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What went wrong with Apple software in 2021

I have been using Apple products for several years now. As a customer and developer, I am interested in both the front-facing and the under-the-hood changes. I also try to appreciate all changes made, no matter how big or small. Every summer, I participate in the beta testing of the upcoming releases, making sure to report bugs and draw attention to the more serious ones, via numerous forums and social platforms. Of course, the objective is to improve the software quality for all users. This is also the reason why I am writing this article. While I still believe Apple software is miles better than what is available on the market, sometimes I get surprised by the company’s apparent lack of engagement when it comes to user feedback and fixing critical issues. I am sure things are not always straightforward to address. However, this year is an example of how bad software quality can get. As well as how little drive to deliver something new one can have. Even if we are talking about a trillion dollars company that earns a significant part of its revenue from the software it develops.
 
Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is an annual conference, held every summer. It is where software advances are announced. As someone excited by software and new technologies, it is one of my favourite events. Last year, I wrote a long article about my satisfaction with macOS Big Sur and iOS 14. This year, unfortunately, things looked a little bit different. I barely managed to stay awake when watching the event. I found the announcements quite unremarkable — both the end-user ones, as well the ones targeted at the developers. I was in a complete disbelief. I do not remember such a boring WWDC Keynote in the past few years. Instead of hurrying with a review of the then beta software, I decided to wait until fall, when the official versions are released. I was hoping that things will take a turn for the better. In some aspects, they did. Now, as iOS 15 and macOS Monterey have been available for about a month, I feel ready to discuss the biggest disappointments that have happened in the past few months.
 
As too many things have accumulated over the past few months, it is not viable to discuss them all in one article. Furthermore, I am not able to remember all the experiences I have gathered or read about. Instead, I will give an overview of the major things I am unhappy about. To keep the article more concise, it will only cover the software aspect of what was released by Apple this year.


Lack of new features

People usually wait for new releases because of two things — new features and stability improvements. During the keynote, it quickly became obvious that this year releases would not be jam-packed with new features. Of course, this is disappointing on its own, even without testing the releases and finding out more about their (in)stability.

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Photo
©Apple

The major new feature in iOS 15 and macOS 15 is SharePlay. It allows multiple users to show movies or listen to music together when Facetiming. It also enables screen sharing. I can see how teenagers might make use of this addition, however, I cannot see myself or a business professional watching a movie with a friend over FaceTime. This could have been made available as a .X update (which was the case eventually anyways), rather than announced as a new feature in a major new release. While the option to share the screen is something I can see myself using, it does not change my Mac or iPhone experience. More information about what is new can be found on the iOS 15 and macOS Monterey web pages. Apple is a marketing genius, so, naturally, these two pages look cramped with new features. A deep dive, however, reveals the insignificance of most of them. Moreover, the “All New Feature” pages contain the exact same feature, written under several categories, making the list of improvements misleadingly long.

This is my opinion and others might find the updates more appealing. I have been following the Apple-related forums very closely and some have expressed positive feedback for features such as Focus and Live Text. If someone is happy with a particular release will depend on things like the type of user they are, the expectations they have, and the features and apps they use. What I have noticed is that Apple has left out information on the customer satisfaction in the past few keynotes. I will leave the reader to decide whether this can be seen as indication of worsen satisfaction.
 
Apple usually releases a major OS update, followed by a maintenance one in the next year. After Big Sur, which was the biggest macOS update in a decade, it was expected Monterey to be a relatively minor update. However, even maintenance releases, such as High Sierra and Catalina, used to bring important for the Mac experience changes in the past. High Sierra made the Apple File System (APFS) the default file system in macOS, providing build-in encryption and better performance. While I was not a fan of Catalina, due to the many issues I experienced with it, it introduced various major changes to the system. Gatekeeper, Activation Lock, and dedicated system volume were some of the security protections added, while Sidecar and the separate Music, Podcasts, TV, and Books app provided better experiences for those who use them. Developers were introduced to the Catalyst development tool, which, even if not perfect, helps the cross-platform development process. Sadly, macOS Monterey does not introduce anything that comes close to any of the aforementioned improvements.
 
When it comes to iOS, I was expecting much more from version 15. This seems to be the common consensus among iPhone users. While new features will be introduced in the upcoming .X releases, iOS 15 did not bring any substantial improvements to the overall iPhone experience. It is especially disheartening in a year when Google released such a big update to Android.


Delayed Features

It is usually expected the release of some features to span throughout the whole duration between two major releases. This allows for more development and testing time. What is more, it is good for marketing purposes. It can also be an incentive for more users to update to minor releases, which usually also includes important security patches.
 
However, it looks hilarious to release new products sans the only one or two major new features announced. I am not sure what the development teams were focused instead. SharePlay, for example, was delayed for a month after the release of iOS 15. As of today, it is still not available on macOS Monterey. I assume that the majority of the code for SharePlay is shared between the operating systems which reduces development time. This raises further questions on why it was delayed.

Some of the other announced features that were omitted from the initial iOS 15 release are: Legacy Contacts, App Privacy Report, ID in Wallet, 3D Maps Navigation in CarPlay, and Find My support for AirPods. This means that, at launch, iOS 15 only delivered a small subset of the already small number of new features promised.

Regarding macOS Monterey, Universal Control will let you control multiple devices with the same mouse and keyboard. As of today, the feature is nowhere to be seen. It is not included in the latest beta build. While Apple says that it will be released this fall, the prospect of this not happening increases daily. It is undoubtedly the most technologically advanced feature in macOS Monterey. In this respect, it is understandable that it might take more time to implement. However, it is a bit upsetting that the most anticipated feature has been delayed, possibly indefinitely.


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The public version of macOS Monterey (12.0.1) was released with the above pop-up accessible under the System Preferences. It seemingly allows the Universal Control to be turned on, but clicking the check-box does not do anything. This is, without a doubt, so ludicrous that I wonder how it got approved! Keep in mind that we are talking about an official release! Imagine having to explain to friends and family that what seems to be available is not, but Apple did not care to hide it from the released build. As a software engineer, I would never accept such a release of any of my current and future projects.

To sum up, iOS 15 and macOS Monterey were announced with only a few new, mostly insignificant to me, features. Many did not make it to the initial releases. I am not even going to touch on watchOS and tvOS.


SAFARI 15

Safari 15 is discussed on its own for two reasons:
  • there is a lot to talk about
  • it is available as an update independently of macOS Monterey
The only good thing that Apple did with Safari 15 is that almost all announced changes were reverted to how they used to be. Thankfully, many of the users would not have to go through what the beta testers experienced over the summer. Yet, I think that it is a great example of a bad UX and UI in combination. Many of us were pushing hard on Apple to rethink the design decisions that had been made so that now everybody can use Safari in the way we love it!
 
When watching the WWDC21 Keynote, the Safari changes announced excited me the most. Safari is among the most used stock app in macOS, so any changes to it have the potential to cause a huge impact on people’s everyday life. In this respect, it is expected that major changes will cause polarising opinions.
 
I will discuss the iOS version on Safari on its own, followed by the iPadOS and macOS, as they share many similarities. Again, there are too many things that were changed and reverted. I might miss something, but I will try to comment on the main points.

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iOS 15 Beta 1 is Out! - What's New? — zollotech on YouTube

The initial beta redesigned the search bar by introducing a floating design and bringing it to the bottom of the screen. On tap, the bar would go back to the top and the on-screen keyboard would appear. This immediately looked like a bad design for two reasons. First, the floating design used to sit on top of the page and thus hide some of the content. Second, the tab moving from bottom to top and the other way around meant that users had to move their eyes across the whole screen, in order to achieve what is among the most commonly performed operations in any browser. An ex-Google employee said that the company had tried a similar design in 2016. However, the team received mixed reactions and the design idea was dismissed two years later.

Some of the quirks were fixed in Beta 2 and 3. On tapping, the search bar remains at the bottom of the screen. The search results were also redesigned.

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Photo by Federico Viticci - @viticci on Twitter

Beta 4 brought more changes to the Safari user interface. Earlier, buttons, such as reload, were missing. With the release, they were made more accessible.

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Screenshot by Macrumors

However, this introduced other issues. As the floating bar’s width is not enough, especially on small screen sizes, the touch targets became ridiculously small. This meant a high chance of tapping on the wrong button.

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Photo by Federico Viticci - @viticci on Twitter

As demonstrated with the screenshot uploaded by Federico Viticci, the tab bar could get even busier in some circumstances.

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Photo by Federico Viticci - @viticci on Twitter

Obviously, the new tab design aims at providing better reachability, especially on the bigger iPhones. It also makes it easier to view all currently open tabs or to open a new one. However, the initial implementation caused more issues than it solved. While this is expected for beta releases, it might show that Apple had not thought out the design changes carefully. Changes were made back and forth in each release, possibly unveiling Apple’s lack of confidence when it comes to the new Safari.

As stated earlier, the beta testers were trying to pursue Apple to revert or rethink many of the changes made. And, eventually, we were listened to! On the 17th of August, iOS 15 Beta 6 was released. It brought yet again major changes to the iOS version of Safari.

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Photo by Federico Viticci - @viticci on Twitter

The floating bar was ditched and a new design was offered. As it can be seen on the screenshots above, the new tab design also provides a hint for the users that it can be swiped on in either direction to switch tabs. The back/forward, share, bookmarks and view all tabs icons were again separated. This ensures that there are fewer items on the search bar itself.

The update also provided an option to use the Top Address bar, which, essentially, reverts the look of Safari to how it used to look before version 15. With the tab bar redesign and the introduction of the option to use either top or bottom address bar, Apple addressed most of the concerns we had. While I did not enjoy using the bottom bar before, it became my preferred option after the update. All the changes introduced in Beta 6 mirror the design in Safari, that users can find in iOS 15.

iPadOS and macOS were also affected by bad decisions and thoughtless changes. Safari 15 changed the browsing experience by replacing the previously familiar tab layout with a new, compact one. This saves some screen estate and allows for more content to be shown on the page. Furthermore, the Safari window takes the colour of the currently opened window which gives the feeling that the page expands across the display. While the changes seemed good on paper, using Safari 15 for a few days revealed several related issues.

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Similar to the initial floating search bar on iOS, the compact tab bar area can get cramped very quickly. Finding the wanted tab gets harder and harder with each newly opened one. Moreover, as the tab becomes a search bar when active, users have to chase the bar around which is cumbersome.

The refresh button, which is used all the time, was removed in the first few betas. This is possibly because “Pull to Refresh” was added to Safari. However, this lengthened the time needed to refresh a page. It has to be in a somehow loaded state (it might fail if the tab has crashed), the user has to scroll to the top and then pull to refresh. In later betas, Apple returned the refresh button. Unfortunately, it was added as a dynamic button to the search bar. It only appears on hover which means that iPad users without an external mouse or a touchpad cannot make use of it.

Another major issue with the compact tab bar is changed favicon functionality. The favicon becomes a close button on hover. I can see how this decision was taken — it is just the only possible way to have a favicon and a close icon at the same time. Using the compact layout, tabs become very small in width, meaning that what is displayed has to be dynamic and based on the current state. However, this is again an example of how Apple tried to fix a non-existent problem and introduced a couple of new ones.

Daring Fireball has written an informative article on Safari 15. If you are interested in the UX side of the changes made, be sure to read it. It is very well-written and clearly demonstrates all the issues introduced with Safari 15. When it comes to the favicon anti-pattern, discussed above, Daring says “The only place in the entire OS where clicking an icon will delete the object you were interested in.”. Another big issue with the new tab design is that very often it is not clear which is the currently active tab.

The Compact Tab layout became controversial the same way as the bottom bar in iOS did. Just as Apple gave users the option to select the preferred bar location on iOS, changes were made in macOS Monterey Beta 3 and iPadOS 15 Beta 4 that allowed users to revert to the separate tab layout.

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Screenshot by MacRumours

While this was a welcomed addition, the problems with the new button-like tab design persisted. “With Safari 15, it’s almost a guessing game, a coin flip, when you want to determine which tab is active”, says Daring. While Apple tried to address the problem in iPadOS 15 Beta 5, it remained a widely-discussed topic. Apple released Safari 15 with the button-like design, which users found counterintuitive. As I love UX and UI and often think about how the user experience can be affected, it is fascinating to see how much of an impact such, at first sight trivial changes, can have. Apple listened again and reintroduced the classic tab-like design with the release of Safari 15.1, macOS Monterey, and iPadOS 15.1. Thank you! Regardless, as the button-like design was officially released, even if for a while, it again shows how Apple has been making last-minute changes on design decisions that have been criticised for months.
 
Leaving the design to the side, users have also reported various bugs in the official release of Safari 15. These include YouTube bookmarking and page loading issues, as well as crashes when playing HDR YouTube videos on the new MacBook Pro models.

Safari 15 also came with several new features, such as Tab Groups which allows grouping and managing related tabs. People should be aware that Tab Groups are not well-optimised and can use most of the computer's memory, based on the number of tabs stored within a group. Safari 15 also makes use of a sidebar, which was introduced as an iPadOS enhancement with version 14. The addition of the sidebar means that features like Bookmarks were moved from their previous location. And because of the way the sidebar works, it made accessing them harder. The latest Safari Technology Preview version allows for the sidebar to be shown independently on the start page and the web pages which should make things easier. However, it is still not clear when the change will be implemented in the official release of Safari.


More about macos Monterey

While some of my frustration with macOS Monterey is already discussed in the previous sections, there is just so much wrong with this release!
 
Most notably, users have been experiencing memory leaks. For those unaware, programs use memory which gets released once no longer needed. A memory leak occurs when a program fails to do so. This leads to slowdowns, as the computer runs out of memory. I started experiencing memory leaks with a beta version of Monterey, released in August. I was using the 16-inch MacBook Pro (Intel) back then. I am also experiencing memory leaks on the new 16-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro chip and the 2021 iMac. I know these issues might be hard to find and fix, but it has been happening for the past three months and I wish Apple focused on it as a priority. Releasing Monterey with such a critical bug feels like a mistake. While usually memory leaks are happening on a per-app basis, in this case it looks more like an OS issue. Some users have complained of integrated macOS services, such as the Control Centre, using 120GB of memory. It is also important to note that many of the macOS services and stock apps are written using Swift, which is a modern programming language. While memory leaks can happen, the language has safeguards against this.
 
A firmware issue on the T2 security chip bricked Intel machines, meaning that users could not use their computers anymore. For most people, the only possible solution is seeking help from Apple at an Apple Store or Authorised Service Provider. I can only imagine the frustration these people must have gone through. Monterey was officially released on October 25, while a bug fix for the issue was delivered two weeks later. Apple should have, at least, prevented users from upgrading until the cause of the problem is found. There is no official information on the number of people affected by the bug.
 
Some have reported connectivity issues with USB hubs. As most of the Macs sold in the past few years only have Thunderbolt ports, users and professionals alike have to use USB hubs to add the ports they need. These include SD card reader, widely used by photographers and video editors. USB hubs not working directly translates into slower workflows in order to get around the issue.

Another unpleasant surprise for the new MacBook Pro 2021 owners is the lack of ProMotion software support. The new laptops come with a display that supports a 120-Hz refresh rate, meaning that operations, such as scrolling web pages, should be much smoother. Sad to say, many stock apps, including Safari, still do not make use of the feature.
 
macOS Monterey has been suffering from Bluetooth connectivity issues all along. AirPods were unusable for the whole duration of the Beta period over the summer — from 7th of June to 25th of October. As I listen to music when working on my computer, this has been a massive inconvenience for me. While it seems to have been resolved in the official release, there are still some AirPods and Music related issues.
 
The Music app itself has been a disaster since its introduction in 2019. Fundamentally, the application has not received any major updates, apart from live lyrics. We can see Apple working on it, as its build increments in almost each macOS update. However, stability and feature-wise it is very close to what was offered with the initial release two years ago. While I am an Apple Music user, I admit that the application still has a long way to go until it is as stable and pleasurable to use as Spotify. Basic and essential operations, such as searching, are still quite unreliable on the Mac.

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This is what I usually see when I open the Music app — an empty view. If it was up to me, an empty selection would have been prevented, so that users never see a white screen like this one. As the Music app randomly opens sections from the Sidebar on launch, I assume that there is a bug with the state management. Despite the app being publicly available for over two years now, this issue has not been resolved yet.

While the iOS version of the app is slightly better, there still have been quite a lot of issues. For example, over the summer, the music playback would stop at the 15-second mark of each track. It took Apple months to fix the bug. I found myself on an airplane, not being able to listen to music, because of this issue. This happened after the bug was reportedly fixed, so I was unpleasantly surprised. A few weeks ago, I was reading the official changelog for all iOS and iPad releases in the past few years. It looks like changes to the Podcast app are present in almost every update. So much so that it seems like the most loved by Apple app. Why it has taken a priority over the Music app, which is much more complex and requires more development and testing time, is beyond me. If there was one wish I could make for the next major macOS release, it would be a better Music app!


MESSAGES COMMUNICATION SAFETY and Anti-CSAM 

In summer 2021, Apple announced two deeply concerning features.
 
Messages Communication Safety is designed to “protect” children from receiving and sending nudes. It is an opt-in feature that can be enabled by parents. Upon sending or receiving such an image, a modal giving the user guidance on whether they should view the content is displayed. Initially, Apple was planning to make it possible for the user to resend the photo to whoever is in control of the account. This meant that someone’s photos can be shared with a 3rd party, without explicit consent. Fortunately, at least this was changed in the final implementation.
 
This feature has a huge potential to be exploited by people in abusive relationships. On the other hand, many parents might not know about its existence. Furthermore, many children do not have their devices controlled by their parents. This means that the feature will not reach the target it is meant for, but will rather be used for malicious purposes.


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 Photo ©Apple

Apple classifies a child anyone under the age of 18, meaning that anyone under that age will feel traumatized when sending or receiving such content. My understanding is that, initially, Messages Communication Safety will only be available in the USA, where the age of consent is 16. It seems a bit inappropriate that the law allows something which Apple tries to restrict. The integration of the Messages Communication Safety feature will also increase the stigmatisation of taboo topics. This will have long-lasting negative effects on young adults. Instead of limiting, we should be pushing forward towards better sexual education worldwide.

Anti-CSAM was probably the most discussed announcement over the past few months. Its way of functioning is scanning user’s photo library, matching images against a database, and reporting to the police if a match is found. This is alarming on so many levels. The introduction of anti-CSAM will convert the iPhone and the iPad into devices for mass surveillance.

Alec Muffett, a security researcher, who formerly worked at Facebook, said that "Apple are walking back privacy to enable 1984”. Over the summer, many leading security researchers, security research firms, and foundations expressed concern about the plans to introduce such a backdoor into the iOS platform. Furthermore, such concerns were raised by Apple employees. German politician, Manuel Höferlin, has also asked Apple to abandon the plans. His motivation is that it violates “one of the most important principles of the modern information society - secure and confidential communication. There is an an open letter, written over the summer, that has been signed by almost nine thousand individuals and companies so far.

The feature has been labelled as “invasive, ineffective, and dangerous” by security researchers who have produced a 46-page study on the Apple proposal. Within days of the announcement, people managed to go around the hash comparing algorithm by making slight modifications to the content. Such systems are also known to pose the risk of false positives, meaning innocent users can become criminals. Governments can abuse the system for enforcing censorship.
 
Apple has been trying to portrait itself as a privacy leader. The plans for anti-CSAM and the introduction of Messages Communication Safety features shatter these claims. It is important for users to understand how dangerous this can be — we, and our privacy, are all going to be affected.

There is a lot to talk about the risks of proposed systems. I am linking a few articles on the topic that I think can be beneficial, especially for those, who lack awareness in the area:
Even without reading them in-depth, skim-reading the titles should be indicative enough about what is the people’s opinion of those related to the matter. It is also striking the researchers who have built the CSAM scanning system have said it is “dangerous” and have urged Apple not to use it.
 
At the beginning of September, Apple said the anti-CSAM scanning will temporarily be delayed. Delays are not good enough — Apple must abandon its surveillance plans. At all costs, we should do our best to avoid the introduction of the technology. Unfortunately, Messages Communication Safety is currently in Beta will be made available in the upcoming 15.2. This shows that Apple’s intention to jeopardise users’ privacy is strong and it is in our interest to prevent it.
 
A parallel that can be drawn is with the Covid pandemic. In most countries, governments have never cared about public health. In countries like mine, corruption and lack of a properly working health system lead to the death of thousands per year. Since Covid, all governments bodies, concerned with public health, started being suspiciously obsessed with Covid prevention. So much so that our rights were taken away, our access to education was limited, people are being fired from their jobs, and we are being forced to participate in experiments and take vaccines against our will. On the other hand, all other, real issues, are being ignored. Similarly, Apple is trying to do something nobody has asked for. The motives for the introduction of such systems are unknown and definitely not to protect anyone. I understand if Apple has legal concerns when it comes to storing or allowing users to share such content, however, they have been managing to cope for so long that it is absurd to violate users’ privacy because of this.


looking forward

In the past few years, it seems that Apple has shifted the way their software is being developed. Each release gets more and more point version updates. For example, iOS 7 got only one. iOS 13 got seven, while iOS 14 – eight. The most for any major release ever. This practice allows for new features and bug fixes to be delivered to the end-users faster.
 
As of today, iOS 15.2 and macOS Monterey 12.1 are in Beta. While the latest builds have broken some core functionality (notification in iOS and touchpad gestures in macOS), I am hoping that the official releases will bring the much-needed bug fixes for the issues users, like me, have been experiencing. Feature-wise, Apple has promised Universal Control this fall. If this will happen is still unclear. I am not sure how useful the feature will be. Furthermore, the delays and the possibility of the cancellation of the project resulted in a lessened hype.
 
Looking further ahead, I hope Apple will reconsider the way it develops its software. Communication with the beta tests (and other users) is of vital importance and is currently lacking. I am not sure if working from home or poor management is to blame for the situation with this year's releases. Possibly a combination of both. Apple CEO has tried to make developers work from their offices for at least three days a week. While unsuccessful initially, the mandate is now expected to be enforced starting January 2022.
 
I was on my placement year when the Covid pandemic unfolded. My last three months were spent working from home. I could see a massive drop in productivity and determination to achieve. This happened with me, as well as my work colleagues. I am sure it is a common occurrence in any company. While I get the employees’ disaffection, I believe the only way to get back on track is to ditch working from home all the time. A hybrid solution is good. Having said that, I hope that Apple will manage to improve its products next year, as employees get back to their offices.


wrap up

Ironically, while writing the article, I experienced various issues with my MacBook Pro, iPhone, and AirPods. As now my mind is focused on the article, I am noticing every inconvenience caused by the buggy iOS 15 and macOS Monterey releases even more. I have even been joking with friends about this, as it seems like the products I am using are trying to reinforce the points I am trying to make with this article.
 
While writing the blog post, I got a kernel panic on my new MacBook Pro. This can easily lead to data loss. I have also been experiencing Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity issues. For instance, yesterday I had to reboot my machine a few times, so to connect to a network. I have tried various routers, as well as using my iPhone as a hotspot. The dynamic head tracking when listening to Dolby Atmos masters activated automatically on my AirPods Max. To be honest, I could never understand the point of the head tracking function for music. It makes listening to music very annoying and distracting. The feature can be disabled from System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Sound -> Audio and unchecking "Spatial audio follows head movements". For some reason, it is buried deep in the OS settings rather than being easily accessible from the Control Centre.
 
When it comes to iOS, apps crash daily. Internet browsing is almost impossible as well. Turning off and on the WiFi settings resolve the issues for a while, but it has to be done once every few websites visited. Apps, such as Facebook, have been crashing for the past few months, when performing certain actions, such as trying to view images. It is very hard to tell which issues are app-dependent and which are iOS-related. However, as the whole user interface has been sluggish (I am using iPhone 13 Pro Max, by the way) and because of the memory management issues in macOS Monterey, I am inclined to think that bugs in iOS are to blame.
 
Usually, using Apple products boost my creativity. Moreover, using my Mac machines make me want to do and achieve more. It is an interesting phenomenon that only people who enjoy the tools they are working with can experience. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in the past few months. It makes me deeply upset, as there is not really an alternative. Everything is in the hands of Apple and its developers. Users do not have control over them. This is why I hope to draw attention to the problems with this article (not that Apple is not aware of them). Submitting bug reports and feedback over the past few months have not helped.
 
The bugs and the stability issues are the major concern I have at the moment. It is disappointing that small releases, that does not contain major new changes, introduce so many new bugs. The Verge describes the 2021 software updates as “unexciting”. The addition of “a grid view and the ability to blur a background in FaceTime” is named as the biggest change in iOS 15. It sounds like an exaggeration. However, it is not far from the truth. The author suggests separating stock apps and updating them independently, as well as releasing major updates when ready, rather than following a yearly pattern. I am not saying I agree with either. There is a lot that can be written when it comes to these two points, but I will leave it out of the scope of this article. The main point is that something has to change!

A supposedly Apple employee claims that things at Apple are "broken" and that "the biggest problem is communication". I can see this being the case, as Apple exhibits the same oppressive behaviour towards its customers. What the employee outlines is probably to be expected in such corporations. This, however, has a profound impact on both employees and end-users.
 
I wish Apple was more engaged with the users and the beta testers. The introduction of the Windows Insider program in 2014 has proven to be very successful. While I have been using Windows for a relatively short time within this period (mostly during my placement year), I have been trying to follow the development of Windows and the Insiders program. It seems that Microsoft has managed to come up with a good way of letting users report and prioritise bugs and feature requests. There is also much better communication with the users — new beta builds are frequently released and all the changes made are described in detail. Conversely, Apple has been providing very short, vague and unhelpful changelogs.


Update 1 (17 november)

Shortly after publishing the article, both negative and positive things happened.

To start with the good ones, the infamous leaker Jon Prosser released a video titled “Apple SUCKS now, and it's YOUR fault”. The video both reaffirms some of my points and also introduces some new ones. A few quotes I want to note:

The onus of making sure that the software works should not be on me.

Even the best hardware is only a vehicle for what is supposed to be good software.

It's the small ones (bugs) that make me feel that no one cares.

Just because there are other experiences out there that are worse does not mean my experience is any less bad.

Just because you don't see the problem, doesn't mean that the problem doesn't exist for others.

I genuinely wished that more people like you and like me cared more.

It's okay for you to question things even though you ... love them. That's how we end up with better things.

Apple is slipping on software because we are letting them.

I think that, in the past years, people have focused on and praised Apple way too much for their hardware and have left the discussion about the worsening software quality behind. This is a mistake, as hardware is only as good as the software is. I think that recognising this is how I got really excited about software and eventually decided to study for and become a software engineer. For people like me, I cannot stress enough on how important software quality is. It is what defines the user experience for me. Not that much the hardware. Macworld also published an article on the topic — If Apple keeps letting its software slip, the next big thing won’t matter. As one of the main purposes of the article was to draw attention to the problem, I got very optimistic when I saw the aforementioned video and article. I hope that more media outlets will follow.

In the video, Prosser also talks about how annoying it is when Apple fanboys furiously go against everyone who criticises Apple. This is of no use to anyone! The only way to make Apple (or any other big company) act on problems is to publicly express concerns over long-standing issues and worsening product quality, be it hardware or software. People should understand that this is the only way to improve quality which will have positive benefits for them and all other Apple users.

This leads us to the negatives. I have shared the article on two popular online social channels related to Apple with the intention to start a discussion with other users and find out about their opinions. Despite the post becoming among the most popular and discussed ones in the last few days on both of them, it quickly got removed by a moderator, without stating a reason for the action taken. This is very unfortunate, as it illustrates how much censorship is an inseparable part of our daily life. Recognising and talking about problems is the only way to solve them, however, this seems forbidden nowadays. People should also start thinking more when using "independent" social networking services, as it might look like what they see there is what the participants think when, in fact, it is only the moderators' opinion (as the content they do not like gets removed). Good practices, such as "Moderate based on quality, not opinion", are being ignored. This article, which is the most popular one on my website, as of today, is also the only one that does not get displayed on Google, even though it has been indexed. I can only hypothesise about the reason for that. Ten months ago, an ex-Apple employee published an article on the negative observations he has made while at Apple. As of today, the article is taken down.  Unless users speak up and Apple learns to take constructive criticism, we can expect worse and worse products with each iteration, causing additional frustration and economic losses for everybody involved.
 
Article cover image ©Apple

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