I love being on the cutting edge of technology. At least, I use to. I’m not so sure I do anymore.
It’s hard to say if this is the consequence of growing up or the result of technology never quite living up to the perfection it is hyped under.
Today my annoyance is iOS 8, “the biggest iOS release ever.” As Apple touts, it has “exciting new apps with capabilities that were never possible before.”
I can only assume, quite critically, that these capabilities include having the emoticon keyboard pop-up as default instead of the third-party one I installed. I dragged the new keyboard to the top of the preference list, I mean, I’ve had multiple built-in keyboards activated for years without issue. Apple claimed 8.0.2 would fix that issue, but it didn’t.
There doesn’t seem to be any documentation on Apple’s site, but I’ve noticed that several of my apps will occasionally refuse to load and I will stare at a white screen or mostly white screen long enough to forget which app I just tried to open. Granted, I will take the blame for having such short memory retention, and to Apple’s credit, I am inclined to believe this actually is a feature I’ll wonder how I ever did without.
This sentiment is certainly nothing original, progress is measured in new features not in bug fixes.
Which leads me to two articles I ran across this week.
A blog post by Rusty called It Just Works did a fantastic job of summing up the same sentiments that I have.
“Tim Cook keeps telling us that ‘Only Apple’ could do the amazing things it does. I just wish that Apple would slow down their breakneck pace and spend the time required to build stable software that their hardware so desperately needs. The yearly release cycles of OS X, iOS, iPhone & iPad are resulting in too many things seeing the light of day that aren’t finished yet. Perhaps the world wouldn’t let them, perhaps the expectations are now too high, but I’d kill for Snow iOS 8 and Snow Yosemite next year. I’m fairly confident I’m not alone in that feeling.”
Now any major OS release is going to have some problems, that should go without saying. I hesitate to say that this latest update contains more bugs than iOS7, but it does feel that things haven’t gotten any easier for me.
Business Insider recently ran an article titled ‘These People Are Nuts': 2 Former Managers Reveal What Working For Apple Is Really Like. The article cites the Debug 47 podcast, and links to a partial transcript of the interview.
In the article the former Apple managers talk about the high pressure work environment and the long day s and short nights that went along with it. I’m curious how much of this mentality trickles down to the engineers and developers working on the different projects as well.
When the original Macintosh was being created the story is told that the team made t-shirts that said “90 hours a week and loving it!” In general developers and people interested in technology are often portrayed as hard working people who value solving problems over sleep regularly. If this is really how the company is working on the inside, I’m not really surprised that there are such obvious bugs and mistakes. Actually, I’m a little surprised there are not more.
That said, Apple sets their own release schedule. A company built on the principle of “Think Different” has no requirement to release a new phone OS at the same time every year. When your product is being pre-ordered by 4 million people, it’s hard to say if that is more or less incentive to make sure everything works correctly right out of the box. For sure, Apple has a reputation for making good stuff, but if there are 4 million people willing to buy your product no questions asked, maybe good enough is good enough.
More telling, at least to me, is how giddy and excited everyone seems on stage at the recent Apple Events. I’d like to think that everyone going up on stage has been up for 36 hours and took a 15 minute shower in coffee shortly before going on stage.
In light of all of this, it feels a little naive of me to hope that the next version of iOS or even Yosemite will be more polished, but hope springs eternal. Here’s to new technology.