What Exactly Doesn’t Work on OS X and iOS?

As I wrote the other day, Apple’s software is suffering from many problems, causing much grief among users of Apple products. Glenn Fleishman made a list of the many ailments affecting OS X and iOS, describing the most common problems users are seeing.

Naturally, not all users have the same issues; I don’t have many of the issues that others have complained about. For example, Glenn says, “Mail probably produces more anger than other piece of software because it’s so critical.” I’ve heard lots of people say that Mail causes constant problems, but I’ve never had issues with it. I think there could be two main reasons that Mail is problematic: some users have multiple gigabytes of emails, saving every email they send and receive. I don’t do that; I clean out my email every few months. Another is an intensive use of Gmail, which seems to not get along with Mail. While I have a Gmail account, I use it rarely.

I’ve also never seen the problems with screen sharing, Messages or Spaces, though Glenn leaves out one common problem with Messages: the inability to send and receive screenshots. This began with Yosemite betas, and is still problematic. The only way to make this work, when it stops functioning, is to kill the imagent process in Activity Monitor.

Of course, many of the new features in OS X and iOS are problematic. Handoff and Continuity either don’t work, or won’t work on certain devices; here, it’s my MacBook Pro that is simply unable to use these features. AirDrop is hopelessly unreliable. And Family Sharing is a mess.

One thing Glenn doesn’t mention is iTunes syncing, which is frustratingly broken. This is the problem that hits me most. He does single out iTunes as “a dog’s lunch of unrelated features crammed into the same sack,” and mentions how his wife “was nearly red with anger recently trying to perform a task in iTunes she’s done for years.”

With all the articles about Apple’s software problems, it’s frustrating that Apple is not stepping forward to address these issues. Apple needs a software czar, someone who can look from the outside at the problems users are reporting en masse, then try and get the company to fix them. But Apple is too concerned about keeping a glossy smile on its face, and I doubt we’ll ever see such an approach. It’s too bad, because if they don’t starting fixing things, the company’s software will become as reliable as Windows.

24 thoughts on “What Exactly Doesn’t Work on OS X and iOS?

  1. Hello Kirk, I’ve read Glenn’s article, Marco’s, a couple of others and yours of course. I’m not a ‘power’ or heavy user, just a lover of music and writer of several speeches and short articles each week. I do some Numbers work too, plus the usual web searches and the like. I have 3 email accounts; Hotmail, iCloud and Gmail, which is my main service. Hand Off and Continuity are working fine for me between my iPad/iPhone 5S and MacBook Pro/Late 2014 model. Gmail, through Apple’s Mail, is fine for me 95% of the time. iTunes Sync is flawless for me as of iTunes 12. This wasn’t always the case in the previous build. However, I must say that the interface on iTunes 12 is clunky and a step back from earlier builds, meaning I don’t like it as it now is.

    I have noticed much RAM usage with Safari on OSX Yosemite. Also, the System profile app doesn’t work well either when I launch it from Utilities, but is fine when I launch it from the Apple/about this Mac menu. Weird!! When I go to the activity monitor a process associated with Apple geolocation never responds, so I have to force quit it as it consumes a fair bit of memory. Another process that I take it is related to backup also gobbles up RAM and causes me to force quit it from time to time. iPhoto is a bit of a mess but I expect it to bite the dust soon, though I’ll hold off the update for the new photos app until I read some reviews because of recent Apple software failures. My Wifi on Yosemite isn’t as stable as it was on Mavericks, but it mostly works, though it fails often to connect to the best channel, causing me to quit and then reconnect to wifi.

    I feel for the many users who have paid top dollar for Apple hardware and find so many issues with the buggy software. Just not fair or acceptable at all. I have never had great help from the Apple Store/Genius Bar appointments about problems with my devices over the last 5 years, so have had to read and learn to help myself which, thanks to you and others with experience and knowledge, has been possible. Hence, I, too, don’t think Apple is listening to the concerns and complaints of the users of their products. The marketing smile seems ‘glued on’ to Apple at the present time. I’ve never ever received a response from anyone at Apple to my feedback, so I have given up giving it.

    Anyhow, that’s it from me for now. Thanks again for your blog, articles and help over the years. Much valued.

    • You Have hit on a very interesting issue, which is why have a “suggestions box” if you don’t even pretend to be reading it? People on the forums always say you should write to Apple and let them know if there are software problems, but unlike other submission forms, Apple don’t even send you a “thanks for your input” email and so you don’t even feel as though the email was even received! And then, as you say, people will stop sending feedback because they feel nothing ever gets listened to. How much time would it take for Apple to write a script that sends an automated “thanks” in reply?

      • The most frustrating thing to me, both as a customer and as a shareholder, is that Apple doesn’t put a staff of Geniuses out there on its own user forums. Doing that would show the same charitable and responsive face online that it shows in store, would accrue a trove of readymade solutions that would make the forums vastly more useful, and would COST DRAMATICALLY LESS than providing one-on-one appointments in-store. I’m not arguing for replacing the Genius Bar at all, but it tries me as deeply incongruous that Apple doesn’t even monitor its online boards, much less provide direct answers there.

  2. Hello Kirk, I’ve read Glenn’s article, Marco’s, a couple of others and yours of course. I’m not a ‘power’ or heavy user, just a lover of music and writer of several speeches and short articles each week. I do some Numbers work too, plus the usual web searches and the like. I have 3 email accounts; Hotmail, iCloud and Gmail, which is my main service. Hand Off and Continuity are working fine for me between my iPad/iPhone 5S and MacBook Pro/Late 2014 model. Gmail, through Apple’s Mail, is fine for me 95% of the time. iTunes Sync is flawless for me as of iTunes 12. This wasn’t always the case in the previous build. However, I must say that the interface on iTunes 12 is clunky and a step back from earlier builds, meaning I don’t like it as it now is.

    I have noticed much RAM usage with Safari on OSX Yosemite. Also, the System profile app doesn’t work well either when I launch it from Utilities, but is fine when I launch it from the Apple/about this Mac menu. Weird!! When I go to the activity monitor a process associated with Apple geolocation never responds, so I have to force quit it as it consumes a fair bit of memory. Another process that I take it is related to backup also gobbles up RAM and causes me to force quit it from time to time. iPhoto is a bit of a mess but I expect it to bite the dust soon, though I’ll hold off the update for the new photos app until I read some reviews because of recent Apple software failures. My Wifi on Yosemite isn’t as stable as it was on Mavericks, but it mostly works, though it fails often to connect to the best channel, causing me to quit and then reconnect to wifi.

    I feel for the many users who have paid top dollar for Apple hardware and find so many issues with the buggy software. Just not fair or acceptable at all. I have never had great help from the Apple Store/Genius Bar appointments about problems with my devices over the last 5 years, so have had to read and learn to help myself which, thanks to you and others with experience and knowledge, has been possible. Hence, I, too, don’t think Apple is listening to the concerns and complaints of the users of their products. The marketing smile seems ‘glued on’ to Apple at the present time. I’ve never ever received a response from anyone at Apple to my feedback, so I have given up giving it.

    Anyhow, that’s it from me for now. Thanks again for your blog, articles and help over the years. Much valued.

    • You Have hit on a very interesting issue, which is why have a “suggestions box” if you don’t even pretend to be reading it? People on the forums always say you should write to Apple and let them know if there are software problems, but unlike other submission forms, Apple don’t even send you a “thanks for your input” email and so you don’t even feel as though the email was even received! And then, as you say, people will stop sending feedback because they feel nothing ever gets listened to. How much time would it take for Apple to write a script that sends an automated “thanks” in reply?

      • The most frustrating thing to me, both as a customer and as a shareholder, is that Apple doesn’t put a staff of Geniuses out there on its own user forums. Doing that would show the same charitable and responsive face online that it shows in store, would accrue a trove of readymade solutions that would make the forums vastly more useful, and would COST DRAMATICALLY LESS than providing one-on-one appointments in-store. I’m not arguing for replacing the Genius Bar at all, but it tries me as deeply incongruous that Apple doesn’t even monitor its online boards, much less provide direct answers there.

  3. I’d also like to add

    • iOS 8 on an iPad: multitasking gestures stop working after prolonged sleep unless one either reenables them in Settings or else swipes up to invoke the control center
    * I can easily cause my iPad to crash and restart by swiping to switch to an app several screens away
    * Mail just often stops receiving Exchange emails entirely until Mail is restarted
    * There is no longer a way (it had been option-clicking an unread email) to read or delete an unread email without then selecting the next e-mail, marking it read by default
    * In Preview, selecting the text annotation function automatically creates a text box in the middle of the PDF, whereas previously it would appear wherever one’s cursor rested. The old way would be preferable.

    • The Mail message deletion thing; that’s on OS X. It’s always been like that. The Preview thing bugs the hell out of me; that’s not a bug, I think, but just a change in the way it works.

  4. I’d also like to add

    • iOS 8 on an iPad: multitasking gestures stop working after prolonged sleep unless one either reenables them in Settings or else swipes up to invoke the control center
    * I can easily cause my iPad to crash and restart by swiping to switch to an app several screens away
    * Mail just often stops receiving Exchange emails entirely until Mail is restarted
    * There is no longer a way (it had been option-clicking an unread email) to read or delete an unread email without then selecting the next e-mail, marking it read by default
    * In Preview, selecting the text annotation function automatically creates a text box in the middle of the PDF, whereas previously it would appear wherever one’s cursor rested. The old way would be preferable.

    • The Mail message deletion thing; that’s on OS X. It’s always been like that. The Preview thing bugs the hell out of me; that’s not a bug, I think, but just a change in the way it works.

  5. Thanks for writing this article and the prior one. The articles and all the ones they pointed to were quite interesting and mirror my own thoughts on Apple’s direction over the past few years.

    Since you mention that Apple needs a software ‘czar’, I will point out that they sort of had one. His name was Scott Forstall, and the timing of his departure matches pretty closely with the start of Apple’s software problems. It’s not just Forstall, though, it’s the type of person and worker that he was. By this I mean that he was super smart, arrogant, and hard to get along with. (I have never met him, but this is well-documented)

    Apple had a lot of those types of workers throughout the organization, and many of them reported (either directly or indirectly) to Steve Jobs. I have no inside knowledge, but it is my understanding that most of those folks have been removed during Tim Cook’s reign. Cook likes cohesion and everybody working together. Good software requires dissent, however. Good software requires arguments at every level. I don’t think we’ll see much improvement until Cook starts hiring and promoting dissenters.

    The other root problem whose timing coincides with these application problems was the release of Xcode-4. With that release, Xcode changed from a highly stable fun-to-work-with IDE to a broken application that you constantly have to fight with. This has a huge impact on the pace of development. When your developing at half the speed, but you still have to meet tight deadlines, then buggy software is inevitable.

    On the topic of more specific problems, the one I’ll mention is with Mail. I had always had the occasional issue where emails were not properly marked as replies, but the problem seems to have gotten worse with the latest updates. I think the problem is related to a mismatched email addresses, but it got to the point where I ditched Mail and moved on to MailMate. After that, my entire strategy changed to one whereby I try to use 3rd party apps over Apple apps wherever possible. Those apps might not be as polished, but they are on more sustainable release schedules and you can actually communicate with developers and get bugs fixed and answers to questions.

    Thanks again for the articles. I really enjoy your blog.

    • “The other root problem whose timing coincides with these application problems was the release of Xcode-4. With that release, Xcode changed from a highly stable fun-to-work-with IDE to a broken application that you constantly have to fight with. ”

      I don’t think the issues with Xcode 4 and later have a direct impact on the quality of Apple’s software. Xcode 1.x was a nightmare and Xcode 2 became usable around 2.5. This did not prevent Apple from releasing applications that were more reliable than today (and with better UX and UI).

  6. Thanks for writing this article and the prior one. The articles and all the ones they pointed to were quite interesting and mirror my own thoughts on Apple’s direction over the past few years.

    Since you mention that Apple needs a software ‘czar’, I will point out that they sort of had one. His name was Scott Forstall, and the timing of his departure matches pretty closely with the start of Apple’s software problems. It’s not just Forstall, though, it’s the type of person and worker that he was. By this I mean that he was super smart, arrogant, and hard to get along with. (I have never met him, but this is well-documented)

    Apple had a lot of those types of workers throughout the organization, and many of them reported (either directly or indirectly) to Steve Jobs. I have no inside knowledge, but it is my understanding that most of those folks have been removed during Tim Cook’s reign. Cook likes cohesion and everybody working together. Good software requires dissent, however. Good software requires arguments at every level. I don’t think we’ll see much improvement until Cook starts hiring and promoting dissenters.

    The other root problem whose timing coincides with these application problems was the release of Xcode-4. With that release, Xcode changed from a highly stable fun-to-work-with IDE to a broken application that you constantly have to fight with. This has a huge impact on the pace of development. When your developing at half the speed, but you still have to meet tight deadlines, then buggy software is inevitable.

    On the topic of more specific problems, the one I’ll mention is with Mail. I had always had the occasional issue where emails were not properly marked as replies, but the problem seems to have gotten worse with the latest updates. I think the problem is related to a mismatched email addresses, but it got to the point where I ditched Mail and moved on to MailMate. After that, my entire strategy changed to one whereby I try to use 3rd party apps over Apple apps wherever possible. Those apps might not be as polished, but they are on more sustainable release schedules and you can actually communicate with developers and get bugs fixed and answers to questions.

    Thanks again for the articles. I really enjoy your blog.

    • “The other root problem whose timing coincides with these application problems was the release of Xcode-4. With that release, Xcode changed from a highly stable fun-to-work-with IDE to a broken application that you constantly have to fight with. ”

      I don’t think the issues with Xcode 4 and later have a direct impact on the quality of Apple’s software. Xcode 1.x was a nightmare and Xcode 2 became usable around 2.5. This did not prevent Apple from releasing applications that were more reliable than today (and with better UX and UI).

  7. I haven’t had any problems AT ALL with Yosemite, from the beta to the current version. (And I’m a pretty avid user)

    Since only some people (definitely a minority) are complaining, and since those complaints vary greatly from one person to another, partial blame for any “problems” should go to the users.

    If a user’s system has simple uncorrected problems (for example incorrect permissions or a corrupt directory file) when they upgrade OS X, they will run into worse problems. Maintaining your operating system and hardware prior to upgrades will solve most problems.

    Users also need to be aware of incompatible third-party apps. These will also cause problems until you either delete them or update them to Yosemite-compatible versions.

    The fact that I have suffered NONE of the “problems” that some people have complained about, shows that OS X 10.10 Yosemite is fine. In fact, in my experience, Yosemite is actually more stable than any previous version of OS X (my guess is that this is due to Apple giving it a wide beta release for the first time in the history of OS X).

    • some of it just depends on what features you do use, and other people may use even the same program, but with different providers/servers or different features of it. Learned this long ago in tech support, just because I don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t an issue.

      On my home Mac mini, I updated to Yosemite, and for the most part it has been smooth, a couple of apps I had to update for compatibility are having issues, but they don’t seem to be OS related. Some things mentioned in this article, and the ones it linked to are things I just haven’t tried doing, so will be checking these out this weekend.

      I have not updated my work laptop, nor the other mac users where I work because of the likelyhood of wifi issues (a couple of Mac Pros’ were updated, but again, like my Mac mini, they don’t use wifi, so very few issues seen) Hopefully 10.10.2 will address all of the wifi issues, and I can upgrade my laptop as an initial test, and maybe one or two “power users” if it is smooth for them, we’ll do the other 15-20 systems. Fortunately SMB 3 seems to be reliable – unlike the transition to SMB 2 that Mavericks had which took until 10.9.3 to resolve (at least for our environment, some places were still having problems with 10.9.5 – likely an incompatibility with certain windows server settings and Mac OS X this again though shows what works perfectly with one company, can be a nightmare at another)

      At home Handoff has worked very time I’ve tried it, but that hasn’t been often, so I may just be lucky. I’ve synched at least 4 devices with iTunes 12 several times, including changing playlists and movies/tv shows and haven’t seen the issues many have described, although I have run into similar things with iTunes 11 (where media shows up as other, had to restore to backup to resolve)

    • So, let me see if I understand this. Since you have no problems, it is therefore impossible that anyone else have problems, because, as you say, this “shows that OS X 10.10 Yosemite is fine.” So all of these people with problems, that’s just collective hallucinations?

  8. I haven’t had any problems AT ALL with Yosemite, from the beta to the current version. (And I’m a pretty avid user)

    Since only some people (definitely a minority) are complaining, and since those complaints vary greatly from one person to another, partial blame for any “problems” should go to the users.

    If a user’s system has simple uncorrected problems (for example incorrect permissions or a corrupt directory file) when they upgrade OS X, they will run into worse problems. Maintaining your operating system and hardware prior to upgrades will solve most problems.

    Users also need to be aware of incompatible third-party apps. These will also cause problems until you either delete them or update them to Yosemite-compatible versions.

    The fact that I have suffered NONE of the “problems” that some people have complained about, shows that OS X 10.10 Yosemite is fine. In fact, in my experience, Yosemite is actually more stable than any previous version of OS X (my guess is that this is due to Apple giving it a wide beta release for the first time in the history of OS X).

    • some of it just depends on what features you do use, and other people may use even the same program, but with different providers/servers or different features of it. Learned this long ago in tech support, just because I don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t an issue.

      On my home Mac mini, I updated to Yosemite, and for the most part it has been smooth, a couple of apps I had to update for compatibility are having issues, but they don’t seem to be OS related. Some things mentioned in this article, and the ones it linked to are things I just haven’t tried doing, so will be checking these out this weekend.

      I have not updated my work laptop, nor the other mac users where I work because of the likelyhood of wifi issues (a couple of Mac Pros’ were updated, but again, like my Mac mini, they don’t use wifi, so very few issues seen) Hopefully 10.10.2 will address all of the wifi issues, and I can upgrade my laptop as an initial test, and maybe one or two “power users” if it is smooth for them, we’ll do the other 15-20 systems. Fortunately SMB 3 seems to be reliable – unlike the transition to SMB 2 that Mavericks had which took until 10.9.3 to resolve (at least for our environment, some places were still having problems with 10.9.5 – likely an incompatibility with certain windows server settings and Mac OS X this again though shows what works perfectly with one company, can be a nightmare at another)

      At home Handoff has worked very time I’ve tried it, but that hasn’t been often, so I may just be lucky. I’ve synched at least 4 devices with iTunes 12 several times, including changing playlists and movies/tv shows and haven’t seen the issues many have described, although I have run into similar things with iTunes 11 (where media shows up as other, had to restore to backup to resolve)

    • So, let me see if I understand this. Since you have no problems, it is therefore impossible that anyone else have problems, because, as you say, this “shows that OS X 10.10 Yosemite is fine.” So all of these people with problems, that’s just collective hallucinations?

  9. Since albums on the Music app remain to be sorted by reverse chronological order since iOS 7, I beginning to think its a “feature”, not a bug.

  10. Since albums on the Music app remain to be sorted by reverse chronological order since iOS 7, I beginning to think its a “feature”, not a bug.

  11. Apple was a special company because it had a special leader who was a perfectionist and who insisted on products that led the way instead of following fashion. Without another special leader it will inevitably become just another computer company.

    Everything changes.

  12. Apple was a special company because it had a special leader who was a perfectionist and who insisted on products that led the way instead of following fashion. Without another special leader it will inevitably become just another computer company.

    Everything changes.

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