Apple, Don’t Fail Me Now

Beloved Apple (AAPL):

Your adoring fans buy your product because you offer a solution that just works. You make devices that are accessible by everyone, and we have rewarded you tremendously under the capable leadership of the late Steve Jobs (may God rest his soul), and now under the seniority of the noble Tim Cook.

When you announced the release of the newest iteration of the Jesusphone in not one, but two flavors (iPhone 6 / iPhone 6 Plus), we bought overwhelmingly into the larger form factor device. Your phablet would be the phablet to dominate the smartphone landscape, even if those nasty buggers from Camp Android (drat to them!) poked fun at us for buying old technology. September 9, 2014, will always go down in this man’s heart and mind as being one of the happiest days of his mid-20’s. (full video of Apple’s September 9th, 2014 event!)

(and please, if any of you from Camp Android comes across this, show me your best version of Touch ID. does it hold a light to our beautiful stainless steel detection ring, surrounding an awesome laser-cut sapphire crystal? concede that our technology is revolutionary, and that we’re lightyears ahead of you in taste)

When your flesh and blood presenters stunned us at WWDC on June 2nd, 2014 with news of OS X 10.10 Yosemite (10.10 is not equal to 10.1, okay. there’s more precision here), we cheered enthusiastically. Every word from their lips was beautiful. OS X 10.10 Yosemite was elegant, refined. The dual promises of Continuity and Handoff were orgastic. iCloud Drive was similarly amazing. At last, the ecosystem would be complete! This was the killer app that Google and its Android would have no hope of besting, what with the massive fragmentation of hardware in their user base. (full video of WWDC June 2nd, 2014 keynote for those who wish to relive it!)

Similarly, iOS 8 was a revolution in mobile. We hastily said good bye to our dear friends on WhatsApp and WeChat – no more of that antiquated mess!

Your most recent announcement of October 16, 2014 (full video once again! watch and tear up!) brought to us some of the greatest technological advancements that the world has seen. iMac 27″ with Retina 5K display, starting at $2499! The competition was reeling! Photographers, cinematographers, and digital artists everywhere sighed blissfully to the heavens. Life just keeps getting better, and we have you to thank for it.

Apple, I sing your praises most highly! But I am also perturbed. I bought the iPhone 6 Plus (in white and silver, of course) as soon as I could. It took me past launch day, but you must excuse me, for I was overcome by decision paralysis on account of your launch partner, AT&T. That Next program had yards of fine print associated with it. I had to create a Numbers spreadsheet to figure out what I was being sold on.

“You know, if the hardware is the brain and the sinew of our products, the software in them is their soul” – Steve Jobs, WWDC 2011

Now that I have this phone, I can’t help but notice some oddities. I hesitate to call them bugs, because … fuck it, they’re bugs. You’ve got a QA/QC problem, and it’s starting to make me question whether your software engineering managers are keeping an eye out for this sort of thing.

WiFi on iOS 8 has been spottier than a leprous leopard. You quickly rolled out 8.0.1, and just as quickly took it back off the air after it began wreaking mass havoc. Remember when users were stranded without cellular service, and their Touch ID quit working? 8.0.2 followed shortly thereafter. We waited a good month for 8.1, and guess what? The shit still doesn’t work. Surely some of the IT guys at your corporate clients are breathing down your engineers’ necks by now?

Here’s Gizmodo’s article on “Why Your iOS 8 Wi-Fi is Weird and How to Fix It” (disclaimer: it’s no guarantee that it’ll work)

These graphical glitches are also strange. Check them out.

1. Stopwatch in Clock app: Time gets truncated after switching between portrait and landscape views when stopwatch has been running for longer than one hour

iOS 8 Stopwatch Bug - Landscape

iOS 8 Stopwatch Bug - Portrait

2. Control Center: AirDrop settings squashed

iOS 8 Control Center Bug - Airdrop Settings

While we’re at it, there’s also this question of my Mac (aka Shove Me Anywhere, I’m Really Svelte). Here’s what I’m working with:

About This Mac
About This Mac

I upgraded to OS X 10.10 Yosemite the day of its final release. WiFi on it has been spotty. It’s been more stable with Bluetooth off, and I’m fortunate that I don’t rely on Bluetooth for anything vital. But come on… A MacBook Air with wireless issues is just a fancy typewriter, and you still have to buy a separate printer. PCWorld reported on OS X 10.10 wifi issues yesterday. They’re laughing at us, Tim. And I’m sure that your guys are burning the midnight oil trying to figure this one out, but what happened? You know we didn’t change our WiFi adapters. That’d void the warranty.

On a happier note, I’m pleased to report that the upgrade installation to OS X 10.10 Yosemite was the smoothest that I have experienced yet. I switched to Mac in Q3 2007, so I started at what – OS X 10.4? I can’t recall another upgrade installation progressing this smoothly. I guess I lucked out in this respect, because a lot of people had issues where the upgrade froze indefinitely. I’ve been there before, with each of the past major revisions.

The worst one was probably the jump from OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard to OS X 10.7 Lion. That one trashed the MBR on my HDD. Maybe your guys could have been more careful. Maybe I’m partly responsible, because I didn’t make a carbon copy of my drive before attempting an upgrade installation. What can I say? I like to live dangerously.

Oh yeah, this has been bugging the hell out of me, too. It is not a new bug: I don’t recall it being an issue back when this machine shipped, but we weren’t all posting massive images back then. While writing this post, I wanted to take a look at your page on the new iMac. The one with the Retina 5K display. Here’s what I get on my machine as soon as I landed:

Mac Graphical Glitching on Large Image

I scrolled down the page until it looked right:

Mac Graphical Glitching on Large Image

And then I scrolled up a hair, just for kicks:

Mac Graphical Glitching on Large Image

There’s more. The fiasco with iCloud Drive’s rollout resulting in people’s precious photos disappearing into the ether. The fact that Handoff isn’t working consistently (Gizmodo). This is why we have public betas, isn’t it? How’s that working for you?

I like my Mac a lot. I really do. You guys still have the best trackpad in the industry. Your machines are beautiful. Apple products are in the hands of wealthy consumers all around the world, and you should be proud. But I fear that you’re losing grip of a very key part of the user experience. We buy into your hardware and software because they are unified. You guys designed this shit so we’d keep coming back for the blissful Apple experience.

Back when Steve (again, bless him) was at the helm, his personal promise was that “it just works”. Please, make it work again.

Aside: I’m available for user testing. Just send me some toys and a stipend, so that I can keep on writing lovely things about you.

I’d love to talk more, but I’ve got a football game to go watch!

With love,

Alex Zheng