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iCloud Text Replacements Do Not Sync Reliably

Brian Stucki has a detailed post about something I’ve been irritated by for five years now:

Text replacement snippets are a useful tool that can be used on macOS and iOS. With this feature you create shortcut text that, when typed, expands to something longer. […]

In iOS 6 (2012), syncing between Mac and iOS devices was introduced. At least that is when Apple said it was introduced. I have yet to see the feature roll out. Therein lies the premise of this post.

Text replacement syncing is completely broken. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it will only sync back old snippets that you have deleted. Sometimes the sync will work one direction, but not the other. Every time I ask about this on Twitter, it brings a strong response of similar experiences. Even though I know it’s broken, I decided to get scientific about it. […]

From my own experience, syncing of all other data via iCloud has really improved. Notes, Calendar, address book, reminders, photos, etc all sync almost instantly across all devices.

What is so special/not special about Text Replacement snippets that makes it so hard?

My personal experience exactly matches what Stucki reports here. And, also, exactly as Stucki writes, my experience with other forms of iCloud syncing has been nearly perfect in recent years, corresponding pretty closely to the introduction of CloudKit in 2014. Apple Notes, for example, used to sync via IMAP (yes, the email protocol), and it was never reliable for me. When Apple Notes switched to CloudKit a few years ago, syncing became rock-solid. Even the newish feature that lets you share notes with others and collaboratively edit shared notes is rock solid for me.

I don’t know what’s going on with text replacement syncing, but it is the worst kind of buggy: it works just well enough to keep using it, but my machines are never in perfect sync. And, the feature is really useful, and really helpful to me on a daily basis. Apple: please get this fixed.

Update: Greg Pierce:

My little birds told me years ago these sync using the horribly buggy and deprecated “iCloud Core Data”. Seems trivial to migrate to CloudKit.

Update 2: An Apple spokesperson told me that text replacement syncing is moving to CloudKit for iOS 11 and MacOS 10.13 High Sierra users in the “next month or so”.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017