iCloud folder sharing disappears from iOS 13

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This is how iCloud Drive works.
This is how iCloud Drive works.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

One of the handiest features in iOS 13 appears to have been pushed back to at least iOS 13.2. iCloud Folder Sharing, which would have let many people ditch Dropbox entirely, has disappeared from the current iOS 13 betas. And that’s not all. Also gone is the ability to pin a file to save it offline. What’s going on?

iCloud Drive regression

Here’s Ulysses developer Max Seeleman on what happened:

It seems that a big behind-the-scenes update to iCloud’s architecture was causing too many problems, and has been put aside for now. According to Seeleman’s explorations, “It seems that Apple has done a full rollback of basically all iCloud changes from Catalina/iOS 13. The sync agent ‘bird’ is back, as is ‘brctl’. Gone is the new ‘iCloudDrive’ agent. No folder sharing until at least iOS 13.2, it seems. Maybe even iOS 14?”

Apple's release notes show how shaky the new iCloud implementation was.
Apple’s release notes show how shaky the new iCloud implementation was.
Screenshot: Max Seeleman/Twitter

These changes may also be responsible for the removal of file pinning, available in earlier iOS 13 betas. This let you pin a file, effectively telling the Files app that you want to keep a permanent offline copy. Now, we’re back to the old behavior, where iOS automatically removes local copies to save local storage space.

One of the characteristics of the iOS 13 beta has been the wonkiness of iCloud Drive. The Files app has duplicated favorites, and the whole iCloud Drive experience has felt very delicate on beta devices. Given how fundamental this is to the modern iOS experience, it makes sense for Apple to pull the changes, and take another run at this.

Would I rather have iCloud Folder Sharing, so I could ditch Dropbox? Of course. But if that comes with unreliable syncing, or lost data, then I’m not interested. Apple definitely should keep things as they are until the wrinkles are all ironed out.