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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Opinion: Does Apple have a software quality problem or a PR problem?

Opinion: Does Apple have a software quality problem or a PR problem?
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NewsPoster
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Feb 19, 2016, 02:30 PM
 
Apple's software has come under the microscope lately, thanks in part to grievances that Apple aficionado Walt Mossberg recently highlighted in a recent column. Long-time Apple guru John Gruber recently raised these issues in a podcast with a couple of senior Apple execs Craig Federighi and Eddy Cue, who defended Apple's software quality, but instead blamed the sheer volume of iOS users "amplifying" software glitches in a way that is perhaps artificially distorting the true quality of Apple's software. Software and bugs certainly go hand-in-hand, but there does come a point where the number of glitches and bugs and interface/UI changes can become a deal killer -- are we getting anywhere near this tipping point with iOS and OS X?


A number of my friends who use Apple products have often said that if and when another company starts making better products, be it hardware, software or both, they would be prepared to make the switch from Apple. The reason that they choose Apple is that its hardware, software, services and customer support are demonstrably superior to the competition -- or were, depending on your point of view. Although Apple's ecosystem is considered to be "stickier" than most, in terms of locking users in through iTunes and App Store content, the company would be remiss to think that this will necessarily stop people from jumping ship if they feel that Apple's standards begin to slip in one or more key areas of importance to customers.

Therefore, I found it somewhat disconcerting when Federighi remarked in the interview with John Gruber that "I have four Macs, four iPads, and two iPhones, and I upgrade them all to the newest builds pretty much every day." According to Federighi, he does this because he is keen to try all the new features that Apple's software teams are working on, and provide them with feedback. Clearly, this is an important part of the software development process.

However, it does leave you wondering about what is going on with older features that have been introduced in the past (that may or may not fully work as advertised) and currently-released versions of Apple's operating systems in the hands of its millions of users, who might be faced with various bus and glitches on a daily basis. It also leaves you wondering just how much time he spends every day updating all his devices!

As an end user who cares about software stability and bug fixes, it would be nice to know when Apple plans to release patches for its software and apps. As it is, the gap between point releases can be extensive, and when they do arrive, it is only on each point release that you know what Apple has addressed -- I can't imagine I am the only Apple user who keenly scans the release notes to see if a bug or glitch with iOS or OS X that may have been causing me some grief has been fixed.

Federighi did say in his interview with Gruber that Apple is continually listening to customers who report bugs with its products, but that Apple does not necessarily communicate its timeline for fixing those bugs and in which software release those bug fixes occur. To that extent, Apple could certainly make that aspect of its bug fixing process a little more transparent, even if it is simply for PR purposes.

According to Federighi, however, Apple's core software has never been in better shape. "I know our core software has improved over the last five years, and improved significantly," Federighi said. It is interesting that Federighi should say this, when at least one recent study showed that Apple's iOS 8 was more prone to crashing than Google's Android Lollipop OS, even if it was by a relatively small margin. In the interview with Gruber, Federighi admits as much, indicating that the first build of iOS 9 was more stable than the last gold release of iOS 8. Although we don't know what Apple's internal software quality benchmarks are, it certainly does not seem to align with reality, in the example cited, or does it fit entirely with the perception of at least some, if not a number, of Apple's users.

In thinking of this article, I decided to note some of the bugs and glitches that I deal with on iOS, OS X and iCloud on a daily basis as a miscellaneous list:

* Airdrop works inconsistently (Mac to Mac, and iPhone to Mac);
* The "resume from where one left off" function in the Videos app between iOS and the desktop works inconsistently;
* I find I need to manually refresh the iCloud Music Library in iTunes to ensure that new tracks or albums added to iTunes are available to download on my iPhone or iPad;
* The search function in on iTunes and in the App Stores is still too sensitive to precise spelling and specificity in titles in order to return useful results;
* The search function in Mail (on OS X or iOS) is weak;
* I occasionally see problems with the Sent mail folder failing to load in iCloud Mail app;
* There's a need to manually download and update iOS apps on iTunes for Mac, even after downloading and updating them on iOS devices remotely (on sync, iTunes used to automatically detect and transfer the updated app from an iPhone and delete the older version);
* GarageBand has a tendency to hang, but stops hanging when another app is launched. This has not been cleared up yet, despite software reinstalls and updates;
* Tethering a Wi-Fi connection is a bit hit-and-miss sometimes -- it weirdly works more consistently when tethering a Mac to an Android device (faster connection, more stable connection) than to an iPhone;
* Slower-than-expected Wi-Fi speeds;
* Photos taking a long time to export from Photos for Mac when dragging out of app to desktop.

(Please note that not all MacNN staffers have seen exactly the same issues, but that they have certainly seen some of them.)

I list these examples not to suggest that there is indeed a general decline in the quality of Apple's software (bugs and software is a fact of life and always has been), but to highlight that the company certainly can't rest on its laurels, and that it needs ensure that it doesn't overlook some of the basics in the rush to bring new features to its products. Some of the bugs that I've listed above are simply bewildering to experience, particularly the iPhone to Mac tethering issue. Over many years, not just recently, I've noticed that whatever MacBook that I am using at the time, my Mac can often take some time to pair with my iPhone, or fail to pair altogether. For some reason, I have no such issues when trying to pair with the Android device that I might also be running at the time.

Even just the other day, with my Mac running the latest release version of El Capitan, and my iPhone running the latest gold version of iOS 9.3, the tethering process should have occurred automatically, as both are logged into the same Apple ID. It did so on the first occasion. Then the very next occasion I tried to pair the device, it asked me for the password, which it didn't when my Mac successfully paired with my iPhone the first time. I also experience a lot of dropped tethered connections between my Mac and iPhone that also simply don't happen when my Mac is paired to an Android device. Apple devices are supposed to "work better together," yet in this instance, that might not always be the case.

During the interview with Gruber, Federighi also mentioned with regard to Apple's software quality that some of the perception problems that people can have with it arise from Apple's desire to jump in and make wholesale changes to aspects of it at times. While he said that Apple had successfully transitioned most people from iPhoto to the new Photos app after what was a radical redesign, he acknowledged (indirectly) that the radical redesign of the Music app might not have been so successful. On this subject, Federighi said, "... people are pretty serious about their music, and about their collection, and so I think we talk, we debate pretty heavily internally the way to evolve these things. And we tend to err on the side of being pretty bold, but there's a lot of responsibility ... and we try to take that responsibility very seriously."

The controversial redesign of the iOS Music app is certainly something that has been on our radar. Personally, I have stopped using it because of the interface changes that Apple wrought on it in the process of embedding the Apple Music experience within it. Even though my mobile provider has an offer giving me free 12 months' worth of access Apple Music, I have opted to pay and use Spotify instead (after toying with Tidal for a while) simply because I cannot tolerate the way the Music app has been redesigned.

While it was good to see Federighi acknowledge that there have been issues with its reception, he stopped short of indicating whether Apple had any plans for addressing these issues -- although also he said that it is a "tricky balancing act" when making these changes and that he understands when people say that "there was a reason why I liked the way things used to be."

Perceived or real, Apple either has some public relations work to do, or some serious software engineering to get on with, or both. What do you think? Has the quality of Apple's software declined in recent times -- or is there just more of it, used by tens of millions more users, that magnify minor issues?

-- Sanjiv Sathiah
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Feb 19, 2016 at 02:33 PM. )
     
Inkling
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Feb 19, 2016, 02:57 PM
 
Interesting that Walt Mossberg and I agree on precisely the same set of Apple products as being flawed: iTunes, Mail, Photos and iCloud. I don't think that's merely a misperception on either of our parts. I'm not imaging that Mail regularly crashes for no apparently reason. It really is crashing.
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Mike Wuerthele
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Feb 19, 2016, 03:24 PM
 
There's no reason why Apple's problem can't be both!

I'll agree with Mossberg's iTunes complaints. For me, at least, Mail is (currently) flawless.

Also, no problems with iCloud, or Photos. I'm not thrilled about Music on iOS. My biggest gripe is Feature Thievery, which we have discussed at some length.
     
panjandrum
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Feb 19, 2016, 03:32 PM
 
Unfortunately this simply shows us that the Apple execs and software engineers should not be Apple's execs and software engineers. They are obviously the type of undiscerning sort that historically designed software for Microsoft. And not good Microsoft either, I'm talking bad Microsoft. It's almost they have the sensibilities of the Microsoft employees responsible for Windows Vista and Win8. The don't understand what made Apple great and what end-users need: things like a consistent (usually), logical (usually), and legible (always) UI. Things like software which was both easy to use and powerful (we now have a complete reversal of this; with Apple software becoming simultaneously more difficult to use and less powerful). I don't use iTunes anymore, for example, on any device because the new iTunes, on either Macs or iThings is downright dreadful in every conceivable way. It's a useless piece of garbage. I stick stuff in iTunes, then use Serve to Me and Stream to Me exclusively (thanks again MacNN staff for turning me on to that one. It's a great product). Clients I support have overwhelmingly dug-in their heels and absolutely refused to move to Photos. Why? Because it is terrible. Sure, it's smaller and faster and iPhoto, but that doesn't matter if it is so poorly designed that it is functionally useless to many users. Ultimately, there are too many problems to even begin to discuss here. Suffice it to say that the majority of current Apple software isn't just bad; it's terrible. It's akin to the worst stuff MS ever produced. It's a betrayal of everything Apple should be.
     
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Feb 19, 2016, 03:35 PM
 
Yup, 'ditched the Music App when Apple Music was released. .. no reason to use bloatware when Spotify, Deezer, and Pandora are available.
     
Charles Martin
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Feb 19, 2016, 03:59 PM
 
PJL500: just so I'm sure I'm understanding you, you're saying that instead of using one piece of software because it's "bloated," you're using three alternatives to replace a small part of the original program's functionality ... but keeping iTunes, because you can't remove it.

Um ...
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Dandgar
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Feb 20, 2016, 06:50 AM
 
Ever since the launch of Pages 5, the app has been unable to work properly with bibliographic software (such as EndNote or Bookends). The plug-in Apple released for EndNote was a joke. Despite vociferous complaints from users over the last few years, Apple has done nothing about it.
     
madrules
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Feb 20, 2016, 08:38 AM
 
This article is dead on. I have seen all these issues on client's computers and some myself. Music on the phone (interface) is my biggest gripe. For playback in my car it is downright scary. (I would like it if Nissan implemented carplay so as I don't have to fiddle with my phone). Guess I will stay off Apple's music app or install Pioneer's carplay unit. Apple does great things but real world use for some apps has taken a back seat. Apple Music does not have to be in my face. Functionality does. Speaking of Apple Music, let me buy or stream higher bit rate music for preteen sound equipment like your competitors do!
     
Atheist
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Feb 20, 2016, 10:59 AM
 
I must confess I'm less than thrilled with my Apple products these days. One of the most frustrating things is that saved passwords in Safari routinely disappear. I've yet to give up completely and move on to something like 1Password but I'm sure that's going to happen soon. Similarly, in iOS the user/password information of many apps will just vanish and I have to re-enter for no apparent reason. It happens so frequently I'm inclined to blame Apple, not the app developers. Most recently, I upgraded to a new iPhone and upon restoring from the iCloud backup, Siri refuses to function. It works for simple tasks such as googling but anything that requires interaction with the phone itself (calling someone, playing music, getting directions) just fails with "Sorry, there's something wrong. Please try again." Apple Store "genius" says my iCloud backup must be corrupt and there's nothing I can do. If I reset the phone and setup as a new phone, Siri works fine. So now I'm going to lose all of my app settings and data. This is going to be a huge pain in the ass. I use Siri a lot, especially in the car and with my Apple Watch. I concur with the sentiment regarding the Music app. It's just plain awful.
     
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Feb 20, 2016, 11:08 AM
 
I agree..."it just works" has lost its way at Apple. As a daily Mac, iPad, iPhone (and former iPod touch) user for years and years, and the family's "IT manager" with 4 other members' equipments, I can certainly attest to the trouble this software issue is causing. My kids dropped "iWork" apps for Google Docs. I can't stand the Music App, and iTunes, well, it is bad now. Hopefully this recent attention will FINALLY get Apple's top brass attention and something deliberate will be done. I don't want to hear trifle behind-the-scenes improvements have be made in the next iOS or Mac OS X. I want wholesale improvements.
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macphone
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Feb 20, 2016, 11:45 AM
 
Federighi has the same problem as all executives that lose track of users. To suggest that Apple's quality problems are simply a result of its own success is denying reality. In my personal experience since 2005, Apple quality has declined significantly. Apple Maps was probably the clearest example poor quality control but for me, iCloud Mail is the most serious problem. We all rely and expect email to deliver messages sent by others. It's important and it should "simply work". Yet, iCloud Mail "simply doesn't ". For me, it has started to "vaporize" messages. They randomly vanish as I'm reading them. Gone from all devices, folders, iCloud, everywhere. As if it never existed. Apple has an open ticket on this issue for me but after four weeks - no resolution. A search on Apple Support Forums suggests this issue of vanishing mail has been around since 2011. So where's the quality control Apple?

I cloud tolerate a crashing app, but when data itself is destroyed, there's a more serious issue. iCloud Mail is simply no longer reliable. Sad comment on Apple's quality when outlook.com mail and Gmail are more reliable than iCloud.

I would also note that bugs are not the only indicator of "quality". Features and usability are other critical factors that make up quality. Remember iWork replacements by the new Pages, Numbers? ITunes usability? Dropped network connections? USB-C cable recalls? MacBook screen recalls? Just this week, "oops, sorry about that Error 53 thing".

Is Apple's quality as good as it was...nope...and that's a problem.
     
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Feb 20, 2016, 12:10 PM
 
Safari on iOS 9 on my iPad has trouble displaying some websites properly that third party browsers don't. When I try to email articles or links from some sites, the app crashes and quits. I don't have the problem doing so on my desktop with Safari, and this problem has been going on now since iOS 7. Apple should spend more time fixing persistent bugs in their apps before releasing new versions of iOS that carry even more new bugs.
     
Charles Martin
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Feb 20, 2016, 03:18 PM
 
I have heard of the "vanishing email" issue before, but it clearly doesn't affect most users. Our entire staff uses it, some of us for over a decade ... no issues, no lost mail. This is probably why the issue is so hard to track down and fix.

As for the quality of Apple software over time, I agree there are some areas where it has slipped, but I think there are some SEVERE cases of rose-coloured glasses being worn when it comes to previous software releases by some people ...
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Sanjiv Sathiah
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Feb 20, 2016, 07:04 PM
 
Actually, I've experienced the vanishing email issue as well - sorry to contradict you Chas. I was remiss in not including it in my list of issues. I've relied on Apple's email services for so long without issues. But ever since the transition to iCloud, I've noticed emails randomly disappearing from my inbox, never to be seen or found again.

Although I've reported the issue to Apple, the problem still persists. I am now seriously considering transitioning my email to another provider, quite probably Microsoft. I've started using Outlook for both my iPhone and my Mac, after using Apple's Mail forever, and am much more satisfied with the overall user experience.
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Feb 20, 2016, 11:29 PM
 
1) Apple Maps stinks and yes, I've sent feedback
2) Apple Mail on OS X works fine, but could do window managing better in fullscreen mode
3) My iPad and iPhone, both on iOS 9, do not update their icon status badges at all (same on iOS 8) until I manually open the app
4) iTunes is way too confusing

I'm ok with everything else. Pages could be back to its original way also.
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Feb 21, 2016, 10:48 AM
 
In order to try to fix all the problems I was seeing, I did a complete clean install of the OS and manual re-install of each application. That was about a day and a half of down time. About half of the problems were fixed by that (and at least the crashing stopped), but far too many annoying bugs remained.

I think a lot of people feel that the MacOS has been on a downward slide for several years now. The OS used to be empowering -- enabling you to do everything you needed to do in a more or less logical manner. But they've taken the goal of "simplicity" too far and have been removing features and controls that, sure, my grandmother doesn't need to use (or maybe 60% of the users), but the rest of us do need. They've been making the mistake that Microsoft has made for so long, in trying to build the OS based on their expectation of what you are going to try to do. That's fine as long as they correctly anticipate what you need to do -- but it's a nightmare when they get it wrong. And there is no amount of user testing that will ever reveal what every user will try to do. So you build general, easy to use and navigate tools that provide basic functionality and can be put together in different ways, rather than strip down the interface so there is much less control of or even access to important features.

They should look back to Snow Leopard for inspiration on their next "upgrade" (not the overdone skeumorphism, though -- that was ridiculous).

All that said, I've not had problems with the new iTunes/Music app -- it took some getting used to, but now I'm able to use it as efficiently as before. In fact, that's about the only Apple app I would say I haven't been frustrated with over the last few years.
     
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Feb 22, 2016, 12:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
One of the most frustrating things is that saved passwords in Safari routinely disappear. I've yet to give up completely and move on to something like 1Password but I'm sure that's going to happen soon.
Get another app, like now! I'd recommend PasswordWallet by Selznick, especially on OS X, but many prefer 1Password. (Basically, you want a non-cloud based one where you locally can control the data files and implement a proper backup/archive routine. Keep dated archives of this kind of data!

Don't trust iCloud any father than you can throw it. Make sure anything you do with iCloud, you keep alternate copies. For example, you can do an export of your entire Calendar or Contacts. Use other services like Gmail for email, etc.

Your entire set of passwords (as you should have a strong, unique one for EVERY account) is just WAY to important to trust to Apple's always flaky cloud.

Originally Posted by macphone View Post
...iCloud Mail is the most serious problem. We all rely and expect email to deliver messages sent by others. It's important and it should "simply work". Yet, iCloud Mail "simply doesn't ". For me, it has started to "vaporize" messages. They randomly vanish as I'm reading them. Gone from all devices, folders, iCloud, everywhere. As if it never existed.
That's actually an issue with 'cloud' and 'sync' in general, but especially problematic when you have a problematic cloud, like Apple's iCloud. It's ALWAYS been quite bad (a good friend used it extensively back in the MobileMe days and will probably never go back... the experience was that traumatic!). It has certainly improved, but it's still quite poor. I wouldn't trust anything important to it. As I said above, if you can't keep your own, independent backups of it (i.e.: export Contacts, etc.) I wouldn't trust it to Apple's cloud.

Originally Posted by Charles Martin View Post
I have heard of the "vanishing email" issue before, but it clearly doesn't affect most users. ... As for the quality of Apple software over time, I agree there are some areas where it has slipped, but I think there are some SEVERE cases of rose-coloured glasses being worn when it comes to previous software releases by some people ...
Charles, I think most users use something else. Or, maybe they just don't notice... That's the problem with sync and cloud gone bad. One day, you go, "I could swear I entered XYZ and can't find it...." and then you start to catch it more and more, and then realize you've got a big problem.

And, while I greatly respect you and your work, I think there might also be a case of rose-colored glasses of 'things must be generally OK since Apple is so wildly successful' going on as well.

As I've mentioned before... I've been an Apple evangelist for nearly 30 years now, and have worked professionally with Apple stuff for most of them (actually fixing them, implementing them to solve business problems, etc.). As have some of my good friends. The general opinion is that Apple is going downhill, and fast. Yes, there have been software issues with just about every release, but this is a different kind of problem with something different at the root of it.

Originally Posted by Sanjiv Sathiah View Post
Actually, I've experienced the vanishing email issue as well ... ever since the transition to iCloud, I've noticed emails randomly disappearing from my inbox, never to be seen or found again.
Run, run away fast from Apple cloud stuff... you've been warned.

Originally Posted by ADeweyan View Post
I think a lot of people feel that the MacOS has been on a downward slide for several years now. The OS used to be empowering -- enabling you to do everything you needed to do in a more or less logical manner. But they've taken the goal of "simplicity" too far and have been removing features and controls that, sure, my grandmother doesn't need to use (or maybe 60% of the users), but the rest of us do need.
...
They should look back to Snow Leopard for inspiration on their next "upgrade" (not the overdone skeumorphism, though -- that was ridiculous).
I think that's a pretty good explanation. The idea used to be to create incredibly powerful stuff, and then put it behind an optimized UI that wasn't too intimidating for a newer user, but could be 'opened up' by the power user as well.

Now, at least the aspects that they actually have someone with a clue working on, seem to be taking the direction of dumbing down the software in every way for that beginner. (We don't need those power users anymore anyway, right? Small pie slice.) But, as if that wasn't bad enough, they seem to unleash amateur-hour designers and coders to clown-up the software that was once good. So, it's not only dumbed-down, but also half-baked, half-implemented, poor UI/UX, not similar across iOS / OS X, etc.

AND! There's nothing wrong with skeumorphism, aside from leather and felt being a bit cheesy at times. The point was, though, that the UX/UI typically made sense. Besides 'flat' being a somewhat misunderstood design trend (i.e.: there are some reasons and positive benefits), most implementations of it are quite bad - even Apple ones - and there are some ***REALLY*** stupid UX/UI decisions going on with much of it.

So, that's a whole other beef. Apple has been consistently throwing out decades of hard-learned UX/UI principals. Unfortunately, that started a while back, but has went bonkers in the last 5 years.
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Steve Wilkinson
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Feb 22, 2016, 01:03 AM
 
That statement about iOS 9 vs 8 is interesting. I'd agree that 9 is *much* better, but that's not too surprising since 8 was really, really horrible! While 7 was a major downgrade in terms of UI, IMO, it at least worked. And, my main complaint with iOS 9 (aside from UX/UI) is that it has semi-bricked my iPad 2. It was working fine prior to iOS 8, was nearly unusable during iOS 8, and now is somewhat usable aside from typing responsiveness in iOS 9.

My biggest complaints are about overall UI/UX and OS X degradation.

I used to be able to fix just about any Mac OS situation from the early-90s until about a year or so ago. Later last year, after spending many hours on my wife's laptop (including 3 or 4 calls with Apple and 3 levels of tech escalation, and Apple giving up by not returning my contact efforts), I finally wiped the thing and rebuilt it from scratch, app-by-app, setting-by-setting. While I've done this many times in the past, this was the first time I remember truly needing to. (The machine refused to do updates from the App Store, even though it connected just fine and could install certain apps from it.)

I needed to change the email associated with my main Apple ID last year as well. This caused all kinds of problems, as that email address seems somewhat hard-coded, and *very* inconsistently embedded and referenced by the OS and apps. Even though I changed it in the appropriate places, I was getting lots of dialogs to enter it. Some allowed me to do so. Others, would error out because the old email was embedded. Apps like Calendar and Contacts required me to delete the account, losing the data locally (relying on sync back from the cloud) to change it. I ended up with dupes in my Contacts I'm still fixing (despite an actual option in that app that fixed most of them, thank heavens!). I'm still getting hit with a dialog sometimes when I'm mid-work-flow when I launch an app, and it says I'm not authorized to use the app. What a cluster-explicative!

And, then there is the feature-thief thing which is a constant problem... or broken compatibility with many of the core-audio/video kind of stuff Apple used to have nailed down solid. Fortunately, I've not had nearly as much problem with that as many pros in those fields have. There are constantly dead-simple, basic features missing from their app refreshes, even if you can forgive the amateur-hour UI/UX attempts (which, BTW, Apple used to be a master at!).

You look at stuff like Photos, or Disk Utility, and all you can do is go.... what the explicative were they thinking, and who the heck was in charge of that??? Does anyone on the design or leadership team actually use these apps? Apparently not! Because you couldn't actually use them and yet release something so poor.

Look, I really love some of the things that have been added to OS X too. I generally like the interworking between iOS and OS X. I'm quite thankful for that. The 'cloud' in general has made working between machines quite nice these days (more due to Dropbox than iCloud, but still). The current OS X releases have been quite stable (for me, not everyone, I guess), but so hasn't OS X been for decades now. OS stability isn't exactly a new thing. It's the rest that has been becoming a mess.
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Sanjiv Sathiah
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Feb 22, 2016, 04:51 AM
 
Always enjoy reading your comments Steve. I've made the switch to Microsoft for my mail - vanishing emails begone!

Totally agree with your regarding some of the perplexing UI/UX changes that have crept into aspects of Apple's software. Apple used to adhere rigidly to a philosophy of UI/UX design that was once quite predictable - not predictable in a boring way, but predictable in a way that lent itself to ease of use and discovery.

Now, Apple seems quite happy to break those same rules that worked so well for it in the past in the name of what Federighi seems to call "bold." I don't mind completely redesigned interfaces -- if they work.

Photos is a good example of where "bold" meant "good." Music is a good example of where "bold" meant "we're going to force feed Apple Music down our user's throats and hope that they will get used to it."
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Feb 22, 2016, 03:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by Sanjiv Sathiah View Post
Always enjoy reading your comments Steve.
...
Photos is a good example of where "bold" meant "good." Music is a good example of where "bold" meant "we're going to force feed Apple Music down our user's throats and hope that they will get used to it."
Thanks! BTW, I don't have an issue with the UI of Photos (so much as I've used it, which isn't much yet), but with the workflow. I've got a lot of photos I'd like to use it for, but don't want it trying to sync the whole collection to each device. I'd rather have a 'master' collection somewhere, which I'm happy to sync to the cloud. Then, on each other device, I want thumbnail browsing where *I* decide which images I want the full version to be local (or can download the full version when I like, when I'm connected to the Internet).

What's kind of funny, is that with all the various cloud-photo services, none of them (of which I'm aware) seem to get it. Dropbox seemed to be heading the the right direction at one point... haven't heard much since they axed Carousel. They would be my preferred service for this, as I already have an account I use heavily. But, they never seemed to understand that there's a difference between my photos and my collection of graphics. (Some days I honestly wonder how the planners and developers of a particular kind of software don't seem to understand basic workflows and use-cases of their kind of software.)
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panjandrum
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Mar 4, 2016, 10:34 PM
 
People are starting to notice that Apple's problem isn't just software, it's hardware (overheating, new MacPro is a joke, etc.) It's sad to see that the company which used to produce such all-around excellent products has been reduced to this. But I guess it's good that people are starting to notice. Maybe Apple will notice (although I have little hope; I don't think anyone currently at Apple has any real vision whatsoever beyond raking in as much cash as possible. I think they will eventually destroy the Apple name).

Oculus Founder: Rift Will Come To Mac If Apple "Ever Releases a Good Computer" - Slashdot

This really hit home, because until 2ish years ago when I decided I didn't want to continue futzing with bootcamp on my MacPro 1,1, I was using it as a stereoscopic gaming rig. Think about that; a computer capable, 10 years later (now 12; it would still be capable of doing this very well even today if I wanted to put in a newer graphics-card and do the 8-core upgrade) of performing very well in one of the most intensive tasks you can ask a computer to do; stereoscopic gaming. In many ways it is more capable than anything Apple today produces.

Apple execs need to get their heads out of their deep-dark-personal-areas and give us some truly great hardware and software again, before it is too late!
     
Spheric Harlot
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Mar 5, 2016, 10:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by Sanjiv Sathiah View Post
Photos is a good example of where "bold" meant "good." Music is a good example of where "bold" meant "we're going to force feed Apple Music down our user's throats and hope that they will get used to it."
Oddly, nobody has been forcing Apple Music upon me at all.

I think I've bypassed the free trial sign-up screen once or twice after system updates, but beyond that, I'm using Music, iBooks, and the Mac iTunes app exactly as before.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Mar 5, 2016, 10:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by panjandrum View Post
People are starting to notice that Apple's problem isn't just software, it's hardware (overheating, new MacPro is a joke, etc.) It's sad to see that the company which used to produce such all-around excellent products has been reduced to this. But I guess it's good that people are starting to notice. Maybe Apple will notice (although I have little hope; I don't think anyone currently at Apple has any real vision whatsoever beyond raking in as much cash as possible. I think they will eventually destroy the Apple name).

Oculus Founder: Rift Will Come To Mac If Apple "Ever Releases a Good Computer" - Slashdot

This really hit home, because until 2ish years ago when I decided I didn't want to continue futzing with bootcamp on my MacPro 1,1, I was using it as a stereoscopic gaming rig. Think about that; a computer capable, 10 years later (now 12; it would still be capable of doing this very well even today if I wanted to put in a newer graphics-card and do the 8-core upgrade) of performing very well in one of the most intensive tasks you can ask a computer to do; stereoscopic gaming. In many ways it is more capable than anything Apple today produces.

Apple execs need to get their heads out of their deep-dark-personal-areas and give us some truly great hardware and software again, before it is too late!
Thinking about that, it brings up the question why you would consider a stereoscopic gaming rig a "pro" computer.

Apple has ALWAYS picked fairly specific usage scenarios for their machines, and then optimized the hell out of them for those scenarios. Using one for "professional" work has ALWAYS meant choosing the least undesirable package of compromises - often buying a bunch of personally unneeded features just to get one that's necessary - and living with that.

I've been hearing the complaint that Apple have their heads up their asses because they obviously aren't using their own machines for "pro" scenarios since at least 1998.
It's usually just from people who don't have the perspective to see that Apple just isn't catering to their particular situation, and often those who simply have the time to whine about it, rather than just working with what they can get.
     
besson3c
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Mar 5, 2016, 12:49 PM
 
I don't think it is productive to look at Apple this way.

What is the benchmark for Apple at its best? Apple has had problems with hardware in the past (e.g. iBook logic board failures), and some would disagree in this assessment that Snow Leopard was their best OS revision - we are never going to agree upon this benchmark, it is heavily influenced by our personal experiences and anecdotes, as are all of these sort of narratives that we create.

I think what we are really claiming is that Apple has lost agility. It is very challenging for a large company to be as agile as a startup. It is also difficult to assess this statement as an outsider in a company the massive size and structure as Apple. For one, in order to make this statement it is helpful to know what opportunities Apple is focused on, and this has always been unclear.
     
Steve Wilkinson
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Mar 5, 2016, 01:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by panjandrum View Post
People are starting to notice that Apple's problem isn't just software, it's hardware (overheating, new MacPro is a joke, etc.) It's sad to see that the company which used to produce such all-around excellent products has been reduced to this. But I guess it's good that people are starting to notice. Maybe Apple will notice (although I have little hope ...
I agree in general (about software quality, and some of Apple's decisions), though I'm not sure the Mac Pro issue is that representative. Apple has always had it's share of hardware issues (usually due to something kind of beyond their control... like the MacBook Pro GPUs, etc.). I'm trying to recall the details of the new Mac Pro heat thing I read about a while back, but I think that the overall design is solid (just not what some pros might want). (A good friend had dozens of them and spent a couple of weeks pushing them all to the max, and had no issues.)

Back with the G5s, Apple was the hardware leader. It just wasn't recognized in the media. I was following the 3D rendering and graphics community at the time, and even wrote some articles showing how the G5 obliterated ANYTHING commercial, even the best home-built efforts. (Despite the press saying how behind Apple was.) Fortunately, Apple saw the writing on the wall about power consumption, and was able to convince Intel to move towards more cores, lower power. So, that's where we're at today... less emphasis on faster single cores, lower power multi-cores. When you consider the amount of computing power we have today per watt, it's amazing actually. But yea, single-core performance hasn't sky-rocketed like it once did... but that's not an Apple thing!

Where Apple suffers, is not keeping up with the latest and greatest GPUs. And, that simply won't happen unless Apple releases some kind of box with expansion slots... period. The 'new' Mac Pro did a nice job being pretty fast for a bit, but yea, it's now behind again by a lot, in GPU.

Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Oddly, nobody has been forcing Apple Music upon me at all.
Heh, yea, I was kind of thinking that too, but I also just use iTunes as a music management place, and don't pay much attention to the rest. That said, they have pretty much ruined iTunes in terms of UI/UX. My wife still uses an iPod nano and syncs, and she's constantly asking me to help with it... where she used to be able to do it just fine. The interface is a mess! (I just don't deal with it anymore, as I'm working directly from my iOS devices and don't sync.)

Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Thinking about that, it brings up the question why you would consider a stereoscopic gaming rig a "pro" computer.
...
I've been hearing the complaint that Apple have their heads up their asses because they obviously aren't using their own machines for "pro" scenarios since at least 1998.
Good point, Apple's boxes certainly haven't been aimed at niche markets other than at one time, graphic artists, and maybe video, etc. It's the OS that has been key... and generally, high quality components and good overall designs. And, yea, that's a pretty speciality thing, along with gaming in general.

That said, I have heard from a lot of pros (via a friend who consults for them) that they aren't happy with the new Mac Pro. It's all about the GPU. First, many of them rely on CUDA, so they need nVidia. Second, many of them also do rely on the latest and greatest GPU (and numbers of them) and typically upgrade their GPUs several times over the life of each box. This has been hashed over, again and again when Apple released the new Mac Pro, but I think it's still a very valid complaint for a lot of true pros in a number of industries (i.e.: CAD people, 3D animation, video production, etc.). We're not talking just a couple of obscure uses.

Maybe with TB3, we'll finally be at a point that one could put a GPU externally? We'll see, as that might solve the issue, and/or less reliance on CUDA. My complaint is that what does 'pro' mean? An iMac would fulfill the needs of like 95% of professional Mac users. And, it's the Mac Pro that has been for the rest, but kind of isn't anymore. What's the justification of the Mac Pro over the iMac when the things that differentiated it aren't there anymore (besides a screen)?
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Steve Wilkinson
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Mar 5, 2016, 01:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
What is the benchmark for Apple at its best? Apple has had problems...
That is the key. My standards are when Apple:
1) put good UI design principals over fashion
2) kind of like #1, had UI/UX designers that actually thought stuff through across the the product line
3) made hard decisions by saying 'no' to bad ideas (probably more key than coming up with good ideas, actually)
4) put user experience over profit-maximization

They've never been perfect at these things, but they once seemed to be driving principals. I'm just not seeing it anymore.... so these aspects are all deteriorating. Apple's now just riding out past success.

I'm not sure SL was their best OS, but kind of the last OS before it all fell apart in terms of core quality and UI. That's why we long-time users have fond memories of it. And yes, Apple has certainly lost agility... but the above don't all follow from that. I expected that as they grew, there's be a bit less continuity across the company, hence a bit of #2 above. But I never imagined it would fall apart so quickly and extensively. I don't think that happens unless you kind of forget those core values.
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besson3c
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Mar 5, 2016, 02:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Steve Wilkinson View Post
That is the key. My standards are when Apple:
1) put good UI design principals over fashion
2) kind of like #1, had UI/UX designers that actually thought stuff through across the the product line
3) made hard decisions by saying 'no' to bad ideas (probably more key than coming up with good ideas, actually)
4) put user experience over profit-maximization

They've never been perfect at these things, but they once seemed to be driving principals. I'm just not seeing it anymore.... so these aspects are all deteriorating. Apple's now just riding out past success.

I'm not sure SL was their best OS, but kind of the last OS before it all fell apart in terms of core quality and UI. That's why we long-time users have fond memories of it. And yes, Apple has certainly lost agility... but the above don't all follow from that. I expected that as they grew, there's be a bit less continuity across the company, hence a bit of #2 above. But I never imagined it would fall apart so quickly and extensively. I don't think that happens unless you kind of forget those core values.

Okay, but there is not much here to discuss.

This is pretty subjective, as you can critique a UI, UX, and overall quality from any time period along the same lines. iTunes has always been weird in wanting to manage your music files and being a strange place to sync with your phone before iCloud came to be. Before this was iSync which was a mess, .Mac was problematic, etc. There have been many people complaining about the brushed metal, having to deal with Rosetta, Carbon, and Classic made for awkward UX. Mail for me has always been terrible as it has never handled enormous mailboxes well. Calendar + Exchange was awkward, we could go on and on and on for hours, and at the end accomplish very little in terms of agreeing upon things. In addition to a lack of a universally agreeable benchmark, iCloud didn't even exist during the days of Snow Leopard (for example), so what do you compare it against? I would say that a buggy iCloud is still better than having to manually sync via iTunes.

Subjectively, I happen to agree with you that there have been more QA issues with Apple than before, but there is no way to present this as anything more than gut feeling.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Mar 6, 2016, 11:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by Steve Wilkinson View Post
Maybe with TB3, we'll finally be at a point that one could put a GPU externally? We'll see, as that might solve the issue, and/or less reliance on CUDA. My complaint is that what does 'pro' mean? An iMac would fulfill the needs of like 95% of professional Mac users. And, it's the Mac Pro that has been for the rest, but kind of isn't anymore. What's the justification of the Mac Pro over the iMac when the things that differentiated it aren't there anymore (besides a screen)?
Apple's answer to this is "for most cases, none." But I think that has been their answer for a while, since before the Mac Pro redesign.

It used to be that the cheese grater was the de facto machine for any "serious" user. Those days are long gone, especially since laptops have been outselling desktops even as "pro" machines for years.
     
   
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