For some time now I get every text message in duplicate on my iPhone, a few minutes apart So does my wife. A “little thing”, but something that really undermines the value of messages and wastes my time and attention. iCloud is a serious problem because I get doubled-up address book entries, dead people returning to my address book, etc. My iPhone demands I “sign in to verify my identity” every day (often multiple times) at the worst possible time: when I want to use the phone (for things having nothing to do with sign in). Sometimes Apple randomly breaks critical functionality like personal hot spot. The iPhone gives an error alert every time I turn off call forwarding. The list goes on.
So: Apple Core Rot in iOS disrupts the value of the iPhone every day. The iPhone is now only half useful to me, really a mixed bag of usefulness and headache-inducing problems.
But let’s set those iOS things aside as just a few 'minor' issues. The software quality problems in OS X have become severe, with by-calendar OS X releases instead of by-quality releases. Users on OS X for Real Work now dread a new OS X release. To that point, Apple is now working on its 4th update in as many months which speaks volumes about release quality. Worse, minor updates break new things while not fixing related issues. Quality assurance now apparently consists of releasing an update, see sh*t hits the fan, and then issuing another minor update a week later. Display support is a disaster in 10.11.3.
Even Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal has finally woken up, slightly. He recently wrote in Apple’s Own Apps Need Work:
In the last couple of years, however, I’ve noticed a gradual degradation in the quality and reliability of Apple’s core apps, on both the mobile iOS operating system and its Mac OS X platform. It’s almost as if the tech giant has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to these core software products while it pursues big new dreams, like smartwatches and cars.
Mossberg’s perspective is extremely limited: he doesn’t go much beyond “core apps”, which is almost funny given their serious problems making them unsuitable for serious use. Nor does he demonstrate any conceptual understanding of just how deep the issues run, seemingly unaware that the OS itself is rife with problems; his concretized view is a few bugs that need to be fixed. But he has Apple’s ear, and so it’s good to see him write on the topic.
Apple execs in Denial
Incredibly, there are at least two high level execs at Apple who are tone deaf on Apple software quality. Their viewpoint is so out of touch, showing a lack of perspective and blind ignorance of the serious declines in software quality both in OS X and iOS. It’s inconceivable that this is just PR, there is something badly out of whack there (versus reality). Which makes it all the more worrisome.
Apple Core Rot will only worsen with these clowns in charge: if issues are not perceived and denial is the game plan, they won’t be addressed. In MPG’s view, the problems now runs so deep that we are not talking about a few bugs; we’re talking about structural and leadership problems. That kind of challenge is notoriously difficult to fix, but letting some top heads roll might get the process started. But when billions of dollars of profit are rolling in, it’s hard to see how any of the issues will be taken seriously.
In the past two days MPG has received two emails from quite different users on the Apple Core Rot issue, which MPG first broached explicitly in early 2013.
Software developer Martin Doudoroff writes:
Martin’s post is here: The Elephant is Still in the Room.
A few days ago, Alexandra Mintsopoulos published a diligent take-down of the furor a couple self-made Apple pundits recently produced over regrettably unsubstantiated claims of “declining software quality” at Apple. Her critique was probably well-deserved, and is worth reading:
However, I view with acute skepticism her conclusions:
“the software situation at Apple is merely a ‘perception problem’
‘There is a massive disconnect between enthusiasts and Apple’s broader customer base on the perception of Apple’s software quality. That is a PR problem for Apple to solve, not a software one.’
I am a power user and software developer, and I know a lot of Mac users, most of whom are regular, non-techie people. I don’t know a single user who isn’t experiencing crippling frustrations of one sort or another with their Macs, and some with their iOS devices too (although I am going to focus on the Mac). Apple’s hard-earned reputation may have drawn many of these people to use Macs in the first place, but no amount of public relations and manipulation of perception cannot wave away the troubles they are experiencing.
Martin is right: I’ve had more and more trouble making a friend’s computer work properly; the OS X bug keep mangling basic functionality. There is no stability, and even the onslaught of updates that pop up confusing questions—novice users are just baffled by these things. It’s rather hopeless for casual users.
Overseas reader AR K writes:
Pageantries became truth:
While some reality-trussed, mind-limited earthling scientists wax lyrically about some pettifogging „gravity waves“ or whatever they call them, APPLE comes up with the real mind-shattering sensation: the first interview EVER from a complete parallel universe!
Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi believe Apple's core software quality has improved significantly over the course of the last five years:
Wow! Now, WE also got it, still speechless from un-deservedly watching this history changing moment:
Out there exists some life-form, quite similar to ours! In a parallel universe called “The management Circle”. That’s why the new headquarters is called the “UFO”!
And when you read this here Apple Core Rot standing on your head, mirror-inverted and from left to right, you, Earthling, also will see it: it’s ALL OK! Everything is fine and all-right! It just works!
Overseas reader Brett P writes:
I am so in agreement with you about Apple Core Rot.
I waited until 10.11.3 to install El Capitan, and after a clean install, just spent 6 hours trying to get Mail to connect to my IMAP accounts. The last stable release of OS X in my experience was the final update of Snow Leopard. It was fast too.
MPG: El Capitan destroyed IMAP mail on two different machins for Lloyd, requiring that the mail account be deleted and recreated. The examples of problems are nearly endless, permeating every aspect of the system, not just Mail or core apps.