This is no longer possible. It feels that as soon as version N is out, they are scrambling to make version N+1. There is no downtime. There is no stabilization phase. You are eternally in brand-new isn't fully working mode. Of course the software is going to be worse.
Couple this with the stark reality that Apple has simply run out of ideas in terms of software. Every new version of OS X boils down to: 1. arbitrary UI tweak (forcing developers to refresh), 2. Gimmick features in Mail.app/Safari (RSS in Mail/Safari, Postcards in Mail, yet another 3d effect to re-arrange your tabs in Safari, annotations in Mail, etc etc etc), and 3. regressions of features that worked for years. Occasionally .Mac/MobileMe/iCloud will be renamed in hopes everyone forgets about the last round of data loss bugs/hopefully people get excited about this vague thing they don't really know the scope of.
No. Shorter release cycles don't imply loss of quality. I claim the opposite in fact. Rolling releases are much better for quality. You're releasing smaller more focused features and battle-testing them in the field.
>There is no stabilization phase.
There are always stabilization phases. Not every major release will be an overhaul. Most will be incremental updates.
The jury is out on this. We have seen that longer release cycles with teams that take things seriously can be very successful (mission critical software). We've also seen that short release cycles can be very effective. The context of your software matters a great deal here, as well as the basic mechanics of how your software is delivered. You can't just take the philosophies of web sites and apply them across the board and declare it objective fact:
1. Take for example the fact that with a web service you can deploy quickly to a small subset of users, and grow it as it proves itself. This is quite ideal, but regardless of whether its even practically possible with OS software, its certainly not what Apple does. The combination of a short release cycle with a worldwide release means that "catching your bug" may mean catastrophic data loss for a large amount of customers.
2. With a web service you have the option of rolling back a bad version, or, simply deploying yet another release. Again, whether its possible with OS's or not, Apple certainly doesn't (or can't?) employ this strategy. The best they can do oftentimes is simply remove the update, but everyone that has it installed keeps having the bug until a) your fix is out and b) they actually install said fix.
> There are always stabilization phases. Not every major release will be an overhaul. Most will be incremental updates.
There certainly could be stabilization phases, but the proof is in the pudding and thats not how it feels. All the last releases have seen major additions, and most the regressions I run into either take years to fix (dual monitor support) or still remain increasingly broken (Messages to name just one example). There is a simple reality to having a year to stabilize without the pressure of a PR push of new features vs. balancing your stabilization with coming up with compelling things to slap on a website and show in a keynote.
iOS: 2007-2011 four updates at one year intervals before the decline in quality that lots of people perceive starting with iOS6. Again, hard to say one year is the culprit.
I do think Apple needs to restrain itself, and work on figuring out which features can be shipped without compromising quality. But whether it needs to do longer releases or do smaller releases is hard to say.
As for Mac OS, when I read Siracusa's review, I was thrilled. There aren't consumer features, but they're doing so many things to make desktop machines more responsive and efficient. It's even more exciting than Snow Leopard.
And sure, if Apple only focused on a very sensible amount of changes, then of course a year would be enough. The problem is the contention of a 1 year release cycle and "150 new features!".
I guess "not having quality problems" was a poor phrasing. The point is that they weren't suffering from a quick release cycle. But perhaps it's ambiguous.
Are you referring to his Yosemite review? Is it out yet?
It doesn't really matter if the OS is completely done, or still has a fair number of bugs. It MUST release at the same time as the new phone.
Combined with this is the fact that the apps are bundled with the OS. While certain enhancements definitely need operating system support, there's no good reason they couldn't be updating Safari or mail or notes to quash little bugs throughout the year. Instead you have to wait for a .1 release or the next full OS (since they never seem to do .2s).
Release dates are arbitrary and inconsequential. Scope and freeze dates are what matters.
>Couple this with the stark reality that Apple has simply run out of ideas in terms of software. Every new version of OS X boils down to: 1. arbitrary UI tweak (forcing developers to refresh), 2. Gimmick features in Mail.app/Safari (RSS in Mail/Safari, Postcards in Mail, yet another 3d effect to re-arrange your tabs in Safari, annotations in Mail, etc etc etc), and 3. regressions of features that worked for years.
Siracusa begs to differ.
I dunno. Continuity seemed to me to be novel and useful when it was presented. Healthkit is new, and not really "just a refinement".
All in all though, continuity is another disappointment to me. We are still stuck in app-land. Handover is app-to-app. So when I'm listening to a podcast in Safari, I won't be able to handover to Overcast on my phone. I actually have to wait for marco arment to write a desktop podcast player, and worse, I have to use it, to get this basic functionality. Again, an aggressive misunderstanding of what it means to have true continuity: reading the same data on two devices, not using the same app on both. But Apple thinks wallet first, and "App" is their ecosystem's bread and butter, and so this way it will stay.
This is particularly depressing since I remember, 10 years ago, having (what I believe to be) much more impressive interconnectivity between my Mac and my Nokia phone through Saling clicker. When someone called me, my music would pause. I could control my mac with a really cool remote. Instead, we seem to be living in a parody of that world where now if someone calls me 10 devices in my house go off since Apple "connected" them all together to ring simultaneously, its maddening.
I also wished they refined more of the Bluetooth integration that OSX had 10 years ago (sending/receiving txt messages, using it as a remote, etc). Sadly, it only now seems to be coming back and in an iPhone-specific way. But other than the iPhone tie-in, what would be different? If you had your phone Bluetooth paired to multiple devices, wouldn't they all buzz? If you don't want them to buzz, can't you just disconnect them (as you would un-pair bluetooth)? If you had a remote tethered to multiple devices, would "Play" trigger them all at once?
Doesn't this discussion boil down to the trade-offs between slower and more rapid release cycles? For example, releases after 2 years of development are far more complex, with all the disadvantages that entails. Technology reaches users more slowly (solutions to some bugs/features could take 3 years or more) which also delays feedback to developers. etc.
For example, for an app like Safari, it would make so much more sense to release very frequently (ala Chrome/Firefox) separate from the yearly OS cycles. Instead, new web standards features/JS improvements/what-have-you are inexplicably tied to fluff features like 3d tabs. On the other hand, features that would make more sense to not mutate constantly on your user get changed way too frequently (for example Mail, which quite frankly doesn't need constant updating, yet still broke Gmail for so many people on Mavericks release and should have really been caught beforehand). This strikes a balance that lacks the benefits of continuous deployment AND slow sober releases.
Gnome's design in minimal, clean, and feels out of the way instead of being flashy. Most importantly Gnome is improving rapidly. The new 3.14 looks amazing, where they revamped all the small details (icons, resolutions). A great demo of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhK_2M0B8Qo
I used to love getting new OSX releases. I'm really surprised to see it get sidelined in recent years. Maybe all of the good designers are working on iOS?
Honestly, I'm glad that Apple isn't being brash on the Mac. They can get away with it on iOS (the 6->7 transition) because it's such an active platform, with so much demand, that developers have put in the time and money to re-design, but a similar design transition on OS X would take much much longer and I imagine would be a lot more painful for the end user.
And talk about quality issues! Any given thing is way more likely to break on a linux desktop environment. I love FOSS and have been a Gnome and Ubuntu user for years but integrating a thousand FOSS projects together presents many challenges to quality.
> often badly rendered fonts (fuzzy, weird aliasing)
Gnome-tweak-tools and the infinality package makes fonts and aliasing comparable to OSX. As with most Linux things, it requires a bit of tweaking. Mostly due to politics and FOSS, as is the case with the fonts.
Newer Gnome apps have clean padding and margins.
However after a few months of using it as my daily OS, I find it far cleaner and more productive than prior OSX versions.
It's hard to admit now, but at one point I even liked XCode, but again, that was before they iTunesd it.
Maybe it's age, but in my mind they definitely did get worse, and as a result I've moved to Windows (7) as my main machine after over a decade in Mac land.
I also used to hate Xcode 3 but as of Xcode 5 I've really grown to like it.
You're my bizarro opposite. I bet you hate the colour blue ;)
I'll find myself going weeks, enjoying my rMBP, then I'll need to do some heavy duty file management and end up in Finder-hell and immediately wish I was using something better. DirectoryOpus, Midnight Commander, anything.
It says something when the CLI is not only faster to use, but more user-friendly and discoverable than the GUI.
In fact, I'm about to start work on a bunch of file management and I've been putting it off for a week just because I don't want to interact with Finder.
Gahhh, it's a terrible terrible piece of software.
(maybe I should just break down and install this http://www.ragesw.com/products/explorer.html)
There are some things that I can't live without: being able to drag a file or folder into a file open/save dialog (try doing this in Windows! HOHO), and the column view. It really makes file management a breeze, and I rarely drop into the Terminal, unless I'm doing some heavy-duty renaming, or stuff like that.
Could you elaborate on the Finder problems you're encountering?
1 - unbelievably poor context presentation, e.g. if I paste? where in the file system will something end up? Who knows? Where am I in the filesystem? I can guess! Is it correct? not usually. How about let's play the game of which kind of file is this? Because filenames usually end up with a '...' somewhere in them and I have to fiddle with Finder every single time to get it wide enough to stop truncating filenames so I can figure out which file is "P1250416.JPG" vs "P1250417.JPG". Folders mix in with filenames when sorted so navigating up and down the tree takes forever (and is harder to do keyboarding). And on and on and on.
2 - completely nonstandard keyboarding and navigation, e.g. ENTER to rename, cmd+o or cmd+down to open a file? really? In which way are either of those possible intuitive? It appears Finder is trying to follow some impossibly ancient keyboard shortcut system that was probably put in place 30 years ago and doesn't make any sense at all.
Here's a typical use-case for me. I just shot about 3,000 photos and I want to do a quick pass on the photos and delete bad photos and move photos of a certain kind (photos with a certain subject) into another folder. In explorer it's a matter of hitting "enter" then "right" until I see one I don't like then hitting "delete" to remove it then continuing with "right" until I find more to delete or finish the bunch. Moving ones with a specific subject involves me ctrl+mouswheel until the thumbnails are as big as possible so I can see the subjects, then ctrl+lmb on all the ones I want to move then ctrl+x, move into the folder, ctrl+v (and now they're all sorted and not scattered all over the place like in Finder and I moved them using the completely system consistent cut-paste keyboard hotkeys) and alt+left to go back (just like a browser). Other niceties like being able to maximize and then restore back to the default window size with a couple mouseclicks are also smoother.
In Finder all of this becomes work instead of a few minutes of repetitive keypushing. I can almost do the entire workflow without a mouse in Explorer, and where I have to mouse it kind of makes sense (picking specific items from a group) over a keyboard. But in Finder, just to get started, I have to buy and install a couple pieces of software.
Sure most of these things can be "fixed". If I install this or that extension, and customize finder in this or that way and remap such and such keyboard hotkey I can kind of end up with a sane workflow and filenames I can actually see. But I shouldn't have to fix shipping software. Everytime I open Finder I'm asking myself if anybody at Apple actually uses it.
Take a look on the internet for people complaining about Finder and most of the complaints are more or less along the same lines. The complaints are consistent and have been going on for years. Solutions have been hacks since forever as well and usually involve installing $100 of replacements, addons or fixes.
What's amazing to me is that these problems don't exist in any other GUI file manager I've ever used, from the Amiga to my TI calculators. Finder is just rubbish.
I can go weeks without acknowledging the existence of a filesystem. I do "file management" literally never. Just throw everything in my Dropbox folder and Command-Space to find it when I want it back.
I see my current project's tree in Sublime Text all the time, but I rarely if ever use Finder proper.
Fortunately, Xcode keeps perpetual auto-backups; otherwise you'd lose your changes multiple times per day.
If you told me a month ago that Apple's flagship OS would be less stable than a heavily patched AOSP build  maintained by a few part-time indie ROM devs I would have laughed in your face.
 International GS3 never got an official Android 4.4 release. So it runs with a lot of 4.3 code, including drivers and radios, forward ported to 4.4, all held together with parts of other Samsung device code releases.
Also don't even get me started on the orientation confusion (in app - clicking back to the home screen is fine) and general lagginess and freezing on 8.0.2 on a €999 phone that's a week old.
It feels like it's missing even some of the most basic QA.
No, blogs and articles are experiencing a problematic decline in long and medium term memory.
Apple has always (under Jobs or not) had ups and downs, in both software and hardware quality control.
Remember how OS X 10.1 was unusable, the problems with Lion, when it first came out? The file-loss bug in the FS? And tons of other things besides.
As for hardware, well, Jobs first love child was the cube, with the overheating problem (and the not-selling-well problem). Then we had the iBook G3 logic board issues (for tons of models). Battery issues. The G5 Pro cooling goo leak issue. Etc etc. And of course, as any long time Mac buyer knows, a classic advice is "never buy the first revision of a product".
Part of it, for hardware, is that a bug in a production run e.g. for Dell doesn't affect that many people (because Dell puts out 50+ different models, whereas Apple puts out a few, so each of Apple's has tens of millions of buyers). And of course the press doesn't care much for a fault in Dell or HP or whatever production run, whereas the slightest BS in an Apple production run is a "*gate". And of course Apple does more daring stuff with machining, weight, thinness, internal design etc than most companies, so there's always a chance to screw some things that's bigger than in just assembling some brick-sized plasticy laptop.
This is anecdotal (I'm just one developer) but forum grumblings seem to confirm that lots of developers are seeing their apps broken by buggy changes in iOS 8.
You probably mean not causation?
I've noticed the amount of patches going up as well as the stability of software go a little bit down. But that's not all, most major unix tools in Mac OS X are 2 to 3 years outdated and Safari is a bug nest.
To bring some balance to my criticism I fell that innovation at Apple has not decreased but the quality of products has.
The older version of openssh is rather perplexing, though, but they haven't updated any of the other bsd utilities really and the pf firewall is ancient too.
Maybe not a good thing.
More APIs == more bugs, more nastiness under the hood and a rats nest of keeping track of the OS.
I think the difference is that people are finally feeling the confidence to state the obvious - why is the software so sucky?
I agree; the Jobs distortion field is wearing off. There's a lot of cognitive dissonance to get past (this must have been better before because I liked it before), and this dawning recognition is getting projected onto Apple.
Similar to: Jobs make everything at apple, apple say it invented first (about everything), people that buy apple is a lunatic fanboy, bla, bla...
You have a more stable software or not. You can show numbers, or at worst, anecdotal evidence. But blaming in a distortion field?
(PS: Had to paste these links into Notes.app after copying the urls from mobile safari's share sheet, and then copy from there to paste here because mobile safari won't allow paste in text fields from its own share sheet in ios8... How's that for QA)
This has been the pattern in The Comments since I started using Apple stuff 15 years ago. Likewise, "Apple used to innovate and now they're out of ideas."
Which isn't to say that things haven't perhaps taken a downturn lately: there have unquestionably been an unusually large number of publicized missteps in the last couple of months. Some technical, some social, some real, and some media-hyped. But an apparent clustering at one moment doesn't assure or even imply a long-term trend. Five and ten years from now I feel confident the same comments will be being made.
People get annoyed at the un-Steve-like-ness of Cook's apparent focus on quantifiable things like "CustSat". But, when you're serving literally hundreds of millions of customers in a blog-driven media world, it's hard to know what would be a better way to measure these things. If customers are becoming less satisfied, you can be certain the executive team knows it.
Still, it seems apparent that there's an immediate PR issue. (And simultaneously, it should be noted, iPhones are flying off the shelves in unprecedented numbers and at likely higher ASPs than ever.) If I were Cook, I'd do what I could to make really sure we got our act together in the short term, look for some opportunities to buy back some goodwill, and then I'd probably keep doing roughly what we'd been doing for the last decade or so while weighing the feasibility of some of the commmon suggestions, such as decoupling OS releases from hardware releases.
I suspect that when a company reaches a certain amount of market penetration where the number of active users reaches into the 100s of millions, that number of eyeballs over that many devices begins to show the cracks which maybe got glanced over previously.
My comparison for this is, of course, Microsoft. As they were coming up, we were forgiving of their set-backs, but into maturity, people started looking for alternatives, their had to be something better because their stuff was SO buggy. I point to the Vista 'fiasco' as an example. Was it really a 'fiasco'? Or was it just that, even when what was considered a small number of people upgraded, and recognized issues, that small number of users was so large that it brought major attention to the issues.
When 10% of your users have issues and you have 10 million users, that's 1 million voices.
When 10% of your users have issues and that's 100 million users, it's considerably larger.
Diversity of hardware platforms further exacerbates this issue. When it was just the iPhone1-3, the hardware wasn't considerably different. Bring on the iPhone 3, and increased pixel count, and you start to notice a few more minor issues, then iPhone 5 with different screen layout, handled well by apple, but not seamless. Now start adding some devices having fingerprint scanners and some without, some with health data gathering and fingerprint scanners some with one of these things, some with none. Sure, you 'should' be able to test for these small differences, but it gets considerably more complicated with each iteration. Apple has done a good job of getting people to retire old hardware, or not cause a fuss about not being able to upgrade, but they're still getting into a realm of device numbers they hadn't experienced before.
(awaiting the downvotes...)
I got on the apple fan train kinda late, like right around when they transitioned to Intel.
With that said, I sometimes feel Apple hitting it big with iPhones was similar to someone winning a lottery. Often when someone wins jackpot, he grows distant from friends/family because of his money. He loses his direction in life due to the sudden infusion of wealth.
I feel that way with Apple.
I don't have a list of specific examples to back up that claim, but I encourage other apple devs here to think about recent releases from that perspective.
- New device with a new OS that requires a few rapid updates in the weeks following release because the OS was rushed and is very buggy.
> If one of these updates go wrong, which has happened, the user is stuck with a broken device or they could downgrade to an already buggy and less stable OS as before.
- New device with the "old" but stable OS that continues to function well until the new, stable OS comes out.
> Even if the new OS's initial release is troublesome, a downgrade will take the user to the older but stable OS, so the device is still functional.
Which provides the better user experience? I vote for the second option, but Apple have opted for the first option without any clear long-term benefits.
Xcode doesn't seem to play along with Swift either, the whole integration is quite buggy yet.
Yosemite, including the Public Betas, has been rock solid.
Edit: Why the downvotes? It's true. The answer is No.
Typical error on a Rolex is a minute or two a month, sometimes worse. Rolex doesn't even provide chronometer certification for their watches. As their CEO says, "We are not in the watch business. We are in the luxury business".
That's the market Apple is aiming at.
Whether it's the (mostly) info-appliance market of iOS, or the productivity market of the Mac, Apple's products are much more like BMWs than Rolexes. The luxury is intertwined with the functionality.