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Programming Software Apple

Tumblr Co-Founder: Apple's Software Is In a Nosedive 598

mrspoonsi writes Respected developer Marco Arment is worried about Apple's future. In a blog post, he writes, "Apple's hardware today is amazing — it has never been better. But the software quality has taken such a nosedive in the last few years that I'm deeply concerned for its future." Arment was CTO at Tumblr, before he left to start Instapaper. "Apple has completely lost the functional high ground," says Arment. "'It just works' was never completely true, but I don't think the list of qualifiers and asterisks has ever been longer." He blames Apple prioritizing marketing for the problems with Apple's software. Apple wants to have new software releases each year as a marketing hook, but the annual cycles of updating Apple's software are leading to too many bugs and problems, he says: I suspect the rapid decline of Apple's software is a sign that marketing has a bit too much power at Apple today: the marketing priority of having major new releases every year is clearly impossible for the engineering teams to keep up with while maintaining quality. Maybe it's an engineering problem, but I suspect not — I doubt that any cohesive engineering team could keep up with these demands and maintain significantly higher quality."
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Tumblr Co-Founder: Apple's Software Is In a Nosedive

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  • Nosedive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by horm ( 2802801 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @01:29PM (#48737789)
    Surprising absolutely nobody.
    • Seen it coming (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:10PM (#48738313)

      I'm not a prophet by any stretch, but I've been using computers since 1982. I've seen a thing or two, seen a company or two make great products and then fall. They all fall eventually.

      Apple make great hardware. Their software, while meaning well, has never been "great". I agree with the article. I've seen it myself. I'm in a great position to evaluate HW and SW since I work with Windows and related HW, Apple HW/SW, as well as BSD and Linux. I literally see it all. MS, while often derided, makes some really good SW these days, especially their "cloud" stuff like Azure. Nothing touches it.

      Let's just be honest for a moment. Apple have not innovated much since the iPod and iPhone. Everything since is simple another iteration of the original idea.

      MS realized it missed the boat on the Internet back in the late 90s and took over 10 years to course correct with their new CEO and newfound direction as a services company as well as their perennial Office and other stuff.

      Linux and the OSS companies largely copy either Apple or MS or both. Some good stuff comes from OSS, especially FreeBSD, the notion of jails and ZFS and OpenBSD with their audits.

      Apple is riding the wave of past glories. The watch will be a loss leader. It's nothing. Android is basically 80% of the worldwide market for smartphones. Apple do really well in the US, but not so much overseas. OS X is fragile and nothing more than a semi-pretty GUI atop a badly-hacked UNIX-like OS. Why they simply didn't take FreeBSD and use that as the solid base eludes me and others regularly. I guess they had to eat their own dogwood to somehow make Steve feel good about resurrecting NEXT.

      Apple glomming onto Webkit for Safari as well as Opera and others is fast tracking the browser world to have one standard -- Webkit. This is a monoculture and is not good. Mozilla may or may not survive well without Google's handouts. We'll see. Microsoft is about to release another browser based on their Trident rendering engine. Time will tell if it's any good or just another attempt to embrace and extend. Under Satya Nadella, MS may yet emerge to be the winner, as they are desperately trying while Apple is simply basking in past glories.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JohnFen ( 1641097 )

        MS, while often derided, makes some really good SW these days, especially their "cloud" stuff like Azure. Nothing touches it.

        Maybe that's true -- I wouldn't know, since I have less than zero interest in using the cloud either as a user or as a developer. However, the Microsoft software that I do actually use is not what I'd call "really good", and has generally been declining in quality.

        You're right, Apple has never made incredible software, but I wonder if the decline in their software quality is related to the decline in the quality of software being produced by the industry across the board?

        Linux and the OSS companies largely copy either Apple or MS or both.

        You have that backwards.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Apple make great hardware.

        What you mean to say is, Apple buys great hardware.

        Screens are made by LG, processors by TSMC, RAM by Hynix, flash memory by Samsung.

        A lot of other manufacturers do the same thing. Actually unlike a lot of other manufacturers Apple tends to get things wrong when they design something themselves (see: antennagate), then again they're in good company with HP in this regard.

        Also, hardware isn't usually enough to keep most companies afloat. A lot of the old big iron compani

    • Tim Cook is an MBA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by catchblue22 ( 1004569 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:30PM (#48738571) Homepage

      More evidence for my hypothesis that MBA managers are driving the American economy into the ground. Contrast him with Steve Jobs who was not an MBA. He brought the company back from the edge, after being destroyed by another MBA, Jim Sculley.

      If you want a strong perspective against MBA's, I recommend reading John Ralston Saul's "The Unconscious Civilization" []. Here is part of a summary [] of his arguments against MBA's:

      They fear all the most effective qualities of capitalism itself (risk, innovation). “No matter how badly the MBAs are doing, they just go on hiring clones of themselves.” They preach capitalist ideology, but only simulate it through unproductive preoccupations like mergers and acquisitions. Their incomes skyrocket, the economy founders, the middle class erodes.

      They profit by flipping between nationalization and privatization; “an unnecessary move in either direction merely makes money for the political friends of the party in power”. Privatization of government functions is foolish, as business is better suited to fuelling real growth.

      Contrast this with real innovators like Elon Musk, who has created disruptive companies in four separate sectors (banking, transportation, space launching, and energy production). Please note that he is NOT an MBA and openly says that he disagrees with their methods.

      • by jasonla ( 211640 )
        People have been saying MBA's are worthless for a while. Look at this [] Key quote from the article: "Lutz says, we need to fire the M.B.A.s and let engineers run the show."
      • by RandCraw ( 1047302 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @04:15PM (#48739569)

        There's a wonderful article "The Case Against Credentialism" by James Fallows in the The Atlantic (1985) which reads as if it were written today: []

        It assesses professional degrees like MBAs as being inherently worth next to nothing, essentially serving a broken agenda in which our highly credentialed leaders know everything about form but nothing about function. Maybe virtual expertise is enough to govern a virtual world?

        Too bad the US political parties didn't read this prior to the 2000 election. Maybe the would have fielded worthier candidates (and staff), and the US could have saved about a million lives and a few trillion bucks). Such is the cost of driving under the influence, I guess.

  • Any actual examples? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Guspaz ( 556486 )

    He makes the claim that their software quality has taken a nosedive, that they're introducing tons of bugs and functional regressions, but he doesn't give a single example of any of that. He just makes the unsubstantiated claim.

    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @01:43PM (#48737971) Homepage

      OK, I'll give you one.

      I updated my iPod touch a few months ago. It originally came with iOS 7.x, and I got the new hotness of iOS 8.x. Two of my apps stopped working. Some stuff got slower. And I got annoyed.

      I wish I'd left the fscking thing the way it shipped. Because, quite frankly, there was no net benefit in the upgrade, and some net losses in functionality.

      They may think it's OK to upgrade the software until the device breaks. But for what it costs, I expect the device to last several years. I will probably never apply another Apple update to it again.

      iTunes on Windows has also gone downhill over the last few years, and they've completely abandoned Safari on Windows.

      So, yes, I'm afraid as a consumer I'm increasingly of the opinion that their software quality is going the wrong direction in favor of putting out the new shiny and expecting us to buy it.

      • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:06PM (#48738257) Homepage Journal

        "iTunes on Windows has also gone downhill over the last few years, and they've completely abandoned Safari on Windows."

        Which is to say that it has fallen from the top of the turd pile to somewhere close to the bottom.


      • Two of my apps stopped working.

        This is the most annoying thing ever. Sure, the updates are free......but you pay for it in needing to re-buy software you already had (if you can even buy it).
        Every time there's a mac update, I wonder what is going to break.

      • by Noah Haders ( 3621429 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:19PM (#48738433)

        I'm sorry that this is the first time that you have ever upgraded an operating system. it must be tough wading into an area that is brand new to you.
        1) when a new OS comes out, some apps designed for the old OS have problems. This works out over time as most apps are updated. Some old unsupported apps are left in the dust and no longer work under new OS versions. this has been true since DOS.
        2) while a new OS is often more efficient than the old OS in many ways, it can also be more resource intensive in some ways. On last gen hardware this can manifest itself as "some stuff got slower". This has been true since DOS.

        re iTunes it has allways been a shizzshow. I expect in 2015 Apple will announce that it is discontinuing iTunes in favor of bringing the iOS Music app to mac and win, the way it did the same thing with Photos. Also agreed with Safari on windows, which was always a shizzshow in its own right. There was never a big reason to choose safari over chrome on Win. also apple refused to use windows design schemes, so the app always looked fugly.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @03:40PM (#48739235) Homepage

          > I'm sorry that this is the first time that you have ever upgraded an operating system. it must be tough wading into an area that is brand new to you.

          What you have there is a great argument for NOT UPGRADING SO MUCH. It's true. Software "engineering" is anything but. If you fix a bug, you will likely create another (if not two). So the obvious thing is to avoid gratuitous upgrade cycles.

          In corporate IT management, this is pretty standard and pervasive.

          It's an idea that's even managed to catch on with consumer PC users.

          You've just made the guy's argument for him. Congrats.

          So slow the beast down and actually treat users of old kit like they are valued customers of a luxury brand. Model yourself after Rolls Royce rather than Dell.

    • He gives links to other people's cited examples, states that iOS is still better than Windows or Linux. I think his post is quite fair, or at least more fair than "tons of bugs" would suggest he is being. His thesis is that an "annual" new release is unnecessary and follows a marketing logic rather than an internally software-driven update, and suggests that if that is true, that it would explain the increase of complaints he links to.
      • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

        The cited examples that he gives lead to a 404 error, so that's not really helping his point.

        • by khr ( 708262 )

          The cited examples that he gives lead to a 404 error, so that's not really helping his point.

          It would if it was hosted on a Mac OS X server somewhere...

    • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @01:49PM (#48738037) Homepage Journal

      iTunes stopped syncing with devices years ago. It just ... doesn't work. It won't copy new tracks over, instead just sitting at "Waiting for items to copy" or some BS like that.

      This isn't just me. This is everyone in my family, quite a few people on Facebook when I went there to ask for help, and I recall Adam Savage tweeting about something like that. It's basically impossible to get new music off of iTunes and onto an iDevice and has been for several years now. (There is a solution: factory reset the iDevice and copy everything over again in its entirety. The last time I did that metadata copied over wrong so tracks with one name would actually play an entirely different track. At that point I gave up.)

      If I were more cynical I'd think that was the point (force everyone to buy off the iTMS) but I think instead the article is correct: Apple just doesn't care to fix very common bugs.

      Here's another one everyone who's had to touch a Mac in the past five years will be very familiar with: SLEEP_WAKE_FAILURE.

      • Wait - iTunes used to sync properly for you? man.... it has never worked for me.

        I'm in the large camp of those who see their devices appear in iTunes and then immediately disappear with a message "this device no longer exists or is offline" (WiFi sync). And this has happened for years.

        Then again - iTunes has never been known for its quality.

        iOS on the other hand....I have been using since v6 and am no longer satisfied with it's quality, at least on older devices. My iPad "3" is now miserable with all kin

      • iTunes stopped syncing with devices years ago. It just ... doesn't work. It won't copy new tracks over, instead just sitting at "Waiting for items to copy" or some BS like that.

        That's very odd. I have a 1st gen iPod Touch (over 7 years old now), and it syncs beautifully. How old are the devices you're trying to sync?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by phantomfive ( 622387 )

        iTunes stopped syncing with devices years ago. It just ... doesn't work. It won't copy new tracks over, instead just sitting at "Waiting for items to copy" or some BS like that.

        I know what you mean.

        I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Mac fanatics? I've been sitting here at my freelance gig in front of a iPod (a G5 with 2GB of RAM) for about 20 minutes now while it attempts to copy a 17 Meg file from one folder on the hard drive to another folder. 20 minutes. At home, on my Pentium Pro 200 running NT 4, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this Mac, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

        In addition, during this f

    • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @01:49PM (#48738047)

      He makes the claim that their software quality has taken a nosedive, that they're introducing tons of bugs and functional regressions, but he doesn't give a single example of any of that. He just makes the unsubstantiated claim.

      across 4 different iPhones and three PC's, I have never once had an iOS update that didnâ(TM)t brick the phone. For the last two, I made the appointment at the Apple store before I attempted the update. The last one was done in the apple store with the whole store watching. Bricked it so badly that the phone had to be replaced under warranty.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I've got another one that a coworker told me about this morning- some new wireless device from Apple did not get along with the new Macintosh running the latest version of OSX. Older Apples running older OSX had no problems. He did a factory-reload on the Mac, still no workie. Finally blew it away with a reload sourced from Apple via the Internet, that made it work.

      It's awfully bad form for a company that likes to tout how all of its stuff in a given generation works together when that equipment doesn
    • by carou ( 88501 )

      To be fair, he's written and podcasted ( about a bunch of examples in the last few months. They aren't directly referenced in this article, but I don't think he would necessarily have expected it to be picked up on slashdot in isolation. Things that come to mind include:

      * iWork wasn't updated for years, then when a new version was released it seemed like a rush job as it was missing many features from previous versions. Some (not all) have been added back since, but the latest update removes

    • Okay, I'll take the bait... The 10.10.2 developer preview... 3 separate updates spanning over a month and a half where one couldn't actually let their computer go to sleep, including simply *close the screen on a laptop* and then *open said laptop* without hard booting said machine as a regression was introduced preventing Wake from Sleep.

      Yes, it wasn't a *public* release, but it was however pushed automatically onto developers who didn't explicitly uncheck "Show Pre-Release Updates" following the 10.10
      • I will say that I have only dealt with Apple documentation a handful of times, but it seemed substantially worse and more arcane than MSDN.

    • by Dimwit ( 36756 )

      There was the botched iOS 8 update that broke phones' data connectivity, and required lots of phones to require reinstallation via iTunes. Then the fix they released was broken and they needed to release a fix for the fix. There might have been a third fix, I can't remember.

    • I've got one, FWIW. I have always been able to VNC instantaneously from my iMac to my wife'a Mac Mini ("Screen sharing"). The latest two OS X releases give me the nice feature of being able to log into the Mini as any user, rather than just share the current screen, but it now takes several minutes for the iMac to find the Mini, though both are running the latest Yosemite release. This is a known problem, with a lot of users grousing about it on forums, but no word from Apple so far.

    • He makes the claim that their software quality has taken a nosedive, that they're introducing tons of bugs and functional regressions, but he doesn't give a single example of any of that. He just makes the unsubstantiated claim.

      I can give you two examples from just the past day that I've had to deal with. Apple has constantly made iTunes less functional with each new release. If you want to create a new playlist, you first have to switch over to playlists from "My Music" and then view by song if you want to see your list of songs. They are listed by album by default, so you need to make 2 additional steps to find songs you'd like to add. Not a huge deal, but still less functional than it used to be. The second, and more annoying c

    • by Bogtha ( 906264 )

      he doesn't give a single example of any of that. He just makes the unsubstantiated claim.

      Because the point of the blog post wasn't to prove that this was the case, but to offer an opinion on how bad it's gotten and why it may be happening. His audience is very familiar with Apple gear, spelling everything out from first principles is unnecessary and a distraction from the meat of the article. Know your audience.

    • When a Pages document in iCloud storage is open across multiple iOS/OSX devices, Pages routinely declares it can see multiple versions and can't decide which one it should keep. One of the options it offers you is to keep both of them, leaving you to manually look at both and figure out which one is the best. This happens even without simultaneous access, and edits often get distributed randomly between versions, requiring manual cut-and-paste merging.

      Apple should go to the Dropbox people, hat in hand, an

    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      He makes the claim that their software quality has taken a nosedive, that they're introducing tons of bugs and functional regressions, but he doesn't give a single example of any of that.

      Well. iTunes is a total cluster fuck. It doesn't get better. It just gets different in annoying and bizarre new ways.

      For example, i've got an Alice Cooper track. Its mis-capitalized as Alice COOPER. No problem right... right click "Get Info".

      A dialog box that violates every standard appears, but I shrug that off and move on

    • by iONiUM ( 530420 )

      I can give another. In 2003 I bought my first Mac, an iBook G4. It came with OSX, and I had no problems setting it up or using it (no issues for the first month of usage).

      2 weeks ago, I bought a brand new Macbook Pro. During setup, I ran into a bug where the 'next' button disappeared entirely during apple ID "linking", and could not be finished. I had to force re-start the machine, and then skip that step. After setup, it became apparent that Yosemite did not ship with it (why?), so I had to upgrade. Howeve

  • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @01:33PM (#48737829) Homepage Journal

    Apple Computer - proudly going out of business since 1979!

  • The hell you say!!!

  • No... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by koan ( 80826 )

    "Apple's hardware today is amazing — it has never been better.

    So board soldered RAM, non upgradeable parts, antennas that stop working when you put your hand on it (exactly where you were meant to put your hand), bendable phone frames, baking portables in the oven, the list is huge, if this is better then they were shite before.
    But they are right about the software, never has it been more insecure and more geared towards grabbing up your data and marketing/profiting from it.

    Queue the fanbois to the defense.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      The hardware design is amazing. Look at the board and component layout.

      Of course not the CEO prioritizes logistics over quality, and it's starting to show.

      • Re:No... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jafac ( 1449 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:35PM (#48738611) Homepage

        Yes; I'm looking back at my "mac fanboi problems" from the 1990's, and the reason I bought Macs then, was to run Mac OS, or some mac-only software - the hardware was always pretty much playing "catch up". The fishtank-iMac was the first glimmer of hope on the hardware front. The dual G5 was amazing, even if OS X was kind of rough.

        But at a certain point, it became obvious that the OS team was being pillaged of talent for the i-device (iOS) team. The fact that Apple pulled all support for PPC kind of put a knife in it for me. And that's when I went over to PC hardware.

        Windows 8 was an amazing opportunity for Apple - and they totally blew it. Microsoft tripped, stumbled, and Apple could have curb-stomped them with a great development effort to tune-up OS X. They blew that opportunity off. And Microsoft STILL isn't really on their feet yet.

        Now: I have a macbook pro - because it's just an "insanely great" piece of hardware. But the ONLY reason I'm running OS X is to be able to use VMWare Fusion. If VMWare Fusion's features were available on Linux, that's what I would be running on my MBP.

    • Re:No... (Score:5, Informative)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:00PM (#48738183) Homepage
      All (or most) of those hardware faults you mentioned are all done to get a certain aesthetic from the hardware. This is where all their decisions come from. Every iPhone has to be thinner than the last. I'm not sure who they're consulting, but most people I know don't care if their phone is 0.05 centimeters thinner than last year. Once phone makers got to around 1.0 - 0.8 cm, I think that most people really stopped caring how thin their phone was. Now they want more battery life, stronger glass, more storage, and other non-aesthetic features. Then again, people keep on buying the phones they make, so there must be a large number of people who want them. Maybe it's just a self perpetuating cycle, where people buy Apple because they had Apple last time, and they have so much invested in the ecosystem. If they switched to Android or Windows phone, there's a lot of stuff they spent money on that just plain won't work with the other devices. I'm due for a new phone soon, and I have an Android phone. I know it's something I think about when considering whether or not I should change to iOS or Windows Phones, and I've maybe invested $30 in apps. Somebody who's spent money on iTunes music, movies, books, and apps would be very tied into the Apple platform than I am to Android.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @01:45PM (#48737993) Journal
    I have to wonder if part of the problem is simply not being good enough (or it simply not being possible to be good enough, given the intricacies of finding suitable people and getting them up to speed) at adding new people fast enough to support their various new things.

    Time was when Apple pretty much made hardware, MacOS, and one pet project or another over the years(Clarisworks/Appleworks, Hypercard, the occasional foray into some quasi-server thing with IBM, etc.)

    Now they make hardware, OSX, iOS(shared in part; but only in part, with OSX), iWork, iLife(with applications from both increasingly showing up on both OSX and iOS), a pretty massive 'cloud' operation to keep delivering all that ITMS, web-app versions of some of its formerly native-only applications, Safari/webkit, Final Cut Pro, and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting.

    Even if you have unlimited money, turning a small, focused, group that does a few things into a larger and more heterogenous operation requires significant talent, and probably a certain minimum amount of time that just can't be escaped.
  • Yearly major releases and more frequent bug fixes was a solved problem long before billg co-founded the Evil Empire...

  • Wrong way round (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cream wobbly ( 1102689 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @01:51PM (#48738061)

    "Apple's hardware today is amazing — it has never been better. But the software quality has taken such a nosedive in the last few years that I'm deeply concerned for its future."

    That's not been my experience. The software is really solid, much better than it's ever been (although questionable UI choices have hamstrung usability); while the hardware is becoming less serviceable, more disposable. Sure, it may be more closely following the components used in devices designed for Windows, but if I can't replace a keyboard destroyed by two drops of water without removing the entire guts of the machine (accidentally destroying the keyboard backlight in the process), with 56 screws holding the keyboard itself in, and about a dozen (because I can't remember exactly how many) extremely fragile connectors surrounding the motherboard then I'm out.

    I need a machine I can service. Apple no longer satisfies that need.

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      The hardware hasn't become less serviceable, it's that the hardware has shrunk to the size where it's not economical to break out the audio from the video, or the CPU from the audio and video, or the eithernet, disk controller, etc. As a result you end up with a tiny circuit board that costs pennies to produce, is easily maintainable and fits inside today's slim devices.

      If you want a repairable computer with a separate chip for every application, I have a coal plant to sell you

  • Of Course (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I used to be an Apple supporter. Apple used to be stable. After being a huge proponent of apple from 99-2012, I am running for the door. Every new version of apple software has less features(for an actual power user) and is less stable. Oh how I used to love apple! Oh how I hate Apple, and want them out of my creative professional life!
    Apple products are never going to get better, because Apple has gotten a taste of "moron money", and us creative professionals and academics are no longer a concern.
    I suspect

  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @01:58PM (#48738167) Homepage Journal
    FTC took the Video Post community by storm, quickly gaining broad acceptance throughout the industry, knocking Premier off it's pedestal for desktop-class video editing software

    Then they came out with Final Cut Pro X and when their users complained about the rampant bugs, overly simplified iMovie style interface and defeaturization, Apple told their user base to go fuck themselves -- as Apple is want to do and Premier went back to being on top again. [] []

    Anyway, far from being a learning moment for Apple -- this has been wholly adopted as their corporate ideology when it comes to their user apps. A lot of it is a focus on iOS and trying to make everything fall in line with iOS -- this was clear as early as 2007 when a trip to the Apple store had their laptop and desktop add-ons shunted to dusty corners while iPhone cases and accessories dominated the store. So this has beed a mentality years in the making based solely on spreadsheets of product sales and not user needs regarding user experience.

    Even Woz wrote a rant (now pulled it seems) about ditching OS X in favor of Linux over the frustration of the mounting shit-pile of bugs and anoyances with OS X You can read comments about Woz' post here: []

    • Wasn't Aperture 2 a complete rewrite as the codebase for Aperture 1 was so horrific?

    • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @03:11PM (#48738963) Homepage

      In terms of revenue, Apple is following the money. iOS has made Apple the wealthy powerhouse that it is today, not OS X. They don't want to lose the installed base or be perceived as just a phone company; OS X gets them mindshare and stickiness in certain quarters that matter (i.e. education and youth) for future iOS revenue.

      But they don't actually want to invest much in it; it's increasingly the sort of necessary evil that is overhead, so it makes sense for them to shift to an iOS-led company. In the phone space, where the consumer upgrade cycle is tied to carrier contracts and upgrade cycles, it's important to have "new and shiny" every single year; consumers standing in AT&T shops are fickle people that are easily swayed by displays and sales drones that may or may not know anything about anything.

      So the marketing rationale at Apple is (1) follow the revenue, which is mobile and iOS, (2) do what is necessary to stay dominant there, which means annual release cycles at least, and (3) reduce the cost of needed other business wings as much as possible so as to focus on core revenue competencies without creating risk, which means making OS X follow iOS.

      It makes perfect business sense in the short and medium terms. In the long term, it's hard to see what effect it will have. It's entirely possible that they could wind down the OS X business entirely and remain dominant and very profitable as a result of their other product lines. It's also possible that poor OS X experiences and the loss of the "high end" could create a perception problem that affects one of their key value propositions, that of being "high end," and that will ultimately also influence their mobile sales down the road in negative ways as a result.

      I'm a Linux switcher (just over five years ago now) that was tremendously frustrated with desktop Linux (and still dubious about its prospects) after using Linux from 1993-2009, but that has also in the last couple of months considered switching back. I switched to OS X largely for the quality of the high-end applications and for the more tightly integrated user experience. Now the applications business is struggling (the FCP problem, the Aperture events, the joke that is the iOS-synchronized iWork suite) and third-party applications have declined in quality (see: MS Office on OS X these days) as other developers have ceded the central applications ground to Apple. Meanwhile, the user experience on iOS remains sound but on OS X it has become rather less so as a result of the iOS-centricity of the company.

      What to do? I've considered a switch back to Linux, but the Linux distros I've tried out in virtual machines have been underwhelming to me; the Linux desktop continues, so far as I can tell, to be in a worse state for my purposes than it was in 2008. I have no interest in Windows (I have Win7 and Win8 installations in VMs for specific applications, and even in a VM window they make me cringe; just complete usability nightmares).

      It's a frustrating time for desktop users in general, I think; the consumer computing world has shifted to mobile/embedded devices and taken most of the labor, attention, and R&D with it. The desktop, needed by those of us that do productive computing work, has been left to languish on all fronts. It's completely rational in many ways at the macroeconomic level, but at the microeconomic level of individual workers and economic sectors, it's been a disaster.

  • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:01PM (#48738199)

    Tumblr is more awful than anything Apple puts out (or MS for that matter).

  • Apple's hardware today is amazing â" it has never been better.

    From my perspective the overwhelming majority of Apple hardware is no better than what I can buy from my local retailer, unless you're talking about the iPhone in which case it is no better than what i can get in a phone from Samsung. I would say Apple had much better hardware ~10 years ago when they were still using the PowerPC G5 CPUs (and were the largest volume seller of RISC PCs in the world).

    I would pay Apple for a license for their OS to run on a PC. I would not pay Apple for the hardware they

    • Well, except for that 64-bit processor that was 2 years ahead of everyone else's. Or the fingerprint sensor that works quite a lot better than any current competing models. Or the custom timing controller they built so they could release a 5k iMac for the same price that Dell is selling (a not-yet-available) a 5k monitor. Or the rather cleverly designed Mac Pro.

      Apple consistently puts out really high quality hardware still, I think. Apple used to really consistently lag behind in performance-per-dollar, and

  • 1) Is someone trying to short AAPL? 2) Slow day at /.? "Let's have another Apple fanboi flamefest."
  • Viewing this tweet shows that Arment is a big fan of Scott Forstall, who ran iOS development until he was pushed out after Jobs passed away. []

    Not sure if he is chums with him, but taking potshots after your favorite is pushed out isn't uncommon.

    As any developer knows, there will always be bugs, and they will be found when you have a billion, and growing, users.

  • I installed iTunes last week on my Windows PC in order to search for some iOS games I saw on God, the iTunes UI sucks a lot!!!

    First of all, the different areas of the Window are no longer cleanly separated. Trying to find where each UI element starts and stops was near impossible without mouse over.

    Secondly, the scroll bars appear only on mouse over. In order to scroll, I had to constantly move the mouse over the area to scroll in order to make the scroll bar appear.

    Thirdly, for some odd reason

  • Part of the solution would be for Apple to decouple application updates from operating system updates.

    I see no reason why a bug fix to Safari (of which there are plenty required) has to be delivered in the same way as an iOS update when they already have a perfectly good app updating mechanism (the App Store). Plus customers are used to apps updating frequently and automatically, adding Apple to the mix isn't going to be something strange for them.

  • You can have yearly releases as long as you're willing to ruthlessly cut features that aren't sufficiently stable. If frequent updates are more important than features, then that's achievable.

    The problem would be if marketing had a hand in both direction AND quality control. That's the recipe for disaster.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:18PM (#48738419) Homepage

    Ok, so I'm a Mac user, as well as being an IT guy who supports Mac, Windows, and Linux. In general, I don't think that I can say I've noticed anything like a "nosedive" in software quality. The quality of Apple's software has, over a long span of time, been relatively consistent. It's pretty solid and stable in most circumstances, doing most of the things that Apple users typically do, with some exceptions. At regular intervals, Apple decides they're going to improve something, and a bunch of things break for a while following a major release, and then most of it settles down and gets fixed. If you want a stable experience, don't upgrade to the newest major release until it's been out for a couple of months. Just like Windows, and a lot of other software.

    Then there are random inexplicable things. File sharing, for example. Apple decides they're going to standardize on SMB because it's faster and more widely used, which sounds like good news, right? Yeah, except that it's over a year later, and Apple's file sharing is still buggy. Apple's advice is to not use OSX with file servers. Similarly, they just can't seem to get their Mail application to be reliable. They keep rewriting these things, and every new rewrite has new problems. You wouldn't think email and file sharing would be such strange high-tech features that Apple's software engineers would be unable to handle it. But Apple has kind of always done that kind of thing.

    As far as the yearly release cycles, I don't see any reason why this should be a major concern. Having a yearly release cycle shouldn't be impossible to keep up with, as long as the changes for each release are not overly ambitious. For example, Apple could release OSX v10.11 next year, and it can basically be a maintenance release. No new features, just bug fixes and performance improvements. Their OS updates are free these days, so who's going to complain?

  • WRONG! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:30PM (#48738577)
    "Apple's hardware today is amazing — it has never been better."
    BULLSHIT! from 2007 to 2009 they were #1 in least failures in laptops. Now they're beat by ASUS, Toshiba, MSI, Samsung, and Sony. They're 6th place in quality! SIXTH! Guess which place they are in price vs speed. I'll give you a hint: Fujitsu and Avatar beat them.
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @04:04PM (#48739459)

      Time was they were trend setters. While the iPhone wasn't the first smart phone, by a long shot, it was the first one that got real regular consumer popularity. Also while the iPad didn't invent tablets, it made tablets something to own and defined what they'd be.

      However now they are getting beat on features left right and center. That amazin' new iPhone 6+? Ya it's 2011 calling, something about a "Galaxy Note". Samsung was rolling out their 4th generation large screen phone by the time Apple decided one was good to make. Apple can't claim to be a mobile leader anymore. They are a player for sure, but others are being first to market with new features.

      Never mind design flaws that were made for aesthetics (the antenna that failed when you grabbed it, the 6+'s bending too easily, etc).

      They are all about making shiny, fashionable, devices and charging a massive premium for them. That's fine, I guess, if that's what you like, but don't try and sell it as something amazing.

  • Unconvinced (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alrescha ( 50745 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:42PM (#48738665)

    I have used Apple software since the early 00s. Like any software, there have always been bugs. There always will be.

    I have had no more problems (and possibly less) with Yosemite and iOS 8 than with any other release. Those who use words like 'nosedive' either have short memories or are in need of clicks.

    Let us recall the software update of a decade ago that erased every external drive with a space in the volume name - and let us be happy that things like that do not happen any more.


  • by FellowConspirator ( 882908 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:54PM (#48738797)

    iWork and iLife.

    After iWork '09, the iWork applications had very little in the way of updates, but the Keynote and Pages applications were very capable. Pages didn't have all the features of Microsoft Word, but the typography and page layout capabilities were exceptional in comparison, and users had a fairly clear list of improvements that they suggested - mostly improvements to mail merge, tables-of-contents, footnoting, indenting, and creating indices. Keynote was excellent. Numbers was simply not what people expected from a spreadsheet and it had the most suggestions for improvements. However, by and large the apps were quite good and a bargain.

    iWork '13 destroyed everything that made the iWork applications great. Not only did the UI regress, but the feature set, rather than meeting user requests / expectations, jettisoned swathes of functionality - in exchange for compatibility with iCould and the web version. The highly usable productivity software became a Google Docs wannabe overnight. Worse, the old version ceased to be available. Subsequently, improvements to iWork have included no restoration of the functionality of the product, but changes in the file format (that introduce incompatibilities with older versions). iWork took a nosedive.

    iLife hasn't fared much better. iLife originally included GarageBand, iMovie, and iDVD for creating DVDs (with menus, title graphics, scene previews, and control over flow between menus - simple, but functional). iDVD is gone. Even Apple's "pro" video tools no longer support similar functionality to what iDVD provided in 2009 -- there is nothing available that can claim the same function, and you can no longer obtain the abandoned software. GarageBand has some added instruments and lessons, but at the loss of their video / podcast scoring and advanced podcast authoring capabilities. The filters are now more primitive and skewed specifically towards guitars (why?). iMovie has gone through various iterations of UI and library management changes that make moving between versions confusing and it focuses on iCloud and iMovie Theater - features almost completely unused because of their awkward implementation and storage requirements (particularly in iCloud) that are ridiculous.

    Aperture, their prosumer photo database and editing app, is about to be jettisoned and replaced with an upgraded iPhoto with many of the most professional and workflow-related features of Aperture removed. Aperture will no longer be available afterward. In effect, their ceding this software to Adobe's Lightroom and their subscriber-based pay-to-play model.

    A lot of people will also probably bitch about Final Cut Pro X, Motion, Compressor, and those video tools. However, I think Apple is doing OK there. They released FCPX prematurely - they needed to wait until they got FCP7 project importing working, but the changes they made were really necessary. Where they have failed is the workflow and integration points of FCPX - Motion - Compressor, and they've dropped the ball on creating optical media. There was also still some room to keep Shake in the mix.

    I don't worry too much about things like Apple ID as that's more or less par-for-the-course for that sort of service these days. Nobody does it much better. However, I chafe at the idea that they are spending so much development money, time, and effort on that dog called 'iCloud'. It's a disaster of a service and it's dragging down their productivity software.

  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @02:58PM (#48738845)

    It's silly how mandatory it feels to jailbreak. Even with jailbreaks, it's a lot of work to restore ios to even its previous GRAPHIC level. You know a company is hostile towards its users when it utterly deletes a successful theme with zero user choice.

    The real standout is the strange little gray shading that appeared on all my backgrounds. A picture of a sunny day became overcast. A portrait became ludicrous. What went wrong with backgrounds betwixt 6 and 7? Not only did we lose the ability to set a background without a strange gradient appearing (sometimes, it is internally based on the brightness of your background), which is entirely without purpose (some hypothesize it would be there to make the clock easier to read, but not only is it present when you are on your home screen, it is present even if that background is NEVER set to appear when the clock is visible, so, it assuredly has zero purpose except customer griefing), but we ALSO lost the ability to even pinch and zoom the background properly.

    The workaround is a set of wallpaper editing apps that duplicate the pinch and zoom work that was free in ios 6 and part of the interface, combined with a jailbreak, then winterboard, then a mod for winterboard that removes the gradient (alternatively, you can jailbreak, then go into the files and delete the gradient .PNG files that ruin all your shit).

    And that's just raw presentation. Functionality appears to appear and disappear at random. Each upgrade takes hours of research about whether to press the "go" button, and it just feels so temporary, like I'm renting the functionality.

  • by timmyf2371 ( 586051 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @04:57PM (#48739989)

    First of all, iTunes.

    I dislike it and refuse to install it on my PC. It's bloated and not user friendly. It clearly epitomises Apple's philosophy of making the user do things Apple's way. It's well overdue for a rethink and I expect to see that come soon.

    With regards to iOS, it is on the cusp of greatness. It has some very nice features, it's user interface is fluid and easy to use and the design works well.

    However, they need to take some time to make everything work well together and make the OS and apps more integrated.

    For example:

    - If users want to access my music stored in Dropbox or Google Drive or even a samba share, facilitate a method of saving that into the music library.
    - Let users backup photos to Dropbox or Onedrive in the background as with iCloud backup. It's a real waste of time having to keep the app open and the screen unlocked.
    - Similarly, let users sync music and videos in third party apps which permit it. Like Spotify and Plex.
    - Third party app defaults would be pretty cool. Like being able to select Chrome or Gmail as default apps.
    - Allow a bit more customisation such as changing control centre quick options.

    It's really frustrating as Apple could come out with the best features in the world, but as long as they impose these arbitrary restrictions, iOS will always feel hamstrung.

  • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @05:35PM (#48740365)

    Apple has reached the stage that Microsoft reached in the 90s. I hope they learn from their mistakes faster than Microsoft did.

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