For the longest time I've been dismissive of those who say that Apple has gone downhill since Steve Jobs left us (praise be unto His name). As a Certified Apple Whore, I pretty much have to, right? And besides, as great as His Steveness was, Apple has always been more than just one man. Steve Jobs didn't do it all alone, and the people who helped to make Apple into such a remarkable company are still around. So, yeah, Apple isn't going to be the same... but it couldn't possibly be the horrific disaster that all the nay-sayers keep insisting: "APPLE IS OVER!" "APPLE CAN'T SURVIVE!" "POST-JOBS APPLE IS DOOMED!" What nonsense!
As time goes on and the user experience with Apple products degenerates to complete and total shit, my opinion has been changing.
Don't get me wrong... I firmly believe nobody is doing it better... but the detail-oriented Apple that made me commit my eternal servitude over the past decade simply doesn't exist any more.
Let's walk through an example, shall we?
- I receive a coupon code for a new book from Apple's iBooks Store, so I open the iBooks app.
- Immediately, I'm asked to enter my Apple ID password.
- After entering my password, I click on iBooks Store.
- I am asked to enter my Apple ID password again.
- I get to the iBooks Store and click on the REDEEM link to enter my code.
- I am asked to enter my Apple ID password for the third time.
- I redeem my code and it starts to download, so I click back to my iBooks Library.
- I tap the new book to read it and am asked to enter my Apple ID password for the fourth time.
I perfectly understand the need to prevent random people from walking up to my computer and charging a bunch of crap to my Apple ID. Really I do. But having to enter my password four times? What kind of sadistic fucking asshole made that happen? And how badly would Steve Jobs explode over what a shitty user experience that is? I'd rather just buy a physical book at Amazon with their One-Click shopping.
This problem goes much deeper than just inconveniencing customers to enter their password over and over and over and over again... it encourages people to pick simple, short, easy-to-remember, passwords. Which is pretty much the opposite of what you want, because those are the passwords that are easiest to crack. What you want is people using heinously complicated passwords that are very difficult to crack. But to get this to work, you have to make it so the password only has to be entered rarely. The password should be remembered by the system and auto-populate whenever you want to buy something. Of course you have to secure the system with a password... otherwise you're back to square one. But THAT is the kind of stuff Apple figures out so well. Like the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone, for example.
So where is it?
And since one example doesn't build a compelling case, here are a few more things off the top of my head that have been bugging the shit out of me with Apple's "User Experience"...
- The bouncy self-hiding menu bar when you go into MacOS full-screen apps is laughably stupid. Give the user the option of having the menu bar visible at all times when in full-screen mode. Anything less is just fucking annoying as shit. Especially if you have a laptop and want to be able to see your battery level at a glance. Or you want to see what time it is. Or you just want to fucking get shit DONE without having to fight with the damn menu bar every five minutes. I mean, seriously, this is such a huge fucking FAIL that this alone leads me to believe that nobody in Apple's UI team actually USES Apple's shit.
- Why can't I STREAM my video purchases to my iPad, or Mac computer? Why am I forced to download everything in order to watch it? How can it be that Apple is such a bad joke when it comes to content delivery? Hulu, Amazon, Google, and every other fucking video service on earth can stream their stuff, but Apple can't figure it out? They did it for Apple TV... why is this so hard? YOU HAVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, APPLE, FIGURE THIS SHIT OUT!
- Speaking of Apple TV, how embarrassing is it that Apple doesn't know how to make menus work efficiently? If I scroll all the way right, my next click should wrap to the left. If I scroll all the way to the bottom, my next click should wrap to the top. Otherwise, I'm having to press way too many clicks on the remote to do anything. How is it PlayStation and Xbox has this all handled, but Apple is still using menu technology stuck in the 1980's?
- Why does Apple work so hard to conceal purchases I make through iTunes? Over at Amazon, not only is it simple to look through my past orders... they're all searchable too! But with iTunes? Everything is coded into "batches" and nothing is searchable. On top of that, it's just such a bad experience. I have to go to my iTunes Store account settings to look up my purchase history? What sense does this make? This is fucking embarrassing. Even MORE embarrassing? You can't print out past purchases either (once you finally manage to find them, that is). Sure you can hit "print"... but you get blank pages? Amateur hour.
- iTunes Match is clunky and slow, and Apple should want to look into this for anybody to take them seriously in the streaming music arena. I am sick and fucking tired of opening iTunes to listen to my music only to have iTunes sit there like a dumb shit while displaying "Getting iTunes Match Results from Apple" for ten damn minutes.
- Since the dawn of time, when you want to use an old document to create a new one, you open the original document, then do a "SAVE AS..." to save it with a new name. Easy. But not with Apple. You have to use this weird "Duplicate" command with language so confusing that I never know what is actually happening. This is one area where Apple is over-thinking things in trying to make them easier... but fucked up horribly and actually made everything more difficult to use.
- And why is drag-and-drop so fucking broken in the MacOS? Especially in full-screen app mode. 75% of the time I drag a picture out of mail so I can save it on my desktop, the operation fails. And that's just the beginning. Dragging shit anywhere in MacOS is never something you can count on... whether it's dragging into an application... or even within The Finder itself. Why is such basic functionality that people use every day never fixed?
- Speaking of basic functionality... do you think Apple gives a shit how often my MacBook gets stuck in "right-click" mode for no fucking reason at all? And do they understand how the only thing that seems to fix it is to just keep randomly slapping the trackpad with multi-touch until the "right-click" comes un-stuck (or re-boot the whole damn machine?). Aren't they even a little mortified that such a massively huge and frustrating bug has been around for years and they just don't fucking care? Well, they should, because this is epic-level crap.
- Speaking of broken, do you think Apple suffers any shame what-so-ever that their calendar app is such complete and total shit? So much so as to be practically useless? And I'm not just talking about some of the horrendously shitty UI changes they made in the advent of the disastrous design that permeates iOS7... I'm talking basic functionality and comprehensive display of information.
- And speaking of iOS7... when did "style over substance" become a mantra at Apple? Buttons aren't buttons... text is hard to read... icons all blend together... Apple's overhaul of the iOS7 desperately needs an overhaul. Oh... and people over 30 buy Apple's shit. They should try to come up with an interface that acknowledges this for people with less than perfect eyesight.
- And, before I forget... HOW THE FUCK DO YOU TELL WHEN THE SHIFT KEY IS PRESSED IN iOS7? I have been using the "new and unimproved" keyboard for over a year now and I still have trouble remembering. It's such an absurd problem that somebody even created a website to help people out. I ask myself almost daily... "Did Jonathan Ive really approved this stupid shit? Really?" This is Microsoft-level FAIL. Or it was. Many aspects of Windows Phone 8 kick the shit out of iPhone now. Of all the things on this list, this is the one fix I am most hoping to see come out of the upcoming Apple Developer Conference.
- Now let's get to software... does anybody at Apple even give a shit about the software they develop anymore? If they do, nobody outside of Apple would know it. Has development of Aperture stopped and I should switch to LightRoom? Who the fuck knows! Every once in a while a update is released that fixes some bugs or adds some esoteric feature, but any significant updates for the software's main purpose... photo cataloging... hasn't happened in four years. I spent TEN HOURS trying to get an Aperture Vault copied to a new drive. Never worked. Never could figure out why. Never figured out how to get support to get it resolved. Why in the hell would anybody want to buy Apple-branded software when this is what you get? Secrecy is fine, but non-communication is paramount to abandonment.
- And since when did REMOVING features in new software versions get to be policy? The latest versions of iMovie and Final Cut Pro stripped out so many features from their predecessors that I have no useable solution for video-editing from Apple. Hell, even burning a video to a DVD requires a fucking third-party application. Yeah, we get it, the future is digital. But, in the meanwhile, we need shit to work in the present.
- Apple Mail... on any device... suck pretty bad. For something people use constantly, this baffles me. IMAP and Gmail support are completely screwed up in the MacOS app. The iOS app is even worse, because email goes missing at random. I'll see a piece of mail come in, click on it, only to have the mail vanish. Sending mail is equally bad because it will disappear without being delivered. Where did it go? What happened? Can I get it back? If it's not in "Sent Mail" and the recipient never got it, is it gone forever? It looks that way. Who knows? Oh… and do you know how many times I’ve gone to “undo” the deleting of an email only to find that “undo” is greyed-out in the menu and cannot be activated? Insanity.
- Why does Apple even bother with having a data detector for FTP in MacOS when they only allow read-only connections? Why not let me choose to have an FTP session with a client that is actually useful? Because, seriously, I'd rather have NO data detector than to have a link that's difficult to cut and paste without accidentally opening up a half-baked FTP connection through MacOS.
- Why is "list view" in MacOS X so mind-numbingly incompetent? The filename field never remembers the length I set it, and is always adjusting itself to be at least THREE TIMES the width of anything actually listed in it. This isn't just in the Finder, but everywhere a Cocoa app calls a list view (it really drives me crazy in Adobe apps, where the pallets are so small). So each time I have to widen the window enough to find the column mark, then re-size it down to a sane width. EVERY TIME!
- iCloud syncing is awful. Yes, Apple finally... FINALLY... added the keychain syncing that they tossed out when .Mac died, but the underlaying architecture is still crap. If I set up all my Mail accounts on my desktop Mac then sync it to iCloud... shouldn't I be able to turn on iCloud syncing on my iPhone and have those accounts automatically populate? Well, that's the way it SHOULD work. But, guess, what? IT FUCKING DOESN'T! What the hell am I doing wrong? It's a button that goes on-and-off! How can I screw THAT up? And don't get me started with "Notes" where the syncing is haphazard at best. Can't tell you how many times I've pasted some critical information I need into notes on my Mac only to have it never sync with my iPhone. If you can't get that crap right, why bother at all?
- Printing, in general, is an absolute mess. There have been many, many times when I can't even connect to a printer to get anything to print. Nope, you have to delete the printer and start all over again or re-boot ten times until MacOS finally realizes the network printer is available. Any time it takes you 20 minutes to print an email, you know that something is seriously wrong. Unless you're Apple, apparently.
- And is it too much to ask to have a working trashcan in OS X? Half the time it appears empty when there's actually something in it.
- And, lastly, Siri doesn't appear to be location-aware, which is about the stupidest thing ever. Google Maps in my frickin' desktop web browser even attempts to be location aware, but a PHONE doesn't? If a real-life "personal assistant" of mine tried to offer advice based on a location half-way around the world from me, I'd fire them.
Holy crap... and that was just the stuff off the top of my head. Had I put some actual thought into this list, it would be ten times as long, I'm sure.
And there's my problem with Apple. In the past, I would expect that insane shit ruining the Apple experience would eventually be fixed. Now? I honestly don't know. There's obviously people in charge of these problem areas. But is Tim Cook obsessing over making sure these people are getting things to work exceptionally well like Steve Jobs was? Or is he being distracted by shiny things to buy with Apple's massive bank account? Early after his take-over, I was willing to give him the benefit of doubt. But now? We're going on three years and I'm starting to worry.
I want... need... Apple to be insanely great.
Anything less isn't Apple.