Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Apple’s 2013 Scorecard

John Siracusa:

At the beginning of last year, I posted a list of things Apple can and should do during 2013. It’s time to settle up. Because I’m feeling scholastic, I’ll give a letter grade to each item.

Here are my thoughts on his to-do list:

Ship OS X 10.9 and iOS 7.

In general, OS X 10.9 is well designed and executed. However, it shipped with the most unreliable version of Apple Mail that I can recall. Some of the bugs have been fixed, but I help customers with Mail every day, and many of them are still having major problems with smart mailboxes, basic server connectivity, AppleScript, and junk mail handling.

There are also still major problems with code signing. I am holding off submitting updates to the Mac App Store because there’s a good chance that storeagent will break my app so that it won’t launch.

In general, I like iOS 7, and the transition has gone better than I would have predicted. However, my phone still crashes multiple times per day, which never happened with any previous version of iOS. From what I’ve heard, this is a common problem, but only when running the 64-bit version. Update (2014-01-23): Adario Strange: “‘We have a fix in an upcoming software update for a bug that can occasionally cause a home screen crash,’ Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller told Mashable.”

Diversify the iPhone product line.

The iPhone 5s is terrific. I don’t think the 5c is quite what people were hoping for in terms of diversification, nor can I recall seeing one in the wild.

Keep the iPad on track.

I’m blown away by how good the iPad mini with Retina display is. The iPad Air is impressive, but I’m not very interested in the larger form factor.

Introduce more, better Retina Macs.

The current Retina MacBook Pros are very good, but where are the other models and displays?

Make Messages work correctly.

I’m in the camp that finds it pretty buggy still. Update (2014-01-17): iMessage is apparently the number one software problem reported at Apple retail stores.

Make iCloud better.

There have been some improvements, but iCloud Core Data is not fixed yet. Calendar syncing works very well for me, better even than Google Calendar. Reminders still do not sync reliably. Documents are still siloed per-application and per-user. Photo Stream works reliably, but what people want is not what it’s designed to do. You can now download old versions of apps. I’m not using iCloud Keychain.

Resurrect iLife and iWork.

It’s not clear to me that the current iPhoto is better than iPhoto ’09.

There were major changes and regressions for iWork. It’s now more compatible between Mac, iOS, and the Web. However, I’m not convinced that the redesign is an improvement. The app I use the most is Numbers, and I find it slower and more cumbersome to use than before. Apple has shown little concern for document or workflow compatibility, so I would be hesitant to use iWork for serious work. Google Docs is better for simple stuff and sharing. Microsoft Office is better when you need more power or efficiency.

Reassure Mac Pro lovers.

The Mac Pro is back, but it’s different. When I used Apple’s pro desktop computers, they offered far superior CPU performance for most apps and fast internal drive bays. Apple no longer makes that type of Mac. On the plus side, I pay less of a penalty for having portability.

Do something about TV.

I want what Siracusa wants, but I’m not sure what Apple could be realistically expected to do here, other than fix bugs. Apple TV still has that bug where if you tell it to hide NBA game scores it shows them anyway. But this matters little since nearly all the games I want to see are unavailable due to blackout rules.

See also: Erk Barzeski, John Gruber, Hacker News.

7 Comments

I re-enabled the "motion effects" and the crashes went away. Mine were the type of crashes where Springboard crashed and the phone would "reboot" but not a full reboot, just a reboot of Springboard.

@Erik Yes, that’s what I’m seeing as well. I’ll see whether turning off Reduce Motion helps.

"Photo Stream works reliably"

When one is on drug? It doesn't work reliably at all. The photos you take on an iPhone occasionally appears on another iOS device based on the pressure and temperature conditions in Alaska.

@Erik Oh well. My Springboard is still rebooting even with the motion effects enabled.

Odd. That solved it 100% for my wife and I. We had numerous of those crashes every day.

[...] odd about the continuing Apple Mail problems with Mavericks is that Mail used to be a very reliable app. I’m not sure why the internals [...]

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