Calling in an airstrike on my own position (iOS 11 and refusal to leave Photos in iCloud)

My war with iOS 11 is over.

Background: The “pocket camera” feature of a typical smartphone represents roughly half of the value of the device to me. Thus when Apple silently changed the format of photos to HEIC, which few Windows applications can understand, half of the value of my iPhone 7 Plus was destroyed.

One of the strategies that I tried for getting back to something useful was enabling Dropbox’s “Camera Uploads”. This caused Dropbox to try to upload every photo that I had ever taken with any Apple device connected to iCloud. You might think that enabled camera uploads would give users the option to say “just pictures that I take from now on, not ones that I took 2 years ago,” but you’d be wrong.

Dropbox would make an API call within iOS that would result in the full-res photo being downloaded from iCloud before it was pushed back up into Dropbox’s cloud. This quickly filled up the iPhone’s memory, rendering the device useless. Although I had deinstalled Dropbox and “Optimize Storage” for Photos was selected, the phone would not drop the copies of stuff from iCloud.

I tried disabling and reenabling iCloud. I tried resetting all settings.

Finally, in homage to embattled Vietnam platoons, I called in an airstrike on my own position, wiping the entire device and restoring from a recent backup. Although the backup post-dated the “full storage” debacle, apparently iCloud photo copies are not stored additionally as part of the backup. The iCloud caching function went back to its normal behavior, holding onto only a few GB on the device.

[Separately, the phone says that 7 GB are devoted to “System”. That seems like a lot for a Unix variant. Does it start out this porky or is that huge size somehow related to the fact that I was using an iPhone for a long time under iOS 10 and then upgraded (rather than reinstalled) iOS 11?]

Thus ends my personal story for Veterans Day. I think it illustrates how fortunate we are that some of our most difficult struggles are with sysadmin.

6 Comments »

  1. Nathan Mace

    November 11, 2017 @ 6:41 pm

    1

    Pretty sure this is a wasted comment, but you can change the format the camera app uses to always being “most compatible “. Look under settings->camera->format

  2. David Anderson

    November 12, 2017 @ 10:30 am

  3. philg

    November 12, 2017 @ 11:17 am

    3

    As noted in the referenced October 15 posting, the phone creates HEIC files even if told to create JPEG:

    [Update: Even when the Camera is set to “Most Compatible,” if you inadvertently touch the “live” button on the Camera app it will revert to creating HEIC despite the annotation in settings saying “Most Compatible will always use JPEG/H.264”. So even if you have the phone set up to create JPEGs you are one thumb away from creating HEIC files by mistake. I then de-selected Live and checked to make sure the Camera was still on “Most Compatible,” but it continued to create HEIC still images (though without the short movie .MOV file). I power-cycled the phone and it went back to creating JPEGs (at least until the next inadvertent activation of “Live”)]

  4. Tom

    November 12, 2017 @ 12:50 pm

    4

    I don’t think Apple is using “System” the way you are: it could include just about anything they don’t want to break out separately. My X says 13.6GB.

  5. J. Peterson

    November 12, 2017 @ 7:08 pm

    5

    The latest version of Photoshop reads HEIF files, including the depth map.

  6. Sam

    November 15, 2017 @ 9:04 am

    6

    Sorry if this is too much of a thread hijack, but does anyone know of a good app that will automatically save pics from an Android phone onto local storage over a network?

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