Why are there so many macOS and iOS bugs?

“If you’ve been paying attention to the Apple-sphere recently, you might have noticed that complaints about macOS and iOS bugs seem to be flooding all channels. Issues with iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra abound, and many commentators have wondered what’s gotten in to Apple this release cycle,” Alexander Fox writes for Apple Gazette. “While it does seem like bugs abound in the latest update, is the software really any more buggy?”

“Without Apple’s internal data, it’s hard to say if there are more macOS and iOS bugs that usual. But it does seem that way, which is the important part,” Fox writes. “It’s the users’ perception of Apple’s reliability that actually counts. If users view Apple’s software as buggy, that hurts brand perception and discourages users from upgrading.”

“If a serious problem exists, it’s Apple’s marketing-driven annual release schedule,” Fox writes. “Because programmers must deliver a new point release of iOS and macOS every year, bugs are more likely to slip by.”

MacDailyNews Take:


Frankly, we don’t need a new Mac or iPhone/iPad operating system every year and Apple Inc. doesn’t need it, either. Annual OS releases shouldn’t be mandated. What we all really need, customers and Apple Inc., are operating systems that are rock solid and do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it. Why not just add new features/services to existing OSes with continued point releases that refine and extend the experiences and services you want to deliver? Why not just release new operating systems only when they are rock solid and ready?

In other words, take a step back, take a deep breath, and focus on making sure that what you have now just works. Because too much of it doesn’t… Getting it right is far more important than having two “new” free OSes to release each year. Seriously, nobody outside of Cupertino very much cares. We do, however, care very much that Apple’s software and services work as flawlessly as possible.MacDailyNews, January 5, 2017

“But let’s not assume this is the ‘new normal’ for Apple,” Fox writes. “”Don’t forget that they managed to silently update something as critical as the file system on all iOS devices without issue. That’s one of the hardest changes to make, and Apple pulled it off. Apple has promptly squashed bugs as they’ve appeared, and that’s the best response we can hope for.

Read more in the full article here.

Updating to latest macOS 10.13.1 disables Apple’s ‘root’ bug patch; you’ll need to reinstall Apple’s root security fix – December 2, 2017
Apple’s macOS High Sierra bug fix arrives with a new bug – here’s the fix – November 30, 2017
Apple on Mac flaw: ‘We apologize to all Mac users. Our customers deserve better. We are auditing our development processes.’ – November 29, 2017
Apple releases fix for macOS High Sierra administrator authentication bypass flaw – November 29, 2017
Tim Cook’s sloppy, unfocused Apple rushes to fix a major Mac security bug – November 29, 2017
What to do about Apple’s shameful Mac security flaw in macOS High Sierra – November 29, 2017


  1. Not to invalidate the experience of people of have had problems, but I’d just like to say that my experience of iOS11 has been totally solid.

    I have a good number of friends who use iOS11, whom I’ve asked as well, and have been told the same.

    As the author says, it’s hard to know how widespread these problems are that some folks have complained about. I do feel the root login problem has been pointed to as an example of apple’s decline, and I strongly disagree.

    It was fixed very quickly and no one appears to have hacked as a result.

    There were a great deal of problems with MobileMe (was it 2010?) and for early iCloud sync for contacts and calendar. In the early days it seemed to fail as often as it worked, but with several thousand contacts, I haven’t had or heard of a problem in years. It seems to me that it always works instantly.

    Also a few years ago I had problems for close to a year with recurring safari text selections that I couldn’t get rid.

    But as I say I’ve found iOS 11 and iOS10 to both be very very solid

    1. That has been my experience, as well. Perhaps I lead a charmed life (seriously doubt it!), but my experience with Apple products has been generally excellent. Part of that is due to patience and caution. I wait weeks before upgrading MacOS or iOS following a new release. Why not let others find the bugs and Apple fix them before upgrading? I am knowledgable about Apple products and carefully choose when I invest in new hardware to get the best value and longevity. I know that it is not always possible to delay a purchase, but sometimes a few months can pay off big. Finally, I have experienced very few problems with my Apple hardware over the years. I have taken care of my Apple stuff, and it has taken care of me. But, I feel bad for people who have experienced design and quality problems with Apple products.

    1. The visibility and apparent importance of the bugs are both critical factors. Bugs that result in lost data really piss people off. Bugs that are advertised as major security holes (e.g., root login) scare people more than is generally warranted. I am not apologizing for sloppiness, but I also don’t appreciate the hysteric hyperbole from the bloggers and pundits and tech analysts.

      How many Macs and iOS devices have actually been compromised remotely in the absence of user error (authorizing the installation of malware, giving out passwords, etc.)? I see a lot of scary headlines, but I don’t know of anyone who has been a victim of hacking on MacOS or iOS. I am not saying that it cannot happen, just that it does not seem to happen very much, or we would all hear about it.

      Surprisingly, the stupid, simple bugs (e.g., the “@” character issue in iOS or the 1+1+1 lag issue in Calculator) often seem to generate just as must customer irritation as the major bugs.

      As yojimbo007 points out, there are a lot more people using MacOS and iOS devices now, and a substantial number of bloggers and tech analysts make a living from generating Apple-related news. As a result, every slip-up (or even perceived slip-up, like the FaceID login incident at the iPhone X reveal) are typically blown out of proportion.

      When you are at the top, you become the top target.

      Personally, I don’t get excited about most of the negative Apple news. If there is a fix, I apply it. If not, I take extra precautions until it is fixed. And, much of the time, it is not a significant issue in the first place.

      1. The 1+1+1=12 bug generated as much customer irritation precisely because it was so simple and stupid. As in, how the heck could they have screwed up a basic tried-and-true UI that’s been around for almost 50 years?

    2. A bug that affects one in one hundred thousand users (0.00001%) hit 10 people back when a hot Apple product sold a million devices. An iOS bug that is exactly as bad today will affect 10,000. No wonder bugs seem more common.

    3. Not really. The bugs pre-existed regardless of the number of users. Writing code is demanding and exacting, but it appears that Apple lost is discipline and dedication.

      1. What is your evidence that there are more bugs, rather than just more bugs being reported because a thousand times more people are affected?

        Factor 2: As software gets more complex, there are more opportunities for an error. Not only may there be twice as many lines of code, but exponentially more unanticipated interactions.

        1. I never said “more bugs”. There mere existence of a bug is empirical evidence of a problem. Repeated bugs are proof that the problems are not isolated or rare. Is this simple enough to understand, counselor?

        2. So, according to you, as things become more complex one can expect more errors. Apple knew that designing more complex code would cause more errors thus Apple should have been more committed to identify and correct these errors. That’s what is called laziness and lack of discipline. Frankly, if Apple can’t design code any better maybe Apple should hire outside help.

    4. Ya right. As a committed Apple user I can definitely say that the software has gone downhill. I don’t see how Apple is going to gain an appreciable amount of market share if it can’t produce better software and better delivery of new products.

    1. If you read my message above, you’ll see evidence that there were serious bugs that were effecting a very high percentage of users when Jobs was here. Steve introduced MobileMe, and EVERYBODY who used it was effected. It hardly EVER worked reliably

      Those are bugs we would expect to be caught before shipping, because they’re so widely experienced. ZERO people experienced and reported the root login bug before shipping

      So I see no evidence for your claim about Jobs. But a lot of evidence to the contrary

      And I still loved jobs

  2. It is possible that there may only be a slight increase in macOS and iOS bugs but it is more quickly discovered due to the now much larger (and more experienced) user community ‘hitting’ those OSes in ways the developers never imagined. As a result it only appears the OSes aren’t as ‘solid’ as before.

    1. Wrong! I’ve been a Mac user since the beginning.

      macOS 10.13 is so bloody buggy it’s not funny. The Finder has a huge bug where the device list on the left does not show up properly, shows double copies of devices, etc. Really f***ed up IMO.

      Also, there is a long standing bug where if you try to enter text in Safari or even Chrome the rainbow wait thing comes up and spins for five or more seconds before you can enter anything.

      For some odd reason, Firefox Quantum 57.0+ does not have this issue. I’ve switched to that browser permanently because of the bug in Safari and Chrome.

      In iOS 11 there are numerous bugs my wife and I have been finding.

      It’s just very sloppy coding and sloppy testing. Apple is going downhill. Sad!

        1. That doesn’t quite track with what Macintosh Sauce is saying…. which is that he *personally* has come across more bugs per OS release than in the past, not that there are more people to discover these bugs.

          It would be legit to say though, like others have, that there’s more code, system is more complex, has to interact with the services on the internet, etc… but that doesn’t excuse bugs like iOS 11’s 1+1+1=12 bug (finally fixed in iOS 11.2)

  3. And here I was thinking that the article might mention the agile methodology behind the vast majority of coding efforts by large and small companies alike.

    That article and many like it are written by those that no very little, if anything, about the coding process.

    1. The only time I have ever heard somebody claim that Mac users claim that they can’t get viruses is when some Windows user is dismissing that as a lie. What I have heard is that MacOS is far more resistant to viruses than its competitors, which is not a lie. Most Mac malware is installed through user error, not through clever hacking.

      1. It started somewhere, and the most likely culprit are the ill informed salesmen pushing Macs during the Mac II/IIx era. Customers also having preconceived notions going in during that time about the lack of viruses on Macs also during that time may have exacerbated the trend.

  4. I for one certainly don’t need a full backend OS release every year. What I would like to see is Apple updating individual apps outside of the OS update cycle. I’m sure a lot of the improvements made to apps aren’t always reliant on the updates to the OS so they could still freshen things up and add new features without requiring potentially more risky core updates.

    1. Agreed, I don’t need an OS flip that often either – – in fact, it has gotten to where I won’t even update hardware until the .1 (and sometimes .2) fixes come out, which _delays_ my adoption.

      Unix has been around for decades – – it shouldn’t be the core of the kernel that needs “fixing” anymore: it is in the Window Dressing that Apple is being superfluous and creating unnecessary complexity (rife with mistakes).

      The latest two I’m hearing about in OS X is that Option-Duplicate file naming language was changed (1-2-3… has become 1,2,2-2,2-2-2,2-2-2-2,…), and a “No Month 13” bug.

  5. Higher Visibility of your mistakes (bugs) is simply what happens when you’re the Big #1.

    After all, don’t we all remember regularly making fun of Microsoft back in the 90s and 00s?

    The reality is that Apple needs to spend more on Software development — to prevent the bugs, as much as the QA checks.

    And resources is not an excuse: Apple’s not a tiny startup anymore: they could hire +1 Engineer EVERY DAY for an entire year and not even make a 1% dent in net profits.

    Oh, and half of these new hires should have been put on the Mac Pro 7,1 team six months ago, to have given the long-suffering Professional customers a real Christmas Present.

      1. Oh, I agree that it is a poor QA and programming issue as the root cause.

        However, my point is that with popularization, merely maintaining the historical “Status Quo” level of quality (whatever it was) is increasingly unacceptable.

        Thus, as visibility increases, one needs to get better.

  6. The sole reason why there are so many bugs is that they are version-thrashing. They don’t have time to get it right when they have only one year to do it. The pressure is to get it out the door. The fix is to have a release every two years or so and to spend more time testing and fixing the code.

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