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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Person responsible for iOS 8.0.1 debacle also linked to iOS 6 Maps

Person responsible for iOS 8.0.1 debacle also linked to iOS 6 Maps
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Sep 26, 2014, 10:24 AM
 
A quality assurance manager responsible for this week's botched iOS 8.0.1 release was also in charge of QA for iOS 6 Maps, sources tell Bloomberg. The man is identified as Josh Williams, who is said to have been removed from the Maps team after the app gave people bad directions and/or mislabeled important scenery. He has however been with Apple since 2000, and has been handling quality issues for iOS since the early days of the iPhone.

It's reported that Williams has a team of over 100 people around the world, and that the company relies more on human discovery of bugs than automated testing. Partly because of these factors, it's indicated that no single person can be held responsible for major software trouble. The company in fact has a committee called the Bug Review Board overseen by Kim Vorrath, VP of product management for iOS and OS X. She in turn reports to Craig Federighi, the senior VP for software engineering. To help with testing, the company relies heavily on feedback from third-party developers.

It's at BRB meetings that Vorrath, Williams, and other people determine which bugs need to be solved immediately and which can be dealt with later. Bugs are labeled P1, P2, or P3; P1 can halt production of a device, while P2 or P3 items can be rolled into development of later updates even before the initial firmware is out.

A possible explanation for iOS 8.0.1 is that since Apple software engineers often don't get their hands on new iPhones until they ship to customers, inadequate testing may have been done; the critical bugs in v8.0.1 only affected the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which shipped on the 19th, two days after iOS 8.0. The 8.0.1 firmware was seeded just a week after v8.0. Apple CEO Tim Cook has allegedly cracked down on the use of unreleased iPhones, limiting them to senior managers unless special authorization is granted.

On top of this, "turf battles" may get in the way. Teams testing cellular and Wi-Fi will sometimes sign off on a release only for Williams' team to discover it's not compatible with another feature. The v8.0.1 firmware disabled both cellular and Touch ID functions on the new iPhones.

Although Williams was removed from the Maps team, he suffered relatively little blowback from the app's early failure. VP Richard Williamson was fired, as was Scott Forstall, who was in charge of iOS for all of Apple.
     
iBricking.com
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Sep 26, 2014, 11:37 AM
 
This is a very misleading story. It is exceedingly difficult to test a new maps database or to squash all iOS bugs before the day literally tens- or hundreds of millions of people install it on their personal devices. On that day, uncovered critical flaws become disastrous.

So two major flaws slipped through the cracks and now we're going to name the "person who was responsible" for both, as if he wasn't also responsible for all the successes along the way?

Steve Jobs: Loser responsible for both the Mac Cube AND the original iMac "hockey puck" mouse.
     
climacs
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Sep 26, 2014, 12:46 PM
 
excuses don't matter, you can't release a buggy OS update.
     
panjandrum
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Sep 26, 2014, 01:03 PM
 
Maybe this is the same reason the entire iOS7 UI slipped-through "QA". It's sad that people using their iThings today still pine for the vastly superior UI that existed prior to iOS7. Maybe if Apple had people in QA that actually knew what that's supposed to mean, we would have retained the superior UI:
http://www.nngroup.com/articles/ios-7/ or http://www.zdnet.com/an-aesthetes-take-on-ios-7-blinded-by-the-white-7000021623/ or http://www.zdnet.com/an-aesthetes-take-on-ios-7-blinded-by-the-white-7000021623/
     
panjandrum
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Sep 26, 2014, 01:05 PM
 
Argh, this basic response forum really needs an edit button for stupid typos and / or pasting the same link twice. Sorry. Third link was supposed to be: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/24/worst-ios-7-features_n_3983244.html
     
OldMacGeek
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Sep 26, 2014, 02:14 PM
 
Some people liked the older UI, some people like the newer UI. It was a design choice by Apple, not a bug. I reassigned this as "No plan to fix" with a severity of P4 - Customer Whining.
     
Charles Martin
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Sep 26, 2014, 06:23 PM
 
OldMacGeek's comment FTW. If in fact the iOS 7 redesign (which I initially had reservations about but have come to love) was in fact widely disliked or a flaw, it would have affected sales. I think the evidence speaks for itself.

Whatever you might think of Jony Ive personally (and I haven't met him so I don't have an opinion) he is, in fact, one of the top designers on the planet. Panjandrum has a right to his or her opinion, of course, but until he or she can back it up by establishing their peer credentials, I'm afraid that opinion doesn't carry much weight or credibility.
Charles Martin
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panjandrum
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Sep 26, 2014, 08:40 PM
 
I'm speaking about the usability, not the aesthetics. All I can say is that my sample-size is pretty large. I work with hundreds of users (schools, small businesses, individual users, college tv stations, advertising firms, etc.), and in all that time I've had exactly one (seriously, no exaggeration here) user tell me they actually prefer iOS7's interface over iOS6. For the most part this is unsolicited at first, starting as comments such as "god I hate this new calendar program", or "I always get my apps confused now (too many similar icons), or "why is it so hard to tell what to click-on (tap) now?" I hear complaints day-in and day-out. Further questions universally reveals that they found their iThing more user-friendly with iOS6. That's the low-down over-simplification of it. I could go into detail after detail, but basically it's all been gone over before, which is why I provided the links. Regardless of whether you like the new features (many of them are good features), or the aesthetics, there is simply no denying that the interface is more confusing and harder to use / harder to see. Take a iOS6 device, an older iPad for example, and sit it next to an iOS7 or newer device and the difference starts right on the home-screen, where it's much MUCH harder to see where to slide to unlock the screen on the newer OS. There is no denying that. You can LIKE the new one more, I won't dispute that. That's opinion and it's totally your choice to like or dislike something. What can't be denied, however, is that the older one is easier to see, and thus easier to use. And that lack of usability follows right through the entire iOS. Go do some googling and you'll find a lot of well-thought-out discussions regarding these issues. I've read quite a lot about good UI design (some of which Apple literally wrote and is now in the process of ignoring). If you take some time to understand what a good UI should do, you'll see that there is a clear degradation from iOS6 to iOS7. (Again, you have to step-back and look objectively at usability, NOT personal aesthetic preference, and NOT at the overall number of features. It's easy to confuse these issues.)
     
climacs
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Sep 26, 2014, 08:44 PM
 
I liked the iOS7 redesign. Skeuomorphism (designing interfaces for digital applications to resemble their real-world counterparts) is very, very lame. We're all very sophisticated by now with using computers and mobile hardware. I don't need an iCalendar that looks like a desk calendar.
     
DiabloConQueso
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Sep 26, 2014, 09:06 PM
 
Are you suggesting that, as technology and the way we interact with devices evolves, Apple should not evolve their user interface guidelines as well, and try as hard as they can to stick to guidelines that were written 20 years ago concerning the state of technology then?

Just because the guidelines haven't been updated doesn't mean that doing something contrary to them is necessarily bad. It might be. It might not.

Once upon a time people had to be told how to operate a knob, before knobs existed. Eventually, people became familiar with them and didn't need to be explicitly told how to operate them, or even identify what is a knob and what isn't. Today, you'd think someone a cretin if they were confused by a simple knob. Surely, some people caught on quicker than others, but eventually, everyone caught on. Why can't it be that way with virtual buttons on a touchscreen? Do we need to waste real-estate with fancy, shaded, distinctly-bordered buttons, forever and ever? Or is it time to realize that buttons and links are becoming more dependent upon their screen positions (something else that's pretty much settled and generally agreed upon over time), rather than appearances alone?

We don't know the position you're in for so many to express their dislike for iOS 7/8, but I suspect that if they spent enough time with it (now that they're stuck with it) that they'll learn to navigate it just as well as their old OS, and maybe even come to like it. There are certainly very specific Accessibility options in the Settings that address some of your friends' UI grievances directly that maybe they're not aware of.

Of course, there will always be a small fraction of people that never accustom themselves to abrupt change and, for valid reasons, never quite like the results after the change. But they're a small fraction, and, the majority consensus about iOS's new look is positive and a step forward. It would be silly to not push UI design forward and experiment (after all, that's how you got iOS 1 though 6's UI to begin with) and, instead, remain with a certain paradigm simply because it's good enough.

Remember, with the first iPhone, people complained about and forecasted that the lack of a physical keyboard was a huge, very big, important issue, and that the virtual keyboard is a step backward. It's because that's what people were *used* to, and they simply resisted change, and thought themselves incapable of making the switch. And the first virtual keyboard weren't as efficient, but look now. Would you still say that a physical keyboard is "better?"

You're suggesting that Apple put the brakes on and reverse to a prior state, while history has shown that to be the losing path (e.g., Blackberry) that is not overwhelmingly preferred, and that powering through the transitional tough spots is what gets us to the next awersome thing.
     
panjandrum
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Sep 27, 2014, 09:46 AM
 
I'm not suggesting stagnation or that Apple reverse to a prior state. You are misunderstanding my point. I'm suggesting that, as Apple advances their UI, they take into consideration basics such as "does this item, which the user can click-on / tap, stand out enough as a button to be immediately obvious?" And yes, I too thought that eventually people would figure it all about, but that hasn't been the experience of the people I work with. For the most part, people seem to be finding it frustrating that no matter how long they use the new interface, it remains more difficult to use. I see their point; that it can't be as easy to use, every, because it has fundamental usability flaws that the previous version did not have. Add the features, change aesthetics as often as you wish, but don't sacrifice readability or usability. That's all. Go use an iOS6 device again, sitting side-by-side next to an iOS7 device. Look at the home-screen, look at the calendar, look at Safari... Do it objectively. Don't assume it's right because Apple did it... Don't assume it is better because it is newer. Look ONLY at the various elements on the screen. Which one is easier to see? Which one has buttons which are more obvious? Which one has icons that stand apart from each other? (FYI, after years of using post-Snow Leopard on Macs, I see a LOT of young, intelligent students - students who had no problem using Snow-Leopard whatsoever, continue to have problems with the new UI in the Mac OS as well. So this isn't necessarily limited to iOS, and not limited to Apple. Did any of you try using Windows 8 after Windows 7? Try finding the option to shut the computer down... It was absurdly difficult. I had to hover the mouse over the right edge of the screen, what for a panel to slide-out, and, then look under power-options or something. It was about the stupidest UI decision I've ever seen. I assume the eventually fixed that... I hope so anyway. Regardless, I'm not attacking Apple specifically, I'm observing, as many others have observed, that recent changes in the UI have made our devices harder to use, rather than easier.)
     
DiabloConQueso
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Sep 28, 2014, 01:49 AM
 
Windows 8 changed more than the aesthetics of the interface. It changed the position of elements, reorganized the placement of things, and altered the results of interface actions. In fact, it added completely and radically new UI elements and actions, removed others, replaced yet others, and left others yet the same. I'm not saying it's a bad OS, I'm simply saying that it is a *much* more radical departure from its predecessor than iOS 7/8 is to iOS 6, and therefore, the experience of migrating from Windows 7 to 8 is not nearly as similar to the migration from iOS 6 to iOS 7/8 as you insinuate.

Apple gave the UI a makeover. For the most part, buttons and controls are in identical positions, and familiarity with a device involves spatial and muscle memory.

The overwhelming consensus is that iOS 7/8 is a step forward, and a positive one at that, regardless of what you or I feel about it, and that's evident by looking and observing in a number of places. There will always be a small percentage of detractors and naysayers, and, in fact, regular people that, other than not being able to get used to change, are otherwise unremarkable and/or seemingly common and representative of the population as a whole. But they're not, despite appearances. and despite your personal experiences.

You may see a lot of people that don't like iOS 7/8, but there are obviously overwhelmingly more that do like it. You opinion that iOS 7/8 is "harder" to use than iOS 6 solely because of the appearance and interface change is simply that, but a minority one at that -- an opinion.

Believe me, I try to be as objective as possible (as evidenced by the fact that I use several OSes and devices on a daily bases), and don't think that "iOS 7/8 is better because I think that," but rather, "I think that, because iOS 7/8 is better than iOS 6." In other words, what I believe is what the evidence uncovers, not what I want or feel. I don't know how much more objective you can get than that.
     
wireboy
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Sep 28, 2014, 01:48 PM
 
DiabloConQueso - Trying to be objective, while admirable, is not really sufficient though, is it? There are usability FACTS about iOS 7 and 8 that, as someone who has been a UI designer for nearly 25 years, I would be willing to wager would prove to be vastly inferior to older versions of iOS were an independent scientific study to be conducted.

Personally, I prefer iOS 8 aesthetically. Greatly. But there were obvious near amateur-level usability mistakes made. Apple's UI team has set the bar very high over the years but, as panjandrum points out, they are not infallible and there are always many forces, some entirely conflicting, that act upon the design process. There is considerable flux at Apple lately and it just may be that the wrong forces won out.

The spatial and muscle memory types of things that you refer to are valid but, again, there is more to the picture. There are the differing experiences of expert and new users to consider. I am as expert an iOS user as you get and there are things that are just plain wrong in the current UI and they make it decidedly harder to use than older versions.

I love iOS 8 and would hate to go back. I have spent a lot of time with iOS 7/8 since the very first betas and I have learned my way around but I still experience unnecessary problems as a result of the visual design that I can only imagine are greatly amplified for new users.

iOS 7 and 8 are indeed beautiful and I love using them myself but the statement that 'iOS 7/8 is better because it is better than iOS 6' is most definitely both a non-objective opinion and one that, if you define better as being tied to usability as panjandrum quite reasonably has, will prove to be incorrect were the matter to be put to the test.
     
wireboy
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Sep 28, 2014, 01:50 PM
 
But that is just my opinion.
     
reader50
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Sep 28, 2014, 02:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by panjandrum View Post
Argh, this basic response forum really needs an edit button for stupid typos and / or pasting the same link twice.
panjandrum, news story comments actually exist in our user forums. If you visit the thread from the forum side, you have full edit power over your posts.
     
   
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