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Is Apple experiencing a problematic decline in software quality? (tuaw.com)
132 points by MilkoFTW on Oct 15, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 94 comments



I'd just like to point out that this is likely not to get better with this (arbitrary) decision to release a new OS every year. It used to be that we'd have a new release roughly every 2 years (from 2003 - 2011). This meant: 1. it was in development for 2 years and thus probably stabler to begin with, and 2) there were then 2 years to iron out the bugs. You'd get the new OS, there were some understandable kinks, but then by 6-12 months later it was pretty solid and you had another year of a solid OS ahead of you. It was perfectly reasonable to wait on the OS and let the early birds kick the tires first.

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.


>This meant: 1. it was in development for 2 years and thus probably stabler to begin with

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.


> 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.

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.


In theory, but Apple has seemed to copy the MS playbook of releasing software by an arbitrary date—whether or not it is ready. They seems to add more features, instead of fixing bugs. It seems the only time I get a Software Upadate pop up is for Camera RAW, iTunes or a patch for the exploit of the day.


Mac OS X: The 2000-2003 period included three full releases (not counting 10.0, since that was the culmination of several years of work), and didn't have quality problems. The 2003-2011 period had four releases. So I don't see an obvious lesson that one year is sustainable.

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.


The period between 2000 and 2003 is kind of hard to draw any conclusions from or the classify as "not having quality problems". That period started with quality problems and saw Apple scrambling to make Mac OS X a reasonable OS to replace OS 9. For example, 10.1 re-introduced disc burning which was missing from 10.0. OS X 10.0 was also riddled with kernel panics and really sluggish. 10.1 continued to have pretty severe crashes and sluggishness, and I remember Jaguar being the first thing that approached actual usability. Panther arguably ended this transition period (where people were still unsure whether to "make the jump") and ushered in the more stable phase I'm referring to (2003 - 2011).

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'm not sure the intial problems really sabotage my point. They were able to, year after year, squash bugs while adding substantial functionality that was missing in 10.0.

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.


> when I read Siracusa's review

Are you referring to his Yosemite review? Is it out yet?


No, I was thinking of Mavericks. I was clearly too tired to be commenting yesterday.


There's nothing wrong with yearly release cycles, Apple's problem seems to be that they've tied their OS to the hardware cycle.

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).


A problem with yearly releases is that Apple only seems to give support out for the most ~3 recent versions. (At least in OSX world; I believe there is still no shellshock patch for 10.6.) So do you have support for ~4 years, or ~10 years?


>I'd just like to point out that this is likely not to get better with this (arbitrary) decision to release a new OS every year.

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.


> Couple this with the stark reality that Apple has simply run out of ideas in terms of software

I dunno. Continuity seemed to me to be novel and useful when it was presented. Healthkit is new, and not really "just a refinement".


Continuity is really interesting since it really highlights just how far we've gotten from the original promise of seamless integration between Apple products. For starters, its taken years to get to this feature (with incredibly confusing pitstops in the middle, such as the existence of a feature called Airdrop on Mac AND iPhone that didn't work between them....).

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.


Apple (and others) have clearly double downed on an app-centric metaphor. This is obvious from App Store and home screen only showing apps--interestingly they did add recent people to the multitasking menu). They're also struggling with trying to reinvent documents (and haven't done much). Services/Workflow-centric and people-centric are the other approaches I've seen attempted[1] with only minor success. I don't blame Apple, none of the other approaches have gained any traction and Apple has really streamlined app centric management: centralized finding apps, purchasing, encapsulating installing/uninstalling, updating, etc. All of those things were pretty inconsistent and terrible before OSX/iOS.

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?

[1] http://www.hanselman.com/blog/WhyIsntPeopleCentricUIDesignTa...


> It used to be that we'd have a new release roughly every 2 years (from 2003 - 2011). This meant: 1. it was in development for 2 years and thus probably stabler to begin with, and 2) there were then 2 years to iron out the bugs.

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.


What's funny is that Apple seems to have found the anti-sweetspot for its release cycles.

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.


I think the opposite is true. iOS7/8 was a giant transition that was staged over two releases. I suspect the next few years will be much less major reworking and much more tuning up and adding capabilities.


Apple's OSX design work seems stagnant as well. I find Gnome since version 3.12 (yes Gnome) looks better than Yosemite. I use Yosemite at work every day and find it's a step down from Mavericks. Most of the improvements seem to be to apps I never use (Maps, Safari). The new dark top bar is embarrassingly ugly compared to Gnome dark theme. The icons look childish and half-baked.

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?


I second your enthusiasm for Gnome. It really is in a great place right now and is my shell of choice on Linux. But I disagree with the Yosemite criticism. Unlike Linux, OS X actually has a large degree of uniformity between third-party apps thanks to Cocoa and (historically) the human interface guidelines. Apple just can't make sweeping changes to the OS X design without severely damaging the coherence of the OS X ecosystem; design changes have to be incremental. And they're doing a pretty good job. Yosemite brings design changes specifically optimised for high-DPI (font, line weights) and a general toning down of brashness (e.g. the new dock). I imagine the new 'dark mode' (which, let's face it, will be unseen by most consumers) is just a signal of things to come; I wouldn't be surprised to see a dark set of Cocoa controls in a future release too. But it'll take time.

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.


Fair enough, OSX is still a fine operating system. My taste for change is that of early adopters so I'm at least happy Gnome is filling that void for me.


Gnome looks nice, and has it's "own" look - but is nowhere even near the quality of Yosemite IMO.

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.


Your second paragraph is complete flame bait unsupported by facta. You should have added "IMO" to it as well, because it is just your opinion.


that is a matter of opinion - I find gnome to be incredibly ugly and unpolished. Large margins, padding issues, often badly rendered fonts (fuzzy, weird aliasing) just to name the few.


When was the last time you used it? Things have vastly improved recently.

> 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.


we are talking out of the box experience. One could make the same comment about os-x: it is possible to customise icons, change look & feel of the UI etc. to make it look the way you like it :D


The thing is, with something like Gnome, the 'out of box experience' varies widely based on distro.


Yes Gnome is the best thing you can get under Linux, but lots of stuff like the scrolling behaviour and smoothness still isn't on par with what OS X offers.


Yosemite takes some getting used to. I had the same initial reaction - that the Linux desktops were comparable.

However after a few months of using it as my daily OS, I find it far cleaner and more productive than prior OSX versions.


Apple has had a decline in software quality since around the Intel transition. Prior to that OS X had become really very respectable, but during it lots of typical things started happening, like suspend not quite working sometimes, and external display support going to hell. It doesn't seem like they ever recovered.

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 literally went the opposite. I switched to OSX soon after the Intel transition and loved it, after a decade in Windows land. I honestly just much prefer the look and feel of Apple products and software. I find them more enjoyable to use, consistent, more intelligently thought out and much less hassle.

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've been a MacBook user for 5 years, but Windows File Explorer is still light-years ahead of the atrocity that is Finder.


I've tried to "go mac" about 3 times now, at quite a bit of expense, and the horrible and endless well of failure that is Finder continues to rebuff me. Even as Explorer continues to change and ends up with some weird corners, it's such a much better and more efficient file manager.

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)


I always read about people hating Finder, and I never understand why.

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?


I could probably provide you with pages of issues but they all bundle into a couple of major categories

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.


Spotlight is good. Really good.

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.


Yeah, Spotlight is pretty good. I have too many files that need organizing to follow your workflow, but after a couple minutes of fighting with finder to find something I can usually just spotlight it.


Xcode 6 (the latest version) has a really good set of features but there's a huge number of crash bugs all through the app (and supporting tools like Instruments). Depending on what you're doing, you can get stuck in constant crash loops.

Fortunately, Xcode keeps perpetual auto-backups; otherwise you'd lose your changes multiple times per day.


I disagree with the decline after Intel. I'd say their quality grew a lot more after the Intel transition. That's when Apple started picking up steam and gained a higher adoption rate for their operating system. Especially with developers.


My iPhone 6+ has shown more bugs in 2 weeks than the three iPhones I had prior to that (the original, 3G, and 4). Has hard locked at least half a dozen times, particularly when receiving calls.


It's completely insane. The custom 4.4 Android ROM I use on a beaten up old Galaxy S3 is more stable than iOS 8 on my iPad.

If you told me a month ago that Apple's flagship OS would be less stable than a heavily patched AOSP build [0] maintained by a few part-time indie ROM devs I would have laughed in your face.

[0] 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.


Similarly, Safari frequently locks up or crashes on my iPad -- behavior that started with 8.0.0 and has continued through 8.0.2. I rarely remember this happening in the past.


I can crash my entire iPad every time I try to start a slideshow while connected via AirPlay in one of my apps (Portfolio). From the technical side of things all it does is load a full resolution image into a CALayer instance and fade it in, which has worked on every previous iOS version but for some reason crashes the entire device on iOS 8.


Safari doesn't even properly recognize half the links on webpages now. I need to slightly zoom/unzoom the page to make them work...


Oh man, the crazy bugs I've seen in iOS 8 on my 5S. Last week I had an alarm go off, unlocked my screen, and it kept going. And going. Disabling the alarm in the Clock app did nothing. Re-locking and re-unlocking the screen did nothing. In the end, I had to just power the device off.


Thank you for the confirmation — I have had the same bug with the alarm sound several times now. What I found is that I could stop it only by opening the Clock app, and selecting a new alarm sound (e.g., by editing an alarm), triggering it to play that sound instead, which I could then easily stop.


iOS 8 does this weird thing where notification banners half the time can be dismissed with a swipe up (the normal way) and half the time with a home button click (they don't respond to swipes). Same app, same notifications.

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.


On a 5s with iOS8 I have seen the Touch ID system completely vanish. It wouldn't lock and I could launch Mint without any kind of authentication (the mint app has integrated Touch ID which previously worked well).


I started having similar issues with my iPhone 4S after upgrading to iOS 7. It's better now, but I'm definitely holding off on going up to iOS 8.


I've had 6+ since release and I can honestly say I've not had a single problem with it. I am heavy user and iOS developer myself. So yeah ... no idea how you get so many supposed issues.


Extensive use of hotspot function + frequent use in marginal signal conditions, I'd guess. I don't know why my screen rotate gets wonky though.


>Is Apple experiencing a problematic decline in software quality?

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.


No, I don't think so. People are perceiving it that way because a few unrelated issues have cropped up lately. Coincidence, not correlation.


I'm an iOS developer and I've filed 20 different API bugs with Apple for iOS 8 versus a previous record count of 7 that I filed against iOS 4.

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.


>>Coincidence, not correlation.

You probably mean not causation?


But coincidence is a type of correlation, is it not?


Strong correlation requires a large number of 'coincidences'


You took the word out of my mouth! It is by far and it is also losing some of its legendary attention to detail.

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.


As referenced in this article[0] a major blocker for shipping newer versions of the command line toolchain is the fact that newer versions of these tools moved to an incompatible GPLv3 license.

[0]: http://robservatory.com/behind-os-xs-modern-face-lies-an-agi...


Oh come on, that's far from serious. There are 6 pieces of software there that are old because newer versions are GPLv3. Grep could be replaced with bsdgrep, and nano could be replaced with pico and nobody would notice. The other 4 aren't that important for day to day use except bash and OSX should have switched users to zsh a long time ago, or simplified the shell by using tcsh as default.

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.


I've noticed this over the past few years. What I've also noticed is a move by Apple towards marketing not what their products can do, but by counting how many new features they they've added to their software. They're still far ahead of their competitors in terms of quality and usability of their products, but not what they once were.


Apple said: "iOS 8 includes over 4,000 new APIs that let you add amazing new features and capabilities to your apps"

Maybe not a good thing.


it's like an author advertising word count... weeee...

More APIs == more bugs, more nastiness under the hood and a rats nest of keeping track of the OS.


Wait - this supposes they had quality to start with. Not in my experience, and I have been using their offerings since almost the beginning.

I think the difference is that people are finally feeling the confidence to state the obvious - why is the software so sucky?


>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.


But the distortion field that before exist a magical distortion field is still strong...

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?


It is difficult to maintain focus on software as a hardware company (and vice versa). While Steve Jobs was around he was able to emphasize importance of both hw & sw. Over time the part of the company which brings the money receives increasing investment at the expense of the other. For Apple, maintaining a balance will be a challenge going forward. QA seems to be the first compromise.


It's all the little things. iOS 7 introduced a ton of glitches in the Music app that still aren't fixed in iOS 8.


The latest reports on personal data leaking onto removable devices like usb drives are quite worrying too:

http://www.reddit.com/r/netsec/comments/2jbfgp/osx_appears_t... https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8450848

(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)


Yosemite has been great but I still run into a few bugs here and there with iOS 8.0.2. I think they should consider decoupling hardware and software releases.


This comments section has lots of people saying "x was when things got really bad" followed by people saying "actually x was the pinnacle." (And some then following up with "it was actually y when it got bad.")

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 this is more reflective of a scale issue than a direct decline attributed to the capabilities of the company.

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.


I completely agree with the article an will recommend reading Apple Core Rot: http://macperformanceguide.com/AppleCoreRot-intro.html


Yosemite is pretty fantastic.


Yes, but in my experience this is an industry-wide problem not specific to Apple.

I know I'm getting a bit old so there's surely some amount of 'get off my lawn, kids' going on here, but I kind of expect new software to mostly suck these days for many reasons but with the 'webification of everything' (in terms of pervasive use of JavaScript, throwing out all the old UI frameworks and replacing them with web DOMs or web DOM like systems, replacing graphics systems with WebGL/Canvas, etc) being a primary cause.

(awaiting the downvotes...)


I own 2 separate apple PCs. And seriously considering replacing one of them (Mac Mini) with Mac Pro ($3000 starting price !!) for video work. And probably getting another mac laptop for wife.

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.


If this is real, I don't think it's about release timing at all, but the technical complexity of implementing and integrating the specific new features they've chosen.

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.


I don't see how you can deny it. They're doing a lot of things and some of them have very hard deadlines.


They can fix this problem. Decouple the hardware and software releases. There is nothing wrong with a new device that runs the older OS for a couple of months. Look at it this way:

- 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.


I'm wondering why no iOS/OS X devs aren't mentioning the "Quality" of Swift "1.0". The amount of issues is really stunning and IMHO, nowhere ready yet.

Xcode doesn't seem to play along with Swift either, the whole integration is quite buggy yet.


It's the secrecy. Apple can't test things extensively because the whole world is trying to get a pic of their latest devices. That coupled with huge scale is bound to create hiccups, the real test is how fast and how well they address the issues.


But we are talking about software here, not hardware...


I personally believe iOS 8 has been the exception, not the rule.

Yosemite, including the Public Betas, has been rock solid.


I definitely would not say that Yosemite Betas have been rock solid.


I've had way less issues with 10.10 previews than I've had with Mavericks or Mountain Lion ones. Those actually crippled my development environments. I've had zero issues with Yosemite thus far, apart from the new features breaking at some point (iCloud Drive and the like).


For betas they have been good. I don't set the bar high for those. The last public beta is working really well. Yosemite reminds me of KDE in some of the stuff Apple has done.


The later versions have been decent but I installed the first public beta and really regretted it for like a month or two until it got a bit more stable.


Surely you did not disregard all the warnings on the download website and the installer itself and installed it on the main partition of your primary work computer?


Whether I did or not is irrelevant. Grandgrandparent was saying that the betas have been solid, I disagreed.


How bad would OSX have to get to actually have the year of Linux?


Betteridge's law of headlines strikes again. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_law_of_headlines

Edit: Why the downvotes? It's true. The answer is No.



The first rule of Apple software quality is that you don't talk about Apple software quality. It's like complaining about Rolex watches not being accurate.

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.


If a Rolex stops keeping time, it's conceivable it would still be worn. But if a BMW no longer starts up, the driver's not going to sit behind the wheel.

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.




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