iOS 8 teaser 001

Earlier in the month, Instapaper creator and Tumblr co-founder Marco Arment offered a scathing critique of Apple’s declining software quality. I generally disagree with Marco on most topics he blogs about, but this time he got me thinking that Apple’s “it just works” mantra no longer applies. And as software woes continue to persist, the problem clearly is much larger than the relatively benign Maps debacle.

From that botched iOS 8.0.1 update, delayed improvements and an over-the-air iOS 8 installer requiring a whopping 4.6 gigabytes of free space to a bunch of issues plaguing OS X 10.10 Yosemite such as performance bottlenecks, its insatiable resource requirements, ridiculous Apple Mail hiccups, intermittent Wi-Fi issues and more – the firm appears to have “lost the functional high ground,” as Arment put it.

And with plenty of far-reaching technologies being introduced simultaneously — Handoff, iCloud Drive, custom keyboards, photo and storage extensions, new ways to share content, HealthKit, HomeKit, WatchKit and CloudKit, to mention but a few — small wonder Apple is finding itself in the middle of a pretty rocky transition, to say the least.

Throw in things like iCloud and CarPlay and suddenly diminishing software quality exhibited in the latest releases of iOS and Mac OS X becomes a major customer pain point. Apple is an aspirational brand so winning back user trust is paramount.

So, what should Tim Cook & Co. do? Do they continue to stick to the annual OS release schedule? Or should they give engineers enough time to smooth out the rough edges and ship software when it’s ready rather than for their marketing benefits, even if it means making us wait longer for latest and greatest software innovations?

As Guy English observes, the annual schedule means that by now Apple’s engineering teams are already being allocated to next year’s iOS release, which means less talent is at hand to tighten the remaining loose screws in last year’s release.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber chimed in, saying that “by the time the loose screws get tightened in iOS 8 and OS X 10.10, we’ll be getting developer betas of iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 at WWDC.”

Cast your vote below.

For the sake of the clarity of this conversation, I’m including an excerpt from Arment’s post that summed it up nicely for me:

Apple has completely lost the functional high ground. “It just works” was never completely true, but I don’t think the list of qualifiers and asterisks has ever been longer. We now need to treat Apple’s OS and application releases with the same extreme skepticism and trepidation that conservative Windows IT departments employ.

He later amended the article and toned down the wording but the key points still hold true even if they’re less controversial now.

Apple ran into a similar situation in 2007, ahead of the iPhone’s release. But then-CEO Steve Jobs made the right move pulling engineering resources from OS X Leopard to focus on the iPhone software.

As a result, Apple delayed Leopard’s release because “we cannot deliver the quality release that we and our customers expect from us.,” as he wrote in a press release.

“We think it will be well worth the wait,” he added. “Life often presents tradeoffs, and in this case we’re sure we’ve made the right ones.”

Don’t you wish Apple made same trade-offs with recent OS releases?

OS X Yosemite Desktop

On the other hand, switching to longer OS cycles is easier said than done.

For starters, major iOS releases from the onset were tied to the annual hardware refresh cycle and remain so. On the OS X side, not so much.

But deep integration between the two operating systems has made things more tightly integrated than ever, which in turn generates dependencies that require concurrent development of both iOS and OS X.

What’s your opinion?

Does iOS, as it is now, requires a shoring up of its technical foundations, do you think?

Should Apple switch to a Snow Leopard style iOS release to squash all the bugs and make everything feel settled and stable rather than produce a bevy of new features which lead to new user-facing bugs and introduce a whole new set of challenges for developers?

Do we really need a major OS X and iOS release every year?

Sound off in the comments below.

  • Rob

    Instapaper, not Instagram

  • Adham

    I feel like iOS 6 onwards, the quality of the OS has really fallen below what I would expect from apple. If iOS 9 only has a couple new features and revamps iOS 7/8 so that it’s not that buggy and runs smoother, I would be happy.

    • Ian Leon

      I think it was just iOS 8 where the quality fell. iOS 7 beta was crappy, the final was ok, but after 7.1 it was all good. There’s really nothing you can point at with iOS 7.1 that was wrong.

      • leart

        My 4s is on 7.1.1 and can confirm that even ios 7.1.x is buggy. Overall is pretty snappy but if you use the phone to fast you will face many buggs and feels like a beta version

      • Ian Leon

        Ok well I used iOS 7 on an iPhone 5 and 5s. The 4s is so old though…. That’s a whole different story. My first iPhone was the 5 so I wouldn’t know.

      • leart

        I had iPhone 5 in the past and the difference is speed is so minimal, main just when you open 20 apps in the same time due to the 1 gb ram of the ip5.
        I chosed to use iPhone 4S because I don’t like a tall phone an the build quality of the 5 is so poor compared to the 4s

      • Ian Leon

        It’s way faster. The keyboard is super responsive.

      • leart

        im talking about iphone 4s/iphone 5 on ios 6/7.
        The ios 8 is designed to force iphone 4s to retirement, next will be iphone 5

      • Ian Leon

        Yeah. Even in iOS 6 everyone I knew who had a 4s and moved to the 5 told me that the keyboard was way more responsive on the 5. The 5 was a beast of speed. Still is. Honestly iOS 8 feels like crap on the 6 plus. And I remember that I got the 5s because I thought ios 7.0 would be better on it… I found that it was just as slow, and even crashed more often. It’s like that feeling of performance left when forestall got fired

      • leart

        is not JUST Forstall, they moved from a 6 year consolidated ios in to a brand new one.. i still consider ios 8 a big beta
        and im not saying that the 4s was at the same level of iphone 5 (it would be a nonsense), just the gap was minimal compared for example iphone 4 to 4s

      • Ian Leon

        no no no the 4S to 5 gap was the biggest ever… EVER!!!

      • leart

        Wtf

      • Ian Leon

        I think its the worst thing that they have ever done.. so what if he didn’t want to apologize… he’s a genius and you just gotta deal with it

      • leart

        with what to deal, im a forstall fan?

      • Ian Leon

        They fired forestall because he wouldn’t apologize about maps

      • Ian Leon

        And that just looks like someone was really careless to leave that shadow there… Not necessarily a performance issue.

      • Ian Leon

        My 6plus does the same

      • leart

        Nothing wrong with that image? Huh.
        The font should be dark since the background is white, that would be acceptable on a beta release.
        There are tons of buggs, but I have to screenshot first

      • Ian Leon

        There’s a threshold for when the text turns light. I think for that image it should be light. Though I don’t like that nasty drop shadow up there.. They should change that …but it doesn’t matter that much

      • leart

        of course that it doesnt matter that much, but is apple, they should be the best not just acceptable

      • leart

        Here’s another bugg, there are tons more but I can’t screenshot them all for just one day

      • Ian Leon

        That’s messed up.

      • regkilla

        Nothing wrong with iOS 7.0.x firmwares:

      • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

        That’s a joke.

      • Ian Leon

        The 7.1 betas were better than the 7.0.x that were out during the beta. Wish it were the same with iOS 8.2.

      • Adham

        For me, iOS 7 was fairly buggy. Part of the reason for it being buggy I attributed to the fact that it was a huge overhaul of the OS, so it was expected things wouldn’t run 100% smooth. However, knowing how Apple is often very picky with quality, to me it was unacceptable. When 7.1 released, most of the bugs were quashed, but still was not perfect. iOS 8 made things worse.

      • Malus

        Exactly. Everyone was testing iOS 7.0 and they even got developers from OS X to help speed it up and in the end we had to wait five or six months for 7.1 to come out and be what they originally envisioned. It’s ridiculous that it had to happen.

    • It’s also dreadful on older devices. OS X Yosemite still works fine on older Macs however with iOS I really do feel for users with older devices. I actually gave my iPad 3 away to a relative this year and bought an iPad Air 2 (perhaps this was the plan of Apple all along?).

      • Ian Leon

        I the iPad 3 was relatively just slow from the beginning. After using it for a few days I happenned to try the iPad 2 and it was much lighter and faster, and it didn’t get hot at all. But I was already addicted to the retina… So I was stuck like chuck.

      • Ian Leon

        Right now I have the iPad Air 2. And it’s awesome way better than the Air.

    • Mozaik

      You know what funny thing is before iOS 7 , people where calling iOS so stale in comparison to android , the UI look stale and people where demanding something new and featureful forcing apple to do what they werent intended. And look now everyone missing iOS 6 stability , be careful what you wish for.

      • Swanny246

        They’re missing the stability of iOS 6, not necessarily the design and feature set of iOS 6.

    • Antzboogie

      I feel like there trying to push too many updates too fast and not fix the current software they have. Really iOS 9? iOS 8 still needs bugs fixed.

  • 9 should just be minor changes, 10 is where they should reveal a brand new completely changed interface. It’s a milestone that should include a pretty big change up in my opinion.

    • IlIl

      They’ve already done huge overhaul of interface with 7, another one at 10 seems way too soon. They should continue to refine the rough edges.

      • BS Detector

        Really, there wasn’t that much change in the interface and hasn’t been since the very beginning. Sure, they updated the images and colors, but the use-case is still the exact same. I don’t think because something looks a little different that it should be confused with being a major revamp. Its just not…

      • John Wickham

        It’s remained fairly consistent because the design of iOS makes sense. It’s like an evolving organism; it doesn’t just happen randomly, on accident. Changes to the system reflect the way we use it; Apple has spent years evolving iOS in a way that makes sense, so changing radically makes no sense.

      • BS Detector

        You think I don’t know this? I’m just pointing it out to those that keep thinking that iOS 7 was some major revamp or rewrite, which it wasn’t.

      • TeddyBearStand

        Actually, evolution is explained mostly by random genetic mutations which on the off chance increase the fitness of a species.

        Using this analogy, Apple should be releasing iOS updates with random changes until they either A, die out due to competition, or B, become superior. (A is more likely).

      • Jeffrey

        If Apple were to really overhaul iOS it wouldn’t be iOS anymore, an OS is supposed to stay the same way usage wise. If you don’t like iOS, use another OS, Apple won’t overhaul the whole OS.

      • Nick

        Why don’t they pull a Microsoft and skip the number 9! 😀

  • therealjjohnson

    My iPhone works great. My MacBook works great in conjunction with my iPhone and iPad. I like hand off and all that. I don’t want them to stop innovating. That’s silly to me. Just my opinion however.

    • I’d agree with you if quality control wasn’t so out of hand. I feel like the engineers at Apple are like Kids at a candy store that can’t keep their hands out of all the jars. There’s no need for them to stop innovating but they need to have some self-control and innovate at a slower pace so quality isn’t affected.

      • Jeffrey

        Well I don’t know why people are complaining because I don’t have ANY problems or bugs with iOS 8. I have found some bugs in the past but I don’t have any bugs right now. As a matter of fact, I’ve used iOS beta software since iOS 5 and I think the first beta of iOS 8 had the least bugs compared to the first beta’s of iOS 5 to 7.

        I think Apple shouldn’t stop innovating with iOS 9, Apple should introduce awesome new features in iOS 9 and then remove the small leftover bugs in iOS 9.0.1, 9.0.2, 9.1 etc. like they always have.

      • George

        That’s pretty silly to say when the majority of users are experiencing these bugs.

      • Jeffrey

        How do you know ‘the majority of people’ are experiencing these bugs? That’s only what YOU think, you have no numbers to prove it and even if it were to be true, I’d be lucky not to be experiencing them;).

      • You only have to listen to Let’s Talk iOS to find out all about Sebastiens Photo Stream problems and that’s just one problem. There’s loads of other problems and even when everything seems fine there’s still some sluggishness here and there. You really don’t have to defend Apple here since you just sound silly 😉

        There’s bugs, they exist, they suck and hopefully Apple will fix things up and make sure iOS 9 doesn’t have as much bugs.

      • Jeffrey

        Well there will ALWAYS be bugs, no matter what. Also, I said that I don’t have any problems with iOS 8. So maybe it’s just me. iOS will have bugs too, and iOS 10, and 11, and 12 etc.

      • Of course software will always have bugs! They will they just shouldn’t be so noticeable! You are most definitely in the minority if you’ve noticed no bugs with any of Apples software and services since many bugs are very noticeable for example the wifi issues and Safari crashing while rendering pages and having to reload the page to name a few…

      • Jeffrey

        Well I guess I am in the minority then because I don’t have any of the bugs you mentioned… Lucky me I guess…

  • Ian Leon

    It’s like opening and closing a drawer. Does it feel like it moves and glide along correctly and smoothly without any bumps? Do you have to exert a lot of force to get it to start moving? Does it ever get stuck?

    The engineers should open and close it over and over again, make it better each time until it’s perfect.

    • Jeffrey

      What do you think they’re doing now? Sitting on their asses looking at black iPhone screens…?

      • Ian Leon

        Why are all you people so mean.

      • Jeffrey

        Because I like to hate. I’m a mean ass hater fanboy hate-man.

      • Ian Leon

        you should get banned

      • Jeffrey

        Thanks bro!

  • Matt

    iOS 3 was minor changes, and so was iOS 6. Apple has a three year cycle for iOS softwares, with the first year being the redesign, the second year adding many features, and the third year cleaning up the software and adding little extras. iOS 9 will be another small release with iOS 10 being the redesign. Apple does not need to change its schedule to accomplish this. Expect things like TextEdit, Preview, transit for maps, possible indoor gps, and split screen multitasking for iPad (and hopefully iPhone!) to be added.

    • Nagy Konstantin

      I think iOS 4 was a much larger release. That was the first OS update, that didn’t support the original iPhone, it was the first OS to be called iOS. It also introduced wallpapers and multitasking.

      • Matt

        Yes that is what I am saying. iOS 1 original release +3= ios 4 (major release) +3= ios 7(big release) +3= probably iOS 10 as the major release

    • Jeffrey

      You’re thinking waaaay too far out of the box bro…

    • Mgggb

      You’re confusung correlation with causation. There’s not enough data to make such a claim. Unless you’re basing this off something other than the past releases? I could just as easily claim they’re on a 6 year cycle or 7 or 8

  • Heitor Castro 

    If it means a LOT (huge, massive) of bugs correction and bringing back the reliability of iOS 6 (the latest completely stable and smooth even on older devices, on my opinion), then yeah, “stop innovation”.

  • TwinSon

    iOS 9 should definitely just be minor release with emphasis on improving and optimizing everything introduced in iOS 8. Custom Keyboards still are crappy at best since they crash more often than they work. Save any innovation or big surprises for iOS 10. Make it “just work” again.

  • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

    Honestly, they should stop making iOS on scheduling based formats, rushing creates bugs and hardware glitches. If they just took the time to test it properly they’d iron out the problems before they release then there would be less corruptions and more happy customers.

    • Jeffrey

      If they did that we’d be waiting for iOS 6 to be released now…

      • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

        I wouldn’t mind waiting, then I wouldn’t have stupid things happen randomly and the ios would be much smarter.

      • Jeffrey

        Well I personally like iOS 8 as it is better than a perfectly smooth iOS 6 but I guess that’s personal preference.

  • IlIl

    I’d say OS X can take a break next time around and squash some bugs, but I feel like iOS is still playing a catchup and need to push harder for newer and better features and still maintain decent quality control. I know that software engineering isn’t something simple. But being a company as big as Apple, surely they have the resources. Their products aren’t cheap. Is it too much to ask for both? Is it wrong of me to expect better from them?

    But in the end, if they can’t do both, I guess I’d rather have them fix bugs instead of delivering on half-baked products. Speaking of half-baked products, where is that Photos application for OS X?

  • AnArcticMonkey

    More customisation would be nice, but iOS 8 was such a bogged down load of rubbish that maybe the “innovation” should take 2nd place in regards to quality. I put innovation in quotes as iOS 8 had a minimal amount of innovation with added features that actually worked. Seriously what happened with widgets getting removed left and right, and then Apple buggering up third party keyboards.

  • diggitydang

    I vote for Apple to fix bugs. I don’t want the lag or crashing anymore and love the way iOS looks and feels. I’m satisfied with what it does from a capability point of view. But, if they did fix bugs, people would say that they are so behind Android (I don’t care). If they innovated, people would say that it’s too buggy. Stay the course and stay true to what made Apple successful in the first place. I need it to just work.

  • Svs

    Yeah apple should just work on quality control and squashing bugs,leave the innovation to Jailbreak 😛 they’re better at it anyways

  • Techsticles

    Is there really that much innovation going on? As an iOS user, it really feels like iOS 8 has finally caught up in terms of what an advanced OS should do. Mostly having some ability to share info between apps. It was getting pretty annoying copy pasting stuff into Evernote or Pocket and being completely thrown out of what you’re doing to respond to an SMS.

    There’ll always be bugs but thing mostly work. Would you want to wait an extra year for Hand Off and Continuity. I was almost about to jump ship on both iOS and OS X before Continuity.

    In tech, if you stop moving forward, you die… wait… or is that just sharks.

  • ARX8

    error 404
    innovation not found

  • Ottawa Gamerz

    just take your time test it do not rush because ur loyal fans dont need

    9 9.1 9.11 9.12 in a few days of u releasing it !! please do good for the people who would sell there own child to have your crappy product!! 🙂

  • GuyBey0ndC00L

    I should release things when they work only.

  • Justin Stein

    what innovation? :). im glad to see apple taking risks, but i’ll stick to android until apple wins me over with practicality. atm, im enjoying my root-free (even though i still root, i could do this without it) access to the filesystem and the openness of the OS.

  • Why not just follow the same suit as they do with the iPhone?
    Year one: Release iOS 8 and iPhone 6
    Year two: Release iOS 8.5 and iPhone 6s
    Year three: Release iOS 9 and iPhone 7

    Reserve the first years for the flagships and then the second years for the revision

  • Noah

    We need an update for iOS dedicated towards bug fixes, improvements, and stability. We had one of those for OS X around Snow Leopard I think, where there was almost no new features, and just update for improvement.

  • Ariel

    It’s surprising to see how so many bugs have somehow passed under Apples quality control. It seems as if they are rushing things, and that’s not right for apple.Software should not be the afterthought, it should be the base. MacOS has always felt pretty great, and it still does. iOS desperately needs a fix, maybe overhaul, while I will gladly stay on Yosemite for another year.

    Still on 4s, iOS 7

  • George

    I want a damn Mac mini that doesn’t make me want to throw up because it costs a shit load for shitty specs

  • Gary32283

    I agree, slow down and make it work or assign more resources to get it right.

  • PghMike4

    Maybe Apple should spend some of their huge cash hoard on more testers to catch problems.

    I’d like to upgrade my kids’ Macbooks to Yosemite, but my upgrade procedure was so horrible (stuck at 22% for over an hour) that I’m just not sure that I’m up for more grief and uncertainty.

  • Daniel Maia

    They should do the same thing they do with the iPhone. Yes, release one every year, but with the ‘S’ (4, 4S; 5, 5S) formula. Innovate one year, polish the next year, innovate again, polish again, and so on…

  • Thomas Hopkins

    IOS9 needs to be a smaller upgrade, giving engineers more time to fix bugs and make a really smooth bug and glitch free OS. Lately, it definitely seems that they are rushing their work. I would definitely like to see creators having fully ‘finished’ an OS before moving onto the next one.

  • Malus

    It’s been like this for a few years now starting around the time of either iOS 6 or 7. I remember reading that Apple was taking programmers from their OS X group and putting them to work on iOS 7 and in the end the final release was buggy and it wasn’t until 7.1, which came out six months or so after 7.0, to be truly stable and what 7.0 should’ve been. Then we had OS X 10.10 “Yosemite” and they took developers working on iOS 8 and bought them over to work on 10.10 to meet the deadline.

    Either Apple needs to hire some more programmers or ditch the stupid yearly OS release. They usually release a new version of iOS, patch it two or three times, and then release the next one. iOS 8 is obviously different since there is Apple Pay/Watch to look out for, but usually this is the case. I would rather they stop doing yearly updates for the sake of it and polish their operating systems some more. I think the reason this is getting attention now is that everyone can see the massive quality decline with their patches and initial releases.

    I’m using the latest version of Yosemite and still have issues such as the oversized save window when saving a file in Safari and seeing black corners on the volume control H.U.D. when I have transparency set to off (the corners should be invisible). A lot of people have other issues but mine are rare and to be honest I find it odd that the OS of Apple’s I’ve had the most issues with is the one that had a public beta.

    Seriously, Microsoft and Apple never used to have yearly OS updates and we can see now that it’s a BAD idea. They need to ditch their own idea and just let it go back to being every few years and being stable while at it. After dealing with Yosemite and seeing these issues and lack of quality control I think this will be the last upgrade I do for my mid-2010 MacBook Pro.

    • Malus

      For anyone wondering this is the HUD issue I’m speaking of. This only happens when I go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Reduce Transparency.

  • Ian Leon

    Snow iOS 8

  • Ian Leon

    Can anyone comment on the stability.

  • Ian Leon

    It’s not that they should take iOS 9 and focus on only fixing the bugs. It’s that they need to fix those bugs right now