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Reader Comment: Apple Core Rot

David K writes on Apple Core Rot:

You have no doubt received a ton of email regarding this article, but I wanted to thank you for publishing on the subject.

I wouldn't call myself an Apple "fanboy", but I have been impressed by Apple products and software for some time now. I purchased my first Mac, a top spec MacBook Pro in late 2012, and was initially very impressed. Solid operating system, hassle free operation, great hardware, etc. But this changed after I upgraded to Mavericks.

After the upgrade I noticed strange repaint behavior, erratic file system (SMB too) operation, and the need to reboot far more often. This hasn't got any better with OS patches, and I'm now a little afraid to upgrade to El Capitan. The OS is still relatively solid, but I have to say that I now believe that Windows is the better (and more stable) platform.

My main reason for writing is that yours is the first article I've found on the internet which backs up my feelings on the subject. (I'm a programmer too so have an eye for a bug when I see it). Every other article I read when researching OS X bugs is by a (real) fanboy who thinks the sun shines from Apples bum, and that they make infallible products, so reading your "core rot" article was a breath of fresh air.

MPG: it has gotten to the point of “the emperor’s new clothes” effect. The Mass cannot see this; few are willing to confront the reality of extremely buggy software on both OS X and iOS and disturbingly confusing iCloud interaction with multiple computers and phones. One Mac, one iPhone with iCloud—well maybe that works (sometimes), and is the story for most. Ironically, Apple is training people to be like Windows users: expect bugs and idiosyncratic failures; learn to tame the beast or simply ignore what does not work. Apple OS X is the new Windows?

The breakdown in Apple software quality would be funny if I didn’t need to get work done. Such a sad decline in a once great company whose products used to excite me, and made me a big promoter of Apple Macs in particular (hence this site). Now the contempt shown by Apple for its users is self evident in its willingness to ship software releases like clockwork with radically poor software quality that takes a real toll on anyone trying to get work done. Professional products are dropped and longstanding conventions are abandoned, destroying workflows. Bug after bug is introduced, and old ones do not get fixed.

I dread every buggy OS X release that is forced to ship on a calendar basis (the rule now), apparently exempt from quality metrics, and a free-for-all on arbitrary and ill-conceived changes not reflecting merit, but egos and whims. We are now guaranteed more and worse bugs each release along with arbitrary destruction of functionality, with users left hanging out to dry.

Then there is the steady drumbeat of disturbingly useless and pointless changes to iOS, with ease of use steadily degraded—the simple elegance of iOS is gone, replaced by complexity: try figuring out the 200 or so multi-level preference settings, let alone the land mind behaviors that pop up with the wrong finger touch. The iPhone is now for geeks (teenage ones) that want to idle away hundreds of hours of time learning its idiosyncratic gestures and swipes and whatever—it’s not a simple tool any longer, ironic since at its debut it was game changing precisely because it simplified. Dealing with software updates and iCloud bugs is not an approachable problem for the older generation—it’s for teenage geeks—who probably don’t care in their SnapChatting and Instagramming and hearing-killing binges. Fair enough, but gosh what a sad failure of vision—nothing fundamental has improved on iOS since its debut—rather than a device that can be tailored to one’s own needs, rather than becoming elegantly simpler and easier and more robust, iOS has become increasingly complex, and with no meaningful ability to customize to one’s own needs. A pile of apps, albeit some useful ones (but perhaps 99% are marginal?). And critical stuff breaks sometimes, a canary in the coal mine that speaks to the complexity.

Then there is iTunes, perhaps the world’s nastiest kitchen-sink software frankenstein. Yuck.

Then there is iCloud, which still confounds me and has wasted many hours. My iPhone has double entries for every contact, and Calendar also has double entries for every appointment. Apple Contacts destroyed my local contacts list (data loss) when I turned on iCloud. It took me hours to figure out how to restore my local contacts, but now I have doubled-up everything. I want My Stuff on My Computer (not in the cloud), and that is no longer a viable option from Apple. It’s a mess and I’ve just about given up. I had to delete dead people repeatedly for several years from Contacts due to Apple sync bugs.

Finally, the iPhone is an addictive disease for most of its users. Apple’s wildly successful sales prove that. Heck my own teenagers prove that; the iPhone is like heroin. As a cyclist: the number of other cyclists who stop by the side of the road, stepping Out of Life and stopping the ride to satisfy the iPhone addiction because an SMS or email came in—wow—it’s a trend I watched grow for several years and it has infected society in a deep and morbid way. The inability of many adults to have a conversation without checking their phone every 5 minutes speaks to a hugely successful product—an addictive and socially disruptive one in these days of a reversion to primitive tribalism. But I am a realist: “no one” really cares about most of the foregoing!

Leonard B writes:

Hi there. As always thank you so much for your comments and your very insightful reviews and investigations. In response to your most recent article on Apple Core Rot I must tell you about a recent event in which I was told by Apple tech support to restore my phone from scratch -- much as one had to do every several months on a system using Windows as the latter's stability rapidly decays.

I am having trouble with my iPhone using the search function within iMessage to search for prior messages chains that I know are there. I know I have messages to different people -- both group and individual- yet when I search for those message chains nothing at all comes up in the search. Almost always nothing comes up but very often many messages that have nothing to do with what I searched come up instead. I see on the Internet that many people have the same problem but I have not seen a good solution.

So I called Apple. I dreaded making the support call as those people on the other end often know less than me. But I bit the bullet and did it. Well the response by that person was to reinstall the whole system-- to Restore my iPhone from scratch as a fresh iPhone. Of course it will take me one or two days all day long to restore all my data.

The tech-support person on the other side couldn}t care less how much time it was going to take me to "reset as a new iPhone". In fact she even had the audacity (or is it stupidity) to tell me that the same thing happened to her with iMessage and she had to reinstall the entire system as well. So that was her solution.

Of course she blamed my corrupt I message data for this problem. Yet it it first became evident after performing one of Apple’]s iPhones updates. It was clearly the update or something in that process that corrupted my data --if my data is in fact corrupted! This is obviously an Apple problem as it happens frequently to many people and in fact almost everybody I know has the same problem.

She tried to make me feel like this was my fault. Baming the victim. Can you believe that? This is the typical response of a defensive person; that is, to blame the victim for his own problem. I had never heard that response from Apple; I always heard that response from Microsoft. Early on when I first started using computers I started with Windows. Whenever I had a problem and called tech support (before I realized what an utter waste of time that usually turns out to be) the response Buy Microsoft support was always to reinstall windows and all my applications and data. Prior to that phone call Apple tech support never told me to reinstall the system. This is more evidence of Mac OS becoming the new windows!! So sad.

MPG: OS X is swiss-cheesed with bugs now and iOS is in hot pursuit. Think about it: the iPhone is a closed proprietary system. Who/what corrupts data? Apple of course—software bugs. Most users put up with this nonsense, as if it were some fact of nature; it is not so—it is software bugs—Apple software bugs.

I had it worse possibly—after my phone reset (also advised by Apple support), the reset process forced me to go through the “new phone” process upon which AT&T added an entirely additional data plan and screwed up my mobile plan. It took me most of an hour to fix that headache.

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