Apple needs to slow down: surface appearance vs. underlying form

Declining iOS and OS X quality imperil Apple’s future growth and retention


I’ve been waiting for someone else to post about this for me to let go my rant.

It seems that Jony Ive spent a lot of time on the way things look, but very little time on the way things work (or don’t work). This reminds me of the Robert Pirsig’s epic rant about his friend’s loose handlebars in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (his friend was concerned with surface appearance instead of underlying form and usability and wouldn’t let Pirsig fix the lose handlebar with an aluminum beer can shim instead wanting to get a BMW official part, etc.).

As far as I’m concerned, my Mac, iPhone and iPad all look great but have loose handlebars and Apple needs to get things tightened up. Too much concern with form, not enough with function. I don’t know where the problem lies but these issues started at about the same time Jony Ive took over the entire software enterprise at Apple and he’s a designer, not a software guy.

This is a very bad omen going forward. With a growing installed base for Mac OS, there should be fewer and fewer system level bugs in the OS. There are more than ever now.

I’m very pro-Apple so don’t take this the wrong way, but in the past few years the quality of Mac OS, iOS and iCloud and iTunes services has gone downhill.

I’m running a brand new (newest model) MacBook Pro 15″ retina, everything maxed out. I have plenty of hardware power. I’m running the latest version of Yosemite which I clean installed on this new computer.

The computer freezes pretty regularly in the Finder.

Wake from sleep, wifi connection needs work to get connected. Restarting computer solves this but even with an SSD, I’d rather not do this.

The Finder main window opens in a different place on my screen at odd times, with different layouts chosen (I prefer column view, but don’t always get it).

I have Apple’s external CD/DVD burner but it gets confused every now and then about whether I’ve ejected a CD.

I bought a book in iBooks on the Mac and it came down corrupted. I noticed that a few of my other books, that I’d had a while were corrupted since Yosemite. I called Apple and 4 hours and 4 people later and after reinstalling Yosemite, the problem wasn’t fixed and I felt trashed. Apple support has also gone downhill. I started a long blog post about this but trashed it. This was the single worst support experience I’ve ever had with Apple and I’ve had great ones over many years. Apple support is not what it used to be.

The relationship between iBooks and iTunes used to be easy to understand. Now there is no relationship. And, iTunes has also gone downhill in terms of usability.

Location manager on all of my three Apple devices thinks I live two houses south of where I actually live. This is new with Yosemite/iOS 8. Location manager gets confused in the field at times (away from my house).

When I click on a link in Reeder and expect Safari to open, it sometimes freezes. This never happened in Mavericks. I do this often. I often cringe when I do it. This is not the way I want to feel using these great tools.

Finder freezes at times when copying a lot of image files onto a CD to burn. Drag them on, everything freezes up while copy happens (no screen feedback), then, either system hung or copy completes.

When I move my computer downstairs it struggles to continue to find my Apple Magic Mouse (bluetooth) sitting upstairs on my desk and reconnects and drops the connection numerous times before it releases it. This never happened in any earlier OS.

I’m asked for passwords by things connected to iCloud way too often. My iPhone, for no reason I can understand turned iCloud off by itself the other day. I turned it back on and put in the password but I’m not confident this will stick.

I’ve had so many problems with iOS 8 on both iPad Air 2 and iPhone 5S that I can’t list them here. It’s the most bug-ridden release yet for sure.

I could go on, but why bother.

This is incredibly depressing. While Apple is doing better than ever: selling lots of stuff, stock doing well, those of us who have been using Apple products for years know that things are not right, there are too many bugs and problems and it’s getting worse as Apple grows more quickly.

God help us when the Apple Watch ships. I’m delighted they’re making it but it’s an entirely new device with it’s own issues, it’s own software, it’s own support. Ugh.

I would be happy if Apple did not release any more new systems, new features, or new anything until they got all of this stuff working correctly and reliably.

I had such a bad experience with AppleCare with my small iBooks problem I’m not anxious to call them again, and this is not good as I’ve already paid for it for every one of our six Apple devices.

Get your act together Apple.


  1. Richard, I agree with all that you’ve posted here, especially this: “I would be happy if Apple did not release any more new systems, new features, or new anything until they got all of this stuff working correctly and reliably.”

    Let’s hope Apple get the message and get back to basics of sound design before moving toward yet another unnecessary aesthetic adjustment over really fixing some flaws in reliability and functionality.

    1. Right Dale. I was afraid Jony Ive would spend more time on surface appearance than underlying form (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) and it seems I was right. Shame.

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