Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Why Little Bugs Need to Get Fixed

Joe Rossignol:

When affected users type the word “it” into a text field, the keyboard first shows “I.T” as a QuickType suggestion. After tapping the space key, the word “it” automatically changes to “I.T” without actually tapping the predictive suggestion.

Via Nick Heer (tweet):

It’s alarming to see a recurring theme of bugs in Apple’s software and hardware input devices. From dust under MacBook Pro keyboards to this autocorrect bug and the other autocorrect bug, it’s a worrying sign. Then there’s the noticeable lag when using a Magic Trackpad 2 in El Capitan or later, and the seemingly-random capitalization of words on iOS.

I don’t know how accurate the broken windows theory is, nor how appropriate it would necessarily be to compare it to problems with input devices. But it kind of feels as though the occasional usability irritants — interactivity-blocking animations, occasional layout bugs, and the like — have been ignored as a cost of a rapid development cycle. It seems like the tolerance of these kinds of bugs has built up to the point where input device bugs are now shipping.

One issue is Apple shipping bugs that should have been caught. To a certain extent, you can just chalk this up to people making mistakes, as humans do. You could perhaps blame the rigid schedule and the number of new features Apple decided to put into that major release.

But what about the little bugs that hang around for multiple major releases? Those are evidence of a process that doesn’t value quality. If Apple can’t fix bugs faster than it creates them, the only possible outcome is operating systems and apps that get buggier and buggier. This is a vicious cycle that is demoralizing for customers, and especially for the people who send in bug reports for free. If Apple can’t pay off this technical debt in a time of record earnings, stock price, and expansion, when can it?

Nick Heer:

Maybe I’m being too harsh lately with all my harping on bugs. But it’s about trust and value. I trust that I can use this software and hardware to do my job, and I paid decent money for it, so it would be nice if it were less broken.

Steve Uffelman:

I’ve seen more problems with iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra than with any other Apple releases in recent memory.

Tanner Bennett :

I’ve created a Moment full of iOS 11 and High Sierra bugs.

Steve Randy Waldman:

apple has so much money. it is constantly sending money back to shareholders. while its computer and computer software businesses are left to wither, their products increasingly shoddy, breaking the hearts of customers who stuck with the firm for decades. cool watch bands tho.

Maynard Handley:

Display multiple windows without crashing the display in bizarre ways? Not drop BT trackpad connection? Not crash on a hard disk error?

Let’s get the bugs fixed, then we can think about features. Same damn complaint for the past three years...

Even something essential like Spotlight is so polluted by bugs (dift each release but always present) and lousy UI in the face of dusk spin up, that it’s depressing to use and one is scared to suggest new features.

We don’t want engineers to feel bad, we want process to be fixed. There is adequate process for capturing and handling crashes and memory leaks, terrible process for broken UI, utterly hostile process for broken design.

And that is why they are angry when you deny that there is a problem, or say that “Apple feels your pain”. We don’t want happy words, we want the reversal of what are clearly deliberate decisions to simply stop caring about large areas of functionality.

On the mac side, how, for the love of god, is this acceptable? Happens on an iMac, no monitor plugged in, at least three times a week. Apparently randomly, and only solution is to reboot.

Apple used to care about details. And much of the company still does, but not all. A lot of crap is being shipped by people who don’t care about details, and their managers don’t care enough to notice, or to straighten them out.

There’s a LOT of this sort of crap that, as I say, is not captured by Apple’s automatic logging/tracking infrastructure; it just manifests as people rebooting and cursing --- and losing their love for Apple.

Another issue is that Apple has no PROCESS in place for handling complaints that are not traditional bugs. They track (mostly automatically, mostly successfully) crashes, hangs, memory leaks. But they don’t automatically track UI bugs, or have sentiment analysis around design.

Well, is it acceptable that my non-techie friend has to reboot her MacBook once a week bcs the audio has mysteriously gone very silent? That might not lose Apple a sale, but it does lose Apple an evangelist who would never think of buying alternatives.

Previously: Low-Hanging Fruit, iOS 11 Autocorrect Bug.

Update (2017-11-29): Luc Vandal:

What are yearly macOS updates any good for if all they bring are bugs and annoyances? How about fixing external monitor support so I don’t have to force shutdown my Mac almost every time?

I find my MBP has restarted every other day because of some mysterious Kernel Panic. Forget bells and whistles, I want reliable and stable!

Clark Goble:

iOS11 really is the buggiest I’ve encountered. Visual voicemail stopped working for me and AT&T told me it was a common problem. I had to do a clean reinstall to get it to work.

There are always bugs - especially ones that affect battery life. But for basic things just not working having bluetooth and phone app be so bad for so many people is pretty surprising. Further both have a big effect on people.

Will Cosgrove:

It’s all about the forced yearly updates. No time to pay off debt. Echoed by employees I know there as well.

Evgeny Cherpak:

Apple isn’t doomed - but people starting to feel that they paying premium prices for sub premium products… wonder how long that can last on Apple brand only. Time to wake up @tim_cook and recognize you have a problem.

James Bulman:

Apple needs standing teams of software devs who are permanently associated with a particular product. Continually pulling devs off one project onto another is what is causing these persistent bugs / product stagnation.

Richard Coppola:

Apple remains a “Functionally” structured company. Unprecedented for their size. This may be taking its toll.

Update (2017-11-30): Ryan Jones:

My Apple software is more buggy than ever. I’ll be chronicling bugs in this thread and with #bugs.

Cédric Luthi:

High Sierra is a disaster, and I’m not even talking about #IAmRoot but about what happened after I installed the 10.13.1 update.


Also the issue of GPUs in 2016/2017 MBPs being stuck throttled to about 30% of normal performance after standby still isn’t fixed, driving me and other people nuts. Restarting has become a daily routine. No response to radar to this day.

Jeff Johnson:

What’s changed is this:

Snow Leopard had 2 full years of bug fixes. Since Lion, Apple has released major Mac updates every year, mostly on a 12 month schedule. Introducing bugs faster than they can fix.

Howard Oakley:

While we’re all thinking about Apple’s software quality assurance, following its recent root user vulnerability, I’d like a few words about Disk Utility.

Peter Steinberger:

IAP purchases on macOS are broken when using Touch ID. Stable doesn’t work, 10.13.2b5 also doesn‘t fix it.

I guess nobody using Mac App Store apps anymore?

Update (2017-12-01): Lloyd Chambers:

Curiously, the configuration dialog does show icons with labels, but when dragged into the toolbar, the labels disappear. It shows a inattention to detail: if the icons need labels in the configuration dialog, why not in the toolbar?

On my Mac, Mail lets me show the toolbar labels in the main window but not in the message windows.

Jeff Johnson:

It’s little things like wonky smart folders in Mail app. They used to work perfectly, now they randomly forget emails.

Matt Long:

This interface in Xcode 9 is more evidence Apple is no longer dog-fooding. What is going on over there?

Nicholas Riley:

Family member called to report a Family Sharing app refused to launch claiming it was no longer shared. App Store wanted to charge her.

But the app clearly claims in the App Store that it’s supported by Family Sharing. What the…?

Update (2017-12-02): Jesse Squires:

Good round up of software quality problems at Apple. Although, we’ve been saying this for years now and nothing has changed. 😭

Maynard Handley:

And if you use multiple macs with screen-sharing, after a few days remote screens will no longer capture command-space and command-tab keystrokes…

(On the plus side, now that I have to reboot my Mac 4x+ a week, this is a problem encountered less frequently...)

Mark Munz:

1. I used to have months & months w/o system-wide crash.

2. I got a new iMac + High Sierra.

3. Now I wake up to a crashed Mac EVERY SINGLE MORNING!

Update (2017-12-05): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Ilja A. Iwas:

For some of our users running 10.13, certain values stored in NSUserDefaults are lost upon app restart. Anybody else seeing this?

Steve Troughton-Smith:

iPad Pro 12.9" Smart Keyboard owners: has your Smart Keyboard suddenly become incredibly unreliable since the release of iOS 11 in September?

Antonio Mikatović:

Hello, is anyone aware of the bug where flash on iPhone 8Plus and iPhone X doesn’t work in cold weather? Flashlight works fine, flash for photos does not. Im having the problem on my X.

Samer Farha:

It’s not just iOS or macOS, either. tvOS is pretty much unusable. The Computer app requires a force quit for every other show watched.

John Gordon:

Contact search still broken in 11.2. Returns empty Contact.

Update (2017-12-06): Steven Frank:

Why can’t computers wake from sleep reliably?

Like imagine spending $2-3,000 on literally anything and it doesn’t always turn on/off properly and going oh, yeah, it just does that sometimes and everyone being fine with that.

Ryan Jones:

As usual, my MBP is completely dead after going to sleep with full battery.

Update (2017-12-07): Marco Arment:

Disabling font smoothing is STILL broken in High Sierra 10.13.2[…]

Maynard Handley:

Well that didn’t take long!

Installed 10.13.2 at around 10:am.

Screen corruption by 7:00pm.

Hell of an OS you have there, Apple!

HTF is a broken graphics stack not the highest bug fix priority?

And, after a brief month or so of iOS-macOS WiFi sync actually WORKING, we’re back to it completely broken. Just like in Sierra and El Capitan.

After it used to work flawlessly in Yosemite.

James Thomson:

Sigh, 10.13.2 doesn’t fix the random black frames in the PCalc About screen on Intel built-in video cards, if anything it’s worse…

Update (2017-12-08): Jason Snell:

My hope is that these missteps lead to an analysis of Apple’s internal processes that leads to changes that improve the quality of Apple’s software. I believe that Apple can effect that change if it wants to.

Nick Heer:

This thing where the mouse cursor becomes unresponsive during heavy network activity has been a bug since Sierra. It’s probably worth fixing.

Update (2017-12-13): Steven Woolgar:

I’ve had my issues with macOS releases (cough Lion cough), but High Sierra is far away the most buggy macOS I’ve used to date (and I’ve used them all). I didn’t even install it until 10.13.2! I feel the same way about the latest iOS version. 🤞🏽 to improvements.

Update (2017-12-13): Marco Arment:

Damn, another High Sierra point release likely to pass without fixing font smoothing.

Settings, General, “Use LCD font smoothing when available”

It’s subpixel antialiasing, making fonts look sharper on low-res displays but thick and blurry on Retina (in my opinion).

In High Sierra, with it disabled, text truncated with an ellipsis renders in AA mode anyway.

Marco Arment:

Holding onto Sierra on my iMac is becoming untenable.

My iCloud photos are all in HEIF, I can’t receive AirDrop from my phone anymore, and now, iMessages from my phone are starting not to show up on the iMac.

I think it’s over.

Update (2017-12-15): Alex J Burke:

Honestly, High Sierra has seriously damaged the Mac for me. I regret the upgrade - none of us with Touch Bar MBPs can plug into external monitors without flickering, I’ve had weird beach balls that require reboot, on and on. Never experienced this in 11 years of OS X.

Harald Wagener:

After a year of absence on the macOS platform, I have recently returned. And I see all issues that I experienced on Linux and some: Weird unlock bugs (chrome windows on top of screen unlock), wake-from-sleep bugs (suddenly showing error below), seconday monitor glitches, phantom touchpad events, weird wifi behavior, ... my four year old chromebook pixel behaves better than this. @googlechrome if you'd offer the Pixelbook in Germany, I'd buy one yesterday.

Update (2017-12-20): Adrian Kingsley-Hughes (via Slashdot):

Well, Steve is now long gone, and so it the ethos of “it just works.”

Update (2017-12-28): Scott Alexander:

Dear @apple - your OS has a global spellcheck that autocorrects names of medications to names of different medications, eg “duloxetine” to “fluoxetine”, without telling the user. Some clinics inexplicably continue to use MacBooks. Please fix this before someone gets hurt.

Update (2018-01-03): Nicholas Riley:

A list of macOS, tvOS and iOS bugs I encountered while helping my family over the holidays

Update (2018-01-05): Khoi Vinh:

iOS 11 tip: My 9.7-in iPad Pro slowed down significantly when I upgraded to iOS 11. During the holiday break I wiped it clean and reinstalled everything from scratch—not from a backup but app by app. It now runs MUCH faster. It was a huge pain to do but well worth the trouble.

Update (2018-01-15): Steven Frank:

A Mac I set up from scratch about 2 days ago is already kernel panicking in sleep and I just, I am just so tired of the entire thing

Colin Cornaby:

Literally every Mac I have does this in High Sierra and has since the developer betas.

Reliable sleep used to be a key feature. I have no idea what is going on with Apple.

Ryan Jones:

Is copy/paste between Mac and iOS one of those things we all know doesn’t work? Or just not for me.

Update (2018-02-19): Geoff Duncan:

Dear Apple: Want to know why Mac users dread updating software? Because this happens about 50% of the time.

Update (2018-06-03): Geoff Duncan:

I think Apple Contacts is on a mission to humiliate me. It has lost track of someone I’ve had in Contacts since literally my first day using it, and resurrected contacts I deleted six years ago.

17 Comments RSS · Twitter

A few years ago I loved Apple hardware and software. Today I hate it. Tomorrow I will hate it even more. It is maddening.

On iOS 11.1.2 on a newly restored iPhone 6, I am routinely having Springboard crashes, every few days or so.
I had not seen any Springboard crash since iOS 5, which incidentally was the last version I had a jailbroken phone.

@PH Also with 11.1.2, I’m now seeing hard freezes that require rebooting my iPhone, which never happened with any previous version of iOS. My new iMac does not recognize my mouse (and sometimes not even my keyboard) at boot.

Mayson Lancaster

Since early 2015, when my boot drive became my external ssd, every time I update the OS (many betas and finals) my iMac reboots using the wrong disk. It's a dupe, according to radar, and still open.

Apple shipped two of their biggest product in history, Apple Park and iPhone X. Apple Park is truly a multiple year or decade project. While iPhone X, as we now know were suppose to be Next year's iPhone, one year ahead of schedule.

I think the next biggest project coming is Swift. They will need this to be designed for not just Apps, but OS level System Programming, Graphics Programming with Metal. Purely from an ecosystem perspective it will the biggest programming languages since C and Java.

I hope they get it right and not rush it. And I am worried they still have too many important parts missing but they want to finalise the ABI in the next version.

I am sure Apple is waiting for Swift to stabilize, then going full force in tearing and rewriting parts, cleaning up debt they have for decades.

Well, the quality problems starts with bug reporter.

The Bug Reporter website became a complete piece of crap when they moved to the iOS look. Apparently, it took them years to realize how shitty it was.

Now, this has been partially fixed. Performance is still an issue.

The next issue with reporting bugs to Apple (1) is that some of the persons reading the bug reports are as stubborn (stubborn is an euphemism here) as the Apple Review Team. They worship one true god named sysdiagnose and they are totally unable to follow simple steps to reproduce a simple UI issue.

And finally the weird requests you get from Bug Reporter asking you to check whether your bug has been fixed. This usually ends up like this:

- the bug has not been fixed at all and you wonder whether this was a lousy attempt to close the bugs without fixing it.
- you are told to check that a bug is fixed in a release that has not been shipped yet, or on the wrong platform (bug reported on macOS SDK requested to be checked in an iOS release for instance).
- the problem is fixed but only in the next major releases because fixing bugs in the current major release is so boring apparently.
- the problem is fixed because fixing the issue was so slow that, in the meantime, the feature has been removed from the OS or a totally new tool/app is doing the job.
- sometimes the problem is just fixed. You start wondering whether you have not been sent to an alternate universe without your knowing.

1. It's not an Apple's issue only. e.g. Google hugely sucks when it comes to simply enabling users/customers to report bugs (and Google sucks at fixing bugs in a timely manner too).

To me the issue isn’t that there are bugs; bugs are always going to be around. It’s the length of time that they’re around that speaks, and what it’s saying is ‘we just don’t care’.

[…] Tsai, desarrollador de software para Mac, es uno de ellos. En un artículo de su blog titulado Por qué los pequeños errores necesitan ser reparados, ha hecho una […]

@alb Yes, that’s what I was trying to express.

[…] Tsai, desarrollador de software para Mac, es uno de ellos. En un artículo de su blog titulado Por qué los pequeños errores necesitan ser reparados, ha hecho una […]

The keyboard bugs in iOS are infuriating. Isn't that down to the complications in machine learning algorithms? I think we're about to enter an era of those kinds of bugs as we try and build more automated smart stuff, and also as we try and cut more humans out of all kinds of interactions. It makes me sad.

I haven't updated to 10.13 on any of my Macs either; I will probably give it a while longer yet, maybe just sit this one out altogether -- it doesn't give me anything I actually want, and 10.12 is fine.

Sometimes I get tired of all the change. Sometimes I just want things to work.

BBC November 29, 2017: Is Apple Getting Sloppy?

FWIW, I was able to work around the Family Sharing issue I reported by installing the app in question from the legacy App Store version of iTunes (

In order to do this I had to move my stepmom's iTunes folder out of the way as it wouldn't even launch with the 12.7 data in place; I could then download *just that* app from my father's App Store purchases and drag/drop it onto my stepmom's USB-connected iPhone in the sidebar, which successfully installed it without a prompt to purchase.

I wonder if this is related to saved credentials/tokens being invalidated recently. Also today, I was also prompted to enter my dad's Apple ID password today when attempting to launch an app on my stepmom's Mac, my MBP signed itself out of iMessage, and an old AirPort base station required I reenter my credentials because Back to My Mac broke (not that it's ever reliable even when it's "working" — finally set up a L2TP VPN this week for doing remote support, which I should have done long ago.)

[…] Why Little Bugs Need to Get Fixed, High Sierra Bug Allows Root Access With Blank […]

[…] them, the only possible outcome is operating systems and apps that get buggier and buggier,” writes macOS developer Michael Tsai. “This is a vicious cycle that is demoralizing for customers, and […]

[…] Previously: Apple’s Machine Learning Journal/Blog, iOS 11 Autocorrect Bug, Why Little Bugs Need to Get Fixed. […]

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