this has been I began looking for a fix on my own. As with any problem, it is best to search google. I came up with this solution from stackexchange.com. The following commands were entered into terminal:

killall bird
cd ~/Library/Application\ Support
rm -rf CloudDocs

These steps will do the following:

  1. Stop the “bird” service. The “bird” service is the service that controls uploading and downloading data to and from iCloud Drive.
  2. Change directories to the local user Application Support directory under the “Library” directory.
  3. Remove all of the cached files for iCloud.

When these have been done, you need to restart the computer, just to be on the safe side. When I did this on my MacBook Pro, it began downloading the file list in iCloud Drive. Once this was done, the biggest portion of the work began. That work is comparing the local copies of the files with the files that are stored in iCloud Drive. The length of time is depending on the number of locally stored files that you have.

Due to the amount of information I had on my MacBook Pro this ended up taking several hours. But once it was finished I tested uploading a file to iCloud Drive and it worked. I waited a couple of days to make sure things still worked. Upon verification, I then performed the same steps on my iMac and it produced the same results, albeit the amount of time it took on my iMac was a bit longer due to having more files on my iMac.

My iOS devices were another matter entirely. Because you do not have access to terminal on iOS, you cannot perform the same actions. The only steps you can do on iOS are:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Click on your Name at the top to open up the iCloud settings.
  3. Tap on “iCloud” to open iCloud options.
  4. Scroll down to “iCloud”.
  5. Tap on iCloud Drive toggle switch to disable it. A popup may appear.
  6. Click on “Delete from iPhone” to confirm any documents that are not synchronized will be deleted. This will turn off iCloud Drive and delete any locally saved documents.
  7. Reboot the iOS device.
  8. Plug the iOS device into power.

You can then restart your device and perform the same steps to turn iCloud Drive back on. When I did this, it did not seem to have any effect, at first. After about 45 minutes the files that are stored in iCloud Drive populated. Unlike on macOS, I do not think any of the downloaded files that I had remained on the device. One last thing to keep in mind is that when you disable iCloud Drive on an iPhone it will also disable the Wallet app, because the Wallet app depends on iCloud Drive to function properly. So you will want to re-enable Wallet on your device as well. Disabling iCloud Drive will not remove your cards, so I am not sure what function requires iCloud Drive within the Wallet app.

Once I saw the list of files, I then created a test folder and verified that it would indeed upload and I could see it on my other devices. So, this seemed to work.

It may not strictly be necessary to plug the iOS device into power, but it cannot hurt because when an iOS device is connected to power, additional processes will run that may not run when the device is on power and this may ultimately speed up the population of the iCloud Drive files.

Possible Root Cause

While I cannot fully know, I think I have determined the cause of the issue. When it comes to any app, you are likely to have a “state” for something. In the case of Files, the “source of truth” is iCloud. I think that the synchronization information on my iMac somehow got corrupted and that corrupted information propagated to all of my devices. The only way to get things back into place was to erase the local cache and re-download all of the data from the server.

Closing Thoughts

As of this writing, everything seems to be working. I am somewhat disappointed that Apple could not find a solution, and I was left to find a solution on my own. Also, at the moment, my issue is still in Engineering, and I do not expect to hear back from my support representative about a fix for the issue. I am glad I was able to find a solution to get things back on track, but these types of things need to be handled by Apple in a much faster manner than they are now.

One way to mitigate this from happen would be for Apple to create some sort of automated testing that occurs on each device where it attempts to create a file and upload it to iCloud. If this does not happen within a period of time, say 24 hours, send a push notification that will trigger the resetting of the iCloud cache information stored on the device. This type of solution would be able to mitigate, if not eliminate, these types of issue because it would end up being proactive and not wait for the user to notice that something is wrong and attempt to find a solution with the help of Apple. I completely get that I may have just been a “lucky” one to run into this bug and it may only be affecting a small percentage of users. However, when you have 1.5 billion active devices, even one tenth of one percent is still 1.5 million people. Even if the percentage is much smaller, this type of solution could go a long way to improving user experience.

Categories
Video

Commercials Chicagoans Know Well

This post has been in “Draft” since mid-2018 and I figured I would post this, because why not. If you watched TV in the Chicagoland area during the ’90s you have undoubtedly seen all of these commercials.

I thought about the commercials that I remember seeing during the ’90s. I thought I would post a few of my favorite commercials from when I was growing up.

Categories
Apple Developer

Upcoming Changes for Apple Developers

When you sign up to be an Apple Developer one of the things that you do is agree to abide by App Store Review Guidelines. These guidelines change from time to time depending on technology, the needs of developers, and the limitations that Apple wants/needs to apply.

Last June the guidelines were modified and two additions were made. These are regarding “HTML5 Apps” and “Updates in the Kids Category”. There are some changes for both that will go into effect on March 3rd, 2020. Let us look at each of the changes.

HTML 5 Apps

Before there were native apps on iOS there were HTML5 apps, which was referred to as a “Sweet Solution”. While this worked, it was not nearly as elegant as using a native application. A majority of applications in use today are built entirely with their native SDKs and do not require any external code. There are some apps that may require some code that is downloaded from another server. This is possible with Apple’s platforms. However, there are some limitations regarding the code that can be downloaded.

Specifically, HTML5 apps cannot contain or run code that provides access to real money gaming, lotteries, or charitable donations.

Apps For Kids

The next area to discuss is Apps for Kids. Any app that is within the “Kids” category, which means that it is intended to be used by kids. Due to the nature of these apps, there are some restrictions that developers need to comply with.

“Apps published on the App Store must protect children’s data and provide only age-appropriate content. Apps must also require a parental gate in order to link out of the app, request permissions, or present purchasing opportunities. It’s critical that apps do not transmit personally identifiable information or device information to third parties, and that advertisements are human-reviewed for age appropriateness in order to be displayed.”

Besides being conscious of children’s data, in some places this is necessary to comply with local laws.

Closing Thoughts

Developers have to keep up with the changes not only in tools and techniques, but also the changing landscape of building apps for Apple’s platforms. One of those areas is complying with the App Store Review Guidelines. What may have been accepted previously, may no longer be accepted. If you are going to be uploading a new version of your application anytime after March 3rd, 2020, you will want to comply with the new rules; especially the one regarding privacy of kids’ data. It would not be surprising if Apple begins outright rejecting apps that do not comply with protecting the data of kids starting on March 3rd.

Source: Apple, Apple

Categories
Apps

wwrite and wwriteLite 4.6.0 Now Available

I have published updates for both wwrite and wwriteLite. Each app is now at version 4.6.0.

Both wwrite and wwriteLite add that ability to import files from the Files app, including iCloud Drive, and any other third-party services that you have linked within the Files app. This is done by going to “+” -> Import Files.

There is one bug fix for both apps. If you had tried to “Copy files” using a share sheet from another app, it would have failed. This has been fixed. There is one feature, specifically for wwriteLite.

Removing Ads

One of the features that I have wanted to add to wwriteLite is the ability to remove the ads. This is now possible through an in-app purchase. This is accessed by going to Tools -> In-App Purchases. Removing Ads will cost you $0.99. The reason I chose this amount is because $0.99 is the same price as wwrite, which does not have ads. Additionally, this is a way to support the development of both of the apps.

Due to these changes, the Frequently Asked Questions and the Change Log for each app has been updated, so be sure to check those out. wwrite 4.6.0 and wwriteLite 4.6.0 are free updates and are available now in the App Store.

Categories
Apple

Apple Arcade After Four Months

Back in March of last year at their services event, Apple announced a new service that was focused on games. This service is Apple Arcade. At the time Apple announced that Apple Arcade would be available “in the fall”. Ultimately, this ended up being mid September with the release of iOS 13. One of the selling points was the ability for it to be on all of Apple’s platforms, iOS, macOS, and tvOS. This part in particular intrigued me, since I prefer playing games on my TV with a controller, which is also possible with iOS 13, tvOS13, and macOS Catalina, as opposed to touch gestures using my iPhone or iPad.

When Apple Arcade became available I immediately signed up and played a few games. The ones I played included “What The Golf?”, “Word Laces”, “Frogger in Toy Town”, “Mini Motorways”, and “Skate City”. I intended to play some other games, like “Overland” and “Over the Alps”. These last two would probably be ideal for a bigger screen.

I played a lot of two of these games, a little of a couple, and a moderate amount of one. The games I played only a little included Skate City and Frogger. I played Frogger to see how it would be in a modern game and Skate City reminded me of Tony Hawk, expect in 2D. I played Word Laces a bit, maybe 100 puzzles, but ended up stopping because it got to be a bit too repetitive.

The two games that I played the most were What the Golf and Mini Motorways. I beat almost all of the What the Golf levels but there was one that I could not beat and eventually gave up.

Last week I cancelled my subscription to Apple Arcade. I did this for a few reasons. The first is that I realized I did not play any games from Apple Arcade games for over a month and keeping the subscription was a waste of money. The second reason is that the games I enjoy playing on my iPhone and iPad are ones that can be done quickly. The last reason is that as much as I enjoyed playing Mini Motorways, which is my favorite out of all of them, I realized that I prefer to own my games and not rent them. The same can be said for my console gaming. I do not have a subscription to those games either, I purchased my console games.

The final reason I opted to cancel my Apple Arcade subscription is the fact that I am not one who plays a whole bunch of different mobile games. Instead, I tend to stick with playing the same games over time. For instance, I play three games every day, Dissembler, Solitaire, and Word Search. These all have daily puzzles which keeps me coming back to the game. I have been playing these, particularly Solitaire, for a very long time; in fact since at least November 1st, 2014 when they introduced their daily challenges. I had intended on playing games on my Apple TV, but never ended up doing so.

Cancelling Apple Arcade was the right decision for me and in no way is a reflection on my thoughts of the service overall. I think Apple Arcade is a great service which allows you, and the entire family, to play a ton of games for a very reasonable amount of $4.99 per month, and even less if you pay annually. If I feel as though I want to go back and play some of the games, or if a must-play title comes out, I can always resubscribe to Apple Arcade.