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Torchwood Archives
26Sep/12Off

Bookmarks sync bug in iOS 6

Help, my bookmarks are stuck!

The Apple Maps in iOS 6 is nothing. Give them enough time, and they will eventually catch up with reality (and maybe with Google at some point). I do have a rather serious issue with iCloud bookmarks sync, though. Since the release on 19th September, my Safari bookmarks have doubled first (breeding like rabbits!), then stopped syncing. Moreover, I am unable to delete them or add any new bookmarks (the Delete button accepts the tap, but then does exactly nothing). Switching iCloud sync for Safari on and off in Settings does nothing either. iCloud tabs keep working even though Safari has been disabled in iCloud options!

As a technical person I would not just sit and wait until someone else finds a solution: I've started digging myself. First thing I've checked was the Diagnostic Logs (Settings -> General -> About -> Diagnostic & Usage -> Diagnostic & Usage Data).

The culprit is a small lesser daemon

Bingo! This is what I've found:

It seems that a process called webbookmarksd is killed by the kernel every few minutes with SIGSEGV. I bet this is eating a lot of battery, because CPU is wasting its time trying to restart the daemon every time it fails (and then wasting even more battery writing the crashlogs).

The next logical step was visiting Apple Support website, specifically the FAQ about problems with bookmarks (TS4001). Unfortunately, after reading through the FAQ and doing all the steps mentioned there - I'm still stuck with the problem.

What now?

For the time being I have filed a bug report on Apple Developer website and wait for Apple response or a working untethered jailbreak for iOS 6, whichever comes first.

You can read more about the issue on Apple Community Support forum: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4313906?start=0&tstart=0

Solution already exists, no jailbreaking required

As I have initially have guessed, the issue was caused by a broken bookmarks file. Other users who have encountered that problem were able to resolve it with the procedure in this thread: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4333351?start=15&tstart=0.

I have followed the procedure from the thread and it worked - my iPad 2 works just like new, bookmarks are syncing fine and they are no longer stuck:

  1. Disabled iCloud backup and did a standard backup to iTunes
  2. Edited the backup with iBackupBot, replaced the broken bookmarks.db with one from this address: dropbox link
  3. Restored the edited backup with iBackupBot
  4. iPad did not reboot and it was stuck at recovery screen
  5. I put the device into recovery mode again, by holding the power and home buttons. As soon as Apple logo appeared, I released only the power button.
  6. "Connect to iTunes" logo appeared
  7. I did a restore in iTunes now, usingthe same edited backup - it seems iBackupBot did something wrong.
  8. iPad has restored successfully, duplicate bookmarks are gone, no more crashing webbookmarksd
  9. Re-enabled iCloud backup and bookmarks sync

Remember, by following this procedure, you do so at your own risk!

PS. I did the iOS 6 update at the same time on both my iPad 2 and iPhone 3GS, which had iCloud sync working perfectly fine in iOS 5. iPhone 3GS was completely unaffected by this issue, even though the same set of bookmarks was used by both devices.

12Jun/12Off

iOS 6 surprise

Controlled gossip is one of the most powerful marketing tools ever created by a man. Why? Because most of the features of the new iOS 6, such as new maps, Siri on iPad and Facebook integration have been widely discussed over the past few weeks.

Of course nothing is set-in-stone until Apple officially unveils it during one of their famous Keynotes.

This year WWDC conference not only brought new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro (with Retina display, with nearly 3 times as many pixels as Full HD), but also confirmed most of the iOS gossip mentioned earlier:

  • New maps (with turn-by-turn navigation and introduce 3D fly-by view). Google maps are officially gone. In my opinion this was a premature step (of course justified from the lower 3rd party costs point-of-view). Google maps offer much more content than Apple's, with features such as Street View and new 3D maps, these are the most advanced maps publicly available in the world.
  • Facebook integration - works just like Twitter integration in iOS 5: sign in once, and use for all apps.
  • Siri comes to iPad (but to the new iPad only). The voice assistant has also become a bit smarter: now features more data sources (such as sports). You can also tell Siri to launch any app you have on your iDevice.
  • Cover flow comes to all three iTunes stores.

And now the features that were not known before Tim Cook's keynote:

  • Shared Photo Stream - share your photos with other iDevice users
  • Safari improvements - it is now possible to upload photos directly from Safari as you would do on a Mac or PC. iCloud tabs allow viewing websites already opened on other devices  such as Macs, iPads & iPhones. Full screen landscape mode for iPhone provides even more real estate on the iPhone screen.
  • Mail improvements - adding images to a message is now easier. VIP inbox will highlight messages from the most important people.
  • Phone app has received long awaited "Reject with a message". It is possible to "Reject + Remind to call back"
  • "Do not disturb" mode which can silence all notifications and calls in a specific timeframe (let's say 10pm to 7am). In this mode only people on the Favorites list will sound the ring. It is also possible to allow the second call - if someone calls twice in the "Do not disturb" mode, the second call will not be silenced.
  • Facetime is not tied to WiFi anymore and now works on 3G/LTE as well. Many people were complaining about this artificial limitation.
  • Passbook - the center for electronic tickets and passes. It is now possible to manage tickets and boarding passes from one place. QR Codes allow third party devices to scan tickets directly form the iPhone screen.
  • Accessibility improvements

In my eyes, iOS 6 is far from a breakthrough, but offers several features requested by the users and some cosmetic changes. The Apple policy of bringing new features, such as Siri to new models only might be justified by the revenue from selling new iPhones and iPads (and also allows to cut expenses on Siri cluster, because if too many users get access to Siri, they are more than likely to crash it), but makes no sense from end user point of view.

The exact release date has not been disclosed yet, but Apple says "iOS 6 is coming this fall", so we will see it sooner, than later.

You can now ask why the title of this post is "iOS 6 surprise". The answer is "Because iPhone 3GS is still supported, while original iPad is not". It is unusual for Apple to support a device for more than two generations of software. Both the original iPhone and iPhone 3G have only received two software updates, so did the original iPad. iPhone 3GS is still sold and supported, most likely to fill the gap for the budget smartphone; iPhones were always marketed as a high-end device. With Tim Cook at the helm this policy seems to change.