My first Apple product was an iPod Mini. I still vividly remember being hooked by the design and functionality of such a tiny, sexy device. My next Apple product was a Powerbook G4. Those two products started a long journey of buying and loving Apple products. iPhoto. iPhone. iPad. iWork. I bought them all, and I loved them all. One phrase always kept me coming back for more: “It just works”. After coming from devices that always felt buggy and half-finished it really did feel just like that. Everything, well, just worked.
Fast forward to today, 2014. Zoom in to me. I’m typing this on a Macbook Pro. In my pocket is the iPhone 6. Three metres away sits a Mac Mini. On the surface, nothing has changed. The problem is, it feels like everything has changed. In short while Apple’s hardware continues to impress me, their software has gone downhill at a rapid pace. iPhoto is an unusable mess with the volume of photos I now have. Aperture has been discontinued and is badly lagging behind in terms of both performance and features. iTunes takes forever to launch, and is bloated mess of way too many features and functions. iCloud is still a mess that I wouldn’t dream of storing my important data in. iOS 7 crashed so often that I became intimately familiar with the Apple logo that appeared every time it did. iOS 8 fixed the crashing, but introduced thousands of little paper cut like bugs. I used to install updates from Apple the second they came out, now I wait a few days to see if they are actually any good.
If you think this is just my experience, let’s take a quick recap of the last few weeks of Apple news:
- iOS 8.0.1 was released, with bugs that prevented iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners from connecting to the cell network, and using Touch ID.
- Users trying to fix iOS bugs, reset the settings on their devices. This had the fun, unexpected consequence of wiping their iCloud documents, and syncing those deletions to all their other devices.
- Apple released HealthKit as part of iOS 8, only to pull it, and any apps that supported it due to bugs.
- Apple ‘fixed’ HealthKit as part of iOS 8.0.2, but my Twitter timeline is still full of people complaining about bugs. By all accounts, and going by the iOS 8.1 change log released today, it’s nowhere near ready for prime time.
On the developer front recently:
- iTunes Connect is still amazingly buggy, and Apple managed to make it more so while developers were submitting their iOS 8 updates. I saw so many automated rejections, upload errors and bugs fill my timeline.
- Xcode still crashes for me, at least once or twice a day.
- Apple bought TestFlight, much to our delight, only to reveal that their answer to ‘beta testing’ is to let us distribute to 25 people that have administration rights over our apps. Do you want your beta testers to be able to change your app prices, descriptions, screenshots and to be able to pull apps from the store? Yeah me neither. The alternative is to submit your app for app review, before you’re allowed to distribute it to beta testers. Really Apple? Did I mention that the review queue is currently 9 days long and growing? Thank Thor that HockeyApp still exists.
- Size classes, Apple’s answer to ‘how on earth are we going to deal with the new screen sizes’ lack even the most basic functionality required to do that. The iPhone 6 Plus has it’s own size class, in landscape, but in portrait orientation? Every single iPhone ever made is treated the same way. That’s right, you can’t lay out a different UI for the 3.5″ iPhone in portrait than you can for the 5.5″ monstrosity of a 6 Plus. How Apple missed this basic developer requirement is baffling to me.
- Swift, the language we were all amazed by in June, has turned out to be a bag of hurt for anyone that jumped into it headfirst. It’s clear that it too wasn’t ready for prime time. I would have happily waited another year or two, especially if Apple built some major apps using it first. As it is we’re beta testing it for them, even after the 1.0 release.
Tim Cook keeps telling us that ‘Only Apple’ could do the amazing things it does. I just wish that Apple would slow down their breakneck pace and spend the time required to build stable software that their hardware so desperately needs. The yearly release cycles of OS X, iOS, iPhone & iPad are resulting in too many things seeing the light of day that aren’t finished yet. Perhaps the world wouldn’t let them, perhaps the expectations are now too high, but I’d kill for Snow iOS 8 and Snow Yosemite next year. I’m fairly confident I’m not alone in that feeling.