‘If Apple Keeps Letting Its Software Slip, the Next Big Thing Won’t Matter’

If Apple can't improve the reliability of its software, the next big thing won't matter, argues Dan Moren in an opinion piece for Macworld. From the report: Uneven distribution: As sci-fi writer William Gibson famously said, "the future is already here -- it's just not evenly distributed." While Gibson's comment resonates mostly on a socio-economic level that is borne out by Apple's not inexpensive technology, it's also embodied geographically by the company's work: if you're interested, you can see which Apple features are available in which regions. Many of these, of course, are due to restrictions and laws in specific regions or places where, say, Apple has not prioritized language localization. But some of them are cases where features have been rolled out only slowly to certain places. [...] It's surely less exciting for Apple to think about rolling out these (in some cases years old) features, especially those which might require a large degree of legwork, to various places than it is for the company to demonstrate its latest shiny feature, but it also means that sometimes these features don't make it to many, if not most of the users of its devices. Uneven distribution, indeed. To error is machine: It's happened to pretty much any Apple device user: You go to use a feature and it just doesn't work. Sometimes there's no explanation as to why; other times, there's just a cryptic error message that provides no help at all. [...] Shooting trouble: Sometimes what we're dealing with in the aforementioned situations are what we call "edge cases." Apple engineers surely do their best to test their features with a variety of hardware, in different places, with different settings. [...] Nobody expects Apple to catch everything, but the question remains: when these problems do arise, what do we do about them? One thing Apple could improve is the ease for users to report issues they encounter. Too often, I see missives posted on Apple discussion boards that encourage people to get in touch with Apple support... which often means a lengthy reiteration of the old troubleshooting canards. While these can sometimes solve problems, if not actually explain them, it's not a process that most consumers are likely to go through. And when those steps don't resolve the issues, users are often left with a virtual shrug. Likewise, while Apple does provide a place to send feedback about products, it's explicitly not a way to report problems. Making it easier for users to report bugs and unexpected behavior would go a long way to helping owners of Apple products feel like they're not simply shouting their frustrations into a void (aka Twitter). If Apple can't improve the reliability of its software [...] it at least owes it to its users to create more robust resources for helping them help themselves. Because there's nothing more frustrating than not understanding why a miraculous device that can contact people around the world instantaneously, run incredibly powerful games, and crunch data faster than a supercomputer of yesteryear sometimes can't do something as simple as export a video of a vacation. While Moren focuses primarily on unfinished features to help make his case, "there is also a huge problem with things being touched for no reason and making them worse," says HN reader makecheck. "When handed what must be a mountain of bugs and unfinished items, why the hell did they prioritize things like breaking notifications and Safari tabs, for instance? They're in a position where engineering resources desperately need to be closing gaps, not creating huge new ones." An example of this would be the current UX of notifications. "A notification comes up, I hover and wait for the cross to appear and click it," writes noneeeed. "But then some time later I unlock my machine or something happens and apparently all my notifications are still there for some reason and I have to clear them again, only this time they are in groups and I have to clear multiple groups." "Don't get me started on the new iOS podcast app," adds another reader.

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