Apple expected to emphasize focus on software quality at WWDC

“At Apple Inc.’s annual conference for developers Monday, executives face the task of not only wowing the audience with new features but also shoring up confidence that Apple can deliver quality software,” Tripp Mickle reports for The Wall Street Journal. “Apple’s expected emphasis on quality follows a year in which the company’s software captured headlines for the wrong reasons.”

“Since September, Apple has issued 14 software updates for its mobile operating system, known as iOS, and fixed 67 software flaws—a 46% increase from the 46 bugs addressed in the same period a year earlier, according to a tabulation of Apple’s software-update notes, which offer a publicly-available snapshot of software issues,” Mickle reports. “The recent uptick in software flaws reflects the challenge Apple’s engineering team has faced in recent years designing a system that works across a growing array of devices, former employees and analysts said.”

“The battle with the bugs could jeopardize Apple’s reputation for delivering products that ‘just work,’ said Michael Covington, vice president of product at Wandera, a mobile security firm supporting companies such as Deloitte & Touche LLP,” Mickle reports. “It could lead people to ‘question why they are paying $1,200 for a device that is no longer polished,’ he said.”

“The company this year tabled some planned features it had hoped to introduce Monday at its Worldwide Developers Conference in an effort to improve quality, people familiar with the decision said, setting the stage for an event this week that will emphasize software performance,” Mickle reports. “Apple has compounded those challenges since 2012 by releasing both iOS and Mac software updates annually. Previously, the company updated Mac software about every other year, giving the engineering team more time to fix bugs and develop new features, the people said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: ‘Bout time.

As we wrote in our “Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better” on January 5, 2015:

Dear Mr. Cook,

“It just works.” That’s getting tougher and tougher for us OS X and iOS users to say with straight faces lately.

Apple, while certainly still the best when it comes to desktop and mobile operating systems, needs to do better. Our expectations, some of us as users of Apple products since the early 1980s, are not being met when it comes to the quality and reliability of operating systems, software, and services. Used to be, you could pretty confidently install brand new operating systems from Apple. Recently, we’re more inclined to wait for a few point releases than not. It’s downright Microsoftian. Lately, for the past couple of years, your software seems rushed. Is “rush job” really the impression you want to give your customers?

Slow down! Getting it right is far more important than getting it out.

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 (Wi-Fi connectivity for one ongoing, glaring, vexing example). 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.

We occasionally hear things about the company from Apple employees.

Some of those things lead us to wonder if perhaps you should rethink some aspects of the culture at Apple? Specifically, what really should constitute a badge of honor at Apple? Working all day, all weekend and all night in order to squat out iOS 8.0.1 and then have to turn around and do it all over again, in a panic, to get iOS 8.0.2 out the door in order to clean up the mess? Or taking the time necessary to do the job correctly the first time?

People with proper sleep and lower stress levels do better work. Many major medical studies prove these facts. Shouldn’t quality, not quantity, of hours worked be the utmost badge of honor at Apple?

Working long hours simply for the sake of working long hours is counterproductive. It really doesn’t prove anything except that you have no life and that, despite all of their work on Apple Watch, Apple executives still do not understand basic human health requirements and are incapable of properly staffing their departments so that they can function without requiring sleep-deprived, mistake-prone employees who feel that it’s a job requirement to be able to reply to emails from managers at 2:00 am. That’s idiocy.

Driving too hard, too fast, and for too long leads to accidents.

We speak from experience, albeit at a far, far smaller level than yours. We’ve tried and been exposed to several methods as both managers and employees in the television, financial, and online media industries. Regardless of the size of your department or company, people are people. You can push people to a point that’s very productive, but when you exceed that point, it’s all downhill for everyone involved. It’s not a badge of honor. It’s not an “I love this company!” statement. It’s simply mismanagement. It’s verifiably unhealthy and it leads directly to diminished quality, increased turnover, and productivity declines. And customer satisfaction ultimately suffers. Hence this letter.

Bottom line: We long to again be able to confidently say of our Macs, iPhones, and iPads: “It just works.”

Sincerely,

MacDailyNews

18 Comments

  1. They’d better have some new emojis or lots of us’ll be really pissed!

    And they’d better play some bitchin’ (is that a word any more?) rap for all the nerdy coders to stand up, clap their hands and shake their butts to.

    Yeah, yeah, down vote me. I couldn’t give a shit any more…

  2. Your 2015 letter to Tim Cook was spot on. Quality trumps quantity every time. Fewer releases and no bugs, please. I don’t want ever again have to say to friends, “best wait a few updates still the bugs are ironed out.” Work/life balance needs to be more than an aspiration. Quality of life matters too. Time to look after each phone other so not only is Apple delivering great everything but employees stay loyal and want to work!

    1. Methinks people need a history lesson. It was ALWAYS BEEN THE CASE with Apple that first versions of new software and hardware was buggy. It’s been this way since I started using my first Mac in 1984. Had to take my first Mac in twice to get upgrades. The difference today is Apple has over a billion users so it is amplified and we hear about it more but the software and hardware quality seems about the same to me.

    2. This MDN Take is spot on! It is constructive, informative, and well-written, and it tackles a topic that is important to all Apple customers.

      As the ecosystem gets more complex, Apple must find a way to keep the user interface relatively simple and intuitive and ensure that everything “just works.” In the end, that is the magic of Apple channeled through Steve Jobs – making the complex seem simple, like the product and user interface are reading your mind.

  3. You know there just doesn’t seem to be any excitement here. I think Apple has been caught being money grubbing as oppose to being extremely helpful with their products. I mean, Apple sells old tech and an unreasonable premium, mac mini.

    Apple has made enough money to repair and replace even old products that were built with a manufacturing defect no matter when that product goes bad because of it or even if there is a perception that the manufacturing defect may have nothing to due with the issue, short of physical damage.

    Innovation needs to be about offering the top of the line products for extremely affordable prices, 5K to 12K dollars is ridiculous. I will never buy another phone for 800+, ever. That seemed to me to be stupid at and time and it still rubs me the wrong way. Any mobile phone at those prices just let’s others know we are truly SUCKERS. like those who at this point with all of trump’s associates pleading guilty don’t believe trump conspired with the russians to interfere with the presidential election. Truly SUCKERS

    So here’s the deal, all the bells and whistles at 250 to 299 for any top of the line mobile phone and that’s still a tremendous amount to make a phone call and play a few games, message a few people, take a picture, and lose or have the phone stolen.

    Yes Apple needs another business, quick. Cause the high dollar mac, crazy priced iPhone, and the dumb’ing down of the iPads, just won’t get anymore of my money.

    Just my private protest, I’ll spend my money elsewhere or nowhere.

    1. While I agree with some of your sentiment, several points are truly stupid.

      “Apple has made enough money to repair and replace even old products that were built with a manufacturing defect no matter when that product goes bad because of it or even if there is a perception that the manufacturing defect may have nothing to due with the issue, short of physical damage.”

      That’s just asinine. You are proposing that Apple repair — for free — any item they’ve sold. The reality is that after four or five years many parts of many of those items are just are NOT available. You can’t get those chips or other components because they are not being manufactured anymore.

      “… like those who at this point with all of trump’s associates pleading guilty don’t believe trump conspired with the russians to interfere with the presidential election. Truly SUCKERS”

      Let’s keep this about Apple, its products, and its management. We don’t need to hear about how you think iPhone purchasers are equivalent to people with certain political views — whether we agree with that sentiment or not.

      “So here’s the deal, all the bells and whistles at 250 to 299 for any top of the line mobile phone and that’s still a tremendous amount to make a phone call and play a few games, message a few people, take a picture, and lose or have the phone stolen.”

      You are never, ever going to get a smart phone with “all the bells and whistles” for under $300 and have it have any real quality. You just are not. To say otherwise implies an extreme lack of touch with reality.

      1. Hmm, yes.

        My reason is Apple knew, or knows when a manufacturing defect is in their products and they often know long before the general public does. The remedy that you seem to be supporting without saying so, is the let Apple undergo lawsuit after lawsuit until it reaches class action proportions.
        That to me seems a silly and very costly way of going about the replacement of a product with a re-manufactured or even a new model. This is not a problem that a customer caused, this is a problem built into the product, and allow to be sold to the public as if everything is working fine with no known systematic manufactured problems.

        If those are your thoughts that’s does explain why lawyers make such a good living. Car companies make that bet, before enough of us die from a defect, that will go undetected long enough to claim the user got all the use expected out of the car. Interesting.

        And you must not know or have any real idea of the cost of manufacturing these devices. I know you can’t believe those folks in China are making living wages on building these electronic devices. Take note of where the chips are manufactured to. Come on.

        Would be extremely surprising if the actual cost came up to 100 dollars to manufacture these phones, any and all.

        It is nice to know that their are people who don’t expect products to be free from manufactured defects, especially if it can slip and slide its way forward for some time period.

        Well, we can certainly keep lawyers working.

  4. Shoot, I wish I, like y’all, had another mobile OS to go to. But Android accessibility sucks, and there’s nothing the accessibility folks at Google can do because no one else listens to them. So yeah, Apple is just about all their is, until Microsoft picks up the slack and makes their “surface phone.”

    >

  5. Yes quality (especially software quality) at Apple has gone to hell in the last couple of years.

    Back in the day I’d have to reboot a Mac once every few months sometimes going six months or more between a reboot. And, it was extremely rare (less than one per machine per year) to have the machine completely lock up and require a power down to reboot and repair.

    But today…
    Recently I bought a new, top of the line, maxed out iMac for someone. That system is, on average, experiencing a hard lockup requiring a hard, power down reboot more than once a week. No matter how much investigation into what’s happening, the hard lockups persist. Further, guess what? It is almost exclusively happening when Apple’s own applications are to the fore — with the most common culprit being Apple’s Mail program.

    So there’s my experience with Apple with one specific example:
    Hard lock up requiring a power cycle to reboot —
    Historically (up until a couple years ago): once per year or less
    New machine with all new Apple software: once per week or more

    Now someone try to tell me that Apple’s current macOS and Apple apps quality control does not suck.

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