Am I really supposed to have to start sprinkling "as NSString" in my Swift code, or is this a bug I should report?
You should definitely file a bug about this. While rsharp is correct that implicit bridging is gone per SE-0072, it’s clearly a pain to have to sprinkle NSStrings everywhere in your code. Normally I avoid problems like this by adding an extension (see this post) but in this case I couldn’t make that work due to the Extension of a generic Objective-C class cannot access the class's generic parameters at runtime error.
Please post your bug number, just for the record.
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