Perception is Not Necessarily Reality (or Destiny) – An Abbreviated History of Apple’s Software Screwups

The…Not-So-Shiny Side of the Apple

iCloud – previously MobileMe (2008-2011), previously .Mac (launched 2002), previously iTools (2000)

“Now, you might ask, why should I believe them, they’re the ones that brought me MobileMe? It wasn’t our finest hour, let me just say that.”

Remember that?

Bugs, bugs, and more bugs (with a heaping helping of security flaws)

Nothing new. Maybe just higher profile. Courtesy MacRumors and others:

http://www.macintouch.com/m85_diskdamage.html – “Mac OS 8.5 Special Report: Disk Damage Issue”

http://archive.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2001/11/48149 – “Glitch in iTunes Deletes Drives”

http://www.geek.com/apple/mac-os-x-software-update-vulnerability-549054/ – “Russell Harding has gone public with a major security flaw in Mac OS X. OS X features “Software Update” services that, when set to default, automatically check for updates to the operating system and other software on a weekly basis. Harding discovered that the feature uses a plain HTML interface with absolutely no authentication to check for and download the updates. This is a golden opportunity for malicious hackers to invade OS X.”

http://www.macrumors.com/2003/10/30/apple-addresses-panther-firewire-issues/

http://www.macrumors.com/2005/08/15/security-update-2005-007-released/

http://www.macrumors.com/2006/02/20/safari-security-flaw-reported/

http://www.macrumors.com/2006/11/11/new-mac-os-x-security-vulnerability-found/

http://www.macrumors.com/2007/11/06/data-loss-vulnerabilities-discovered/

http://www.macrumors.com/2007/12/04/unpatched-quicktime-vulnerability-exploited/

http://www.macrumors.com/2009/02/12/apple-releases-security-updates-addresses-safari-rss-vulnerability/

http://www.macrumors.com/2009/05/20/unpatched-os-x-java-vulnerabilities-drawing-attention/

http://www.macrumors.com/2009/07/31/apple-to-release-fix-for-iphone-sms-vulnerability-on-saturday/

http://www.macrumors.com/2009/10/12/snow-leopard-bug-responsible-for-loss-of-user-data-gaining-notice/

http://www.macrumors.com/2010/08/24/apple-releases-security-update-2010-005/

http://www.macrumors.com/2010/10/11/apples-next-ios-release-to-include-fix-for-daylight-saving-time-bug/

http://www.macrumors.com/2010/09/24/safari-autofill-security-issue-rears-its-head-once-again/

http://www.macrumors.com/2012/02/03/snow-leopard-security-update-kills-powerpc-apps-using-rosetta/

http://www.macrumors.com/2012/05/14/apple-updates-mac-os-x-10-5-leopard-with-flashback-removal-tool-flash-player-disabler/

http://www.imore.com/troubleshoot-iphone-30-battery-life-problems – “How To: Troubleshoot iPhone 3.0 Battery Life Problems”

http://www.zdnet.com/article/apple-fixes-iphone-coma-mode-with-os-update-5000352162/ – “Apple fixes iPhone ‘coma mode’ with OS update”

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2475859 – “Iphone 3G slow after update to IOS4” (And oh, did I know it.)

http://tidbits.com/article/13303 – “Solving iOS 6 Battery Drain Problems”. Still? Apparently so.

iOS 8 Accidental Bricking Release – I think your memories are fresh enough that I don’t need a link here

Interface

OS X, pre-Lion

http://kottke.org/03/09/sign-the-petition-to-stop-the-brushed – “Sign the petition to stop the brushed metal in the OS X 10.3 Finder.”

http://daringfireball.net/2004/10/brushed-metal – Gruber, also on brushed metal

http://appleinsider.com/articles/07/10/08/road_to_mac_os_x_leopard_finder_10_5 – “The Finder in Mac OS X has long been reviled as the most glaring problem in the system, earning it the “Fix the F-ing Finder” meme.”

Lion and so forth

http://gizmodo.com/5819418/mac-os-x-lion-this-is-not-the-future-we-were-hoping-for – “Mac OS X Lion Review: This Is Not the Future We Were Hoping For”

http://daringfireball.net/linked/2012/11/27/chartier – “David Chartier Is Sick of Making Excuses for Mac OS X”

http://forwardthinking.pcmag.com/apple/312474-os-x-mavericks-a-nice-but-modest-point-release – “OS X Mavericks: A Nice But Modest Point Release”

iOS

http://www.technobuffalo.com/2011/10/13/top-5-worst-things-about-ios-5/ – self-explanatory link.

http://www.techradar.com/us/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/iphone-5-1096004/review/3 (comment on iOS 6) – “Intuition is the thing iOS 6 now lacks. Where Apple wowed the world with the simple nature of the original iPhone, the current set up isn’t really that far removed from that first iteration, at least visually.”

https://gigaom.com/2013/09/23/the-biggest-hiccups-in-ios-7s-new-ui/ – “The biggest hiccups in iOS 7’s new UI” – I still hate the “foggy shower” approach to the volume overlay, which persists in iOS 8. “Transparencies” don’t work on everything, Jony Ive, even as I’ve “accepted” the “swipe LEFT ONLY” to delete modality.

Upshot: Yes, Apple screws up its fair share. Yeah, when playing the high-wire act at this level of success, the spotlight is more like a Vdara Death Ray. You get held to a deservedly higher standard (though many go…further), and when you fail, well, “the whole world loves it when you’re in the news”, or something.

And prominent voices the world over, many of them influential devs, either yearn for better times or worry, despair?, indict?, predict trouble ahead?, regarding the current trends or states of software affairs. Apple can, and should, do better, given the unbelievably competitive nature of the tech biz. Keeping in mind, of course, that every company has an eternal Achilles heel or issue or some sort. That nagging issue, behavior, whatever, that keeps it – and every other company – from ever achieving perfection. Which, by virtue of being a vulnerability, also means there’s always that chance that that company could be killed – or – perhaps worse, be hollowed out via a slow demise, like a dying empire suddenly past its golden age.

Look, I’ve been an Apple user since the IIe. While I’m no dev, I know about stuff like bad blocks…and my Apple II Disk Drive making…BAD noises…and pre-OS X hard crashes…and the occasional kernel panic…and iOS 7/Touch ID/Twitter mysteriously not playing well together…and iOS 8 somehow seriously messing up the Wi-Fi on my previously-just-fine iPhone 5S…and a condition in which “Hey Siri” and Siri in general fails to work until a restart…and freaking out over SSL/TLS and all those other security bugs over the years…and wondering just when I should turn in my AppleCare-covered iMac (Late 2012+ edition) for that undulating, I dunno, “fan purring” noise that’s a probable early warning sign?

But as an Apple user, and Win 7 Pro user, somewhere in the realm of semi-power-user…am I worried that someday I will abandon the Mac platform due to inferior SW experience, for all the flaws? Not a chance.

There are things I love too much. Net simplicity. Quick Look. Spotlight. Safari. Expose. Touch ID. Apple Pay. Find My iPhone. The tentpoles. Of course, that’s before Apple makes its case with its classically generally excellent hardware.

And at least for now, Apple’s financial trends and customer sat ratings strongly suggest “the people who matter most” – the broader swath of “the rest of us”, old hats and new-to-Apple – feel much the same way I do.

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