Friday, January 31, 2020

2019 Six Colors Apple Report Card

Jason Snell (tweet):

Glenn Fleishman said, “Catalina was a disastrous release.” John Siracusa said, “Apple has not done a good job communicating the benefits of Catalina, an update that… comes with more pitfalls than the average macOS update.” Joe Kissell said, “Catalina was, and continues to be, a real downer in terms of missing features, bugs, and overall quality.” Andrew Laurence said, “For the first time in my career, this IT professional warns users away from the new macOS, and took action to prevent users from installing it.”


John Gruber said, “Catalina clearly bends too far in the direction of security. By design, it’s just too inconvenient […] I don’t know a single expert Mac user who is not seriously annoyed by the heavy-handed security design of Catalina… I genuinely fear for the future of the Mac as a platform for serious computer users…. Not one thing about Mac software got better in 2019 and everything that did change made it worse.”


Rich Mogull said, “The new [iPhone] models are home runs.” […] Finally, several panelists mentioned the idea that Apple needs to add a smaller phone to its portfolio.


Dr. Drang said, “Despite years of urging from iPad users, Apple still doesn’t seem to understand how much we want to do ‘real computer things’ on this device.”


In any event, the iOS 13 and macOS Catalina release cycles… were not appreciated by the panel. If this survey measures general sentiment, the general sentiment is that Apple needs to turn around its flailing software process in 2020.


Paul Kafasis said, “Notarization [of macOS apps] has thus far worked better than I might have expected…. So long as Apple uses a very, very light touch with this, it can be a win for users and developers. Nevertheless, I live in fear of a capricious use of this to kill something legitimate that Apple simply dislikes.”


Update (2020-02-04): Zac Hall:

I thought I’d share my verbatim responses with 9to5Mac readers.

Federico Viticci:

I’ve included my full responses to Snell’s questionnaire below.

Dr. Drang:

There is a small but admirable thing Jason does with his graph of overall scores. I didn’t notice it until this year, but it’s been the case for as long as he’s been doing the report card.

Update (2020-02-06): See also: John Gruber.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

"Notarization [of macOS apps] has thus far worked better than I might have expected"


Notarization has been a nightmare and still is a nightmare in a development workflow:

- the servers did not scale well and the performance of the service depends on the time of the day. If you're in Europe, notarization is faster in the morning.
- the service uptime is not good. It's definitely not a high availability service.
- the quality of the service is bad:

. error codes returned by the server not being clearly documented.
- error codes that can not be trusted: e.g. frequently the server will report that it's not aware of your notarization request until the next check.
. no shell script examples or decent command line tools have been provided to perform both the notarization and stampling operations.
. time to notarize a project is usually longer than to build it. What's the point of better hardware and faster build time if you lose 5 minutes in the notarization process?
. notarization requirements being re-enabled by mistakes earlier than the 3rd of February
. check code on the notarization servers being buggy and reporting errors that do not exist.
. reports from the notarization server not listing errors/warnings for the correct archive components (e.g. Installer plugin being said to be in raw packages instead of the distribution).

- the notarization process is apparently more tied to the Developer Program than the codesigning process. Ref.

- let's put aside that the notarization service costs $99 per year. Even for freeware.

Of course, if you are able to only notarize your artifacts when you ship the final version, you may not be impacted on a daily basis by the notarization nightmare.

But as soon as your product uses Kernel Extension, you are in full nightmare mode because each Kernel Extension build is required to be notarized, otherwise it won't load on macOS 10.14.6 or later (unless you disable SIP).

I'm glad that prominent writers in the community are being more candid about highlighting the decline in software quality. I am still on Mojave, mostly because subpixel antialiasing can be made to function on it, but also, there are no features in Catalina that make me want to endure all the new bugs.

It's the first time in 15 years I have not upgraded the OS and have actively discouraged those around me from doing so.

"There is a small but admirable thing Jason does with his graph of overall scores."

Like having the two rows (AppleTV & Software Quality) that are ranked 2.7 (D+) in 2019 not having the same length?

You're not going to believe this, larry, but AppleTV got an average score of 2.73214285714286 in 2019 and Software Quality got an average score of 2.66666666666667, both of which round to 2.7. That's why they're the same score but the bars aren't the same length.

For 2020's spreadsheet I pasted the flattened rounded scores rather than the extended values of the scores, to simplify the experience by those who were made uncomfortable previously.

I hope you survived intact, larry.

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