Apple execs defend software quality, but what’s their offensive game plan?

“Apple has a problem with its software and apps,” Mark Rogowsky writes for Forbes. “No, I’m not piling on here and suggesting I agree with Walt Mossberg at Re/code, who was just the latest to criticize Apple when he recently rekindled a persistent firestorm that’s been dogging the company for more than a year.”

“Mossberg claimed he has ‘noticed a gradual degradation in the quality and reliability of Apple’s core apps … 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,'” Rogowsky writes. “The problem for Apple is this isn’t the first time someone has taken the company to task over its software and perception, repeated enough, tends to become hard to distinguish from reality.”

“Two of Apple’s senior executives, clearly stung by the criticisms Mossberg leveled, responded on The Talk Show, a podcast hosted by longtime Apple blogger John Gruber,” Rogowsky writes. “So Federighi and Cue went to talk to one friendly voice about the displeasure expressed by another. And in so doing had an opportunity to say categorically that they believe Apple’s software is still the best stuff out there and that whatever problems people are experiencing will be fixed with all deliberate speed. They did and they didn’t.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The most vexing thing was the non-working Wi-fi fiasco that Apple stuck Mac users with for far, far too long. That was where we felt Apple had lost the plot. And that was the point where longtime Apple product users like us began to look at everything from Apple much more critically.

We’d love to someday hear the story of who inside Apple was pushing the new Wi-Fi crap, even though it simply didn’t effing work reliably, and who finally got the bright idea or convinced whomever to finally go back to what “just worked.”

The criticisms Apple faces now are deserved. You cannot experiment on something as critical as Wi-Fi connectivity, fail, subject your users to daily, sometimes hourly, frustration for many months, and then expect absolution. The bar is set higher now for a reason. Satisfy us, Apple, until we forget what you did to us by disrupting our Wi-Fi connectivity for so damn long.

MacDailyNews Note: Today is Washington’s Birthday in the U.S.A., a federal holiday and, as such, the U.S. markets are closed for the day. We will resume our normal posting schedule tomorrow.

Washington’s Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

SEE ALSO:
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

63 Comments

    1. And changing the User Interface from that of iWork ’09. I started using the newer version of iWork for several months after it came out, but now I’m back to iWork ’09. And I still use iMovie ’09 because it keeps separate project files and it has a neat dual-monitor mode.

  1. I’ve been saying it for several years now, Apple is in the process of becoming the new Microsoft. Apple has just gotten too large and lost the one person that kept everyone focussed on great products that just work.

    Of coarse I’ll get blasted for this because fanboys simply don’t like negative comments about Apple.

      1. And you sound like a troll.

        Steve Jobs had very few products that anyone could consider “BAD”. There were some that the public didn’t like as much as he thought they should, e.g., Power Mac G4 Cube, but that product was NOT a “BAD” product. Steve did approve some stupid things, e.g. the hockey puck mouse, but that wasn’t really a product, rather an accessory for a product.

        Apple’s hardware and software has slipped a bit in the last few years. Except for the 5K iMac the entire Mac line has pretty much been left wanting for a few years. The newest MacBook with just one connector was, and is, just dumb. Zero updates to the MacPro in over 26 months is also stupid. Even Dell is shipping more modern, high end laptops (with Skylake and Thunderbolt 3) than Apple.

        Then we get into the software. Every recent version of Mac OS has required new firmware for popular encrypted USB drives. El Capitan is not fully compatible with common third party mice that have been OS X compatible for years (it’s a simple mouse after all!). Everything from Mail to Apple’s productivity suite has either lost functionality or had several annoying bugs.

        The thing that Steve would do (even after his return) if something — even something shipping — was not meeting expectations was call the responsible people in and get them to fix it — or he’d fire them.

        The fast majority of us know of the story about MobileMe where Steve hauled in the crew responsible for it, and he asked them what it was supposed to do. When they told him, his response was, “Then why the F#*k does it not do that?” Then he sent them all back to fix it or else.

        Tim and the rest of the executive staff seem to have the attitude, “We’ll get there *eventually*. We just need more time.” The problem with that attitude is that the executives will *ALWAYS* need more time, because “eventually” is never a deadline. “Eventually” is always many, many months away.

        1. To shadowself: well, Steve made many mistakes…and your story of MobileMe only proves that even a Steve Jobs session taking the engineers to task really did not do all that much. MobileMe did get better, but not exactly groundbreaking. Now of course it has evolved into iCloud, but again, no one is saying it’s this great leap and of course whatever iCloud does become is long after Steve’s corrective little talk.

          As to other Steve Jobs mistakes…well, there’s Ping…there was the Antennagate PR problem with the iPhone 4, there was trusting Eric Schmidt for too long…etc. In fact, imagine if anything close to Antennagate happened under Tim Cook; the usual suspects would be wanting to crucify him.

          It’s totally inaccurate to cast Apple under Steve Jobs as infallible, while Apple under Tim Cook as all screwed up.

          1. I can’t really put my finger on it, the exact tipping point when Steve Jobs became Mother Theresa, or Antonio Stradivarius — some kind of iconic, transformative figure beyond censure.

            As I remember it, he was a target of ridicule and opprobrium from all quarters during his life. The flak was incessant.

            Funny; today, even garden-variety trolls invoke the genius of Steve Jobs as they excoriate Tim Cook.

            Trolls are hardly needed any more, though, because the old Apple faithful themselves are no longer mesmerised by the Jobsian reality distortion field, and have awakened to the realisation that Apple products are imperfect.

            As is everything. But we thought different, and believed it for a while.

      2. Steve wasn’t perfect but Apple did do a better job of QC in both hardware and software while he was there.

        I miss his presentations but at the same time I now have the larger iPhone that I always wanted.

      3. I have no problem with people criticizing Apple, but I do find fault in people making it seem like Apple was perfect under Steve Jobs.

        Steve Jobs and Apple under him made a lot of mistakes; in fact, ironically many of today’s critics were also critics of Steve Jobs. But now that he’s gone, they use his absence as a way to bash the company.

        It’s pure nostalgia to reminisce of the good ol’ days when Steve was around and made sure everything was OK. Now Steve of course was an amazing genius and visionary who accomplished a lot; but he was not infallible and he would have been the first to have told you that.

    1. Erm great products do you remember how crap the Ibook, emac and G5 imac, Powermac G5 that leaked cooling fluid all were poor reliabilty and riddled with design faults?

      Lets not forget OSX 10.4 buggy and slow, Apple currently is making its best hardware and software. If you are not happy switch to Samsung or Microsoft as aprently they make super reliable and bug free software

      1. You see that? See what he did there? THAT is what makes companies stale – it’s the best despite the problems and God damn you all for daring to say otherwise. The equal amount of money that you spend for Apple products does not mean you get to voice problems – even with the intent of making it better. I HOPE for its own sake that Apple fires any employees like Hss1.

        1. The numbers of problems that I and family members have had with Apple Mail on Mac since El Capitan came out it is crazy.

          Attachments not being sent with email, email settings continually getting screwed up due to inconsistent iCloud syncing back and forth, etc.

          These were major problems and other people reported other kinds of problems.

          A lot of the El Capitan updates have included mail fixes, but the email syncing issues caused me grief this week, so stability is not there yet.

    2. No – you’ll get blasted for this because it’s just stupid. In spite of various stupidities, like the castration of Pages, Apple is still far, far, far above Microsloth in quality and reliability.

  2. OSX 10.11.3 broke my ability to edit film or sound as they trashed the USB system. My sound interfaces no longer work. I am looking at LINUX or Windows for my next system. Won’t even consider MAC as they are trash.

    1. You have a business that DEPENDS on your system being up and available at all times and you applied a patch without testing first? Or backing up your system BEFORE you upgrade? Sorry to say, this will happen to you regardless of any system you choose. Hopefully you have at least leaned that backups are important.

      In other news, MacDailyNews app now opens the App Store automatically with no interaction. 🙁

    2. Sorry, I have no sympathy for you dude. If I had a business that depended entirely on the proper functioning of my production system, I wouldn’t ever upgrade them (except for security updates).

      Upgrades and updates can go bad no matter what OS you are running.

      1. I have two identically set up MacBooks so I can update them one at a time and not get stuck without a working system.

        Too many updates put my work in jeopardy before I started doing this.

    3. Hmmm another who claims to be a Mac user but calls it MAC? We get a lot of those and they all seem to say similar things.

      You haven’t said which sound interface you were using, but it sounds to me as though the problem was with the driver being incompatible with OS 10.11.3. If it had used approved hooks with OSX, it should continue to work. That’s why my old scanner which doesn’t need drivers is still operational, but two newer ones have stopped being operational as the manufacturers haven’t updated the drivers. You need to get your interface manufacturer to provide a driver that will work on OS10.11.3

      I do demanding audio editing within tight deadlines and one unbreakable rule is that I always have two Macs, only one of which is connected to the internet. The other one is used for editing. When OS updates are available, the internet connected Mac is updated and I temporarily plug the interfaces into that one and assess how it’s working. IF it seems OK, I do a few jobs on that one to double check that it’s all working well and also do a complete back up of the other Mac before I decide to update that one too. Whatever happens, I should always have at least one Mac that can be relied upon to do client’s work and if anything goes wrong with the main editing Mac, I can quickly restore it to it’s previous state.

  3. Although Steve had been gone for 5 years now. Tim had a big boat to sail. An even bigger boat when he succeded with his iPhone ittération.

    It must have been a ruff time in the software dept with all the hands raised and the ‘Hey! Look at me now! Look at what I can do! Me, me me first!!!! I have ideas!!! I am different!!!’.

    I’ve worked in a company who lost his leader and so may people wanted a chance to shine and a chance to put his grain of salt…

    Behind the walls at Cupertino, it is not always pink…

    1. It was discouraging that they didn’t address most of the issues raised. There is a lack of focus on quality and too slow response when there is a problem. Too many balls in the air is my guess.

  4. I was lucky never to have any WiFi issues but I have other issues with Apple over things like iTunes and the unreliably there with things like episodes of the same podcast show downloading and then some won’t after repeated attempts. It’s just a download. What’s the issue Apple?

    1. I had the wifi issue for too long of a time. Apple finally released the old script that worked.

      But, the article is from Forbes, who have become extremely anti-Apple and judging from all the trolls above Peter one wonder if they are forbes writers responding to a forbes article.

    2. I never had them either. Not much. I believe they are not so much Apple as the number of different WiFi access points out there. If someone does a not so good job of implementing a standard and Apple gets blamed.

      Just a couple weeks ago, I bought a brand new MacBook Pro. Very happy with the machine. Except for one thing. WiFi. Each time the machine goes to sleep, it cannot reconnect to the WiFi router. I have to turn WiFi off then back on again, and it’s fine.

      That’s not a lot of work or anything, but sometimes I forget and email and stuff stacks up until I remember.

      The WiFi router is an ARRIS cable modem. I don’t have any problems with any other device, iMacs, iPhones, iPads, but I will bet that if I start using an Airport, the problem will go away.

      1. My 2014 Mac Book Pro always connects to any WiFi I’m using but usually using an Apple Airport (new and older). Weird. Mine is an Arris too (a new one) that feeds an older Apple Airport at home. So I wonder if the problem is unique to other non-Apple WiFi boxes?

        1. I’d like to know more about the situation peter. Arris has made a hash of the Motorola cable modems and has sat on security bugs.

          I own a Motorola SBG6840 that has some occasional odd flakiness and a security bug that has never been patched. Thankfully, there’s a reasonable work around.

          The reviews I’m reading about subsequent models under the Arris name have convinced me to look elsewhere for my next cable modem, if I bother with cable at all.

      2. The vast majority of wifi issues are as a result of cheap bog standard Routers, supplied by ISP’s. They are cheap and not very good, if you have a understanding of wifi and networking you will understand.

        1. A friend had a Time Warner Cable account and rented both their cable modem and Wi-Fi router. The router these dickheads provided was a Logitech model with NO security updates. There were FOUR known security flaws in the model and TWC didn’t give a rat’s. So I updated it for him, five firmware update versions. *rolling*eyes* 🙄

      3. I have a TimeCapsule. It was the first one that allowed you to run a 2.4 and 5 connections at the same time. I keep the G around for legacy devices from guests, but use N for my devices. My iPhone and MacBook Air periodically decide they don’t want to use the 5 network and resort to the 2.4 and can no longer see the 5. This is bad Apple software. The standards have been added to, but they aren’t different. Then there was Apple dropping support for perfectly good AirPort expresses. You now can’t chance their settings. Again, bad software. These aren’t obsolete. They just aren’t Apple’s latest.

        Apple has always been arrogant, but they’ve gotten worse as this article shows. They don’t care about user experience which explains the horrid design of their software these days. A button should look like a button. White text on light gray is evil. Tiny type is not readable by anyone over 40.

  5. There is a scene in the Sorkin Steve Jobs movie in which John Scully gifts Jobs a Newton. He knows Jobs is going to kill the Newton (or he already has, I forget). After their short talk about other things, Jobs lifts the Newton box and says, “It’s the stylus.” Scully looks confused. Jobs simulates using a stylus with his fingers, like writing with a pen, then lifts his hand up and wiggles the remaining fingers and says, “All these other fingers have nothing to do.”

    Tim Cook, great guy, but he will never look at tech the way Jobs did. He looks at it from the viewpoint of a man seeking to please the board and the shareholders.

    iTunes probably looks great to him. He probably barely uses iOS let alone OS X so whatever he is shown seems “insanely great” to him.

    I’m in Safari a great deal and I know it has grown progressively less stable since the release of El Capitan. If I were Steve, I’d ask people “What the **%^%&& is the problem?” I don’t see Cook being that kind of guy. He’s too nice. No one is afraid to ride the elevator with Tim Cook.

    He need to hire himself an asshole.

    1. Thelonious: It’s not entirely accurate or wise to judge Steve Jobs or Apple based on that Sorkin movie; in fact it’s downright silly.

      As to Tim Cook being “too nice”…again, a rather shallow conclusion with no basis in reality. Neither you nor I know how Tim operates behind the scenes. And I can guarantee you this: smart people in Silicon Valley don’t like to work where they are being mistreated. The day that Tim Cook starts being a jerk is the day that Apple experiences a brain drain.

      It’s not leadership to be a jerk to people, and again, the stereotype of Steve as a jerk is just that. Most people at Apple never had Steve yelling at them or even close to that. I know someone who worked at Apple during the early Steve years, and they only knew Apple as a very progressive employer. The silicon valley work ethos is by and large a very progressive environment that values talent and knowledge.

    2. I’m guessing here, but probably 95% of the people Steve “yelled” at or was being a “jerk” to, he was doing to inspire them to do better, a better product that Steve knew they could do.

      My personal biggest professional fear is fear of failure. This is a strong motivator, and I think Steve used it as his means to encourage brilliance.

      Some people have the skill to inspire people by expressing their disappointment. As a parent I use this when I’m really looking for change in behavior, I’ve not had it work nearly as well in the business setting.

    3. you hit some good points here:

      “He probably barely uses iOS let alone OS X so whatever he is shown seems “insanely great” to him.”

      I notice that too, would he have actually launched Apple Music with the interface it had (without an instruction manual even, the Guided Tours came months later) or Apple TV without a remote app if he had to set up and use it himself ? and his weird comment ‘why would you buy PCs anymore’ saying that he never used them .(with Macs a major platform equal to iPad revenues. He later had to correct his statement that he meant ‘Windows’ PCs. Shows he doesn’t really use Macs or create ‘content’ but just consumers info on his iPad, iPhone ).

      I wish T.C would spend less time on Social work and more visiting Apple partner retailers (the Walmart nearest my house has sucky Apple displays — not changed probably since Jobs time — with clueless staff,” ), visit Apple using shops like Graphics Studios (who are complaining about Mac Pro) or Mac user groups etc. he should get a better feel of Apple retailer partners, users on the ground instead of just looking at his ‘data charts’ (T.C has a habit of saying “our data shows us” — that’s not enough, he needs a better ‘gut feel’ ).

      too many example to list all showing ‘lack of focus or keeping eye on the ball but one is like education where it let Google from near zero gain 50+ % marketshare (chrome books) with Apple dropping to 10+.

    4. There is a scene in the Sorkin Steve Jobs movie in which John Scully gifts Jobs a Newton.

      That sounds like an impossible scene. Sculley had been booted out himself long before Jobs returned to Apple. The scene seems contrived for the sake of drama. I suppose the entire film is similarly contrived. (Jobs killed the Newton in 1998, within a year of becoming Apple CEO, again).

  6. Pages, before they gave it a “mobile” makeover, was rock solid. Now (on my Mac), I get crashes when I delete a few pages of text (I work off of a template that has 7 days of entries, and delete if extra days if report ends before last day).

    It’s a hard crash and i lose all data from time I opened till the crash. That shouldn’t happen and I’m now manually saving like I did when forces to use office.

    Spotlight used to be instantaneous..

    Latest beta of El Capitan freezing hard after wake..etc, etc…

      1. Why use feedback? You send it and then silence, na-da, nothing. Not a patronizing thank you, that’s a great idea, that’s a piss poor idea, kiss my ass, nothing!!! If you get to big for your customers, you have a problem.

    1. Of course I’ve reported them..I’m in the developer program and very active in apples support forums (for 16 years). The issues I mentioned are with public releases (other than when I specifically mentioned the beta, obviously).

  7. there are many valid points put out by the posters here today both criticisms of Apple and defences by Shadowself , T. Mac, Wade etc so I won’t write too much over those points.

    all I want to add is that when Jobs was running Apple especially the early years of his return Apple’s resources were much more limited, he said that in the first year Apple was three months into running out of cash., if I remember it was something like 1 billion cash in the bank , T.C just spent 150 b on buybacks and dividends.

    Jobs had to build up the staff, transition Nextstep into OSX, get off PowerPC chips to Intel etc. TODAY Apple has huge resources, giant cash bank , they launched a new platform Apple Watch but don’t have the seismic make or break transitions like OSX, Intel, so although Apple has large number of users I expect the quality of products to be higher with fewer issues (the NUMBER of products haven’t substantially increased, the Watch etc and few other things but apple staffing , cash have). True with large number of users the number of DIFFERENT problems have increased but apple can throw so many more engineers etc into them today that i think they should be fixed fast.
    (people excusing apple with Microsoft example saying that Msft also couldn’t fix its issues with resources miss the difference that Msft had many different OEMS with bewildering array of different hardware and legacy systems to deal with, i.e its much harder for Msft. and no saying that does NOT make me a Windows fanboy… )

    Also Apple not having PR sooth customers like saying we’re working on it et for problems like Wife etc is also not excusable. the latest PR blunder was the ‘bricking of iPhones error 53’, although apple is right in my mind about security the sudden implementation without PR explaining it etc was a blunder. Things like this and also stuff like not having the Apple TV remote app ready at launch or having the instruction manual of Apple Music (the guided Tours) at the END of the launch period seem not very excusable (and not very complicated to have gotten RIGHT in the first place, it just seems LACK of FOCUS).

    ——–
    BTW Criticizing apple when backed with Facts is not trolling, it’s a way of bring attention of issues to Apple. Reporting on Apple forums is also good but I often see that Apple responds faster when they are embarrassed publicly like with Mossberg now, with jim Dalrymple on apple Music , the Mac App developer who complained on his blog about the Mac App store etc

Add Your Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.