About Walt Mossberg and Apple’s app problem

Walt Mossberg wrote this morning that Apple’s apps need work. He’s absolutely right.

In the last couple of years, however, I’ve noticed a gradual degradation in the quality and reliability of Apple’s core apps, on both the mobile iOS operating system and its Mac OS X platform. It’s almost as if the tech giant has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to these core software products, while it pursues big new dreams, like smartwatches and cars.

Walt touched on iTunes for the desktop and how bad it has become, especially since the integration of Apple Music. I’ve been harping on Apple Music since it was released, and while it has gotten much better, I am amazed it was released in the state it was.

It’s just not like Apple to release software that is so broken. Consider that it took Apple months just to allow people to reliably download music to their iOS devices. This is a feature they promised on day one.

Of course, there are other problems that I’ve talked about before, but I won’t get into those again.

There are only three reasons I can think of that software issues like the ones we find in Apple Music would happen at a company like Apple that prides itself on software that “just works.”

  1. They didn’t know how bad it was when they released it. (Highly unlikely)

  2. They are so big now, they just don’t care. They are Apple, so people will use the software regardless of what they do. (Please don’t let it be this one)

  3. They were given a timeline to release the software whether it was finished or not. (This one is probably, but very scary)

I understand that Apple has a lot of balls in the air, but they have clearly taken their eye off some of them. There is absolutely no doubt that Apple Music is getting better with each update to the app, but what we have now is more of a 1.0 version than what we received last year.

Personally, I don’t care much about all the celebrities that Apple can parade around—I care about a music service that works. That’s it.

If Apple Music (or any of the other software that has problems) was the iPhone, it would never have been released in the state it was.

  • Larry Davis

    I would argue the last few versions of iPhones and iOS have been in a similar state. My iPhone 5 was nothing but problems. The battery physically failed twice. It came with a scratched screen (replaced the phone the same day). I next got an iPhone 6 which also came with a scratched screen. It was replaced. Then the front camera got the crescent moon. It was replaced. The replacement got the same issue within two weeks. Before I had a chance to get it replaced the entire audio subsystem went to shit, just buzzing constantly. A reboot temporarily fixes the issue which implies it’s software, not hardware, at fault. I will get a replacement again but only because I had the issue escalated. Support is personable but not helpful. Their only response is to say “restore” or to make you come in and pay for a repair (I’m out of warranty at this point).

    • Caleb Hightower

      Anyone who lived through Jobs ‘realignment’ of Apple from the 90’s until his death hate to witness the state of Apple today. Sure there’s improvement, but it’s equally as sloppy across the entire product line. I’ve concluded it’s a combination of rapid growth + breakneck, annual, refresh pace.

      Jobs didn’t release until it was right, and these days we get releases with major bug infestations—Apple TV anyone?

      Walt is publicizing what many of us old guard have long known, Cook’s Apple is a weak imitation of Job’s Apple.

      Cook, STOP managing product launches and START managing people.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Ahrendts takes over Apple after Cook’s done.

      • Old guard has nostalgia.

        “The Mac OS X update installed fine but I lost networking including ability to talk to my Apple Airport Extreme.” 2003

        “… the least polished major iOS update in quite some time.” 2011

        “Just connecting a drive to a Mac running OS X can ruin the data on the drive…” 2003

        • What you are missing is that the release schedule used to be radically different. A major release of OS X was a 3 year thing, but now it is a 1 year thing.

          The people you are quoting are often early adopters who used a new version of OS X within the first 6–12 months, while those of us who didn’t want to be part-time I-T people waited. Then, we would finally replace our 10.3.9 with 10.4.5 and we would have little to no problems over the next 2 years.

          Today, we are all early adopters.

          Also, in the past, the community was Mac users who had high expectations. Today, much of the community is really happy they are no longer running Windows. The standards are lower.

          • First, I was there. Second: I found just as many about minor updates.

            Old guard still has nostalgia.

          • Yep. Talk to my old Powerbook running 10.4 that used to kernel panic regularly.

          • Ha. I remember that. I loved 10.4, though… it was the first time I could reboot Mac OS 9 in seconds via a simplified System folder run in Classic, and thankfully most of my crashes were still in Classic at the time.

          • Moe Better 11

            The old guard does – and I loved it when 10.4 went to 11! 1068 was pretty nice too… for a change.

          • govtwasted

            I do have nostalgia – b/c it always worked for me before – since Systems 7.1.2 that came on my PowerMac 6100. I NEVER had those problems you mentioned, or any other major thing like I see today. I stayed with OSX 10.6.8 until there were things on the web forcing me to get a newer browser and the only way was to update. But I’m only at 10.7.5 now and can’t go any further with my machine. For a person that is a normal power user, but not a developer, that has been using Macs a long time, it is a noticeable change. You may not think so, but you are not in the majority on this.

          • How exactly was your opinion of the quality of recent updates formed, then? That’s what this story is about, after all.

            (My last use of Lion was about ten minutes ago, when it couldn’t render Apple’s support site.)

          • Pantufa

            You may have something there. I agree with all you say and as a developer that creates stuff for iOS, OS X and tvOS, I must say that OS X is completely adrift in terms of APIs compared to iOS. The API standards are pretty low on OS X, making very hard to create an app that is enjoyable. You have to spend months creating the necessary code just to start creating the app as it should be. Very frustrating.

        • Moe Better 11

          Caleb is correct on a few things – and possibly everything. Apple’s releasing two major systems (OSes) every year – is – to put it politely – retarded… I guess OpenGL and CL are keeping pace, though?

          Maybe iCloud will become subpar? What ov Apple Music? I could see a day when Apple Music works as good as iTunes did, when it only handled music! … this day could be 10 years off – or more.

          • I don’t accept the “it was better before” narrative, because it really wasn’t. Rather, I think we’re demanding more now. And I think we’re right to demand more, and I think it’s damn time Apple rejiggered itself to deliver more.

          • Pantufa

            As a developer, iCloud is a nightmare. You have to create hundreds of lines of code just to download and show the thumbnail of a file, to give you an example. Everything else is a collection of pretty bad designed code, one of the worst I ever saw.

      • I think you may be on to something but I’ll take a different stab at it. And, I’m “old guard” as well, having been in the fold since 1983.

        Let me preface this by saying I’m not a Jobs deciple. I think he was important, but not for the reasons that many think.

        Because Jobs was a control freak and didn’t delegate as easily as Cook might, and, he was the one doing the demos of new Mac OS’s on stage, he was more intimately involved with this stuff.

        That said, what he enabled at Pixar was a collegial, almost grad student atmosphere, much like the first Mac team. He got the right people together then protected them from the bureaucracy around them (made them “pirates”) while no doubt occasionally flaming someone for being a bozo.

        This is why most of the folks on that first team speak so well of him while some at Apple outside the team thought he was a tyrant.

        Tim Cook is a different kind of boss, no doubt much better in some ways, maybe missing that key ingredient that Jobs had that would solve some of the problems people are talking about here. Fanatical attention to detail and being a control freak have their pluses and building collegial and protected work environments are essential for getting things done under pressure. This is the paradox of Jobs: control freak and collegial in the same person.

        Cook seems to have delegated much of the aesthetic judgement stuff to Jony Ive, who, in my estimation is a hardware guy, not a software guy. While Ive and Jobs were great friends, no doubt Jobs didn’t work like this and had more to say about the way things worked. Plus, over the years with Apple’s success, Ive has been turned into a god and this is probably not good.

        So now we have a few layers of folks at Apple who are big picture people and the nitty gritty of making things work and bug fixing is quite removed from the top layers. Jobs could wormhole right to the issue, Cook may not be working that way and when you mix that with territorial crap that’s going on between folks like Cue, Ive, and others, it’s messy.

        One last thing ;):

        I’m a Mac user first, iOS second and while I know where the bulk of Apple’s money comes from (I’m also a long term stockholder), I’ve grown increasingly unhappy as they’ve neglected the Mac over many years. It’s particularly frustrating to many in this discussion who have been around a while: we thought we were the core of Apple, the old guard, the “Pro” users who routinely upgraded machines and software and kept Apple in business. One would think folks at Apple who’ve been around a while would get this and know that they need to keep us happy, if nothing else for the PR but also, we tend to be evangelists and do our share of selling.


        • Moe Better 11

          Good points Richard, though i agree with nearly all of it, I think the start of the decline was with Jobs … IIRC he was pushing Final Cut Pro X, which is fine, though the way Apple handled it was not fine at all… and hopefully the core Pro can will get a significant upgrade soon (esp in the GPUs – and nVidia is catching up in OpenCL!).

          I do think it was correct in getting rid of Forestall. I have no idea why Jobs or (maybe more so) Scott Forstall loved skeumorphism. I’m not sure I like the “flat”either, though maybe its growing on me …

          It is fairly ironic, I think, many of my friends were like, “don’t buy Apple products! They won’t be around in 5 years.” I was like, that’s dumb, in 4 years, I’ll probably want something new! Yet, one wonders if the “Mac” computer will be around in 5 years – at least as a new release … iOS is massive, gigantic, ginormous … and I do not think this can be exaggerated, since – IIRC, Apple’s iPhone business (not iOS, not iPad, not AppStore combined) but iPhone business is bigger in revenue and profits than the entirety of Microsoft …

          It would be nice if Apple did not abandon OS X Server (XServ!) or Open Directory… but what can one do.

          And I’m not convinced at all that Apple Music is any better – or even wasting time on vs iTunes/Match which has some problems, but mostly seems to work (and the problems – for me so far are the old iTunes issues).

          • marcoselmalo

            I’m late to the party here, but I was scrolling down through the comments looking for a mention of FCX. The release of FCX is really a foreshadowing of the release of Maps and Apple Music. It was a subpar offering, not ready for prime time and not worthy of a 1.0 release, especially given that it was (supposed to be) a professional tool.

            Steven Fisher has my agreement: Apple has a long history of effed up software releases. However, things seem to me to be getting worse, not better.

          • The only reason I disagree with it getting worse is because Apple has done a much better job recently of keeping the basics working. It’s been years since we’ve had shredded file systems.

            This is not really about their quality control, though, but the maturity of what they have.

          • marcoselmalo

            That’s a good point. One could also argue that providing simplicity has gotten more complicated.

    • Yes, it is not just the apps.

  • RayRobertson

    I agree about Apple’s software problems, especially on the Mac OS side. I would add the Finder to Mossberg’s list. Consider the reasons most users want a traditional computer: better file management, better e-mail management, better media management. In all three areas, the quality of Apple’s software continues to decline.

    In my case, I’ve always been lucky enough to use AppleScript to customize my own environment. But Apple Event support in Mail and Finder has continued to degrade over the years. Frustrating, to say the least.

    • Prof. Peabody

      I would argue that the Finder has always been buggy. All the way back to Mac OS.

      • Yes, including some awful bugs (and things that weren’t bugs but were really bad ideas, like trashing a floppy or hard drive being the only way to fully unmount it) that took years to fix.

        • Putting a disk in the Trash was never the only way to unmount it. It was always a secondary shortcut. In point of fact, the primary way to eject a disk has always been a menu command.

          Also, nobody is saying that Apple software used to have no bugs but now has bugs. What we are talking about is that the software experience used to be good and now it is bad.

          • That’s not true. For many years, there was no put away. Instead, there was an Eject command… but it left the disk mounted, so the OS would ask for it later.

            And yes, I know. Welcome to the discussion. I’m saying the quality level has not decreased.

          • Bart

            Are you trolling? Put away had nothing to do with the trash. You could move files to desktop, wherever, and then ‘put away’ would put them back in their old location.

          • No, I’m not. Did you ever use the feature I’m talking about?

          • Bart

            Duh, yes.

          • Then you know Put Away was only implemented to unmount disks in the twilight years of the classic Mac.

          • Bart

            You are sadly mistaken. No need to argue with me about what you don’t know/remember. Put away (WRT disk eject) came MUCH later.

          • That’s what I just said, Bart. Eject left the disk mounted. Trash unmounted it. Years later, Put Away also unmounted it. Until then, Trash was the only way.

          • Bart

            That was before the advent of hard drives, and with the old floppy drive macs, that was necessary. Put away was a feature of the classic finder that has never been implemented in OS X or in Windows. It had a lot of uses completely unrelated to the trash can. There was no need to ever use ‘put away’ for the trash. When copying from floppy to floppy, the disc would automatically eject and grey out on the desktop (because it was still being used).

            We still do it the same exact way, it’s just that the trashcan changes to an arrow.

            Never really understood what was so hard to fathom about putting the disk to the trash. Putting an actual floppy disc in an actual trash can doesn’t destroy it.

          • I never had a problem with it either, but it didn’t make sense.

            It was a problem for timid novices, believe me. “Yes, I know it sounds dangerous, but just drag it to the trash!”

            And it was a problem for less timid novices, too, as they started treating the trash as a storage place. Several times we had users empty the trash but assume the could get the files back, since dragging the disk to the trash didn’t destroy it.

            Yes, it’s all stuff you can work around with a bit of reading. But people had trouble accepting such contradictory views of the trash.

          • Bart

            No, you’re Leaving out the main purpose–it did a lot more than you describe–it was for re-filing files and folders. The idea was to drag you current work files to desktop, when you are done, put away put them back in whatever respective folders they were in previously.

          • You’re absolutely right I’m leaving out its main purpose. As I said, it was ONLY IMPLEMENTED TO UNMOUNT DISKS in the twilight years. That’s perfectly clear, despite your rudeness.

          • It’s almost as if you’re not reading what you’re replying to at all.

          • OK you two. You’re not making points any more. You’re just talking over one another. Let’s wind it down, shall we?

          • Okay. 🙂

          • Moe Better 11

            “Also, nobody is saying that Apple software used to have no bugs but now has bugs. What we are talking about is that the software experience used to be good and now it is bad.”

            I would not say the software is “bad” or even the OS … though there are way more bugs and “bad ideas” than there should be … remember 107x? and “multi monitors” support? wow, that was terrible … and WTF was Apple thinking.

            I think half the problem is Microsoft aims so low at so many things .. I mean some of their higher end servers seem pretty “bullet proof”, depending on the hardware, though Vista, Millennium, Windows 8, 8.1 and Windows X, I mean 10 suck and blow at the same time. W7/64bit is not bad though… but getting a bit old.

    • whodakat

      Finder isn’t buggy, it just doesn’t automatically do whatever crazy things you need to do to customize your environment with Apple Script. I mean, more power to you but I doubt any of bugs you are experiencing are issues normal people would ever notice.

    • Craig Jacobs

      Disabled icons for everything!

    • Pantufa

      I have mentioned this before…. as a developer, programming for OS X is frustrating. The APIs are light-years behind iOS in terms of flexibility. To make an app enjoyable on OS X you have to spend months creating a base code that will allow you create the app later. On iOS you just start coding. All the process of creating for OS X is very poor compared to iOS. Old school programmers who create for OS X for a long time may disagree but in fact they are used to the crappy state of OS X and don’t see it anymore. Anyone who started on iOS knows how bad OS X is in terms of versatility. It is like entering on a time machine and landing 20 years ago.

    • marcoselmalo

      This is somewhat ironic (and I’m not disputing your point) because OS X was originally designed to do away with the Finder. However, there was a hue and cry and much gnashing of teeth by the faithful Mac users. The Finder was then reincorporated into OS X. This is one case when Apple listened to users, for good or ill.

      That said, iirc, the first OS X release was touted as a public beta and it was free (and had very little software to run on it).

  • lkalliance

    I wish Apple would reduce to a two-year OS X cycle, and perhaps that for iOS as well. These are mature products. I also wish Apple would stop worrying about adding features but rather polish the core set of features so that they are reliable and automatic.

    Though I expect everyone would have a different idea of what is important, I would even welcome the removal of features. Do less, do the important stuff, do it reliably and easily. It is very frustrating.

    • I like what Apple’s been doing lately more: Releasing features as they become ready, without even waiting for their one year cycle. It makes the one year software upgrades boring, which I think is how they should be.

      It does nothing to clean up the existing mess, but it ought to make future changes less of a mess.

      Apple just needs a better standard for when features are “ready.” The fact that they’re doing a “preview” in 9.3 makes me hopeful they’re ratcheting up their expectations.

      • Moe Better 11

        Those major upgrades are not “boring” at all .. which I think is the problem. They are the opposite of what they should be – dreadful, really. Adding major (or even minor) features as they are “ready” is the thing to do.

        I also hope that Apple sticks to ELEVEN is the “fix this OS” and yeah, release a MAJOR update every three or four years (two if you really have to) – it seems like mostly marking junk really – and look at Google Chrome and Firefox – on version 40xyz – is that any good, at all?

        • I’d like to see a releases as they’re ready, to the point that they’re more boring then El Capitan was.

    • Michael Campanella

      I don’t think they should move to a two year cycle but instead launch features as they are ready in point updates. And market them, a bit like they are doing with iOS9.3.

    • rogifan

      I agree with others, release stuff when it’s ready in point updates rather than a bunch of stuff all at once only once a year.

    • Prof. Peabody

      I tend to agree, but if you look at their record you will find that Apple is generally pretty good at designing OS’s. It’s their other software that has the worse record. It’s not really unfair nor inaccurate to simply say that Apple just sucks at App development. Their OS’s are sometimes problematic but at least they are feature complete and do the job. The same cannot be said of any of their apps including iTunes, Pages, etc.

      • lkalliance

        Speaking long-term, I’ve been very happy with Apple’s OSes. But I’ve had more small problems crop up with the last couple than I’ve had since before OS X.

        I look at it this way: you start to develop something, and it’s small. Small feature set. Like a little LEGO assembly. So you start to attach things on the surface. At first that’s fine: it’s small and structurally sound. But as it gets larger and larger it starts to take a longer time and more work to get that next layer on. And the different parts of the structure lose track of the other parts, though at some level they are all interdependent. And as the structure gets more complex, it necessarily gets more fragile.

        I’m no engineer, but it felt like with Snow Leopard, Apple got to a point of maturity and stopped. They spent one more version to shore up everything, for real, and stopped. I get the feeling that they have gone beyond that now with the Lion-and-up version.

      • But a lot of the problems in apps come from the OS. A key feature of Apple’s platforms is that app developers don’t build everything from scratch. They use extensive system services. For example, apps that show Web pages don’t have their own Web renderer built-in, they use the one from the operating system. If the operating system’s Web renderer falls off in quality (which it most certainly has recently) then a number of your apps suddenly seem buggy. And there is nothing that the app developer or user can do about that.

    • That speaks to the lack of quality in the features they have been rolling out. In the past, I would adapt to some new feature and it would immediately make my work better or faster or easier and pay me back for the interruption and trouble. Now, the new features just cause me to have to do I-T work, whether that is working around a bug, finding out where some button has been moved to or hidden, or even just having my concentration broken because an app has changed. And there is no payback.

      For example, a new NHL app appeared on my Apple TV yesterday, even though I had expressly hidden the old one. It caused me to navigate to the wrong app because it moved all the other apps. Then I had to hunt through all the apps and find what had changed, and re-hide the NHL app. That is not a feature.

      • Moe Better 11

        unless a bug is a feature … Maybe I wait for AppleTV 4 (or the next major patch to ATV).

      • Which AppleTV was that?

  • I thought some of his complaints were a little petty. Complaining about Gmail when it’s obvious that Google drags its feet on that.

    For me the biggest alarm is the state of Apple Music and iTunes. It’s just all around bad. The phone app is not so great and hard to navigate. Then when you go into iTunes it is an absolute disaster. In iTunes if you search for something before loading the New tab then the new section becomes in accessible. Going to the new tab shows the search results and the arrow navigation buttons can’t back out of it. How can something like that slip past them?Ultimately there is no saving iTunes, then need to just nuke it and replace it. A Music app, a Podcast app, a Movies & TV app, and a Sync app for those not using iCloud.

    I would even suggest that Eddy Cue’s department is the weakest link. Everything in his umbrella is stagnant and getting old. All the storefronts are just sitting and gathering dust. There are so many small features that could be added. For example why can’t I get a push notification when an item on my wish list, like a book, is on sale? Or why can I not make iBooks not show me results for books in languages I do not speak?

    • GS

      Perhaps Eddy Cue should be Chief Rights Negotiator and no more. I think he has different priorities than the customer. Don’t know who is in charge of iBooks or iBooks Author, but the only way these apps could be worse is if if they were folded into iTunes. Drop the i as it must stand for indifference these days.

      • Huh. I use iBooks every day and love it, so I wouldn’t mind a better explanation of what’s wrong with it.

        (It’s certainly never lost my place in a book. Ew!)

        • Do you use iBooks on the Mac or just iOS? The Mac version feels like an orphan to me.

          • Oh, true! Mostly iOS. I’ve used it a few times on OS X, where it’s fine but it doesn’t really offer anything the iOS version doesn’t.

            The worst problem: it’s very bad at identifying problems and walking you through fixing them. Books downloading as “corrupted” when you’re not properly signed into/”authorized” to the store has been a thing for years. And that’s definitely specific to the OS X version. I’ve never had the IOS version caught in that state.

            So OS X: Nothing extra (that I could see) except that bug. I can see why people would dislike it.

          • Right, and the disparity between Mac software and its iOS counterpart is disturbing to me.

            Where is News on the Mac?

            I’m sure I’m in a minority but I’m a Mac user first, iOS user second and while I use and depend on my iOS devices daily, my Mac is the center of my digital life.

            A few years ago one of my iBooks downloaded corrupted on the Mac and for the life of me I could not fix it. Fine in iOS, not fine on iBooks for the Mac.

            I called Apple and in the end, they had me reinstall the entire OS (I knew this wouldn’t work but why not try?). It did not fix it. They had no way of giving me access to a fresh install of a single application.

            Not only are iTunes and iBooks on the Mac poorly designed and buggy, but they seem to forget one’s credentials way too often, even if one has one’s logins set to not ask for credentials each time. This is no doubt a problem with back end software and that leads to iCloud and how unreliable it is.


            I’m not going anywhere (moving to another platform) but it seems Apple knows that its core users are locked in and they’re not trying hard enough to make us happy by making all of this stuff work more reliably.

            If they spent half as much time on software fit and finish as they do on chamfered bevels we’d all be happy as pigs in ….

          • If you’re still fighting a corrupted book in iBooks, the fix is under the Store menu. I suggest signing out, signing back in, authorizing, but the truth is until everything’s just perfect it won’t work and you won’t know it’s perfect until things work.

            I don’t get news on iOS, either, living outside the US.

            It’s interesting. While I don’t use my iPad only for consumption, I can say that I usually consume on the iPad rather than my MacBook. If I’m at my desk, I prefer to keep my Mac geared toward the task I’m on. And if I’m on the couch, I prefer to just grab the iPad rather than walking over to my desk.

          • I’ve tried the sign out drill numerous times. The book remains corrupted on the Mac. Emptied caches, etc. No worries, I’m not futzing with it anymore.

            Are you writing these comments on your iPad? Text editing in iOS to me, is an abomination.

          • No, I’m at my desk because I’m working on a blog post. If I was on my iPad I’d be using Siri and editing the results. I’ve done it before, but not for this. 🙂

          • Bart

            Didn’t even exist on Mac for a very long time.

          • Indeed. It’s an afterthought on the Mac and it feels like one. Sad.

        • The problem with iBooks and with all the storefronts is that they are left to become completely stagnant.

          There is so much low hanging fruit in terms of simple features that would make for a more compelling shopping experience:

          • Push notifications when an item on your wish list goes on sale.
          • Recommendations based on what you read.
          • Recommendations based on your friends and contacts.
          • Option to not return results in foreign languages. Or select the languages you are interested in.

          Also to show you how sloppy the whole thing is. In the Purchased tab on iOS when there are updates the “Update All” button is not an iOS7 style button and seems out of place. Or on iOS is you search for an item and click on the share button there is no option to add it to your Wish List, meanwhile on the Mac app there is.

          I just feel like all the storefronts. The things that fall under Eddy Cue are just sitting there. And for all of them you could do simple things to make them more useful. How about an optional push notification letting me know when there is a new film of the week to rent at a discount?

          • I agree completely. This, to me, makes the entire mess feel like a turf war.

          • I think it is a problem of resources. I suspect the people that work on iBooks are pulled from OS-X and iOS. Perhaps Apple should build a separate team that works on the store applications in close tandem with the OS teams.

          • I think you might be right but sheesh, with all of Apple’s cash one would think they’d hire enough engineers to make every team self-contained, or as self-contained as it might be.

        • GS

          Took me awhile to see your comment. On iOS I have few issues. On the Mac I have problems with downloads not working properly, multiple requests for my password, even issues with search. Really, on and on. I have 4 devices on iOS with either the current iOS release or a beta, and 2 Macs one running the latest OS X release and the other a beta. Both Macs have serious problems with iBooks. And iBooks Author which I love except for serious performance issues.

      • Moe Better 11

        iTunes was pretty good when it handled only music. I think they called it SoundJam!

    • Bart

      There was a lot of whining in the article. I agree that iTunes is more complicated than it used to be, but it’s hardly unusable, it’s just different. For awhile, I thought I could not create a playlist on the go, but now I get that it’s just completely different than it used to be. I was also very confused by what was on the iOS/Mac and what was in Apple music, but now this is clear.

      I think it’s easier to learn something the first time than it is to relearn it a new way because of old habits. The problem is, the old model had no way (apparently) to handle all the new features, and there are a LOT of new features.

    • Moe Better 11

      Yeah, Eddy, why you slacking man? Is he spending all his time figuring out how to spend his Apple stock??? iTunes – ugh – it mostly works Apple Music – is grating on my ears – EF that. What are iBooks? Is this a new kind of annoying PDF? Why is the AppStore so antiquated?? Why is Apple so dumb? I mean I expect junk ware from just about every vendor and/or developer (except a few small few) – yet Apple is inching up that list… Maybe its just Eddy is no longer “into it”?

  • Jon Hall

    ‘Only just works’ perfectly captures my frustration with the state of Apple’s software.

    ‘Think different’ I’m now using Word/Outlook4iOS/Excel/Airmail+Mail Pilot/Nisus Writer/Fantastical/BackBlaze rather than the Apple bundled apps.

    • Jon Hall

      Oh, and to read ‘[This update] improves the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac’ really doesn’t cut it any more. Why can’t Apple give chapter and verse on which bugs are fixed for all software they release? Is it really too much trouble?

      [Just bought a Magic Mouse 2, too. The System prefs shows it as the simplest mouse possible. No gestures or anything. There’s another hour for an AppleCare call.]

      • As to the first, it probably is. I think it’s likely that tens of thousands of bug reports end up with thousands of bug fixes. The security fixes are broken out for practical reasons, but they’re probably dwarfed by the other fixes.

        Look at BBEdit’s release notes, for instance, and imagine it multiplied by a hundred or more.

  • noodle

    iTunes has been a hot mess for years. While I like the new Continuity features and I think they’re still capable of great ideas, they need to refocus on the foundations of their software products, as they were created in a time before iPhones and music streaming and whatnot.

    • Moe Better 11

      iTunes runes OK on Macs – with certain hardware setups … (most of them really – even old ones) and I could take it or leave it. This big issue is when restoring or migrating iTunes and the fact that if you still sync via your Mac, your iOS device may require that you upgrade (which can be a downgrade) to do this, which is dumb.

      I mean even with iPhoto and the retarded “faces” (which was mostly retarded because there was no way to turn it off) you could use Image Capture to pull photos from just about anything – and even run simple “jobs” on them … fast, efficient, not convoluted – amazing (most of the time).

      Apple Music appears to be way worse than iTunes, which is ironic if Apple “Music” is really SoundJam for 2015 …. in the cloud and it fails and failing, which means it is a no go in my book. iTunes – somewhat annoying – mostly works.

      Apple Music – is what is wrong with American politics – it don’t work and is dysfunctional at best – unless of course the NSA needs to spy on everyone and everything and the Executive branch no longer obeys or enforces its laws … but i’m getting off topic on this one.

  • John Parkinson

    I use iTunes and Apple Music every single day. I use it to play music (both local and streamed). I use to stream media to my Apple TVs.

    So tired of the ‘accepted’ narrative that iTunes is problematic, or doesn’t work.

    • I certainly don’t love iTunes, especially on the Mac, but it’s been at least moving in the right direction for the past few years. The time for panic is when things are still getting worse, not when there’s an uptick in quality.

      • Moe Better 11

        Apple Music is better than iTunes? wow, ok and Russia is now allowing any one to run for office? US whistle blowers do not need to run to totalitarian states to keep their “freedom”?

        I could see Apple Music eventually being better than iTunes – it should have started that way – I mean SoundJam rocked! iTunes after it went “away” from music – not as much (and the iOS to iTunes updates are dumb).

        • As I said, I’m excluding Apple Music and only looking at the rest of iTunes.

    • Prof. Peabody

      Your experience is but one data point. Many many others would disagree with it.

      • John Parkinson

        And yet it’s put forward as fact that iTunes sucks. It’s not a fact, it’s an opinion.

        • Moe Better 11

          It is a fact, Apple Music sucks – a personal fact, that may be considered an opinion – as your mileage may vary and void where prohibited.

      • Moe Better 11

        one of many data points, i would wager… that say (for me) it is a fact that Apple Music sucks and blows. Maybe Eddy Cue has no clue … or Scott Forestall hacked Apple to make sure Apple Music would suck? I know he may be upset over the whole Apple Maps issue… even though Apple paid him for at least one year – not to work… and probably made much stock options to boot.

    • Tara Salt

      YES, THIS.

      How is iTunes a mess? I use it every day and have zero issues. I question anyone who says Apple Music on an iPhone is confusing – eek, are people that technology challenged? Mind you, some say the watch is confusing and that’s downright laughable.

      • David_SC

        From an ergonomic perspective alone, it is a mess on iOS. The song player’s default state to a ½ inch collapsed controller is ridiculous and dangerous when used in a mobile situation (car or running/walking). What was the purpose of getting a larger screen if you’re using a tenth of it for arguably the most popular app? And that vertical single-pixel line to control scrubbing…give me a break! At least provide options or pref settings to decide the default state of such operations.

        As for Apple Music, color me unimpressed when compared to Spotify in both simple operation and smooth performance….Spotify just works! (pun intended)

        • Ben Jammin

          Great point. I’m also frequently annoyed that the music controls and info on the lock screen are so small. I can’t ever read what the Artist or Album is because the type is tiny AND it’s rendered in light grey against a medium grey background.

          How could anyone at Apple think this is a good idea? And why can’t I swipe on the album art to go to the next track, like every other music app ever made? Why does the album art take up like 60% of the screen but do NOTHING at all when you click or swipe on it? What a waste of UI.

          • David_SC

            Oh, I know!! It’s why I still use CarTunes as my music app interface in the car.

            And how about that the collapsed controller is white…against a white main screen! Where does one start and the other end?!

            And the waste of 2 default buttons at the bottom (Radio, Connect) which only offer services if you have Apple Music. What?!! Remember how great it was when you could select which buttons were at the bottom and in what order? Now it’s nothing more than an irritating reminder to subscribe to Apple Music…reason enough alone to not!

          • I cannot use the lock screen controls at all, even on an iPad. They are all jammed together. I have large hands but I’m not Andre the Giant. But I can’t push play, previous track, or next track without changing the volume dramatically. Which in headphones can actually be dangerous to your ears.

            I downloaded 3rd party podcast and music apps, but was disappointed to find that the lock screen controls are a system thing you can’t escape. So 15 years after the iPod, I feel like I am playing music off a Windows PC. I have to login to go to the next track.

          • Bart

            You seriously thought that a 3rd party app would work on the lock screen?

            I’ve had the volume change unintentionally with the new version too, but it’s really not that difficult. Also, you can always just ask Siri, click the headphone control, shake to shuffle, use apple watch (also hard with big hands I guess).

            I think the key here is to use a very light touch, and not press it like you are pushing down a spring.

        • Admittedly nitpicking: Worth noting that’s not iTunes on iOS. The app called iTunes on iOS is razor focused and not bad.

          Music app: never had a problem scrubbing. Line looks about 4 (2x) px to me, but more importantly there’s no requirement you actually hit it. You just need to get close, just like the volume and brightness nobs.

          • The fact that you have to explain how to use the scrubber is a complete indictment of the terrible design of the scrubber.

            That scrubber is not designed to scrub. It is designed to be as invisible as possible. It is designed to be ashamed of itself so as not to distract from the hardware.

          • No, it’s not. Because the only people who have trouble with the scrubber are people who think computers ought to work in a particular way, rather than trusting the UI. Many real world devices have small but easily handled controls, and we handle it by simply grabbing them and discovering how easy they actually are to handle, rather than staring at them and complaining how small they are.

          • Larry Towers

            Trusting the UI? You do know that UI stands for user interface, as such it should meet the needs of the user, and just because one can adapt to an interface doesn’t mean it is well designed for the user.

          • I am familiar with basic application design concepts, yes. Are you familiar with basic human interaction?

          • Larry Towers

            If a user interface doesn’t work the way people think it should, especially those without extensive computer experience to bias them, that is bad UI design

        • The major problem with Apple’s music players is they are no fun. A jukebox is supposed to be fun. Apple’s music stuff now is like using a spreadsheet app to do your taxes.

          If you were lucky enough to run the music player on the very first iPad in 2010, it turned your iPad into an awesome jukebox that was beautiful to look at, obvious to understand, and truly fun to use. I still have that iPad and it has a second life as a home stereo, simply because it is just so much fun to play music off it. I’ve had parties where we just pass it around and people choose the next song, and nobody ever asks how do I use this? They are just delighted by it and they focus on the songs. On the other hand, I had to go to the manual recently to figure out how to turn on “repeat one song” on my iOS 9 iPad.

        • Bart

          So you had no trouble finding the scrub bar, but you just miss the old look of it?

      • freediverx

        How is iTunes a mess?

        Here are some examples:

        Apple Induced Anxiety https://matt.sh/apple-anxiety

        • Tara Salt

          I’ve had not one of these things happen to me. I’m a musicaholic who uses the phone/watch while I run and even that has posed no problems for me.

          • Bart

            Watch is GREAT for controlling iTunes. No need to fiddle around for the earbud controllers.

      • Bart

        Absolutely correct. iTunes does more than any other music program imaginable. I think some people just don’t like it because they don’t use it enough to know anything about it, or they are nostalgic for the older and much simpler versions. It’s really not difficult if you take a few minutes to work with it, and it’s never (in my experience) slow.

        The only thing I don’t like about Apple Music is that they just cut out the free music stations. That was better than a paid Pandora account, IMHO.

    • Craig Jacobs

      Using iTunes simply as a media manager isn’t that bad. There are much better – Plex for example is way better than iTunes for movies and shows, and the Apple TV and Roku Plex apps are great, and the music management is easier to navigate and search than iTunes, and it agnostic about endpoints. Airport, Chromecast, iOS, Android, etc.

      Where iTunes really sucks is if you have multiple iOS devices and multiple Macs, and need to manage apps, etc. Add Home Sharing and good luck. I haven’t opened iTunes in weeks. We now manage apps directly on the devices, and use Spotify to manage music and copy playlists to our devices. It works SO much better, and it’s Carplay interface is basically the same as Apple Music.

      • Riot Nrrrd™

        … and iTunes still doesn’t play FLAC files. Apple’s trying to force ALAC down our throats as an alternative still grates. Cross-platform support Apple, it’s a thing …

      • John Parkinson

        I have multiple Macs, multiple iOS devices, use Home Sharing, use Family Sharing. It all just works.

    • roberto zanconato

      Try using iTunes for classical music. It’s unusable.

  • Jay Martin

    Look no further than the Mac OS X releases of late and how poor the quality of those have been El Crapitan, even after the third dot release, is still a huge disaster for many users.

    And, every iOS release has broken authentication at some point during their beta releases, often times making it into the initial release as well.

    The culture of quality that Apple used to have – that led to the release of Snow Leopard as perhaps the most solid release of Mac OS X ever – has faded over time and there are no indications that the leadership even understands that they have a problem. This is something that’s been happening for years – I really hope that the management team at Apple will soon recognize that it’s a problem and address it.

    • Each release has been “a huge disaster for many users.” I’ve seen nothing that indicates El Capitan is in any way worse, and from my experience it’s the last significant structural update — both in terms of features and problems. It adds new features that mostly work, and breaks comparatively little.

      • Riot Nrrrd™

        Tell that to people who use music apps, or who have to deal with third party apps being forced to sign their apps (what about apps from now-defunct companies?).

        • Really? How about turning off GateKeeper? Fixed. If they’re defunct, they’re not going to need any of the new features you need to be signed for anyway.

          • Riot Nrrrd™

            “How about turning off GateKeeper? Fixed.”

            Seriously? That’s your answer?

          • Old software doesn’t work years later. Interferes with basic security. Find a workaround acceptable to you — which is probably that if you’re using that old software, you’re not trying much new software. Yes.

      • I just upgraded to El Capitan and have had no issues with any of my apps but one, and that was Panic’s Transmit which I haven’t updated since I bought it in something like 2006. $20 later and Transmit is golden and so am I.

        I know my anecdote isn’t data, but if other people are going to collate their anecdotes into some kind of negative spin, then we ought to be able to collate our positive anecdotes, right?

        • Bart

          My theory is that it’s mostly Fandroids who were utterly confused when trying iTunes on their GF’s iPhone.

      • Jay Martin

        As a Mac and iOS software developer, we have thousands of users that report problems, so it’s not just my personal experience, but our entire user base.

        • What’s the difference in number of reports between El Capitan and Yosemite, adjusted for number of users and adoption rate? What about Mountain Lion, Lion, Snow Leopard, Leopard, Tiger, etc? How much of the problems are bugs in your software?

          • Jay Martin

            We aren’t going to share specific information as it includes some proprietary data. What I can say is that instability and bugs have been steadily increasing since Snow Leopard (which I said above). I’m not including our bugs, only broken OS features/APIs/Apps. And not just features that break our software, but issues that our users have reported as ancillary issues that lend to system instability in general. We’ve seen this kind of breakage with iOS as well, but we never really had a stability release akin to Snow Leopard on iOS, so it’s more anecdotal.

  • David Stewart

    Part of this is that infrastructure work like this is not sexy and great work in the area is generally not recognized especially when pitted against the work being done to build new products. This is a general organizational sickness, but one which Apple is in a good position to address (and will ultimately need to to maintain position).

    One specific that is problematic for Apple is the “just works” idea. It is great and when all edge cases are covered elegantly it is brilliant, but often that is impossible and it just doesn’t work there is often no feedback or visibility into what is failing and where. That makes debugging as a user an unnecessarily frustrating experience.

    • No, “just works” is not impossible, because many of us have experienced years and years of it. From Apple.

      If you think that “just works” is hard now, then why was Apple able to do it when their products had 1% of the compute power and were being used in a completely Windows XP -dominated computing landscape?

      In 1999, my Mac Pro (then called Power Mac) had a 6 gigabyte hard disk and my Apple Wi-Fi base station connected to the Internet with a 56 kbits dial-up modem. And it “just worked” better than my current iPad with iOS 9 that has thousands of advantages by comparison.

      • David Stewart

        In the early days Apple devices were doing a lot less. Their current products have added layer upon layer of new magic while having to support the older magic as well, so the systems have become exponentially more complex. There are a lot of issues that can’t be handled in the “just works” model. Small bit errors due to radiation, hardware issues due to physical damage, many environmental issues, etc.

  • Counterargument: I would posit that we have rose-tinted glasses about Apple’s past, and previous OS releases have often been buggy.

    A few examples: – iPhone OS 2.0, the first one that introduced apps. First off, getting it installed and activated was a nightmare as Apple’s servers kept crashing. Even after that, you’d download an app, and 50% of the time the app would quit on startup, necessitating a reboot. (Many other iOS releases have had their own share of bugs.) – Mac OS for years and years pre-OS X. OS 9 was “okay” but in general power users were used to various instabilities as apps or extensions could bring down the system. – OS X 10.0, or 10.1, or 10.7 (Lion).

    Music is perhaps a new symptom in that the product is unbelievably complicated and they haven’t been able to build solid engineering given the crazy complicated product. IMO, that’s a sign of a product with too much crammed in for engineering to deliver on time, and that is very un-Apple-like.

    • Not just 10.0, 10.1 and 10.7! Remember System 7.5.4? Remember Mac OS 8 deleting files if you couldn’t move them? Remember the first FileVault, especially in 10.3? Remember 10.4 only using only the left half of your display for no good reason? Remember 10.5 and APE (though one can hardly blame Apple for the problem, it should have at least disabled the apps on upgrade)? Remember 10.6 which unexpectedly (to the media and other users not paying attention) dropped support for PowerPC apps?

      I think the quality of major releases has only gone up lately. And I don’t give much credit to Apple’s QC for that, I think it’s more because they’re trying to change less at once.

      • I was keeping my post short. We can go on for this for a while. 🙂

        As for online services: How about .Mac? The terrible .Mac Disk (can’t remember its name, but it was unbelievably unreliable and expensive?) Or MobileMe? Or the fact the first ~6 iPhones in a row crashed Apple and AT&T’s servers on release/preorder day?

        Perhaps things hit a peak of quality with Snow Leopard, but it used to be MUCH MUCH MUCH worse.

        • The only point I disagree about is Snow Leopard being a peak. 🙂

          Yes, 10.6.8 was pretty nice. But it took almost nine months to get there, including a new retail release (10.6.3). Apple didn’t out new retail releases for fun back then, but because the earlier versions were relatively dangerous and they felt the cost of putting out that new retail release was worth it in terms of reduced support costs from things going horribly awry.

          • Oh, I agree. I think Snow Leopard was fine but nothing special at best. But it seems to be the blogosphere consensus.

          • Blogs are like… well, everyone’s got one and they all stink.

          • Riot Nrrrd™

            You guys are nuts, I’ve used every OS X release since Rhapsody beta and 10.6.8 is by far the most solid and stable release they ever put out. “Nothing special” my @ss.

          • You don’t remember 10.6.1, 10.6.2 corrupting disks? Or the repeated failures of Apple to ship a stable 10.6.3? Or the disaster that was Back To My Mac, supposedly but not actually fixed finally in 10.6.7? The crash loops from corrupt images?

            As I said, 10.6.8 was pretty nice. But it took almost nine months for Apple to get there after 10.6.

          • Riot Nrrrd™

            I talked about 10.6.8, didn’t I? I didn’t mention previous releases. Obviously there wouldn’t have been a 10.6.8 without previous issues running up to and including 10.6.7.

          • So what are you arguing about? What makes us nuts?

          • Larry Towers

            what part of “10.6.8 is by far the most solid and stable release they ever put out.” did you not understand?

          • What part of 8 is hard to understand? What part of basic politeness is beyond your grasp?

      • David_SC

        All this “old” talk reminded me of the PowerPC clones…remember those?! Remember PowerComputing?! Now those were some crazy days in Apple Town. Didn’t know if they’d stay afloat much longer.

        And it provided me the luckiest purchase I ever made…400 shares of Apple stock at around $18/share in 2000. It’s why I insisted my kids have Macs when they went/go to college…Apple paid for that tuition!!

        • Yes! I never even saw a PowerComputing clone in person, but I remember their aggressive advertising very well.

          • I owned a PowerComputing 120 as my first “Mac” after finally retiring and moving on from my Atari Mega ST 2.

        • Riot Nrrrd™

          I used a Power Computing clone at work and it was quite nice.

        • lkalliance

          I had a UMAX clone myself, actually. Worked great at a significantly lesser price.

      • Craig Jacobs

        Power PC had to go. One of the worst things about Windows was the attempt to make it backwards compatible with every piece of legacy hardwar and software, making Windows bloated, buggy and slow. The inverse is one of best things about OS X – cutting the deadwood. It’s not like 105 magically stopped working on PowerPCs…

        • Oh, I totally agree.

          But the dropping of Rosetta (and it was completely dropped a release later than I thought) probably marked the first time a Mac couldn’t run an application from 1984. Prior to that, apps would probably have worked if they followed all of Apple’s rules.

          Me putting it on the list was less an objection to it happening and more pointing out the wailing and gnashing of teeth over it at the time.

    • I have a problem with all of your examples.

      • iOS 2.0 — iOS 1.x had only 10 million users, and only a small fraction of them ever ran 2.0 — most went from 1.x to 2.1 which was fine — but iOS 9 has one billion users

      • Classic Mac OS is irrelevant in every way to the current discussion because it was well-established even in 1996 when NeXT took over Apple that the mismanagement of Classic Mac OS was a major reason for the change

      • OS X 10.0 and 10.1 were not production releases — they came with a warning that they were for developers and for early adopter testing only and always had a Mac OS 9 escape hatch you could pull — today we are talking exclusively about mainstream production releases

      • 10.7 Lion — even though I had 2 Macs at the time which I used 10–12 hours per day, I never ran a buggy version of Lion because I didn’t start using it until something like 10.7.8, something like 18 months after Lion was released — that simply isn’t how things work today … if you wait even 6 months after an iOS release and you have not updated, you will have apps that no longer update, you will have network services that stop working or complain all the time

      And I don’t think anybody is saying that the old software didn’t have bugs. I think what is being said is that the user experience has changed dramatically over the past few years from “just works” to “only just works.” And this is at a time when, for example, you can go to work and find that a paper binder you have been using for years has been replaced with an iPad. That iPad needs to be as reliable and usable as the paper binder. But instead, it is one more flaky computer that you have to manage and workaround. And your phone. And your set-top. And your work computer. And your home computer. And your music player. And your watch.

      So even if the software from 2005 was just as bad as today’s, the world has changed, so that level of software quality that was success in the past would be miserable failure now. Today’s software has to be 1000x better than the software from 2005 because it is used 1000x as much by 1000x more people. And instead, most people feel it is actually worse than the software from 2005. So that is a huge problem.

      • Wait, what!?

        If iOS 2.0 had so few users, and so many of them had problems, it’s in fact much better today when iOS has 1 billion users and still gets high ratings by most surveys. And iOS 2.1 still wasn’t very good; it just fixed about 70% of the startup crashes, but I still had regular failures. It wasn’t until iOS 3 until the App Store platform became reliable.

        I’m amused how you like to redraw the “prerelease” or “small userbase” lines to fit a narrative, but the reality is, Apple released OS X 10.0, 10.1, iOS 2.0, and so on. If anything, their release criteria is far more polished today.

        Re Lion: again, you’re drawing different lines here across different platforms. You don’t have to run El Cap today. You can wait. iOS and OS X aren’t the exact same. Also, most iOS software does in fact still run on 8.x. However, I upgraded without hesitation on both. I wouldn’t always do that in the past.

        And, if you need, I can cite a lot more issues (and in fact Steven and I did). iDisk DID NOT just “work.” It was freaking awful and I was terribly scared to use it. I had coworkers who lost data with VileFault (that’s in fact what we used to call it, it was so bad).

        Finally: 1000x improvements in software are nigh upon impossible. This is a fundamental principle of software engineering. Granted, Apple Music was too complicated from the start, but I freely admitted as such in my earlier post; it has product issues, and the engineering issues stem from them.

      • You are completely full of shit here. Classic Mac OS was an Apple product. 10.1 became the default OS on new Macs. iOS 2.0 was Apple’s first major update to their new OS. And 10.7 was fine… when you upgraded, over a year later? Well, that’s awesome! Sounds like Apple shipped a great 10.7.0, then. Maybe you should wait 11 months for El Cap.

  • rogifan

    Eddy Cue needs to go. Period. Or at least put him in a role where he’s not in charge of software.

  • Prof. Peabody

    This is Apple’s dirty little secret really. I’m glad someone is finally talking about it. It really does a great disservice to their customers too. The whole Pages debacle where they told everyone they were making a decent word-processor and encouraged everyone to switch only to completely abandon them. Then, re-design the entire thing. Then, tell us that we should switch to the new version. Then abandon everyone again. It’s really quite appalling behaviour.

    I blame it on their software culture myself. The famous “small teams” that are shuffled around from project to project, leaving each one of those projects to flounder for sometimes years in-between.

    They should really take some hints and advice from the MS Office for Macintosh team IMO. The way they work is exemplary as anyone who knows them can tell you. And at least they are in their offices working at the product each day, instead of being completely absent for two years out of every three.

    • Finally talking about it? Come on. “Worst Apple release ever!” has been “the truth” for half a decade.

      • Prof. Peabody

        Eh. Depends on what circles you travel in I suppose. I know that whenever I bring up problems with Pages on a forum, or with my tech friends I either get silence or shouting.

        Sometimes I think the biggest thing that has to change is people have to stop idolizing this company. We should be able to criticise them without an army of “but, but … Apple is the best!” trolls jumping on our backs. They aren’t that great.

        • I think the iPhone 3GS launch, where my friend sat in line 6+ hours when the activation servers crashed, was worse. 😉

          Perhaps the difference is that a larger public idolizes the company, but us heavy Apple users have for years seen that with the good comes the bad, and there’s been plenty of issues and annoyances.

          • Your friend waited how long before his phone was activated? A day at most right? Not saying that is acceptable, but by a month later he had probably forgotten, right? And his alternative was a candy bar phone.

            We are talking here about 2–3 years of constant software failures that are getting worse and no hope in sight of that being solved. I think that is much worse.

          • Actually, it was his last iPhone. I don’t think the launch day helped. Since then, I’ve avoided iOS launch days.

            That said, I freely admit the two aren’t exactly comparable; there’s a difference between heavy traffic, systemic issues, and product issues. If you want to talk office productivity: how about when Apple bought Claris and steadily dropped support for all the apps? iWork isn’t the first time Apple’s had a passive-aggressive approach to office productivity software. Not by a long shot.

            Ironically, knowing Apple’s previous office efforts, I went into iWork knowing exactly what it was, and for light home editing, it’s been rock solid for me. That said, I think you could make an argument that they should refund earlier iWork purchases for people who got burned. But this is really not a surprise.

        • No, they’re not “that great.” But I think it’s important to keep the past in perspective and realize there’s really no “…now” at the end of that. They’ve never been perfect, and I think it’d be pretty easy to argue they’ve been worse in the past than they are now.

        • Amen.

          But they could be that great and that’s the part that’s frustrating.

          • I think that’s fair. Apple has shown glimpses of greatness. But if you track them over history, while they might closer than MS as they tend to jettison their legacy baggage, they have always been far from perfect.

        • Craig Jacobs

          Apple has gone from being the best to being the least shitty. So technically I guess they are still the “best”. I have to say that as many flaws as OS X has, it’s still far and away the best desktop OS in existence. This is no small part to its UNIX core. OS X for the most part gets out of my way and lets me work. Finder really pisses me off sometimes though. Still no “cut”, and the grey icons are really bad visually. I guess no one at apple knows that for years icons that color indicated disabled.

          If I could drop Windows Explorer into OS X I would be so happy.

          • If you haven’t already, try Pathfinder. It is sort of a “Finder Pro.” I don’t use it, but I’ve heard many people rave about it.


          • The difference between “best” and “least shitty” is your attitude, not their ranking.

          • Craig Jacobs

            Maybe. All I know is that iOS used to be a joy to use because pretty much everything it did, it did well. Now it does a lot of stuff, and a lot of it is mediocre. Feels like Windows.

        • One thing that is misunderstood about longtime Apple users is that we used to be Apple’s most vocal critics because the reason we were using Apple gear at all is that we had really high standards. If we didn’t, we would have been using the Windows PC our work had given us for free.

          When iOS 2 shipped and it was awful, I immediately wrote to Steve Jobs and said this is not acceptable, we are using these devices all day every day for all of our communications now, and they can’t fail like this. And he wrote back and said “we’re on it.”

          I think part of the problem today is that the majority of Apple users are refugees from Microsoft and Google and through no fault of their own, they have low software quality standards. As long as Apple software is marginally better than Microsoft and Google software then they are feeling pretty good.

          I’ve seen my friends have their Apple product fail and they go “well, that’s computers for you!” whereas I get angry that a $1000 phone can’t make it through a 9.1 to 9.2 software update without multiple crashes, and I want them to get out a pitch fork and come down to the Apple Store with me and complain. But their perspective is that computers are supposed to crash and they are supposed to be inscrutable and hard to use. They don’t think of it as Apple’s fault.

          And I have also had a friend tell me that software failures in iOS are not Apple’s fault because Apple only makes the hardware. It is Google that makes the software.

      • No, that is not true. iOS 6 was better than 5 which was better than 4 which was better than 3 which was better that 2 which was better than 1. And the first iPhone was better than the iPod that preceded it.

        Are you saying that people who were running iOS 2 with a bunch of 3rd party apps longed to go back to iOS 1? Because I don’t remember it that way. But I certainly remember getting my first iOS device with the iOS 7 UI (it was iOS 8 actually) and wishing that the device was running iOS 6.

        But even if what you say is true, that is irrelevant. Computing has changed over the past few years from something some of us did 8 hours per day to something all of us do 24 hours a day in one way or another. There are people unlocking their front doors with an iPhone, or setting their home alarm with an iPhone. Apple’s software needed to get exponentially more reliable and usable over the past few years, and instead it either a) stayed the same according to you, or b) got worse according to me. Either one of those is a failure.

        • Nostalgia strikes again: There were no third party apps in iPhone OS 1.

          As for it being irrelevant whether it was always this bad: It’s absolutely relevant as long as people are demanding a return to the old days, especially if you can demonstrate the old days were worse.

          I think Apple’s defect rate is much lower now than it was, and I’m not even adding “…for the size of what they’re doing now” to that thought. It’s just better in absolute terms.

          What’s changed is we have higher expectations and requirements now. It’s not good enough for software to “just work” when part of that involves restarting with command-option-P-R held down, then rebuilding your desktop. People (rightly, I think!) whine when they have to restart their phone or watch. iOS, OS X and watch OS need to be better. They need to have fewer bugs, be self-healing, etc, etc.

          So please: Stop asking for so little. Demand more. (Just keep in mind that yes, you’re right to demand more… but it’s also true that you’re holding them to a higher standard.)

    • BlueBoomPony

      Come over to the Apple forums. We’ve been bitching about it for years. 🙂

    • Bart

      You are holding up WORD as an example? Seriously? Did you ever use Word 6? To me, Word will always be famous for thumbing their nose at how things should be done.

  • justis

    I think there’s a fourth reason at the heart of this: Apple doesn’t have a senior technologist who understands software the way Steve Jobs and his old team did. Jonny Ive is a hardware guy. Who is keeper of faith for Apple’s software quality? They need that person.

    • Craig Jacobs

      Unfortunately, Jony didn’t like that person so Tim Cook fired him.

      • Your keeper of Apple’s software quality signed off on the first release of Maps.

        • If you found that Apple Maps 6 (which was really a 1.0) didn’t work well in your area, the workaround was to type maps.google.com into Safari.

          Do you really think that is worse than 3 straight years of the entire Apple software stack declining in quality?

          I helped a friend update their iPhone from 9.0 to 9.2 recently and it took us all evening because the device just kept rebooting and rebooting halfway through the Welcome process. Her phone was out for many hours and she was not reachable even in an emergency, and that phone was her only 911 conduit also. And we did not even want to be welcomed by iOS 9.2. We just wanted to update from 9.0 because her FaceTime had stopped working. That one evening with my friend updating her iOS 9.0 to 9.2 was much, much, much, [1000 muches removed] worse than any experience I ever heard about with Apple Maps, which actually worked just fine for me in northern California.

          • You’re the one holding him up as your saviour, Simon, despite evidence to the contrary that he really didn’t give a shit about users.

        • Craig Jacobs

          Sure. But honestly that was almost 100% data and not coding, and at least the overall UI was legible and consistent… Not sure you can blam the development team if the database is shitty.

          • Well, it’s part of the experience. It’s hard to argue it was properly tested if there wasn’t data there behind it to support it. 🙂

          • Craig Jacobs

            I’ve strongly suspected for a long time that the core iOS team only really tests stuff in and around Cupertino, although that may have changed recently. They probably honestly didn’t know that the data was bad for a lot of areas, becasue they don’t do beta tests, and there is no way Apple could test everywhere. I bet Scott was surprised as anyone that the data was bad. I may be wrong. I could be convinced otherwise.

            Personally I felt the whole maps thing was overblown. A lot of it was driven by angst about ditching Google maps which Apple absolutely had to do – they could not allow Google to be in control of a critical iOS function like that. I think the apology was over the top, and I actually thing Scott was right on that.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of Forstall, and he has a reputation for being a big dick. But he did know software design.

          • I don’t really have enough evidence to judge the last sentence there, and I don’t think that evidence actually exists outside of rumours which may or may not be true. Otherwise, absolutely agree.

    • Nailed it.

  • Ben Jammin

    My problem is that I have been finding MANY obvious bugs in Apple software lately, both iOS and OS X. Some are simple and common things that make me wonder “Does anyone at Apple actually use this stuff?” — so I go to Bug Reporter and spend time entering in all of the information, only to be told “This is a duplicate of an existing bug report.” but the way Bug Reporter is set up, you cannot search for nor view bugs from other users. This is just plain retarded and wastes EVERYONE’s time. I am not a developer, just a regular user, and I am appalled at how many bugs I find in Apple’s software. You try to help them fix it, but it seems like any bug reports just go into a black hole whether you use Bug Reporter, talk to someone at the Genius Bar in store, or call their 1-800 help line.

    For example, one bug that I have noticed since iOS 8.0 on four different devices is that if I use Siri to say “Remind me at 10am to call Kerry” and it interprets it as “Remind me at 10am to call Carrie” and I tap on “Carrie” to correct it to “Kerry” it will then create TWO reminders. One to call Carrie and another to call Kerry. How does this get past QA? Surely if I correct Siri’s input then I do NOT want the original interpretation as a reminder, I want only the corrected version. This worked fine in iOS 7 and has been broken since iOS 8. I submitted this bug report many months ago and it is still broken even though we’ve had at least 3+ software updates since then. WHY has this critical bug not been fixed?!?

    • Tara Salt

      I agree that the Siri over correction has gone into hyperdrive. 99.9% of the time Siri types EXACTLY what I say and then it overthinks and post corrects and makes a mess. It was perfect until the last update.

      • And yet she is still telling me “a watched iPad never boils” for like the 100,000th time after I say “timer 30 minutes.” It got to the point where I set the timer manually now.

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        • Tara Salt

          I make tea. I use the timer ALL the time and she only says this to me once a month, if that.

          If you simply say “set timer to X minutes” then it just starts the timer.

      • Ben Jammin

        I noticed that the Reminders duplication bug STILL exists in iOS 10 beta 6. Crazy. I even emailed Craig Federighi about it many months ago and he said it would be fixed. I like the improvements in iOS 10 but I’m a bit dismayed that Apple seems to push forward so much without going back and fixing old bugs.

  • Ron Miller

    My biggest frustration is iCloud. I love the idea of my data remaining in sync between all of my devices, but it fails so often for me. My biggest problem with iCloud has actually been with iCloud drive. My daughters use Pages and Keynote to do school projects, and often go back and forth between different computers.

    Frequently, iCloud just ceases to work. Pages just gives a cryptic “cannot open file” when trying to open files that are stored in iCloud and also can no longer save files to iCloud drive. The strange thing is that I can copy the files out of iCloud drive into another directory on my computer and then it will open just fine (but now I can no longer see it on other devices). It is so frustrating.

    • jcgarza

      I agree; one would hope that things as simple as Notes and Reminders would immediately sync every time you use them, but for some reason that just seems too much to ask. I’ve lost count of the many times I open reminders on my home desktop (or in the iCloud site on my work computer) only to see that my reminders are not up to date, and will not update until I make a change on that platform. How can you trust anything else they make!

    • Riot Nrrrd™

      Dropbox – for files, anyway – uses a much better replication model.

      • But Dropbox is not private or trustworthy.

  • Kris404

    It’s obvious the execs don’t use the software themselves. Jobs & Forstall probably used to test drive the software themselves.

    • Now that’s simply ludicrous. Many of the issues are core applications, unavoidable.

      What’s obvious is they don’t use the software exactly like you do.

  • DougGrinbergs

    It seems Apple is suffering from major growing pains and marketing people are calling the shots. (:-(

  • Cranky Observer

    As I’ve noted before in these threads, I get the very strong impression that there is not a single person working at Apple who (1) uses a DSLR or imaging device other than the latest 128 GB iPhone (2) manages images, image sharing, and file storage/archiving issues for non-techie family members. Because if there were they would understand how non-functional iCloud and the current suite of image management parts-and-pieces is.

    Along the lines of the old vs. new MIT Media Lab in How Buildings Learn, I fear that the new Spaceship Doughnut(tm) HQ will make this isolation worse.

    • I use a D5100 and an old 16GB iPhone 5, and I’m not sure what you’re running into. You’re using iCloud Photo Library, right? If not, you should try it… it’s probably the only Apple online service that works exactly like it’s supposed to, and fixes real problems. 🙂

      • iCloud Photo Library has been torturing my girlfriend for months now. But I guess as long as it is working for you there must be no problem with it.

  • whodakat

    I’m sorry but I think this is absurd. Keeping in mind that anything and everything can always be better, I think the only thing that has changed over the years is people’s expectations. I’ve been a registered developer for years and I’m usually running whatever beta is out, even on my primary devices! I’ve had the occasional problem (of course), but on the whole iOS and OS X are pretty rock solid. Does Apple make all the decisions I would like them to make? Of course not, but I rarely have real issues. I think journalists know that dogging on Apple gets page hits, and most people just believe what they read on the internet anyways and never seek out actual experience.

    I want to mention specifically, iTunes and Apple Music. The way Walt goes on and on about how bad Apple Music was when it first came out, you’d think every time you launched the Music app the phone would burst into flames. Oh the humanity! I said to save this song to my library and…and…it didn’t. That isn’t me being an apologist, there were definitely bugs in the 1.0 software, but they absolutely did not render the service useless or anywhere near it. Back to people’s expectations though, I think if Android or Microsoft released Apple Music, Walt and Jim’s articles would have had a different slant. And that’s not because I don’t like MS or Android, or think those guys hate Apple it’s just expectations are different for Apple. Seriously, have you seen Samsung apps? Where is the outrage?

    • freediverx

      Seriously, have you seen Samsung apps? Where is the outrage?

      I don’t buy Samsung products so I am neither surprised nor outraged by their poor quality and design.

      I do buy a lot of Apple products, and that brand loyalty is based on much higher expectations than I would have for Samsung or Microsoft.

      This isn’t just about bugs. It’s about terrible software design compared to what we’ve grown to expect from Apple over the years.

      I think the source of the problem is two-fold:

      1) Hardware design is firing on all cylinders, and the software side of the business is struggling to introduce big new features at the same pace while maintaining their previous standards for quality.

      2) Apple is struggling to attract and retain the best developers and designers, competing against other well-funded Silicon Valley companies where they can work on arguably more interesting projects with shorter hours and lower stress levels.

      • Craig Jacobs

        I disagree. I think the fundamental problem is that now that SJ is gone, and Forrestal is gone, individuals are asserting themselves and their individual visions, and the guy at the top doesn’t know enough to say NO! and somehow the hardware designer got put in charge of software design which are two fundamentally different discipline, and they put the packaging / marketing guy in charge of the UI, and the guy at the top is not a product guy. This is a top down problem. Cook is a great CEO and a great manager, a great organizer and a great numbers guy, but seriously lacks product insights.

        • What you are talking about is editorial. To be fair to Apple, editorial is the biggest problem in computing and digital media. There is almost no editorial or even understanding of what editorial is at almost all of the tech companies.

          But I think Steve Jobs was both CEO and Editor-in-Chief (EIC) and that it was his EIC position that was most important to the success of the company. Tim Cook has done an amazing job replacing the irreplaceable Steve Jobs as CEO, but the EIC chair seems to be empty right now.

          Maybe Scott Forestall was trying to fill the EIC position, or maybe not. I don’t know. But the things that were said when he got fired felt to me like the writers and photographers at a newspaper firing the EIC so that they could all work together in harmony while nobody criticized their work or killed one of their stories.

          The problem is, if a newspaper has no editorial vision, there is no difference between reading it and reading some random sampling of news from the Internet. It becomes totally generic. And we see the Apple products becoming more and more generic over the past few years. And like the generic tech companies, the user is left to be their own EIC. Some users like that, especially very technical users. They want to wipe all the apps off a device (and even the OS in some cases) and put on all-new custom stuff and their best choices of apps. But most users don’t have the time or energy for that. We pay Apple for that. But we’re not necessarily getting that today.

          • Larry Towers

            “And we see the Apple products becoming more and more generic over the past few years.” I unfortunately see the opposite. Looking at their computer releases, new mac pros, mac minis dropping/changing of ports on devices, they are getting less and less generic to set themselves apart, but have generic levels of quality.

        • You make great points.

          I’m not so sure Cook needs to have product insights as long as he has people under him who do. I think the problem lies one layer beneath him with Jony Ive and others at his level. Jony Ive is not a software guy but it sure does seem like he’s put his fingers in the software area big time. That’s conjecture, he may only be influencing the flat visual design, not anything else but it’s tough to know for sure.

          To be fair, Job too didn’t really design anything but he told people what he liked and what he didn’t like until the designs were clear and clean the way he wanted them. I don’t think Cook is doing any of that and it may be that Ive is so powerful and untouchable that when he does it, no one gives him any push back.

          Bugs are bugs, but the lack of choreographed usability between Mac and iOS feels like turf wars to me.

          • Craig Jacobs

            Ive is explicitly in charge of UI design, and Alan Dye is his direct report. “Jonathan Ive is Apple’s Chief Design Officer, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Jony is responsible for all design at Apple, including the look and feel of Apple hardware, user interface, packaging, major architectural projects such as Apple Campus 2 and Apple’s retail stores, as well as new ideas and future initiatives.”

          • Well then, would you say Ive is responsible for the kinds of problems people like Mossberg and others are finding in Apple software? Design isn’t just the way things look is it? It’s also the way things work.

          • Craig Jacobs

            I would and it is. Not solely responsible, but the stuff that bugs me the most is primarily the UI in iOS. Ive and Dye seem way too focused on how things look, and not so much on how they work. The hard edge on the MacBook is a perfect example. It looks awesome. Uncomfortable as hell. Helvetica Neue looks awesome on the iPhone, but it’s hard to read and hampers usability. The flattening looks good to me but many of the visual clues (discoverability) went out the window with the flat look. And speaking of discoverability, so many hidden gestures with no visual cues. I understand the desire to not clutter up an interface (I persona;;y have NOTHING on My Mac desktop, for example but how do you know to swipe down to get command center? Or up to get to the volume, etc? or Right to search? You find them by accident. The iOS UI breaks many rules for UI. Ive and Dye should enrole in an interaction design class. I have taken interaction design. It’s enlightening.

    • I’ve been a registered developer for years and I’m usually running whatever beta is out, even on my primary devices!

      That is why it seems to you that nothing has changed. But for almost everyone else, we have gone from running non-betas to running betas and we don’t like it.

      I used to wait a year before installing a new OS X version, and I would get something like 10.x.5 when I did. Now, if I wait a year, there is another OS X with a 10.x.0 number on it.

      I used to wait 6 months before each new iOS, but then I would get a solid iOS. I am so bug-averse that I even skipped iOS 7 entirely because so many changes had been made at once. Then I got a new iPad with iOS 8.1 on it, thinking that by now they should have a really rock-solid neo-iOS going, and it was full of bugs. The device crashed on me multiple times in the first week. The entire device! And a brand-new device! When my original iPad maybe crashed once in its entire life.

      So even though I’m doing the opposite of running betas — waiting for mature versions — I am now getting a beta experience, whereas I was not getting a beta experience before.

      Also, since you do technical work, you may not be distracted when you find a bug and have to workaround it. You may not have to mode-switch to technical thinking because you are already doing technical thinking. But for many of us, a technical interruption that causes a mode-switch that is disastrous for our work. I really do have to take off my music or art hat and put on an I-T hat to workaround a bug. So you might be able to workaround 20 things a day and not really even notice or remember. Me, if my iPad pops up a dialog box while I’m recording a music session (which it did the other day) then that is a disaster. It literally interrupted me when I was singing to tell me that I could get iOS 9.2.1 to replace my iOS 9.2.0. That is a disaster. And most people would not even say that is a bug. But it is a bug because I had tasked the iPad with being a recording system, and it stopped doing that and turned into a naggy computer.

      So you really proved Walt’s point for him.

  • CKonfrst

    Two words: Mobile Me. This is not a new problem.

    • Mobile Me literally had like 10,000 users. iOS 9 has 1 billion users. It is not the same problem at all.

  • sathinator

    Apple’s software across the board has gone downhill in a big way since SJ passed away. It was not always perfect under SJ either, but bugs that came to his attention were quickly stomped on. Apple Music is still atrocious – that alone is a mistake I just can’t forgive – it has complete screwed up my music playing experience when it did “just work.” I HATE IT.

    Mail has become a joke, and I have noticed emails appearing and then disappearing into the ether, never to be seen again. Search in Mail is also laughably bad. I just ordered a Nexus 5X last night and will be using that until Apple gets its shit together on the software front.

    Android recorded far fewer app crashes last year that iOS for the first time. It is now much more stable and reliable. My only caveat is Google’s issues with privacy and the general security of Android.

    I think I’m going to start booting into my Windows 10 partition on the Mac more often now too.


    • For the Mail problem, you might have a corrupted local database. Once corrupted (at any point in the past) it’ll probably stay corrupted. This isn’t as bad as it sounds; do a few Google searches and you’ll find detailed descriptions of how to fix it. (Mostly: quit Mail, trash a particular file, restart Mail and let it re-index.)

    • Craig Jacobs

      I was with you up to Windows 10. I have a Surface Pro. Windows 10 makes me want to kill kittens. Windows 10 is marginally better than Windows 8, But I’ll take Vista over Windows 10. The UX is HORRIBLE. It’s schizophrenic, disjointed and messy. I actually liked Windows 7 for a number of things. The ONLY thing I use my Surface for is testing web apps in Edge, and I dread firing it up. Which is sad, becasue it’s nice hardware. I can’t even hack Windows 7 onto it.

      • Edge made me look at Microsoft for the first time in what feels like 100 years. I don’t know if it was executed well, but it was certainly the right idea.

        • Craig Jacobs

          Edge is fine. It’s Windows 10 that I can’t stand.

  • sathinator

    Oh yeah, iCloud is hopeless too. Apple’s cloud services have always sucked, and they are still barely acceptable. And they have the hide to charge us for useful storage capacities. I’m starting to switch more and more of my stuff away from Apple at the moment. It’s not something I had ever seriously conceived of until recently, but I’ve had it.

    • That is the same with me. I just switched to Chrome after literally 13 straight years of using nothing but Safari.

      • I don’t know if it has been changed, but when I reinstalled my Mac OS X and moved over apps manually, Chrome was up to about 9GBs in size. It stores a lot of stuff inside it, and it gradually slows and will exhibit all sorts of trouble. I reinstalled that app instead of moving it over from my backup, and so far, so good.

  • Bob D

    iCal has gotten so bad at syncing across devices that we had to drop it and switch to Google calendar.

  • Tom_P

    And iWorks? Pages used to be a great word processing app. Now???..

  • Craig Jacobs

    I think it’s #2 unfortunately. I have a huge list of things that are wrong with apps on the iPhone, starting with the overall UX. I like the was iOS 7,8,9 look, but they are not as easy to use as 6. The choice of fonts, the size of text, the lack of contrast, the removal of visual clues. Apple Music is not a great app, Spotify on the iPhone has a much better UI, and Spotify works better than Apple Music. Siri is ridiculous. Ask what time Home Depot closes while driving and you’ll get something like I can’t do a web search while driving. Ask Google and it will tell you that Home Depot closes in 45 minutes. There are tones of examples like this.

    I know this is going to ruffle a lot of feathers, but Jony Ive is not a great designer. Most of his work is hugely derivative, and as pretty as Apple devices are, they are more like museum pieces than usable. The hard front edge on the aluminum MacBooks, the fact that if you set you iPhone 6 down without a case the back scratches, the awkward placement of the buttons (use volume to take picture, turn off phone), the continual seeking of thinner when the 5s was thin enough. Battery life is more functional than shaving off another 1.5 mm. The Apple Watch Crown is also an awkward misfire that looked great in renderings, but in real use was relegated to a button. I could go on. And Jony really doesn’t get software UX, and Alan Dye may design nice packaging, print ads, etc, but that doesn’t really translate to software UI. Seriously, who else but a print designer would think Helvetica Neue light would be a good system font on a 4″ screen?

    The fundamental problem is that Tim Cook is not a product guy. Tim Cook isn’t calling you on a Sunday morning becasue your icon gradient is the wrong shade of yellow. Jobs was a product guy through and through. Jony Ive is not the guy Apple needs making product decisions, as it appears he is. He oversees both hardware and software design. Someone needs to get through to Tim Cook and make the point that they need to right this software ship.

    I’ve been an exclusive iPhone user since 2007. I have been increasingly unhappy with the software over the last 2 years to the point where I have extricated myself from the Apple ecosystem – Dropbox and Office 365 instead of iCloud, Spotify and Plex instead of iTunes, etc. It kinda makes me sad, but It’s highly likely my next phone will be a Nexus, a big part of which is Google Now is SO much better than Siri.

    • Has it been a while since you used Siri?

      “When does the closest Home Depot close?” “The Home Depot on Vedder Way is open from 7 AM to 9 PM today.”

      • Craig Jacobs

        Just now. I think the problem here is that there are 14 home depots within 50 miles, and even if I say, … on 90th street … It gives me a list. Apparently the word closest is the key for that particular inquiry.

        How many times did you need to try that before you discovered that “closest” was the correct phrase?

        • Sort of one, but not really. I was driving when it presented the list, so I just added “the closest” and tried again. Until your post I didn’t realize it wouldn’t work if you just tapped something on the list; sorry about that! 🙂

  • Max

    Recently I thought there was something wrong with my iPhone as when I pressed and held the home button to activate Siri there was no confirmation beep. I have an iPad mini, Air 2 and Pro, the beep all works with them, I also asked several of my friends to try holding the home button on their phone, they beeped as well.

    I figured there was something wrong with my phone, it is a 128GB 6S plus, it has issues, the music app works sporadically, probably 60% of the time it hangs on the Apple Music page and the ‘go to my music’ link does not appear. When using Messages, the orientation gets all screwy if you change the orientation of the phone while doing something like taking a photo to insert into the message.

    So in order to resolve my issue, I backed up my phone and restored, that did not work. Next, I reinstalled the OS by downloading the latest ipsw file and restoring the phone using that. That did not work either. I called Apple support, and the guy I talked to, really nice guy, seemed genuinely surprised when he tried Siri on his own phone and there was no beep.

    Turns out, the people Apple has writing the software seem to think it is a good idea to have a different user experience on several select devices, and this, no beeping, in fact is a feature. I can’t think of any good logical reason why implementing such a seemingly arbitrary decision is a good idea.

    Between the missing double beep issue, inconsistencies in keyboards (they are slightly different on every device I own) and the extra $200 in overage fees the ridiculous undocumented ill conceived Wi-Fi Assist ‘feature’ cost me, iOS devices are becoming more frustrating to use. This is not even getting into the issues on OS X. The only thing I can think of with the Wi-Fi Assist feature is that Apple has decided to use the Windows 2000 Server as a model for how to roll out new features, everything on! Either way, it seems that the user experience is secondary to whimsical decisions that defy logic or reason.

    I have been using Macs since 1987 and I have slowly been moving away from Apple solutions as they are usually somewhat limited compared to other more feature rich solutions, although in the past they have usually worked better as a whole. I am finding as time goes by, this is no longer the case. I now use Plex, Sonos and Chromecast for my media since iTunes has become intolerable. Why there is no Apple solution where I can attach a hard disk or NAS to my Airport and access all my media from any device on my network is beyond me.

    I fear that Apple will continue to roll out half baked disjointed solutions until there are serious problems with revenue as they seem so busy congratulating themselves as evidenced by Phil Schiller ‘Can’t innovate anymore, my ass!’ comment when rolling out a professional computer shaped like a trash can. A computer aimed at graphics and video professionals that does not accept expansion cards and won’t fit in a rack.

    In the past Apple has delighted their users with products that while not problem free (what technology product is?) generally exceeded expectations and fulfilled whatever function the product had that was easier and slicker than the competition. An Apple Car? Why? I would settle for a phone I don’t want to smash on the ground out of frustration, and a computer that does not delete my music collection for my convenience!

  • Riot Nrrrd™

    I’m a Sysadmin and my lifeblood is efficient e-mail handling. I can definitely empathize with Walt on this one.

    Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard’s Mail.app was the best mail app I’ve ever used. Then 10.7 Lion came out and suddenly it was the worst. I felt like the kid and the Emperor with the clothes problem. “How is this thing as slow as molasses now after being so good before? Why this crappy redesign, too? Surely I can’t be the only one who sees how horrid this is?”

    Even now it’s barely back to being useable by 10.10.5. How the heck does this even happen?!?

  • It is not just the apps. I think the drop in app quality is just a symptom of the drop in operating system quality. Both in design and engineering. That is why so many 3rd party apps have also had a concurrent drop in quality over the past 2–3 years.

    My speculative reason for this problem (call it a #4) is that Apple is simply not serious about software anymore. In the sense of the Alan Kaye quote:

    “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” — Alan Kay

    That implies an organizational structure with software people in charge and hardware people supporting them. But 2–3 years ago, from what I understand, Apple did a reorganization that was exactly the opposite. Am I supposed to believe it is just coincidence that the software has been awful since then?

    I used to know an artist whose studio was divided into 2 areas: 90% of it had canvases and easels and oils and pastels and that is where he made his art, and 10% of it had hammers and nails and wood and screws and wire and that is where he made frames for each finished painting. He split his time 90:10 also. I asked him why he makes his own frames when so many other artists just have somebody else do it, and his answer was a variation of the Alan Kay quote you see above. He said: “the painting is not really finished until it is framed.”

    But imagine my artist friend got so many compliments on his frames that he started spending 10% of his time on his paintings and 90% on frames. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the quality of his paintings fall off dramatically, and we probably wouldn’t feel that the elaborate frames made up for that.

    I think that is what happened to Apple. They used to make software that was perfectly framed by hardware. Now they make hardware that happens to have some software in it.

  • StruckPaper

    I’ve been saying for years that Apple prioritizes hardware and operating system above other software and software services. This was true when Jobs was alive and true now. ITunes got progressively worse as it grew in layers and functions. One wonders why acolytes like Jim and Mossberg took so long in recognizing or admitting this. This is NOT a new problem.

  • iCloud is the sw that desperately needs more love, it just doesn’t work most of the time. Bookmark sync, forget it, book read mark, only sometime, large mac photo sync, you wish, large data upload, are you kidding? I wish Jobs bought dropbox, they talked but nothing happened. It’s a pity since service will be the next big thing, they have strong hw and sw foundations but poor poor network service platform.

  • Yes of course, today Apple has same problem with their Mobile App Development

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  • vaguely

    I get the impression that there is no continuity is the various app teams. Once something gets pushed out it can be an age for bug fixes to turn up if they ever do (iMovie and Garageband, I’m looking at you). It suggests people are swiftly moved on after release to whatever the new priority is. I’ve no problem with a “take a step backwards to move forwards” approach, but if you say “this feature will be back in a future release” you had better deliver in a timely manner. And bugs had better be fixed PDQ. That’s what is missing, for me. “Not enough people are complaining, so there is no case for devoting resources” is a fundamentally flawed model.

  • Denis Lee

    I would argue… that when an article turns negative on Apple, we observe an obvious pile-on. Tons of cheap hits. Apple is not perfect. But they are amazing. The question, in my opinion, is my life is better with apple than without apple. In unimaginable ways. But I have been supporting Apple products since the System 6. We live in an amazing time. If you are honest, the Apple experience is way better than it used to be. Go back to a Tiger era machine and cringe at how dated and minimalist that stuff was. And then there is Steve Jobs. I loved Steve Jobs, but let him rest. Apple lives and the words “Steve Jobs wouldn’t…” is ridiculous. (and often disingenuous) I fear the reference continues to arm the folks most resistant to change. Steve, as a living man, was a change agent. In most of the negative discussions we engage in, I keep thinking, Steve Jobs would have continued to morph and change. Let him rest. He doesn’t run Apple anymore. Apple is still crazy amazing.

    • Caleb Hightower

      I agree with what you said.

      But even Tim Cook doesn’t want Jobs legacy to wither and fade, “[Jobs] DNA runs through all of us… I think his DNA will always be the foundation of Apple.”—ABC News interview SEP 2014

      I have no qualification to dictate how Apple improves their programming processes, but it’s obvious, these past few product cycles, their software is being pushed out the door with glaring ‘issues’, that even the public betas can’t catch/solve/resolve them.

      Its a balancing act for sure, but I’d prefer they spend more time on refining their products, than meeting the holiday season deadline.

  • John Ohno

    The idea that Apple’s products are usually polished is, in my experience, purely PR — it has never had a genuine basis in reality (except in comparison to, say, Microsoft — which has always been far below average in terms of the polish-level of releases). Apple has had a lot of products that bombed because of their lack of polish (the Newton, the Lisa, the Apple III), and a lot of polished products that bombed because attempt at perfectionism resulted in not being able to ship useful features (the original Mac), and a lot of products that were neither truly polished nor truly feature- or price- or performance-competitive that succeeded because of good PR (iTunes, most OSX releases, the iPod, QuickTime, every iPhone since 2007). Combine this with all the actually genuinely good Apple products that bombed because they were abandoned by the marketing department (the Apple IIg and Apple IIc), and you see a clear image of a company whose sales are based primarily on marketing rather than having any relationship to polish or technical excellence.

  • shortsighted post. ignored possibility #4 – certain bugs only surface under certain conditions. as a software dev I can tell you this is real.

    look I’m sorry that you failed to backup your data, but that doesn’t mean Apple is shit now. get over yourself.

  • BlueBoomPony

    iOS 9 was said, by Apple, to support the iPad 2 but it basically killed mine. Perfectly good hardware rendered nearly unusable by what was supposed to be a mostly “under the hood” update.

    You can admonish iPAd 2 owners all you like about it being our choice to upgrade, but Apple promised support and it failed utterly. That’s on them, end of story. By the time the issues became widely known as not just being X.0 release bugs, and we were able to compare notes and attempted fixes, it was too late. OK, we made a mistake upgrading- sue us- but Apple also prevents us from going back.

    That’s what is killing iPad sales. Most customers are normal people who don’t read tech sites. They buy the iPad, happily update, and the performance goes into the toilet. They wind up with an expensive piece of hardware that is frustrating to use after four years. Eff that noise.

    Fortunately I won an iPad Mini 2 at work that runs iOS 9 adequately, but get a new one? Nope. I got into Apple in the 90s because their stuff would last 8 to 10 years. This experience has even soured me up updating to the new Apple TV or even a new Mac. Currently investigating the Hackintosh scene.

  • tacain

    iTunes sync to IOS devices hasn’t worked properly in YEARS!!! Sure, if I wipe my IOS device clean, sync will work – for a while. To me, this is the BIGGEST THING APPLE NEEDS TO FIX!! Apple Music just gets in my way. No matter how many times Apple trys to ram it down my throat, I DON’T WANT IT! I want MY MUSIC and I want it to sync to iCloud properly.

  • tbone7

    I completely agree with the feedback from Mossberg, Gruber, and others in how the quality of Apple’s core OS X apps is suffering.

    I’ve been having this exact same problem ever since I upgraded to El Capitan. Mail is excruciating slow:

    • Clicking on a message to view it takes several seconds.

    • Once I send a mail, it takes several seconds for that window to slide up.

    • Clicking around my mail folders and messages is very slow.

    • Mail sometimes causes my system fans to spin up, and my overall system becomes slow.

    • Creating or editing contacts via my CarDAV account in contacts causes a spinning beach ball, with the app locking up for a good 50 – 70 seconds.

    In addition to more targeted troubleshooting, I have also TOTALLY ERASED (zero out data) my storage, installed a clean version of OS X, and then manually re-added my email account. The issues persist no matter what. (John Gruber mentioned doing something very similar to this himself)

    I keep hoping that the next updates of El Capitan fix this, but they do not. It makes me want to go back in time, to about 6 years ago, when OS X wasn’t so fraught with so many problems.

    I am running on a current-generation 15″ Retina MacBook Pro. Apple’s most powerful, newest, flagship laptop. And my setup is very basic. Mail, Safari, Pages, MS Office. So disappointing that basic Mail functionality is so broken.

  • LEEF

    Had to search to find the article . Did so cause working on PHOTOS, an Apple product. So flawed. I had to rebuild the database a few times. Eventually I will get a project created and a book made. Im doing an activity that generates $ to Apple and there is no support site to help me. Its this kind of lack of attention thet I find in Apple today. Its got to be management issues that would allow poor design and lack of support to exist. Wish there was someone to contact at Apple.