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.