Issues with blockages in the distributed Peoples database

This is an issue that has been germane for almost a year. I was unconvinced by the explanation from local Apple Support and I raise the issue here in the hope of sharing etc.

  1. I have some 55 thousand photos and 6 thousand videos all on iCloud Photos.
  2. I have these photos and videos also on my iMac with originals also stored on my iMac
  3. I have iCloud Photos with “optimize mac storage” on my iPhone and iPad. I don’t need original copies stored on these devices.
  4. I have some 101 people favorited in my Peoples Database. There are others who are identified but not favorited.
  5. Both my iPhone and iPad are plugged in at night with Photos in the background and in the case of the iPad sometimes for a few days. On Saturdays, they are plugged in and not touched for 24 hours each week with Photos running in the background. This has gone on for nearly a year.
  6. The iPhone has scanned 99% of the photos but has about 200 to go. It has had 200 to go for about 6 months and this number does not reduce.
  7. The iPad has scanned 98% of the photos and has about 600 to go. This number also is constant and will not reduce over time.
  8. I have turned off iCloud and turned it on. No change.
  9. I have factory reset my iPad and just turned on iCloud Photos and watched it populate over about a week and then get stuck again, as above.
  10. I have been through Apple Support on 2 occasions and we got to the point of installing debug profiles on my iPhone and iPad and then downloading mega large debug and log files and sending them up the chain to senior engineers for further advice and assistance. In both cases, I never heard again from anyone. When I contacted Apple Support they had no further advice. After the first attempt, we did it all again for the second attempt, and again no feedback from anybody.
  11. On my third attempt, support tried to be helpful and promised to get back to me. They did and then told me that "this behavior was normal because the technology was new and slow and greatly affected by the quality and quantity of the pictures in my Photos database. I agreed but noted that a slow process doesn’t stop over 6 months. I know “something” about these things: I taught Software Testing at the University level and have postgraduate degrees in Computer Science.
  12. I noted that there were three other telltale signs that all was not right: (a) the key photo on one or two favorited people was not the same on each device (even though the key photo was extant), (b) the number of photos and videos was not precisely the same on the iDevices (iCloud and iMac were fine), and (c) there was one person favorited on one iDevice which was not favorited on all the other devices. I argued that this was an indicator that it wasn’t just a slow machine learning process at play here, but rather, a bug or two and/or some corruption of a local database.
  13. I don’t know exactly how the Peoples database is “pseudo-shared” amongst devices. I assume that there is a local peoples database that is synced with the others and each database is stored locally and/or stored in the cloud so that if I identify someone as “Mr X” on my iPhone, that tagged identity propagates into all the other devices.
  14. I am very loathed to now also factory reset my iPhone because that process did not help my iPad’s library.

I have seen murmurings in various forums of people who have similar issues with a constipated People database that is seemingly scanning forever. Originally Apple Support thought it might be my network … and I quickly disavowed that possibility; that is not the issue at all.

Has anyone seen this problem? Has anyone been able to press a button that will cause the senior engineers to actually look at the debug and diagnostics files I uploaded and give me some informed information as opposed to the somewhat tepid (albeit friendly and professional) attempts to help me over the last year with this problem.

Thanks in advance!

Alas, this is one of those things that’s simply beyond what an ordinary user can touch. Cloud sync systems are black boxes.

One possibility is that the reporting is wrong instead of the behavior being wrong. You say the key photos aren’t always the same, but can you tell if certain photos are in a person’s set on one device but not the other?

Yes, I can tell. Someone suggested that I might have 32-bit incompatible photos in my library and/or Videos. I have looked at that and I don’t think that’s the case. I do have some large videos in my photos library eg 1Gb each, but I’d have thought that it would only look at the first frames to see if it can identify anyone in the video. Another strange behavior is that on one device it will suddenly change the key photo on its own. I thought it might be because the key photo wasn’t there, but it was.

I checked all my files. I found some .m4v videos which were fine but didn’t play inside Photos cleanly … I recreated them in an mp4 and they are fine. This didn’t help the constipation in the Peoples database, sadly.