I bought my first Apple product — the original Macintosh — almost exactly thirty years ago. I have never been as frustrated with Apple products as I am now. Not even close.
A great many of these issues involve communications among machines: on the Mac, Yosemite brought a host of wifi problems; on iOS, Bluetooth has been borked for millions of people since iOS 8 was introduced, especially if you have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Apple wants us to replace iPhoto with its new Photos app, but I can’t get Photos to sync all the pictures that iPhoto handles … well, fairly well, anyway — which is all just part of the larger story, which is that iCloud is a complete disaster.
Your computer can’t see my computer on the network or vice versa? The only solution that works is to reboot everything, just like using Windows fifteen years ago. Before Yosemite, I never had these issues on Macs.
Yosemite is now 6 months old, these bugs still aren’t fixed, and it feels like they probably won’t be fixed anytime soon. Yosemite is probably in minimal-maintenance mode as primary resources have likely moved on to headlining features for 10.11. This is what’s so frustrating about today’s Apple: if a bug persists past the early beta stages of its introduction, it rarely ever gets fixed. They’re too busy working on the new to fix the old.
But of course the new will have bugs too. So the bugs keep piling up — not to mention the missing features: e.g., margins in TextEdit documents can’t be changed without some sketchy hacks, items in Reminders can be ordered by date only manually, Safari lacks favicons to help you distinguish tabs by sight, and so on. Then there are inexplicably frustrating software design decisions, like regular backwards-incompatible changes in file formats for some apps (Pages, Keynote). Moreover, interoperability between OS X and iOS seems to be getting worse with time, not better, despite features like Handoff which are supposed to address that very problem but may not work.
And the arrival of the Apple Watch is surely going to exacerbate all these problems, not only with Apple software but with third-party software that companies are trying to make work on three platforms now: OS X, iOS, and the special version of iOS that Watch runs. Mo’ devices, mo’ platforms, mo’ problems.
In light of all this, here’s my current plan:
First, I will stop even trying to get either Bluetooth or iCloud to work. Pretend they don’t exist, because effectively they don’t. Assume that the only backups I have are to an external hard drive. If I want to play music in my car, I’ll either listen to the radio or burn CDs like I did back in the day. (Remember when that was the coolest thing?) Well, if burning CDs still works in iTunes….
Second, move whenever possible to non-Apple software, especially, though not only, when Apple’s stuff relies in some way on iCloud. (Hardest thing to replace, for a guy who doesn’t want to use Google or Microsoft products either: Keynote. Keynote is a great, if somewhat bloated app, but its ever-changing file format makes it a long-term loser.)
Third, if things aren’t any better by 2017 — when my iPhone 6 Plus will be old enough to trade in — switch to Linux, for my phone as well as my computer, assuming that the Ubuntu Phone is available in this country by then. Yes, Linux has plenty of problems; but I won’t be paying a premium price for a system that promises to “just work” but just doesn’t work. If I’m going to have to be in permanent fiddling/hacking mode, let me do it from within an operating system meant for fiddling and hacking.