There’s this little fly in the Apple upgrade ointment

“There once was a time when OS X came on DVDs for sale at the Apple Store and we Mac lovers would stand in line, fork over $129 and get a new version of an OS X cat, and if we were early in line, we’d get a t-shirt,” Tera Thomas O’Brien writes for Tera Talks. “After that we’d head home and upgrade our Macs and ooh and aah at all the cool things the cat thus brought.”

“Those days are gone,” O’Brien writes. “For another decade or so there were enough bugs in each new version of OS X to make experienced Mac users a bit more cautious about upgrading. If it wasn’t broken, why fix it? That cry became the moral of many stories of Mac users who upgraded to the latest and greatest only to screw up what was once a working system.”

“The same thing took place when the iPhone and iPad started to rule Apple,” O’Brien writes. “Apple says their software is better than ever with fewer bugs than ever but with more customers than ever any bugs make more noise than ever… Frankly, I wish I didn’t have to be so thorough because I miss the days of standing in line amid the growing camaraderie of fellow Apple folk, exchanging pleasantries and horror stories alike just to get a new version of something that was sure to delight and frustrate just a hour or so later.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: In our opinion, the worst is behind us. Apple grew very quickly and things got a bit sideways at times. There are a lot of post-Steve employees now. We believe they’ve heard the complaints all the way to the top and have begun taking steps to shore up quality control.

Another Apple software update failure – March 30, 2016
With another Apple failure, it’s time to forget about hardware – March 29, 2016
Can Apple get things back under control? – March 29, 2016
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015


  1. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the two big differences are

    1. Scale—a bug that hits one in 1000 users had a 50% chance of getting past 1000 beta users in 1990, just like it does now, but in 1990 it might only have affected a few hundred people, most of whom would have made no public fuss. Today, a bug that affects 0.1% of the Apple user base can hit millions of people.

    2. Social Media—most people affected by a bug in 1990 (apart from reporters) just griped to their friends and family. Most people today have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, etc., so their complaints can go viral within hours of a release.

    The perceived drop in quality may thus be more apparent than real.

    1. Nice try, but I don’t buy it. When OS X Snow Leopard was released, new versions of OS X were released every 24-30 months. Now the upgrade cycle is 12 months. The simple fact is that there is no earthly way for any recent version of OS X to be as polished and bug-free as it might have been back in the days when its makers had twice as much time (or more) to work on it. I agree with MDN that the worst may be behind us, but this has yet to be proved. El Capitan is probably the best of the once-yearly upgrades so far, but Snow Leopard is the gold standard as far as OS X is concerned.

      1. 10.6 (Snow Leopard) was awesome. It kinda looks like Apple is going in 3s. 10.9 Mavericks was the Only OS since 10.6 that I found adequate. El Capitan isn’t exactly horrible or unusable, but I’ll wait for 10.12 to see what its like.

        This is my observation only, YMMV

      2. Snow Leopard, it STILL is — every day, all day.

        Have daily need to run older apps that require the Rosetta PPC emulator — those apps still work perfectly, running on a 2007 Macbook — there is no compelling reason to want to spend the big money to upgrade the apps . . . why do so, when those older PPC apps work as well as they always have, and make me money every time we use them?

        Then there is the legendary stability of Snow Leopard — just too good to want, much less need, to change.

        Niff Stipples

  2. In 32 years of Macs, I only remember early ones with mouse freezes. I’ve had several on this mid 2012 15″ MacBook Pro. The last time I had to force it to restart, I lost every single web page. Don’t get me started on Maps, once it starts to crash, only a reboot will (temporarily) fix it.

    Come on Apple, I don’t remember it ever being this bad!

    1. What did you lose on every single web page? Are you talking about your bookmarks? Are you saying that the browser did not bring web pages you were reading at the time of the reboot? Just wondering what is so important about web pages and what you might have lost.

      1. Didn’t bring any back in Safari. I normally do a lot of research and retain various pages to refer back to. All gone. Available through History but difficult with stuff set out in multiple tabs.

        1. Have you tried the “Reopen all windows from last session” option under the History drop down menu? When this happens to me (rarely), it is a real life saver. I too keep some tabs for research open for extended periods and it’s hard to keep track of them. This solves it for me!

    2. “Don’t get me started on Maps, once it starts to crash, only a reboot will (temporarily) fix it.”

      I’ve been using El Capitan for quite some time, and have never had a problem with Maps crashing – or my computer for that matter.

      You might want to reinstall the system. I’ve found it to be really very stable.

  3. MBP is right. Times have changed for the better…mostly.

    Long ago, the “Bad Steve” promised the world and covered up the shortcomings of Apple. There was a question how much Apple employees near the top were aware of our problems with OS X releases.

    These days, sites such as MBP and all the rest do a good job letting Apple know specifically what’s wrong.

    As complex as Apple’s systems have become, I am often astonished at how well they work.

  4. Yep, even us tiny users of voiceover, Apple’s system for the blind, get fixes that we make the Apple folks aware of. The more people report, or for goodness sakes turn on diagnostics sharing, the more bugs will get fixed.

  5. It’s not just bugs. iTunes is a usability disaster, Photos an embarrassment, the grey in grey user interface a massive drop in workability (it’s great for media consumption, but for doing work colour is a distinguishing feature that makes it easy to identify tools).

    Jobs was all about power made accessible and easy to use. Design was a way to unify form and function, not an end in itself. Apple has forgotten that.

  6. Funny when I read the tittle I was sure it was going to be an article saying, the fly in the Apple upgrade ointment is the lack of upgrades IE Mac Pro over 2 years and counting.

  7. “We believe they’ve heard the complaints all the way to the top and have begun taking steps to shore up quality control.”

    Two words: Apple Music.

  8. I have worked in the computer industry since core memory was the latest and greatest. There have always been software bugs. There will always be software bugs. The term “bug” has been around since Thomas Edison. It is impossible to check every combination of keys that any random user will strike. What is of concern is how quickly does the manufacturer react to the discovery of one. I believe that Apple does an excellent job in responding and providing timely fixes. However, the debate and the grousing will continue ad infinitum.

    1. Totally agree, especially your last sentence. To computer users, grousing is a more urgent need than sex.

      However, I do believe that today’s computer “bug” comes from Grace Hopper. Edison had different sorts of bugs; he invented almost everything else, but not the computer.

    2. Grace Hopper and her team coined the term “bug” for when they found an actual insect jamming one of the mechanical relays (instead of transistors) that made up their computer. They had verified there were no mistakes in the code itself, then found the “bug” in the hardware.

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