If you use an Apple device, there’s a good chance that you use iCloud, its service of syncing your content across multiple devices, alongside streaming files and your tasks in certain apps that also use the service.
However, you may have experienced some issues where your content on one device, isn’t showing on another. This has begun to be known as the 503 error - where iCloud syncing isn’t working properly.
This would have been fine for users and developers if this had been an issue for a few days or a week, but it’s seemingly been since last summer that issues relating to iCloud have remained.
It’s now at the point where developers are venting their frustrations as to whether this issue will be resolved for their apps, and for users.
We speak to developers about their 503 experiences
A Twitter thread on January 25 by Becky Hansmeyer, developer of YarnBuddy and Scribblet, wanted to see if there was another way of reporting the issue to Apple. Soon after, other developers replied to her through a thread.
Ok, there’s clearly an issue going on with iCloud sync right now affecting a lot of users across many different apps. What’s the best way to report this? Radar? I haven’t made any changes to my app since October and users have just recently started reporting sync failures.January 24, 2022
We reached out to Hansmeyer to explain the issue further. “My headache with this started with a 2-star review 21 days ago where a user complained of crashes and broken syncing. Since then I’ve gotten 6 more complaints of broken syncing, some through reviews but mostly via email.”
Hansmeyer continued, “No amount of troubleshooting seems to help (reinstalling, making sure iCloud Drive is enabled, etc). I’ve seen multiple developers complaining about iCloud issues and 503 errors including James Thomson, Paul Haddad, and the developer of Streaks. One person said they had used a DTS session and Apple acknowledged the issue but have no timeline for a fix.”
Other developers such as GoodNotes recently published an article regarding the issue, due to users experiencing 503 issues. The article mentions “This issue is not apparent to us and we've escalated the case to Apple Technical Support team for investigation. It seems it's happening to other apps as well.”
But there’s no end in sight for a fix as yet, and users are becoming more frustrated that their content is not syncing properly.
James Thomson, the developer of PCalc, explained to us that it looks as though the issue may be related to the latest updates of iOS 15, macOS 12 Monterey, and others.
“I started seeing some iCloud syncing issues with PCalc with the OS betas during the late summer. It was taking several minutes to sync over settings, rather than the usual seconds, and people assumed the syncing wasn’t actually working.” Thomson explains. “That persisted into the releases, and eventually, I turned things off by default because it was causing problems where people were losing some of the changes they were making due to the long delays. Hopefully, it’s something Apple can fix soon, and I can turn it back on again then.”
Analysis: What’s taking so long?
Looking through the Twitter thread of other experiences from developers, you can place the issue back to when Apple’s software updates were heading toward their final release, just before the iPhone 13 series were announced at September’s event.
When major software releases are pushed out, you can assume services that are hidden to users, are also updated, so that they can work with the new features that have been announced and implemented.
But considering that this is four months since the release of iOS 15 and the other software updates, with no context for developers as to what the issue actually is, and when it will be fixed, is bringing unnecessary frustrations to Apple.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment as to whether the 503 issue is in the process of being fixed.
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