Breaking down Apple’s software quality issues

“Just over a year ago, Overcast developer and ATP co-host Marco Arment wrote about what he felt was the fall of software quality at Apple, and its contrast to the continuing excellence of the company’s hardware. [Yesterday], Walt Mossberg echoed similar complaints, though more specifically about Apple’s apps,” Rene Ritchie writes for iMore. “Here’s what he wrote on The Verge: ‘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.'”

“As has often been said, it’s easier to update bits than atoms, so you have to get the latter right and right away,” Ritchie writes. “I suspect there’s more to this, though, than hardware simply being less forgiving than software.”

“These are all incredibly hard decisions that need to be made high up the chain. There are signs, however, that some are already being made. There are rumors of Apple switching from simply tracking “crashers” to also tracking ‘annoyers,’ and providing time for engineers to fix the bugs that aggravate everyone the most,” Ritchie writes. “Ultimately, though, great software requires constant scrutiny — both external and internal. And the most effective way for Apple to keep doing better is to keep telling the company it needs to do better.”

Much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Yup. We’ve been banging this drum for quite some time now.

We’ll stop banging it when we’re satisfied and can again confidently say “it just works.”

Walt Mossberg: Apple’s software needs work – February 3, 2016
2015: Apple’s year in beta – December 29, 2015
​Apple’s dirty little secret: Sucky software – why Apple’s entire UX/UI team needs to be fired – November 19, 2015
What Steve Jobs gave Apple that Tim Cook cannot – November 18, 2015
Alternatives to Apple’s bloated iTunes – November 17, 2015
Apple’s new iPad Pro debuts with forced reboots, missing Apple Pencils – November 16, 2015
Apple’s perplexingly incomplete launch of the iPad Pro – November 16, 2015
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015
Apple’s major problem is Tim Cook – November 16, 2015
At Apple, it seems as if no one’s minding the store – November 13, 2015
Houston Chronicle’s Silverman reviews new Apple TV: This cake needed more baking – November 9, 2015
The new Apple TV has more rough edges than a sack of saw blades – November 3, 2015
Apple Music one month later: Not loving it, but I’ll be subscribing to it – August 10, 2015
The tragedy of iTunes: Nothing ‘just works’ – July 28, 2015
Apple Music, both on iOS and OS X, is an embarrassing and confusing mess – July 10, 2015
After many of complaints about Wi-Fi issues, Apple dumps discoveryd in latest OS X beta – May 27, 2015
OS X 10.10.2: Wi-Fi problems continue to plague some Mac users – January 30, 2015
The software and services that Apple needs to fix – January 14, 2015
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015


  1. Here’s one for you. Open a third party application in El Capitan and click on ‘file’ ‘open’ to open a document. Now try to do a search.
    #1 – Searches don’t default to your current folder like they do under Yosemite.
    #2 – Files that are found are greyed out and you can not open them.

    I can’t believe that Apple has allowed this to continue. There is no excuse for this!

  2. MDN has done a great job tracking this incredible collapse of the fundamental culture of Apple Inc. and its once great reputation for producing excellence – beyond that of an other tech company in the universe. Now, it’s just an ordinary company. Thanks to the weak, almost nonexistent, leadership of Tim Cook. When will this end? Never? If that’s the answer, then we will never again see what we once loved about our bond with this extraordinary enterprise.

    1. Note how when anyone posts something regarding the article — the truth, usually, there is an asshole who calls himself silverhawk who goes on the personal attack.

      Two observations:
      1) silverhawk lost the argument because he NEVER brings pertinent facts or even discusses the topic
      2) Because of #1, silverhawk is the most annoying troll on MDN by far. He should be banned outright for his juvenile antisocial behavior.

      1. Everybody here likes Apple. But we’re not beyond criticizing it. If you don’t complain, nothing gets done. We’re not content to just suffer in silence as Apple decays. We bought Apple stuff because it just worked. But now it has issues and bad User Interface decisions. Well, that and the hardware isn’t as good as it was.

        Mistakes Apple has made since 2012:

        Changing iWork’s User Interface and reducing functionality

        Taking graphics cards out of the Mac Mini and 13 inch MacBooks

        Switching from Nvidia to AMD

        Making Retina MacBook Pros non-upgradeable & using expensive custom PCIe flash instead of M.2 NVMe

        Changing the form factor of the Mac Pro and making the graphics card non-upgradable and without a CTO option for a different card, specifically a gaming card

        Releasing buggy versions of OS X as if they were finished products

        Soldering in RAM in MacBooks (all), Mac Mini and 21.5” iMac

        1. I think much of the decline has come about since Jony Ive was given more power over both hardware and software UI.
          He likes simplicity, hence the non upgradability of Macs and the dumbing down of the software.
          Those blaming Tim Cook are blaming the wrong person.

      2. Apple juche to you too. Tim Jong-Il is the great leader who will lead the Apple forces against the Samsung and Microsoft hegemony and usher in the new age of technological brilliance. We await his decisions and pronouncements with bated breath and will give out lives to preserve the great truths of the Democratic Republic of Cupertino.

        Yeah, we get it.

      1. With respect Derek, he’s right.
        It’s a shame that commenters here try to stifle free expression and exchange of views by labelling detractors as ‘trolls’ and idiots. This site has fewer ‘Apple hater trolls’ than any I know.

        I have found myself becoming more and more frustrated with the lack of ‘spit and polish’ of Apple’s software. iCloud has actually been quite reliable for me but the relentless dumbing down of it all is maddening.

        Apple plays the ‘perpetual startup’ line but if that were true they’d outperform smalltime devs who actually listen to their customers. This is not the case.

        The sad fact is that TC’s leadership IS weak.
        A leader that is wholly devoid of inspiration, charm or charisma will not drive excellence, and we’re seeing the evidence of this at Apple.
        Angela, Jony, Phil, Craig, Eddy, these are all incredibly talented people (ok, maybe not Eddy….) but the root of the problem is the guy at the top.

        1. And yet TC has driven Apple to the height of its success. I call shenanigans on TC haters.

          As for the quality of Apple software, read my rant below. I’ve been entirely explicit about my opinion of Apple, again, falling on its butt regarding its software quality. How that relates to TC, I do not know. But, as I extensively ranted yesterday, its time for Apple to breathe and reset its FOCUS.

      2. While I have issues and bitches about Apple stuff, I seem to understand something most people do not.
        What Apple is doing here is HUGE in scale. People look at an iPad and bitch about this little thing or that (and they are right), but they do not understand what Apple is doing and for the most part, very successfully.

        What is Apple doing? Its HUGE. Apple is connecting EVERYTHING together and it (mostly ) just works. Yes you can take your android phone and add this and paste that and tweak the other to make things happen. But Apple is doing it with iPads, iPhones, iPods, Macs, Apple TV, etc, all at once. Things connect, transfer, save, from hardware to hardware, software to software, rev level to rev level. Mostly it just works.

        Plus Apple is moving into streaming on multiple hardware, including Android, and the search of all the music in the world (almost) in your hand.

        The complexity level goes up as the square of things added not as the sum. And, for the most part, everything works. WOW, even Walt Mossberg is missing that part. (and yes he does say how so much works flawlessly).

        So, yes. make comments on what does not work. Tell Apple. But remember, 100,000 things interconnect and change and 99.999% work. So a couple of thing have issues. In the last 100,000 decisions that you made, how many did you screw up???

        Apple….. way cooler than my office Dell!!! so LOL.

        1. I hang out here and praise Apple whenever they deserve it, which is usually and FAR more than any other company on the planet.

          But No Way does Apple get a pass on turning their software into lameware, etc. I am particularly vehement about this issue because I got to watch HUGE Kodak literally go to hell because they took their eye off the ball.

          As regards to complexity and keeping track of it all, I’ve been a student of programming since I was 17 (way back) and studied software project management. These days I work with computer security. I get to see, again first hand, the fact that modern software development has reached a level of complexity whereby no one person can comprehend how a single HUGE program works. Therefore, modern software security is a mess and AI (artificial intelligence) moves forward and a snail’s pace.

          Perspective is everything. I speak from my perspective while hoping I can represent other perspectives with some level of accuracy.

        2. Yes, what Apple is doing is huge and that’s big, but Apple’s forté is software.

          There can be no glitches there, software needs to run tighter than anything.

          DC is roght on that.

  3. Small but niggly: these days if you start typing before a page has fully updated, there seems to be no keyboard memory, the letters just get lost and/or jumbled. Given that even my 1981 Apple ][ didn’t do that, why is it happening now?

    1. I miss that too but it’s possibly gone due to security reasons. In a fully multitasking OS, key presses stored in a general keyboard buffer might be accessible by a malicious app.

      Sure, you’re unlikely to be typing anything sensitive on a new page, but the principle would hold if the app you’re in hiccups for a few seconds.

      Total speculation on my part…

  4. Lessee, all the money in the world for a company to hire software engineers who’s only job is to constantly monitor and improve existing software, suggestions and complaints and yet this isn’t done. Am I missing something? Is there a shortage of this kind of talent?

          1. This goes beyond “simple”& never ending bug fixing. No company wants to deliberately look as though they’re doing almost nothing to make things “just work,” especially Apple. In many ways it’s mission critical enough to be high, if not number one, on the priority list. What’s the point of making beautifully made devices if the software that runs them is not always all it can be and seamless to the user? At this point it’s just holding up their already established reputation by never flagging and doggedly making software Jobs One.

      1. Hard? Maybe. Unachievable? Absolutely not! And when they’ve done it before, why not still? Like the first comment – worked in the prior version of OSX, but not now. Why? More to the point, why wasn’t it caught and corrected before release?

      1. There must be something more to it than merely issuing a CEO order to do so. Because who wouldn’t with the sheer utter importance of consistent smooth running software to a platform? If it were that easy and not done just because of neglect or lack of the simplest observation then yes you might wonder what the heck the problem is.

  5. And all this at a time when the 3rd party apps for OS X have never been better.

    I make my living from several of them. The one I use the most for motion graphic production is developed by ex-Apple people.

    Is there a message in that?

      1. People leave Apple, and in the case of the 3rd party apps that I use, the ex-Apple developers developing the 3rd party apps have a strong tendency to at least attempt to use Apples old Human Interface Guidelines, or at very least think out there work function sequences in a logical way. The one that is most important to me is called Tumult Hype. Affinity Designer and Photo

        1. “…….to at least attempt to use Apples old Human Interface Guidelines, or at very least think out there work function sequences in a logical way. ……”

          Ahhhhh… Words from my bleeding heart.
          Apple UI seens to have become a mix of random placment of buttons and inconsistant contextual menus and dogmatic and idiosyncratic use of keyboard shortcuts and stupid naming conventions.
          Its become an exercise of randome memorization of things rather than a user friendly, accessible interface and coherent workflow.

          How can this go on and no one at apple seems to care..???

          Irritates you know what out of me. …..

  6. Why is it that Pages still hasn’t reached parity with Pages ’09?

    I don’t even see many updates. Responsibility for iWork should be transferred to someone who cares about the product.

    1. Yeah! And they should return to iWork ’09’s User Interface. I can’t stand the new sidebar. I’ve actually reverted all of my iWork documents to iWork ’09 format so I can use iWork ’09 instead of the new one.

  7. I’m glad the subject of Apple software quality is becoming one of a Subject Of The Week. I hope this seriously important subject, as opposed to the ‘Who’s More Valuable’ perceptual pedestal, bites Apple hard and long. It’s about bloody time Apple got their eye back ON the software quality ball and KEPT IT THERE. So humph! 😡 😤

  8. I have been complaining for a couple of years now… Writing to feed back or any contact i have at apple.. Writting in all forums i participate in…
    For most of the two years i have been attacked by fans as a result of my critisizing Apple.. Recently is seens attacks are less (but they are still there)..
    It seems more and more people are realizing that this is getting critical .. And any more compacancy on behalf of apple is going to have terrible effects on their reputation.

    Apple ,
    is not just qualty hardware.. Its Software too..and their synargy

    It has been you Slogan .. Your differentiating Claim from day 1.

    Whats going on?

  9. 1. Using FileVault requires you to log in earlier, meaning no backlit keyboard The last bit sucks!
    2. Why dows my NEW MBP 15″ crash half of the time when it wakes from sleep?
    3. Why do I lose my VPN connection setting in the “battery logo” after a while?
    4. Why is Calendar still buggy (only displays half the screen and does not stick after resize?
    5. Why is Mail formatting-wise such a worthless piece of …
    Come on Apple, I paid € 3399,- for this…….

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