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It Just Works (danielandrews.com)
253 points by danielandrews on Aug 5, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 184 comments

Major Apple applications have become inscrutable and frustrating.

- iTunes, Music and the iTunes store are a mess. I understood the old iTunes organization. Navigation within my music collection has become highly non-intuitive. It seems that there are multiple paradigms (long list of tracks, and another sectioned off by album), and it isn't always clear why one or the other is used. I keep forgetting how to get to the store. Once there, the integration with the stuff I've bought is unclear (especially for video content). I once got extremely confused watching a series, not realizing that one particular view of the episodes were ordered by POPULARITY, not in chronological order. And ratings! I get the 0-5 star rating system. Then they added the heart icon for -- uhh -- something. Why not just use the existing rating system? Why do I have to rate things again for a different purpose?

- Podcasts have become very confusing. I want to be able to control what is physically present on my devices, to control data usage on my phone, and space usage on all devices. They've intentionally made that difficult.

- Photos is a disaster. There are many different organization paradigms, and it is unclear why some of my recent photos appear in some of them but not others. What are the differences among events and photo stream? Why do some pictures show up in the by-date organization but not photo stream? What's in the cloud? When does it sync with my phone? Why is it easy to sync with my phone by cable but not IP?

If current trends continue, my beautiful Mac hardware will be nothing but a boot loader for VMWare and Linux.

I totally agree with you on Photos. Everything about it is overly complicated. It should be a simple as take photo, it's on my phone, automatically added to my computer and in the cloud. Edit/delete anywhere. At least they got rid of the Camera Roll.

If I do plug my iPhone into the computer, I should be able to drag and drop photos from my phone through Finder. No application needed. I miss the old iPod Classic and it's external hard drive functions.

"If I do plug my iPhone into the computer, I should be able to drag and drop..."

This may sound petty, but this is the biggest reason I don't use an iPhone. Smartphones are more than consumption devices. They are tiny computers and I want the flexibility of using a tiny computer.

Not at all petty. This and being forced to use iTunes are my primary reason for disliking iPhones.

Having said that, my Android phone is rooted, so there's probably an argument that I could have an iPhone and root it to achieve what I want.

Not disagreeing that it's horrible, but you don't actually need to use iTunes to use an iPhone. I can't remember the last time I opened iTunes.

iTunes Match worked great for me, but now Spotify has all but replaced any dependence I have on Apple for music.

Photos works exactly the way you seem to want it to on my devices. I take a photo and it appears on all devices. I delete a photo and it's deleted everywhere. Likewise for edits. You sound like you're talking about iPhoto.

If you don't want to use photos, you can use Image Capture, which is part of OSX and gives you exactly the drag and drop functions you want.

There are two photo apps? Seriously, I'm not aware of this. I'm talking about "Photos" whose logo is eight ovals of color arranged in a circle. (The fact that this confusion is even possible is part of the problem.)

My experience is that I take a photo on my phone. It shows up in some albums that seem to have recent content but not others. The time lags are unpredictable, so I have taken to syncing manually.

Photos had been exactly what I'm looking for in a photo management app. It's rock solid, I have all my photos available on all my devices, all of which update almost instantly. It was a total mess before, with fragmentation between iPhoto and Aperture, but this new solution actually seems to work really well and seems to be well received.

Everyone has a different experience but mine has literally been: take photo on iPad or iPhone, it appears on every device - including the Mac and Apple TV - almost instantly

As for Podcasts, I view many of Apple's apps as "starter apps". If you have outgrown what you can do or want to be able to do, that's what 3rd party apps are for. Power users like us make up a far smaller number of overall users than we think, so apps are intentionally designed to be simple, as opposed to restricted. If you want granular control, check out Overcast or Pocket Casts.

The iTunes Store itself is still ok, but Apple Music is a shitshow. The Music app has been so badly nerfed that I can't rely on it for a daily commute on the tube.

I have issues where deleting a photo only temporarily deletes it. It magically shows up again and I can't figure out the underlying logic for that.

I really don't use any Apple software on my rMBP except for the OS... and even there improper handling of Bluetooth and WiFi are unacceptable. I went with another macbook because I love the touchpad, and like an all-metal case. That said, I paid through the nose for something with an OS update that's simply unreliable.

It will be the last Apple product I buy for a long time, and TBH, if Ubuntu comes out with a good experience on Apple hardware, I'd probably switch the OS out.

Just sell it and buy some laptop that you can use Linux on. Why "suffer"?

Part of it is most of the linux friendly laptops I don't like... There's a few points.. one, I like a larger touchpad, with whole-pad clicking... other than the chromebooks, and my logitech htpc keyboard I haven't seen this (I also don't like the region based right-click)... The touchpad is a huge issue for me.

Second, I REALLY don't like either the Fn button being in the corner (muscle memory), or anything obstructing the right shift (again muscle memory). As it is, I hate most laptop keyboards.

Third is the display, I actually really like the retina display itself, and it allows for scaling VMs very nicely. Probably the closest in terms of hardware to MBP would be some of the Asus and Acer ultrabooks, which I'm not entirely opposed to, but then it's still hit and miss on hardware support.

What I would love would be for Ubuntu, or someone much more familiar with their installers to create an installer that would just detect that it's apple hardware, and make it all just work... that would include bluetooth, wifi, proper touchpad drivers/configured in the box.

I really like my rMBP hardware wise... but going to something with different headaches won't exactly be better.

iTunes is absolutely terrible. I did several updates for my girlfriend and friends, and none of them figured out iTunes. Most of them downgraded.

I've been liking Google Play Music so far.

The ability to upload 20,000 songs and than download local copies is amazing.

I fix my big smart phone with a LG Bluetooth Headset problem solved.

Its 50,000 songs now. Still free.

It is increased to 50,000 now.

My only issue with GM is the portability. I work out frequently, and lugging around a large smartphone isn't the best scenario for simply listening to music.

I'm looking into getting a smaller MP3 player and putting my GM library on that to achieve the level of portability I need for my music.

Your entire music library doesn't have to live on your device. Just stream it right from GM or cache the albums you want to listen too.

What really gets me is that some scrappy start-up tried to launch a service like that in the 00's and got totally burned by the labels because it was not 'fair use' but now google does it it is ok.

I think you're thinking of my.mp3.com. They bought a bunch of CDs, ripped them, customers used a desktop application to "fingerprint" a CD they had that would grant them access to the mp3s the company created. They lost in the court because by ripping the CDs they bought, they were offering a service based on copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holders. While the opportunities for abuse with the "fingerprinting" scheme are obvious, that's not what got them in trouble.

There were then and are now music "locker" systems where every track you can play is from a file you created and uploaded and only your account can access. That's what Google Music is doing (for music you add, not the subscription service or tracks you buy in their store). In so doing you may have violated some copyrights but the operators of the locker system played not part in it. And if they act upon DMCA takedown notices (assuming they operate in the U.S.), they're protected from prosecution under the Safe Harbor provisions of the law.

It's inefficient for such locker systems to have X copies of the same song, one for each person who uploaded it, but I assume more modern storage systems can use lower level deduplication to reduced the space needed while still presenting each user with their "own" copy.

That may very well be the one. I'm a bit hazy on the details because this happened right at the moment camarades.com took off and I had a lot on my plate at the time.

Yeah, shit like that really does suck. At the very least, we get that kind of service now.

I believe that Apple and Google got permission from the labels to do it.

Fair use shouldn't require permission.

Saying it was fair use is begging the question. It's not obvious that showing I own a CD at one point means I get online access to files ripped off an equivalent CD forever.

Not really. It required you to have the files to be allowed to stream them back to yourself, the most essential functionality was de-duplication + streaming of content that you already had while you were on the move.

And if you own a CD at some point nothing stops you from ripping it and selling the original (that's still illegal, but you could do it) so it's impossible to check.

I don't see why google should get a free pass on this, it seems to have to do with size rather than with the technology or the law.

You might consider an Android Wear device. I don't have personal experience with this (I mostly work out on a stationary bike with Netflix), but in theory you can copy up to 4GB of music to the watch and play it back via Bluetooth headphones without the need for a phone.

Spotify is a possible replacement (even without their streaming and music finding services), but I find that application quite buggy.

spotify is pretty crappy (experiences on android):

* they broke google maps for about 3 months. Originally, when google maps needed to give audio directions, music would pause. It worked. Some moron decided, instead, to make the audio keep playing but make it quieter while google maps was giving audio directions. What he or she actually did is to mute google maps. This persisted for 3 months while assholes there made excuses (how fucking hard is git revert) and claimed bluetooth audio wasn't supported and therefore customers had no grounds for complaint. What was particularly frustrating across the 100 page support threads was the fact that this bug was so obvious that clearly not a single employee uses the android app or gives a damn about the experience.

* spotify added a moronic "control spotify from other devices" feature. What this does in reality is this: listen to spotify on your way to work. At work, set your phone down and start listening to spotify on your computer. The next time you get a txt or interact with your phone (ie enter your pin into the lock screen), the spotify session that's been lurking steals control of your mac and jumps back to whatever you'd been listening to hours ago on your phone. The cure is to always leave spotify in offline mode and/or kill the task when you're done listening to it.

* listening to files you own -- eg a concert recording unavailable in spotify -- while theoretically supported, is just janky.

* If you make the mistake of allowing spotify to go online on your phone, it eats battery life.

* there's a long list of other bugs, but I now wait at least 3 months before installing any updates and archive previous apks so that I can revert their idiocy. I really need to get on figuring out how to import their playlists into something better.

Holy crap yeah, I don't know what other app was put together so poorly as Spotify. It wakelocks like hell, it crashes constantly, none of the menu items make sense, AND aren't consistent with where you are in playing songs, it seems totally random as to whether songs show up in your queue or disappear, your history sometimes stores albums and sometimes songs, it goes on and on. I use spotify mostly as just a grooveshark replacement, but as soon as my trial is up I'm ditching the fucking thing.

How do you avoid updates? Just never quit?

phone: set manual updates only and never approve them;

laptop: archive the entire directory structure and replace it =P

all devices: wonder why the fuck I have to do this and why spotify can't get their shit together

It's SAAS. It's the future. Get with the program.

(Thanks hadn't thought of going to those lengths)

1/ never had that problem

2/ this is the single best feature of spotify vs the others, I love plugin my android smartphone in my audio system, and to control the music from my ipad, computer. The problem you talk about never happens to me, it shows a popup about if I want to continue here, but only if I go into the app.

3/ I had no problem with that, but it would be better if it uploaded the music to listen on other devices, this is the major pain point about spotify.

4/ what ? only if you ask some playlist to be synchronized it download them and then stop, or are you talking about the fact that it shows the currently playing song on others devices, just swipe out the app, but I am not sure it consume a lot.

5/ I didn't had a lot of problem with the android app

Spotify's approach to customer engagement and accountability is a little better than Apple's in that they have a product support forum. But their contempt for the customer seems to be about the same WRT to removing features on a whim.

They removed a deal-breaker feature a couple of years ago (filter a list for a song) and have only just managed to put it back, only half working, now. I don't know how bad iTunes has got (haven't used it in 5 years) but I can't recommend Spotify as a replacement.

If anyone does have any suggestions, I'd be very glad to read them!

Spotify seems determined to force me to listen to albums on shuffle.

After you've tapped a track in the main list of tracks to start it playing, tap the skinny "playing" bit at the very bottom. It should pop up the full screen player. Is the shuffle icon selected (green)?

I had the same issue a while back and I was infuriated at myself for not figuring out the solution.

No I found that, but it switches back pretty often. Can't find a pattern, it's annoying.

Tried Android?

Yes. Switched to iPhone. I like the access to the filesystem, available on some Android phones, but the iPhone is a superior product in my opinion. The two main advantages are 1) not having to care about which kind of memory an app is sitting in, and 2) voice control. I also find the iPhone less buggy overall, but I haven't used Android in about a year.

>If current trends continue, my beautiful Mac hardware will be nothing but a boot loader for VMWare and Linux.

Your whole post is a pretty good troll but I'll bite anyway. Tell me, what do you plan on replacing iTunes and Photos with under Linux? From what I've seen, there's nothing there that even comes close to functionality of iTunes or Photos.

And why even run Linux in a VM? Why not boot it? Why not sell MBP and just buy a Lenovo?

Anyway, your whole post is silly.

Not a troll.

I don't know what I'd use instead, I gave up Linux-only years ago, and now use a Linux VM for development, Mac for everything else. Also, networking through the Mac is still simpler, at least for now. I know that Linux has some media apps, but I use them so little that I really can't compare. However, my sense is that Linux apps get better over time, and Apple apps are definitely getting worse. If current trends continue, the lines will cross.

I like digikam. It mirrors the internal photo albums with directories on the disk, so if you want tot browse tour photo's directly, you can still find them easily. Things like labels, comments and ratings are all stored in a little database file. You can view by album, but also by date or use custom filters.

It's really frustrating for me just how many bugs Apple software has. Let's look at a simple one - the icons on iOS safari for frequently visited websites. They "randomly" assign the wrong favicon e.g. I click the Facebook icon and it loads Hacker News. This has been present since iOS 8. Yesterday I pulled down the notification screen and it occupies only 50% of my screen. Cue another reboot of the iPhone.

My iMac. Upgrading to Yosemite was the worst mistake ever. Now I have to use a cheap mouse and keyboard, as Apple's Bluetooth versions no longer wake the sleeping iMac. I have tried every solution on the Internet to this and none fix it. The beachball is becoming ever more prominent on the iMac too. Very disappointing for a machine which isn't 3 years old.

My Macbook Air. It's better, but the power button no longer does anything when I press it.

Apple products have a huge premium and the quality of the software is not matching the price tag. I am not surprised to see the stock falling; usually when IBM buy your products en masse you know something is wrong :)

I don't know what the culture at Apple is. But I don't think their software developers can be anything other than the "norm" - and I am extremely worried about their automated testing culture. Maybe someone can comment.

EDIT: I just remembered my Apple Cr*p folder home to Podcasts, Tips, Apple Watch, Calendar, Health, Apple Store, Apple Maps, Videos, Reminders and Newstand. Podcasts actually cost me money when it started downloaded podcasts over 3G despite me saying wifi only. I think that bug got fixed, but I'll never trust it again. I also forgot about the white elephant that is the Apple Time capsule I purchased. It's slow over wifi from the iMac and was one of the causes of my beachball, but the main issue was it kept saying it couldn't back up because the disk was locked. For a company like Apple who should supposedly simplify backup, the product is a shambles. Maybe this is better now, but I won't be upgrading.

"Very disappointing for a machine which isn't 3 years old". This really resonates with me, sitting at a similarly aged iMac that frequently displays bafflingly poor performance, displaying what I like to call the "psychedelic jelly-tot of death".

Sort of off-topic, but another thing that really frustrates me with Apple products is when something goes wrong with the hardware. I have a 3+ year old Macbook Air. The 't' key - specifically the little contact button under the key - stopped working consistently. Very frustrating when you start to realise just how much 't' shows up in the English language.

Anyway, I made some calls enquiring about how much a repair would cost: around €300. They just replace the entire aluminium top plate because it's impossible to replace a single contact button, and unfeasible to replace the whole keyboard array - this involves complete disassembly, and a bunch of other delicate steps, which look incredibly daunting.

I know that this is probably the trade-off for having such a small form factor, but between this, a defective SSD, a locked-in battery and periodically replacing chargers at €80 a pop, I am distinctly less enthusiastic about purchasing Apple products in the future.

The 2012 Macbook Air you are referring to does have a replaceable keyboard. I co-own a repair shop and we just did one. However, it is a daunting task. We charged $200 for the replacement ($30 for the part + $170 in labor) and it took our most experienced tech nearly 2 hours to complete.

The problem is (for anyone who's never opened a MBA) that if you look between each key on the keyboard, Apple decided for some crazy reason to put a teeny tiny screw there. So between the Q and W is a screw, and between the W and E is a screw...you get the picture.

This is a totally nutball design. It is a doable repair, but it takes forever, and be prepared for your hand/wrist to be quite sore after you're done.

If you can find someone or have a friend who does phone repairs, get them to do it and pay them for their time. I say phone repairs because the people who do phone repairs are used to dealing with teeny tiny Apple screws for a living.

That sort of design scares me. I've got a circa 2010 lenovo X201 and a keyboard replacement on that is a 5 minute job max and costs $20 and it's all a small philips driver (I use a swiss army knife). I'm on my third keyboard.

> My Macbook Air. It's better, but the power button no longer does anything when I press it.

Press and hold. It's this way to prevent accidental logouts which were frequent in my case when it was just a press.

Depending on the duration of the key press, you can send the machine to sleep, get the traditional shut down window, or invoke the forced power-off incantation, according to this support article [1].

The short tap-for-sleep method doesn't seem to work on the machine I'm using, either.

[1] https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201150

Thanks. That's something that would have been really helpful to see a note on. It changed the behavior of a button that's been consistent for as long as I can remember.

It happened when the moved the button onto the keyboard. People kept hitting it by mistake and sleeping their machines.

Freaking Apple BS folder, where every time I go to Update All of my apps I see them taking up more and more space that I can't get back.

Must I really update all my apps only one at a time to ensure I don't lose GBs of storage to apps I have never asked for, never intend on using and can't physically delete?

I also 2nd the comment about how poorly designed Finder is.

I could iterate my personal gripes about how updating my 4S to iOS 8 made it barely usable or updating to Yosemite on my aging Air is approaching that, but we're all just venting into a void.

Apple has become too big and too profitable to care, much like every other indomitable tech company with indispensable services. Someone needs to "disrupt" consumer advocacy or something like that.

The frequent Yosemite beachballs seem to only occur on systems with old-school hard drives. It's nowhere near as bad on SSD systems. It's crazy frustrating on my iMac, but my macbook pro is fine.

So I suspect the changes and additional daemons in Yosemite added a bunch of disk I/O, and the engineers never noticed because they're all on SSD systems.

I think this is webkit thing - it happens in Chrome (on both desktop and mobile) for me pretty often.

Is that favicon thing a webkit issue? I swear I've seen that on chrome.

The thing about saying "it just works" and attempting to hide everything from the user is that it is really, really frustrating when it doesn't "just work".

The amount of hardware and software bugs I've encountered in Apple products has been steadily increasing, to the point where I'm really only happy with my iPhone (and even that has some problems) -

- Connecting a wired keyboard to a Thunderbolt display that is connected to my MBP rarely worked after disconnecting/reconnecting my MBP. I'd have to change which USB port the keyboard connected to - until discovering that this was a common problem that connecting a USB extender fixes. It just works?

- We use Apple TVs in our conference rooms to connect our laptops to and project via a projector/tv. The Apple TVs routinely reboot, fail to connect, and drop connections. I've had my laptop lock up for several minutes trying to connect to one.

- iMessage routinely gets into a state where it shows ghost notifications that I have to clear by deleting conversations one-by-one until I find out which one is causing it.

- iMessage routinely reorders previous messages.

- Safari randomly uses the wrong favicon for frequently visited websites.

And so many more. It is really disappointing that I'm not really that surprised when something doesn't work or feels clunky. At this point, I trust my Windows machine more than I do my Mac.

"...In my opinion, Yosemite is the worst non-beta Mac OS release I’ve ever used – and I’ve used everything other than the public betas of 10.0 ..."


Personally I find Yosemite AND Windows 10 to be wanting in most every respect. But I think there is a bit of a tendency to view the past through rose colored glasses.

There is no way that Yosemite is worse than 10.0 or 10.1. I know I'm going to date myself a bit here... but 10.1 on that Titanium powerbook, that sagged like rubber if you held it from one end by the way, had to be the single worst computing experience of my life. That INCLUDES waiting for time on the mainframe, punchcards in hand, in the basement of the computer science building at the University of Wisconsin.

"... While I didn’t run into any data loss issues or anything particularly catastrophic..."

That right there should tell you it's better than early OSX. Thank who- or whatever you deem divine for Perforce... because I once lost an entire Solaris build of the Photoshop engine to early OSX. And it waited until I had fixed quite a few bugs to make the engine work on BSD before it crapped on me too.

AWESOME times!!! No actually it SUCKED!!!

Maybe I'm just being harsh on 10.0 and 10.1, or maybe harsh on Titanium powerbooks??? I don't know. Maybe other people were not as annoyed as I was with the crashes and slowness. But it was BAD!!! HORRIBLE actually. I think Vista was a sack of crap... but even Vista gave a better experience than the early OSX versions. Though Vista and early OSX probably are neck and neck for worst desktop OS experiences to date.

I don't know... I could be wrong. I mean... I also think Windows XP has probably delivered mankind the BEST desktop OS experience to date. So what do I know ???

Anyway... Yosemite is bad... but for those too young to remember... BELIEVE me when I say... early OSX was FAR, far worse.

> early OSX was FAR, far worse.

Not all of them though.

I don't understand why the hacker scene these days is full of proud OSX users. What happened to the proud Linux hackers we've always had? They told me to use OSX at the job I recently started, and I only lasted a week before I told them I wanted to install Linux.

Part of the 'pride' behind being a Linux hacker came from heavily customizing, breaking, fixing, and generally maintaining your dev kit. I have a friend who's taken on a motorcycle rebuild project and I can see a lot of analogs there.

For me, personally, I realized that having a system which I can take from zero to 'dev ready' in less than an afternoon (which I did recently with a freshly shipped MacBook) is the main 'feature' I want from my dev software stack. I don't love all of OS X's defaults, but I customize very few things.

The bigger issue for me, though, is hardware. I know this varies dramatically from developer to developer, but weight, size, battery life, and display quality (in roughly that order) are my primary concerns with laptop hardware. I recently switched my work laptop from a Chromebook Pixel (first gen) to an 11" MacBook Air and I've been thrilled with the change. That said, the leap in display quality and general machine 'feel' from the Air to the MacBook I use for personal developer is almost as big, for me, as the leap from the Pixel to the Air. Apple builds hardware that feels 'right' to me in a way that other manufacturers that I've encountered don't.

So, I can't speak for others, but there's why I'm a proud OS X user instead of a proud Linux user.

The hardware is very nice. I'm typing this into a Macbook running Arch Linux. However, I don't know if it's fair to say you can't get up and running in an afternoon these days, even if you have a heavily customized system like I do (https://sr.ht/-77r.png). I expect that the sort of people who invest heavily in making their Linux setup their own are people who have the hardest time with OS X - everything just felt wrong for me, and it was very difficult to use because of this.

Personal preferences will naturally remain personal. There were a bunch of things that felt unfamiliar to me on OS X, but few that felt 'wrong'. Then again, I made the switch back in 2005 or so to a PowerBook G4. Linux was a very different beast then, and just having it run on a laptop was a bit of an effort. Expecting decent battery life (or all of your hardware to be functional) was more or less out of the question.

Another factor is that there a bunch of things people want/expect from a window manager that I never took advantage of, the biggest two being virtual desktops and focus-follows-mouse. I imagine if I had a strong dependency on either of those, the switch to a Mac would've been considerably more painful. On the other hand, features like Expose felt very natural to me (and at the time Linux equivalents were... poor).

These days my life consists almost entirely of running full-screen apps and trackpad swiping between them, which would probably drive most X11 users batty :)

I think a lot of hackers got tired of messing with drivers just so they could get the sound to work when they watch Netflix. As OP says, Apple's "It just works" level has gone down, but it's still leaps and bounds ahead of Linux. OS X provides a system that "just works" at least as well as Windows, but has a real unix system underneath. Especially in web development (where a lot of developers are building stuff that will end up on a Linux production box), it's quite helpful to have a system that lets me use a lot of nix tools. OS X meets both goals adequately, whereas Windows lacks the nix tools and Linux lacks the "it just works".

Yes, I used to love my Linux laptops, but I had coworkers also using Linux who I could bug for advice on the One True Way to do things, and would tell me when the One True Way was now Some Other Way.

Sound, oh sound. How many sound daemons did the community go through?

After getting Linux set up, I was always scared to change anything, because I might lose a whole day recovering my desktop. Back when spending a day messing with an OS was a learning experience, this wasn't a bad thing, but I learn absolutely nothing from it these days.

Because maybe we value our time a little more than our "geek-cred".... While I agree with 90% of the OP's points the base OS is still ROCK SOLID compared to ANY linux desktop distro. I have been slowly migrating away from OSX's core apps but I won't even dream of leaving the OS anytime soon. I've got better things to do then rebuild my entire desktop environment every few months when a graphics driver pukes or similar. OSX may have bugs but the bugs created by tons of linux packages interacting are FAR worse.

Also I care what my DE (Desktop environment) looks like, there are a couple of nice looking Linux DE's but they normally work for only around 70% of apps so you have a couple that stick out like sore thumbs. On OSX this only happens for things like some Java apps and even then they still look fine if a little out of place.

> the base OS is still ROCK SOLID compared to ANY linux desktop distro.

At my last work, my desktop was an ubuntu LTS version. It was rock solid, and ran as fast the day that office closed down as the day I set it up. The same could very much not be said of the macs in the office - almost all of which had slowed down considerably. One macbook with 4GB of RAM had zero free memory on a fresh boot with nothing loaded! I had to install some 'ram compactor' tool to get the laptop to actually load some office software in a reasonable time. Occasionally I'd get called over to help troubleshoot this or that with the various macs, and usually in the first couple of minutes, I'd be saying something along the lines of "how can you work with it this slow?". The mac users in this office were a mix of normal users and power users. The only expert user had a top-end model less than a year old, so he wasn't getting the same problems, of course.

So no, I don't agree that the base OS is ROCK SOLID compared to ANY linux desktop distro. You say you have better things to do than rebuild your entire desktop environment every few months? I have better things to do that wait for my desktop environment in day-to-day work. Unless, of course, I'm willing to throw gobs of money at the upgrade treadmill, which means replacing the hardware regularly, which means... rebuilding the desktop environment on the new machine...

Because OSX provides a reasonable middle ground between usability and control. You can use it as a regular user when you want to do things like listen to music, watch movies and browse the Internet, and you can also use it as a "hacker" by leveraging its "Unixness".

It also integrates extremely well with other parts of the Apple ecosystem, unlike Linux.

Display and networking.

Graphics is so much easier to deal with on OS X than Linux it makes me cry. I take my laptop between a 4K monitor on Thunderbolt, a 2560 monitor on HDMI, and a 1920 monitor on DVI. And I don't have to edit a single file on OS X. I shudder with the thought of that on Linux.

Networking just works on incarnations of OS X prior to 10.10. I can pop my laptop open and it pretty much connects anywhere with no configuration changes and only asks when I have to cough up a password. Linux still regularly makes me do wonky command line dances when the interface suddenly disappears or goes down.

To give a counter example, I run Ubuntu 14.04 on a NUC with a Dell U2713H via displayport and a samsung 24 inch via HDMI. The whole thing was a matter of install, and be ready to go. No command line dances needed.

I think it comes down to picking hardware that is supported well, i.e. Intel stuff. Apple of course for the most part knows it's hardware and doesn't have to include a gazillion drivers for graphics boards of all make and model.

maybe a week isn't enough...

It was more than enough.

I dunno. I've never experienced any of the problems described in the post. Always kind of dangerous to extrapolate from n=1. It also feels somewhat myopic to claim that people don't like apps like Notes or Calendar because there's more featureful alternatives. The point of stock apps isn't to please the power user.

Dismissing bug reports because "it works on my machine" is also a kind of dangerous extrapolation, especially with the near-certainty that any large piece of software has bugs.

Not dismissing anything, just pointing out that the author's standard of evidence is somewhat lacking.

You don't have to look far for the evidence. For any issue you can normally find several huge forum posts on the apple support forums (with no helpful responses from Apple).

All software has bugs. Apple software has a giant audience and the Internet can magnify an issue that affects a small number of users to make it seem as though it's a giant problem.

If a problem affects 5,000 users it's easy for it to appear as if it's a huge issue when it in fact is affecting a tiny % of the user base. Not that bugs should be ignored, but an active forum posting is not evidence that there is a major issue.

Could definitely be a factor. Then again, there are plenty of people who don't post on those forums (like myself).

I recently got a new MacBook Pro after my previous 6yo machine was stolen. Would love to say that I was shocked at the bugs I've run into, but I was fairly well prewarned. Things like internet dropouts caused by the DNS issue. I was told it would be a problem, and it was. But people had been complaining about it for ages. Seems unlikely to be just a few users experiencing it.

I know I'm just another single datapoint but, after hacking on macs most of my waking hours since 2004, I too feel the basic quality is really slipping.

Cloud services are something else altogether. I've been saying for years that Apple can't be trusted to handle data and syncing. Now they're pushing deeper into it things are getting messy. My best friend and I frequently have this conversation as he jumps into their services but he's also lost faith. A message he recently sent me:

"Apple syncing is so fucked man. After the first round of Photos craziness where I lost tons of albums (thankfully no photos), for some insane reason, I’ve just lost a ton more. Any albums from 2012, 2013 and 2004 are totally gone. Head in hands shit."

And this from someone who until recently would try to fight their corner.

Dude, there are Bluetooth mice that are incompatible with current versions of OS X.

Let that sink in.

Apple screwed up their Bluetooth stack so badly that it is incompatible with a mouse. Something which has been in the Bluetooth standard forever. Something which is solely dependent upon their software because they use the same chip as everybody else.

That is beyond a bug. That's contempt for the end user.

Almost all Bluetooth mice are compatible with current versions of OS X. Apple does support the human interface device standards.

You have found a mouse that doesn't implement the Bluetooth spec properly. That is contempt for the end user.

Let that sink in.

> You have found a mouse that doesn't implement the Bluetooth spec properly. That is contempt for the end user.

The mice I have work perfectly with all incarnations of Windows I have (XP, 7, and 8) and OS X version 10.6 (don't have access to 10.7 and 10.8 anymore).

So, which is more likely, those mice all implemented the Bluetooth spec wrong yet still managed to work, or Apple screwed up their stack?

It's entirely possible that a mouse can have a noncompliant implementation and happen to work with a relaxed implementation of the host. Perhaps Apple made their stack more compliant.

If your logic were correct then all Bluetooth mice would have stopped working. They haven't.

"anecdata!" is not a rebuttal to "hey, this is how I feel about X, from my experiences".

But that's not what the author is saying! He's not saying "here's how I feel", he's saying "this is the state of Apple software".

My wife's Macbook has been a huge disappointment. The login is slow, the computer crashes all the time, and safari stopped working. And it's just over two years old.

So N = 2.

If the computer crashes all the time and Safari has stopped working then it is faulty and you should schedule a Genius Bar appointment.

"I dunno. I've never experienced any of the problems described in the post."

Ok, then what's your favorite list of bugs. You know you have one. Right?

I've been watching apple's software quality decrease over the past few years with increasing disappointment . It still astounds me that their test suites haven't caught the multitude of issues i've seen before shipping.

It makes me wonder if Apple actually uses their own products. Don't even get me started on the Remote app...

"It just works" is a tricky promise to make good on. Microsoft never made this promise and nor does Google.

As a Google fan I accept a certain amount of flakiness as part of the brand identity. It's always celebrated a quirky, rough feel. In some ways, Google is starting to get TOO slick.

People expect Apple to be innovative and reliable; too push the boundaries without ever falling over them. It's hard to do either consistently, successfully, at scale. It might be impossible to do both.

> As a Google fan I accept a certain amount of flakiness as part of the brand identity

I agree with you however I feel like they've been trying to shrug that off and grow up and that's left me a little underwhelmed.

I got two thirds of the way through that article and realized that the way he felt about Apple was how I felt about Google. They keep thrusting crap upon us that no one asked for, remove stuff we do like, or neglect things until people abandon them.

Meanwhile Microsoft has been dramatically stepping up it's game but everyone still looks at them like the Catholic Priest that molested them as a child.

Thats a great Microsoft analogy there! Spot on

>>>> People expect Apple to be innovative and reliable;

This is because your investment in their hardware is at a premium price. People expect when they drop 2-3K for a PC that both of things are going to be a given. Obviously, in the last few years, this hasn't been the case.

I suggest the difference is I, and other people I know, keep finding apple bugs so common and frequent that it's essentially clear there is no testing at all. viz the discoveryd fiasco. Either nobody there could be bothered to use stuff on a network or an exec forced it to be released anyway. Or trouble connecting iphones to itunes, etc.

It's certainly the case that OSX, at least, has gotten flaky as heck, but at the same time: What's the competition?

While Apple was releasing Yosemite, Microsoft was going down the Windows 8 rabbit-hole, releasing the worst version of Windows since ME. And while desktop Linux has been getting better over time, I don't think anyone would say that it "Just Works" yet.

The only desktop/laptop OS that actually does "Just Work" is ChromeOS; and while that's a wonderful experience for its use cases, there are still plenty of situations that it's not great for.

And while desktop Linux has been getting better over time, I don't think anyone would say that it "Just Works" yet.

The true test for a system isn't so much whether it "just works" -- the closest you'll ever get will be "mostly works" especially as you dive deeper into the rabbit hole, but rather how observable and debuggable it is once the inevitable "doesn't work" moment appears.

Because, for all purposes, GNU/Linux reached the average user threshold a long time ago. The majority of complaints boil down to hardware support, but this is the survival bias in action -- you're totally ignoring the hoops the OEM had to go through to run Windows, and that trying to install Windows images on heterogenous hardware won't fare that much better. Some complain of installation failures, and I think this is a result of ignorance from people using all those convenient liveCD/USB makers like UNetbootin which actually overwrite the bootloader configuration and thus may break lots of images.

Windows 8 has been solid (Except people don't like the GUI)

Windows 10 gives you the start button back (I don't like start buttons)

Linux - There really are good use cases for Linux. Your's might fit this one. Works for me and I dual boot for the odd time I need another OS (About twice a quarter)

Chromebook - Limited to "normal" users workflow cases.

The whole Metro UI stunt was a mistake, It should never have happened. I'm really curious about who's to blame for that stuff, I don't think it's Sinofsky, because it's just so stupid. But at the same time there is very little difference between 7 and 8 so why would anyone want to buy yet another license ? That's the problem right here with Windows. Worse it looks like they removed some features from 7 to 10. Aside from gamers who always need yet another version of directx frankly it becomes harder and harder to justify the cost of Windows for each new computer bought.

Yeah, I'm also curious how 8 happened. I think it may have been some institutional committee type effect because it seems to dumb for a smart individual to do. It didn't really effect me because I just skipped 8 but three of my friends / family who don't follow tech bought a new computer unaware of what Microsoft had done and were shocked / horrified to find things didn't work as before. My cousin figured it took him about 100 hours to get some stuff working again and the other two basically stopped using their computers. It was particually painful with my dad whos 80ish and slowing down a bit but who could use 7 but who was unable to work 8. I have lasting resentment to Microsoft over that - the amount of pain and inconvenience they caused their regular users. And for what? I think the brilliant reasoning was if they force people to use a phone interface on their computers they'll be used to that interface and buy windows phones and tablets. That worked out well for them with the recent $7.6 bn write off on Nokia and presumably lots of well meaning employees losing their jobs. At least the new management seem to have returned to trying to treat their customers well rather than inflicting unpopular stuff in a misguided attempt to get more money.

I don't view it as a tablet/phone interface. It really reminds me of my tiled window managers I use on Linux. Well at least I use it that way.

I actually like it. I just hit Windows key and type. WOWZ

> While Apple was releasing Yosemite, Microsoft was going down the Windows 8 rabbit-hole, releasing the worst version of Windows since ME. And while desktop Linux has been getting better over time, I don't think anyone would say that it "Just Works" yet.

While Ubuntu wasn't taking the Windows 8 disaster seriously and focused with wasting time on mobile.

So here we are.

I've suggested ChromeOS to family members that use facebook, email, and limited spreadsheets. Ultimately, I backtracked when they asked about printing. Telling them they have to buy a new printer that's Cloud Print compatible is a tough sell, especially if they've purchased one within the last year.

I have found that Chrome Boxes are excellent machines for demoing web products at tradeshows. Cheap, relatively hardened, fast enough, and sync bookmarks and settings.

Printing and I would say sharing files between computers are biggest gripes with Chromebook. No I dont want to share files using Google cloud always.

You can actually setup any machine as a Cloud Print server (i.e. publishing its own printers as Cloud Print capable printers) so long as it can run Chrome or Chromium. Even a Raspberry Pi will do the trick: http://www.howtogeek.com/169566/how-to-turn-a-raspberry-pi-i...

You can run a bridge, but then it's another machine to set up and maintain. How are security and Chrome updates handled? A cron job? What if that fails? Suddenly the simple Chromebook is more complex.

I wouldn't mind running that hack myself, but there's no way I'd drop it on someone who couldn't debug if something went wrong.

> but there's no way I'd drop it on someone who couldn't debug if something went wrong.

One approach I've done to make things more debuggable (not for this specific setup, but for Unix-running home servers in general) is to SSH in (I used to - with the user's permission, of course - setup forwarding of port 22 on the user's router/gateway/etc., but nowadays I usually setup a remote tunneling script that the user can kickoff somehow). I also tend to build systems that run for months - if not years - without any maintenance, so there's that, too :)

Still doesn't address the "another machine to set up and maintain" issue, but if I did my job right, it would be as inconspicuous as a wall clock.

`sudo apt-get install unattended-upgrades`

Those instructions haven't worked for almost a year, when Google stopped supporting Chromium v22.

I just updated my instructions to use Google's new open source connector: https://matthew.mceachen.us/blog/add-google-cloudprint-wifi-...

I wasn't aware (it's admittedly been a long time since I've done this; nowadays I just run a central CUPS server to drive my printers); thanks for the much better link.

> I have found that Chrome Boxes are excellent machines for demoing web products at tradeshows. Cheap, relatively hardened, fast enough, and sync bookmarks and settings.

Of course, it's basically a browser.

"Keep your old Windows laptop around in a drawer; when you want to print something, just boot it up to print."

I just don't see what's so hard about desktop Linux at this point. In the last 3-4 years, I've installed various Ubuntu flavours on hardware varying in vintage from 2005 to 2012-ish, with no problems, every bit of hardware just working. In 2012 I even put puppy on a Toshiba laptop from roughly 2000, that wqas still going strong-ish with Windows 98 (!) but could obviously not run any browsers newer than IE6 or whatever it was. No problems. Compared to when I was first dabbling with Debian in the mid-oughts, it's no more hassle - in fact, less hassle - than installing Windows in my experience. To be clear - I am doing little or no customisation at all (beyond obviously installing stuff that I need). I expect it to Just Work. And it does.

Whether the slightly rough-and-ready replacements for essential consumer apps are suitable is another matter. GIMP is obviously no Photoshop.

My experience of using OSX on a daily basis is that I use very little of the Apple specific stuff, and that I need 16gb in there because it leaks memory like billy-o. My awful code does enough of that without Apple helping out, thank you very much.

Other than that, it's fine-ish.

If you've installed it a lot, you know how to make it work when it doesn't work.

Usually the first install is fine for me with Ubuntu, but then I need something, like two different programs to be able to play sound at the same time.

>like two different programs to be able to play sound at the same time.

It just works on Fedora with GNOME.

And there is the problem. "Oh, you use that distro? Only lusers use that one!"

I recently transitioned from OSX to elementary OS (an ubuntu-based distro). For me it's the best compromise. I can't really stand Windows, I've tried for years to get comfortable with it, but I've always found it full of bad decisions which make for a very uncomfortable experience.

Linux is still not up to speed in terms of software you can get and hardware compatibility, but I've found it to still be the best option (although I keep a Win8 partition for games).

It really depends on what software you need to run, though.

>The only desktop/laptop OS that actually does "Just Work" is ...

I find you can get much more of a 'just works' experience by ignoring the latest shiniest and using the debugged version of a couple of years back. I'm running Mavericks on the Mac and 7 on the pc and have very few issues with either. At the other extreme I tried ios8 beta when that first came out and everything was broken. It takes a while to debug stuff.

I got into Apple in 2006, loved the ride up to Snow Leopard. Then things got weird. UI choices that made little sense. Hardware bugs that were impossible to diagnose or fix. Like my parents Mac Mini that would show snow on the display after it went to sleep. Try troubleshooting that remotely. My work rMBP has some similar issues where my monitor just goes green. And then it also has a SystemUI freeze for upwards of 30 seconds that is completely impossible to fix. DiscoveryD, oh god why.

Apple just doesn't seem as focused on a main goal of shipping stable and perfect solutions. The "me too!" attitude shows it.

Oh and lets not forget when they ship iWork with missing features and then slowly add them back over time...

I am a HUGE Apple Hater so take this as it be.

I have always had issues with stability with Apple's OS. Everyone else always said I was crazy but I have dozens of people see me repeat the crash over and over again doing simple one or two step processes. Start with Apple OS 7 up to just yesterday when Adobe Photoshop crashed every time I switch the color palate to 2 color.

> Adobe Photoshop crashed every time I switch the color palate to 2 color.

You can probably blame Adobe for that. In their infinite wisdom they implemented their own window management system for their products on OS X.

Well you can blame 95% of Windows problems the same way.

Don't blame Microsoft vendor A implemented it their own way ...

This may or may not be what you mean by "goes green" but I've noticed that when DVI cables go bad it often results in green noise all over the screen. My office had a mix of both HDMI and DVI adapters for their macbooks, and I only ever saw it with DVI, but either way it might be worth swapping cables and seeing if the problem isn't with your macbook.

Excellent article.

I too find myself looking at ways I can reduce my reliance on Apple these days. For me it's getting burnt with Aperture, discoveryd causing all my Airplay speakers to constantly act up, $1000 Thunderbolt displays flickering on my $6000 Mac Pro as well as parts of my iTunes library getting spoilt by the new Apple Music stuff. List goes on, but Daniel is right, I just don't really have much (if any) faith in Apple when it comes to my data.

I think that this erosion of trust will take years to rebuild. The sad thing is that Apple in the mid 90s had a similar rep for flaky products and Tim Cook was widely credited for tightening ops to improve product manufacture, quality and reliability.

Yes, I've also noticed an increasing number of software bugs on my Macs. FWIW, I wanted to try out the Dell XPS "Developer Edition," which appears to be about as close as you can get to a Macbook level build quality in a linux box (without having to jump though the hoops of installing linux on a macbook itself), and you simply can't order it from Dell's website. A chat with a rep suggested that it's out of stock.

So, I think Apple is creating market opportunity -- a high quality linux based laptop aimed at developers that, like the Mac, doesn't require constant fiddling or kernel rebuilds to get working.

I would get ThinkPad W550s instead. Plus you can get 32gb RAM unlike most laptops.

Any knowledge or experience of System 76 laptop computers as Linux machines?

I purchased a system 76 Gazelle laptop, and it's a pretty reliable . Wifi, audio and dual monitors worked out of the box, but it has trouble with 3 monitors(includes laptop screen) My main complaint is the battery life.(This is probably a linux issue) At best I get 2.5 hours, which needs serious improvements.

However, so many things on linux lack polish, crash at random times, or have UI problems. Apple would have to screw up a lot more to get anywhere near the disaster of desktop linux,

>However, so many things on linux lack polish, crash at random times, or have UI problems. Apple would have to screw up a lot more to get anywhere near the disaster of desktop linux,

This is just not true at all. Apple is way more buggy in all those areas for me. I use fedora with GNOME and haven't had one single problem. My grandparents even use it. If I bought them a mac I'd have to fix it every time I come over, with Linux I don't.

My Galago Pro runs three screens just fine. It makes a fine desktop, I use a MacBook Air for a laptop.

I read some pretty bad reviews of the Galago. A full third of the Amazon reviews are one star:


A very interesting article. I'm not part of the Apple ecosystem so I have no way to judge its veracity, but in my experience this is a feeling common to quite a lot of users regardless of product or manufacturer.

Is this driven by competition? complacency? capriciousness? I've no idea.

Loss of focus and feature creep. They've became an engineering company (as opposed to an "appliances" company, I guess). This, of course, IMO.

> Loss of focus and feature creep

My point is though that I've heard this sentiment from Google customers, Microsoft customers etc. In fact to me it seems that I can only think of a few examples of software that seems to consistently improve in people's opinions.

Is there something fundamentally broken in how we develop and produce software as an industry? Is there a reporting bias? It's probably a combination of both with many other unseen factors IMO.

I think the difference is Google or Microsoft never promised "it just works". Apple on the other hand used to "just work", at least before Steve Jobs passed. Nowadays the contrast is too huge that people notice it more. As an analogy, people just shrug when McDonald's releases another unhealthy (but affordable) menu, but if a chef who used to get New York Times 5 star reviews starts cooking shitty food and screwing his customers and not care much because he still gets lots of customers based on his existing reputation, then people start hating.

>Is there something fundamentally broken in how we develop and produce software as an industry?

I would argue that this is indeed the case. The need to continue upping that version number results in the inevitable bloat and cruft. Nobody is interested in putting out a maintenance release, and quite frankly, if a company released a major software update without new features we would collectively deride them for it. (Don't talk to me about Snow Leopard, even though they talked up the maintenance aspect of it they still promoted at on of new features.)

"Like every tech company nowadays, Apple wants to do it all."

I'd say that Apple has always wanted to do it all. They've always built the OS + the hardware + the software. Arguably, it's that "end to end design" that's helped them achieve their success.

I've been increasingly feeling the same way, especially about OS X, but what's the alternative for a developer-friendly desktop operating system that looks and works beautifully (almost) out of the box?


Before everyone here laughs at me, let's start with some disclaimers:

* While not as involved as with some other distros (like Arch or Gentoo), Slackware's install process is still a bit involved; namely, you have to manually setup partitions before starting the install program (the Slackware install environment provides `fdisk` and `parted` for this, and details are well-documented).

* You have to make a single edit in `/etc/inittab` in order to get Slackware to boot into a graphical environment by default.

Once you get past those hurdles, Slackware is pretty much what you're asking for:

* Ships with multiple desktop environments / window managers, including KDE, Xfce, Window Maker, and Openbox (in order from most to least pretty/easy-to-use by default), among others. Even more are available on Slackbuilds.org (see below).

* Most (if not all) Slackware software packages include development headers (unlike most GNU/Linux distributions which have separate `-dev` packages for development headers), making it very convenient if you need to develop against some library.

* The underlying system is simple and easy to troubleshoot; no plethora of fragile moving parts like you see in OS X or Ubuntu.

* Ships with the full GCC suite.

* Fast.

* Things "just work".

* Compatible with a lot of different language runtimes/compilers/etc. (for me, I've seen Erlang/Elixir, Ruby (w/ RVM), Perl, Rust, Julia, and assorted other LLVM-oriented languages work out-of-the-box without needing to deviate from `./configure && make && sudo make install`; not that you have to even `./configure && make && sudo make install`, though (see below)).

* Plethora of third-party software packages available on Slackbuilds.org (installation of which is automatable if you download/install `sbopkg`).

It's not for everyone, of course, but it's worked well for me over the last several years.

Linux Mint is working for me pretty well for the past 1 year. Check it out.

I would second Mint.

I made the switch a while back and am in the process of dumping Windows altogether so I can do all my development with Linux.


As an Android, linux, and Windows user...I've been having the most outrageous time getting anything to work as expected with my girlfriend's iPhones. Issues, upon issues, upon issues of how services or software is expected to work...yet never having desired results.

A few days ago, I held her iPhone 6 for the first time since she got it a month or two ago. I felt like I was holding the greatest piece of mobile technology in existence, except I knew it ran iOS and only iOS.

1. I'm still on 10.9. Still have not moved over to Yosemite. Mavericks runs smooth for me.

2. It is 2015 and iTunes/iPhone syncing is still the absolute worst. I just want to add a couple of albums to my iPhone, why do I need to connect over a cable (wifi syncing almost never works for me) and why do I need to wait more than 5 minutes? I don't want to sync my entire phone again! (If you know how to not have iTunes do this, please tell me. It is the worst).

I too am on 10.9 and it feels great. I used to use 10.10 and it was crashing when I did VNC. Now it's stable as a rock. It was very difficult to downgrade, because Apple cut almost all the ways. Fortunately, my laptop originally shipped with 10.9 and I was allowed a web download of the OS from the boot loader.

On a tangent note, I am frustrated with the slowness of Chrome, too.

I think Apple software is generally good but occasionally buggy, especially close to release. Apple's iOS-era policy of free updates every year has just subjected more people to these bugs more often.

I dunno, I just don't use Apple produced software on my Mac for the most part and the experience is mostly fine. I use Windows at home and Mac for work, so I probably spend a bit more time on my work Mac.

I loath finder with a passion that would reduce stars to quarks, but that's just because its poorly designed, not particularly buggy. And outside of the OS, that's pretty much all the Apple software I tend to use on a day-to-day basis. I learned a long time ago to just stop trying to make their software work, and I don't know why people keep returning to it after years of dealing with increasingly bad software. Just avoid it.

My day pretty much consists of Chrome, iterm2, MS-Office and a handful of other apps, and things work mostly fine. I could probably have an absolutely equal day on a Windows laptop since most of what I use is cross-platform or has an equivalent.

My only real gripe is that I wish the screen animation and updating was more "snappy" like in windows. It always feels like it's just making the little graphics hamsters work a little extra hard to do things like scrolling quickly.

I think the larger point here is that the apps apple makes all have better replacements in their segment. I can kind of see that for a terminal application or whatever that's tossed in with the OS, but for other kinds of applications, ones you pay good money for, Apple really should be more neck-and-neck with the competition.

There's also really little excuse these days for the huge ecosystem of addons and patches that unfuck missing and broken core OS features. Bettertouchtool, for example, shouldn't actually need to exist. But there's something like half a dozen applications kind of like it, and zero support for what it does built in OS X. People don't really complain about it too much because once you install and set these little widgets up, you forget about them. But the user should never have to install this stuff in the first place.

This seems to me like a combination of a lack of focus, lack of dedicated teams, lack of product ownership and vision, and lack of attention to detail in the software development practice at Apple vs. the software design teams.

> My only real gripe is that I wish the screen animation and updating was more "snappy" like in windows. It always feels like it's just making the little graphics hamsters work a little extra hard to do things like scrolling quickly.

on 10.8/9/10 You can change the mission-control animations speed with this tweak:

defaults write com.apple.dock expose-animation-duration -float 0.1

It's still kind of crap, doesn't perform well on 3+ displays, but faster.

The 10.11 beta noticeably improves animation speed / "feel" of animations around the whole OS, even on 3+ display systems with many windows open.

It never really "just worked". People have been complaining about, for example, iTunes, ever since it came out. Apple stuff always had a ton of annoyances. Perhaps the experience was more restricted before, or Jobs' pitch more convincing.

Apple makes things that "do more" than their products of old, and we expect them to do more than devices past. The combination of features plus our expectation that all our devices be aware of what is happening on the others at all times is a recipe for a combinatorial explosion of unpredicted states, race conditions, you name it. I too miss the simplicity and "it just works" factor of past days. But it's a lot easier to pull that off with an iPod and a Mac, than iPhone + Mac + iPad + watch, etc.

They're the biggest company in the world and nobody needs to make excuses for them - I'm not saying "well, it's to be expected and it's not their fault." But I always think, who would be able to do this better than Apple? And I think the answer to that question reveals the depth of the situation we're in. As much as Apple screws up, could you imagine using a watch + phone + PC + tablet from some other vendor, and it being better? That's what really sucks about now - Apple screws up and they're the best we can hope for.

> As much as Apple screws up, could you imagine using a watch + phone + PC + tablet from some other vendor, and it being better?

I use a phone, watch, tablet, TV dongle, and PCs from a combination of 5 different hardware and 3 different core software vendors (on all but the watch and TV dongle, not the same vendors for both on the same device), and I have a pretty good experience working across them for the things that need to work across them.

Perhaps Apple's ingrained culture is less well adapted to dealing with diversity than those of vendors who are used to having to deal with it because they don't control all aspects of the experience.

Yes, I use one of each of those from Google and they all work pretty well :).

Mm hmm.

I got a Mac for my new job, and I gave it a few weeks, but ended up putting Parallels on it so I can use Ubuntu. I just don't like how Macs work, and don't like that I can't customize it (focus follows the mouse, dammit!) like I can Linux.

There are a lot of things that 'just work' on Ubuntu (for me, at least), like git bash completion, that seem to require more fiddling on the Mac.

Do you rely on Time Machine? Drop to the shell right now and try "tmutil compare -n" to see which files are not making it onto your backups. For me, Time Machine randomly ignores certain files, for no discernible reason. Files that have sat on my disk literally for years will never get backed up. It's happened to me on two different Macs, and I've lost data because of it.

I ran into the same issue. After a restore from my time machine backup, I discovered that some files where missing (with no apparent pattern). Fortunately, I had a non time machine backup, but pheew that was a close one...

I discovered it when visiting an old project after a whole OS wipe-and-restore from TM. A week later I found that 'git' wouldn't recognize a project dir due to some missing pieces. I had a 2nd TM drive, and was able to manually restore files.

For my other machine, no such luck. I had a 2nd backup offsite (Backblaze) but it was months before I noticed the damage, and so the old files were no longer available via the offsite. I think the worst part is not knowing what you've lost. I have thousands of music and photos on that machine, and every once in a while I come across something that's gone.

"-n" doesn't seem to be a valid flag for "tmutil compare". (OS X 10.8). What flag or comparison property did you mean?

I'm running the unflagged command now. Thanks for the heads up. I appreciate it. If this comes up bad I'll need a second backup solution.

Edit: Thanks again, parent: Time Machine was indeed missing some of my music!

It seems clear Apple feels the same way given that El Capitan and iOS 9 are light on fancy new features. My hope is that both represent a "Snow Leopard" style polish release.

I know that dumping discoveryd has solved my WiFi/AirPlay/AirDrop issues so they seem to be listening.

When it works, it is brilliant and seamless. On the other hand, there is not any redundancy, in the sense that if one piece of the equation (OS + the hardware + the software) is rubbish, it cannot be readily replaced by substitution (e.g. swapping Windows for Linux).

I dunno, Windows 7 runs brilliantly on my MacBook.

I have found that Windows tends to run faster than OSX itself does on the same Mac.

Hell, my 2008 Macbook can run the latest version of Windows 10 in 64 bit, but can't run the latest version of OSX. Win 10 runs snappy, while Lion (the last supported OS) is now a crufty pig on it.

My first iPod had a scroll wheel. No matter what I was listening to, I could fast forward or reverse as much or little as I wanted. It was the first Apple-designed product I owned, and I learned why people loved Apple stuff.

My current iPod (Nano, a few generations old) has a touch screen with controls that vary based on what it thinks I'm doing. If I'm listening to a known podcast, I can swipe once and tap once to back up 30 seconds. I can't easily go forward. If I'm listening to a long track that it doesn't recognize as a podcast, the "back 30 seconds" isn't there.

I think the consistent, physical control was better than the inconsistent touchscreen control. But they don't sell it anymore.

I switched to mac when when MS lost its mind and came up with Vista--it was unusable, so much so that switching cost to mac was lower than trying to get Windows to work. Nowadays the only reason I stay with Mac is because I make iOS apps and realize it will be annoying if I abandon Mac. Apple is no more in a "just works" business. It's in a lock-in business. I used to be delighted to download their new OS's, and I'm sure everyone used to too, but nowadays I NEVER download their new versions and try not to upgrade as much as possible, I've been burned too many times and lost so many hours of productivity because the upgrade fucked me up

> Apple is no more in a "just works" business. It's in a lock-in business.

No such change has happened between 2007 (MS Vista time frame) and now. People familiar with Apple since 1980-something know very well that it's always been about both of the above: just works for the end user, and a lock-in business.

If anything, it's less locked in now than it used to be, because of the use of Intel processors (that was a big shocker in the Mac world). You can get a bootleg OS/X image to run under VirtualBox. I have such an image running over top of Windows 7; I use it to compile and test OS/X binaries of a FOSS program that I developed.

In the 1980's I had a clone of an Apple II+ computer. Apple did their best in their operating system software to detect clones and try not to run on them. Clones were the illegal work of the devil, according to Apple. By contrast, the IBM PC's spawned a thriving clone market.

Whether lock-in has bettered or worsened depends on perspective. While OS X can be shoehorned to run on Hackintoshes and VMs now, I can't remember any time when it was virtually impossible to install a custom operating system on Apple hardware until the iPhone came out (and, eventually, when the iPhone 3GS closed up the bugs that allowed the bootloader's security checks to be cirvumvented; said bugs were the only way to install a custom OS - like Android - on an iPhone). As far as I know, the software on Apple's desktops and laptops has always been unrestricted (as I know firsthand; literally all my PowerPC Mac hardware runs OpenBSD nowadays).

i could have phrased it better. What I really wanted to say was Apple doesn't seem like a Missionary company it used to be anymore. Sounds ironic to say this to one of the most valuable companies in the world, but everything it does nowadays feels like it comes out of neediness and not out of a long term vision. They used to keep users because Apple devices "just worked" and it's obvious the existing users wouldn't leave. But nowadays I'm at the same point where I was when I was about to make the decision to jump ship from Vista to mac back then. As I mentioned, the reason I can't easily do that is because of their "lock-in" mechanism, not because they have great products. These lock-ins will break eventually unless they step up and do something about this, and I don't think it will ever happen

The discoveryd fiasco was the biggest let down for me. Every single Macbook in the office suffered connectivity issues and it took them too long to go back to the old, perfectly fine state.

It's almost 20 years of internet ferociously consuming and producing digital music and pictures and no one has been able to improve upon what Winamp and Foobar2000 or a minimally organized photo folder delivered - Picasa worked quite well, but I guess, as google reader, being stable and functional is not enough.

How can a 600B dollar company sustain a buggy software like iTunes for so many years? Dreadful experiences include podcasts, album art, and even simple music organization! Apple Music... what makes you, the biggest digital music store in the world, release a cloud based product that thinks that a live version of a song is the same one as the album version?

It seems Apple is trying to make its user base - that helped it become the most world's most valuable company - user their version of every digital service/product possible but at the cost of lacking in the areas that made it thrive in the first place. Heck, even my last MBP had hardware issue (staingate)...

> People lose their minds when Google services go down because it happens once a year. When Apple services go down, people just shrug or write a blog post like this.

Well hang on a minute, I thought people lose their minds when Google services go down because Google is a software company and their core products are online services. When Apple services go down, it isn't as noteworthy since Apple is a hardware (dare I say fashion?) company. But when Apple sells a cellphone that can get faraday-caged by your hand, that's when people freak out.

Now is that any excuse for Apple services to be broken as often as they are? Not at all, it projects a shoddy brand image. And when it's a service that is required to make the hardware function, users won't care which part of the "experience" is breaking.

Anyway, good writeup.

My thesis: part of this feeling comes from the fact that more eyes are on the OS and the apps, but many issues existed before.

- I have some complaints about OS X: wifi, bluetooth, etc.

- I like iTunes as it is today (not considering the synchronization process)

- I struggle with the weakened "iWorks" applications

I dislike photos - like for my life I can't figure out how to delete a photo.

Itunes is a huge mess. Creating a playlist with apple music is just difficult. I have to add it to my playlist then go to my my music and create a playlist there? weird.

Podcasts I giveup.

I understand this guys gripe. I have to say this though to me things aren't great anywhere. I've lost data on google drive, and messages on gmail. Adobe Cloud is so problematic to me I get extremely frustrated that i have to have 4 versions of illustrator installed to use the features and export to SVG like we all need. I think somewhere with everyone implementing AGILE the question of quality being important has been forgotten in the rush to push releases often.

Consistently delivering high quality software features is impossible. Even great teams mess up every once in a while. The way apple used to get around that was to throw things away, or to send them back to the drawing board. There was someone at the top who detected when things weren't ready, and prevented them from getting released or dared teams to do better, even at great cost. In the jobs era there were many things which were rumored to ship and cut at the last moment. Apple has stopped not shipping things, and it's what will turn them into just another software company.

They've forgotten how to say "No."

I'm frustrated with Apple when it comes to services. Don't misunderstand me: I love their hardware. I love OS X. It's the best computing experience since my C64 days.

But when it comes to services I tend to avoid them as much as I can. Latest example: Apple music.

I was a little annoyed by Spotify's continuously disappearing music tracks so I was eager to try out iTunes Music. But the problems started when I tried to get into the trial: You need a valid* credit card.

Now valid is a pretty interesting definition because I'm from Germany, currently living in Germany but my banking is done via a Dutch bank (back from when I lived there). So my credit card is dutch. And I live in Germany. But it's the EU so it shouldn't be a problem, right?

Right. And no one has ever raised an eyebrow when I used a credit card that has been issued by a Dutch bank with my German address (not even the online poker websites I frequent from time to time). Not even once I had any problems with that. I'm paying my taxes in Germany via my Dutch bank account. The German tax office accepts it (they even issue transfers to that account). So if the German tax office (which still hasn't completely switched to electronic tax filing) can deal with that case then everyone on this planet should be able to. Well, expect for Apple. I just can not use that credit card with anything iTunes related. I get always an "invalid country error".

Now I'm in Germany, I'm from Germany, my iTunes account is a German iTunes account. But the fact that my credit card has been issued by a bank in a country that's just 20km from my current residence makes it invalid for Apple. A country that is part of the EU. It's like I wouldn't be able to use a credit card from California when I were living in Washington.

So I have to buy those pre-paid iTunes cards to top up my account. And so I had to add three months of pre-paid money to my iTunes account just to start the 3 months free trial.

Everything OK? Nope! I was too bold and I opted for a "family account". Now the most funny thing: Even though I am in the free trial period for the "family account" and I have enough money in my iTunes account to pay for the service I can't use the family sharing feature because for that I would need a valid credit card. iTunes just aborts with an "add a valid credit card" error when I try to configure family sharing.

It's like Kafka has risen from his grave and started a music streaming service.


That's strange I'm Dutch, living in Germany and don't have these issues with my Dutch Visa card. You do know you can change your country/App Store country? I can even hop between country store and use different visas per store.

Is your iTunes account maybe registered to your old Dutch address? Because the iTunes error I get (and the people on the Apple support line) tells me that I need a credit card for the country my iTunes acc is registered in.

>You do know you can change your country/App Store country?

Not that easily. (I'm not talking about clicking the flag in the iTunes store front but changing the personal data associated with the account). For that I need to contact Apple support. And then there's the issue that there are enough stories where people who frequently used their iTunes account from foreign countries got their account suspended. (Add a fake address in the Netherlands I would have to use and this is a risk I don't want to take).

/edit: That's the message I get: http://i.imgur.com/IWfI8np.png

Right yes, but you dont need to contact Apple support, you can just change countries, after being logged in on Apple.com. I changed my account frequently because sometimes I had to pay things with my Dutch visa and other times with the German one. Been doing this for years. Also, it makes no sense for Apple to ban an account that a) does nothing illegal b) they allow these country changes c) are legit Visa card transactions that they make their profit on.

So all you're issues, are basically void, because it is possible, without contacting support. And after switching countries, a few minutes later it's activated. Give it a go.

There's an easy way to explain all these artifacts: Apple no longer does things "as if they themselves are the user", or if they do then they've significantly lowered their standards.

1000x this. I've turned to dtrace twice in the past several weeks to find fixes for serious issues on other people's computers. One was a segfault at startup in iTunes caused by a corrupted cookie cache. The other one was a corrupted plist that prevented adding new exchange accounts or calendars to mail (with no indicators at all -- the new account would just hang indefinitely).

This trend has been very apparent to me, starting a couple years after Steve Jobs passed. I waited until July 2015 to upgrade from Mavericks to Yosemite because of all the bugs I kept hearing about.

Boot times for my Macbook Pro have gotten really long since a recent upgrade to Mavericks. Went from ~3 seconds to ~30 seconds.

El Capitan does a lot to rectify that (at least in the beta so far).

It keeps on being strange that Steve, just one man, had so much influence on quality control. I find it mind boggling.

alternatively: his successor is lacking in passion, focus, and integrity.

Why don't Apple just make a laptop that runs iOS?

Call it... iBook!

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