iCloud Plus Custom Email Domains Should Be Better domlaut.com

Dominic Lautner collected a good series of omissions and problems with the current implementation of custom email domains in iCloud. I think this one is worth highlighting:

If something goes wrong, you’ll get an error message along the lines of:

There was a problem with adding this email address. Please try again later.

However, if you open your browser’s developer console and inspect the response payload from a POST request going to https://p31-maildomainws.icloud.com/v1/alias/add, you’ll see what’s actually going on: […]

I have snipped the code block, but the relevant portion is an error message in the response that reads “mx record not pointing to iCloud”. This is a useful, well-written message, but it is not exposed to the user. Why does it display the vague error and not this much better one? Someone who is adding a custom email domain is going to be configuring MX records for that domain, so this message is neither too technical nor unexpected.

This is a frequent problem with recent software from Apple and other companies. Vague and, worse, cutesy error messages do not fill me with confidence. If there is a problem, please tell users exactly what is wrong and, as much as possible, how to fix it.