Jeff Johnson (My apps, PayPal.Me, Mastodon)

What Apple doesn't get about Feedback

March 27 2023

I've had a hate-hate relationship with Apple's Feedback Assistant for well over a decade, since before its name was changed to Feedback Assistant from Radar. (I think it's still known internally as Radar.) At various times over the years I've even boycotted Radar/Feedback Assistant out of frustration, refusing to file any bug reports with Apple. Regrettably, though, I've always fallen off the wagon in the end. Hi, my name is Jeff, and I'm a bugaholic. Anyway, my complaints about Apple's bug reporting system are more or less the same today as they were many years ago. My top complaint, as always, quoted from the previous link:

We developers spend a lot of time discovering, investigating, and reproducing these bugs for Apple, without receiving any compensation. Inexplicably, though, Apple employees are dismissive of our help. They seem to care more about closing the Radar than fixing the bug that the Radar reports.

In recent weeks I've been getting a lot of emails from about the Feedbacks I've filed, likely because the release of macOS 13.3 and iOS 16.4 is imminent. When I check Feedback Assistant, I see a note from Apple:

Has this issue been resolved after installing the latest update? If not, please use Feedback Assistant to let us know you are still experiencing it.

The note doesn't say explicitly what "build 22E5236f" means (why not?), but it turned out to be one of the macOS 13.3 beta versions.

As a lone developer, I just don't have enough time to test every minor Apple beta version. I have much better things to do, like work on my own software! I don't have enough Apple devices to test every beta either. I do test the betas for major OS updates, after WWDC, but that's all. My beta testing period is June through September, while the rest of the year I stick to public software updates. I am perfectly willing, though, to test whether a bug report has been resolved after Apple publicly releases an update that allegedly fixes it.

Why did I say "allegedly"? Let me quote again from my 2009 blog post:

A number of times, I’ve gotten requests to verify that a bug still exists in software update X, and indeed it does still exist in software update X, as demonstrated by the very steps to reproduce that I listed in my bug report. Did anyone at Apple even bother to follow my steps? (That’s a rhetorical question — obviously, no.)

Believe it or not, this is still an issue today. Which is another reason why I'm not eager to install every little Apple beta version to test the bugs they want me to test, in a kind of wild goose chase.

Lately, Apple seems to have become more insistent about developers testing bugs on beta versions. I've been getting multiple emails for each Feedback, requesting that I test on a beta; many of these emails appear to be automated reminders. And I can't even tell Apple that I'll test it later on the release version, because if you look at the screenshot above, my only options are "Resolved" or "Not Resolved". Normally there's a text field in a Feedback where you can add more information, but for some strange reason the text field is hidden when Apple wants you to test the Feedback. And of course it's pointless to reply to the donotreply emails.

One particular case got on my nerves and "inspired" me to write this blog post:

We appreciate your feedback, however, due to lack of response we have closed this report. If you are still experiencing this issue, please open a new report.

Remember how I said at the beginning (and in 2009), "They seem to care more about closing the Radar than fixing the bug that the Radar reports"? This is a case in point. They couldn't even wait for macOS 13.3 to be released, which is what I was waiting for. Apple decided to close my Feedback after only 16 days. I had received three emails about that Feedback, two of which appeared to be automated reminders (both of which were sent coincidentally at precisely 5:32am California time, about a week apart).

I wouldn't actually mind if Apple closes my Feedback, as long as I could reopen it if the bug still exists in macOS 13.3. However, my understanding is that, due to some crazy technical design decision in Apple's bug reporting system, a Feedback/Radar cannot be reopened once it's closed. Hence, "please open a new report." That's just… I'm not even going to say the word, an expletive. "We appreciate your feedback", my ass! (That's a lesser expletive.)

I'm not threatening to boycott Feedback Assistant again, for I know I'll fall off the wagon again. In fact, I filed a new Feedback yesterday (about an entirely different bug). On the other hand, I did leave an extremely grumpy response to the aforementioned closed Feedback. Ironically, I was able to add more information after Apple closed it (you can see "Add more information" in the screenshot), which I wasn't able to do before they closed it. I also wrote this blog post to publicly inform—and chastise—Apple about how Feedback Assistant works (or more accurately, doesn't work) from the outside. It feels like they're internally oblivious to the experience of external developers.

Although I still file some Feedbacks, I don't file nearly as many as I could file. I certainly don't file them for every bug I see, or every feature request I'd like. You might say it's a partial boycott. I hesitate to file Feedbacks, because the experience too often epitomizes the expression "No good deed goes unpunished".


I've just installed macOS 13.3, and I found that the Feedback in question is partially but not entirely fixed. Sigh.

I'm not going to open a new issue, because to hell with that.

Jeff Johnson (My apps, PayPal.Me, Mastodon)