Why I Won’t Bother to Submit Bug Reports to Apple Any More

I’ve long had an Apple developer account in order to have pre-release access to Apple’s operating system and other software so I can write about it. As part of this developer account, I have access to Apple Bug Reporter, a site where you file reports about problems with software and hardware. As I pointed out in a recent Macworld article, this bug reporting system is “An impractical black hole that’s frustrating to use.”

I generally file only iTunes bugs; I pay particular attention to iTunes for my writing, and I find obscure bugs that many people don’t notice. For many of these bugs, I’m told they are duplicates, but a fairly high proportion of my bugs are not. They sometimes generate requests for more information, and emails telling me that they have been fixed. In fact, a few days after the above article was published, I got an email from Apple saying that one of the bugs I reported had been fixed, and asking if I could verify that it now worked correctly. I checked, it did, and that’s how it should work.

The other day, I noticed an issue with the way artist biographies are displayed in iTunes. In the iTunes Store they have line breaks, but in Apple Music, they are one long, unreadable paragraph. This is a problem of both usability and accessibility. It’s hard to read, and especially hard for people with visual limitations.

After I published that article, an Apple employee tweeted me to suggest that I file a “radar,” or a bug report.

Radar tweet

I hadn’t planned to file a bug report for this issue, because, in my experience, they don’t pay much attention to such things. However, in the past, they have corrected other usability bugs that I’d file, so I figured why not. I gave a brief description of the issue, and directed Apple to check my article for screenshots.

Today, I received an email from Apple saying the following:

Hi Kirk,

This is a follow-up to Bug ID# 31558442.

Engineering has provided the following feedback regarding this issue:

Thank you for reporting this. The correct process (and fastest way to a resolution) for account or iTunes issues like this is to log a ticket with AppleCare. They have the right tools to either resolve this issue themselves or route to the correct team with the appropriate information to further troubleshoot.

So, they now suggest contacting AppleCare for iTunes bugs? Because it’s not important enough for them to deal with? Or did the person who read my bug report not even bother to look at what I was describing? It’s a real slap in the face for those who care about usability and accessibility.

Notwithstanding the often pathetic level of support one gets from AppleCare, they are not a bug reporting system. It’s one thing to get no response when you file bug reports, but it’s now clear that Apple doesn’t care much about them at all, and I won’t be wasting my time filing them any more. I’m tempted to add an expletive here, expressing how this makes me feel about Apple, but I’ll just end this article now.

10 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Bother to Submit Bug Reports to Apple Any More

  1. That’s why I also don’t file bug reports and radars anymore. The just don’t give a f***. Apple is not the only one, thou. I’ve made similar experience with others, too.

  2. I empathize with your frustration, I have reading and listening problems due to some disabilities. For instance, I’m dyslexic. So when I find a solution to make reading easier, one which has been used by many other dyslexics. I proposed a system level dyslexic font, which is much easier to read, be made accessible at the operating system level. This solution for many is ignored by Apple – I guess It is not a problem for Apple engineers.

    I also use the Dvorak keyboard, because it is much easier for many with disabilities to learn to type. I suggest that this be made available at the system level of IOS as can be done in the Mac OS. The response was to dismiss the idea as trivial and ineffective. So, to use it I must connect a bluetooth keyboard to use Dvorak. It is frustrating. In fact, Microsoft does a better job at implementing a keyboard change than Apple. If I didn’t mind the clunky interface Microsoft presents, I’d switch.

  3. I always enjoy your writing and insight, Kirk. I’ll admit that I came away with a different conclusion than yours. You refer to a long history of bug reporting in which your contributions were given reasonable consideration, often investigated to the degree that you were asked for additional information, and often fixed. There’s the mention of the recent experience where everything went swimmingly. And then you had this experience that is definitely a bummer but is also easily explained by the reality that people screw up sometimes. Maybe the engineer didn’t read your post carefully enough, or maybe it was a reply to a different issue altogether and some wires got crossed. It happens.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s a frustrating and unacceptable episode, and I sympathize. But taking your post as a whole, it seems that Apple’s bug reporting system works fairly well with some frequency—it certainly sounds better than the apathetic responses (or non-responses) I’ve encountered from other companies large and small. You’re well within your rights to ragequit the bug reporting process, since you were doing Apple a favor in the first place (and it’s a favor for the rest of us users, thank you) and they fell flat on their face. But this post actually convinced me that I ought to make more of an effort to report bugs to Apple, not less! Seems like it has more potential to get actual results than I had realized.

    • It’s just another brick in the wall of stupid from Apple. Poor software quality, hardware that doesn’t understand what people want, and often very bad support. It’s the straw that has eliminated most of my trust in Apple. The people who handle developer bug reports should be a lot more intelligent than this.

      • You are so right Kirk. It is just another brick in the wall of stupid… (nice musical reference BTW…)

        Marketing-driven greed is the largest driver of this phenomenon. ALL APPLE SOFTWARE seems to be driving towards a walled garden where the only thing you can do is consume Apple’s content and pay Apple’s prices. Moreover, you will stay in cadence with their drummer or they will NAG YOU TO DEATH until you do catch up… (just try telling an iOS update to go away and leave you alone…) What is depressing is that the public just seems to go along with this insanity because it is marketed as the “cool thing” and who doesn’t want to do “the cool thing”?

        iTunes was once so good it drove all the other Mac-based music management/player products out of the market. Now it it a useless shell that doesn’t function anywhere close to as well as it did.

        Witness the thread about syncing music to your iOS devices here on Kirkville. It’s been an issue FOR YEARS and Apple has done squat about it. Suffered from that very problem yesterday. Editing the metadata for your songs is a joke as the user interface starts scrolling about wildly, throwing the thing you just edited off the screen. Search finds some of the most random stuff! There are times where I really would like to read the code that search executes — it has to be a real doozy. Music on iOS can’t show you basic metadata (or edit it!) and simple operations are a nasty mess of search this, click this, and this and this and then this and _finally_ this other thing. (All that touching and clicking was me trying to re-create a playlist from my Mac after struggling to get the music synced to the iPad in the first place BTW)

        Unfortunately if you want to use your iPad to review music on the go (I DJ on the side) you MUST use the iTunes sync to get your music to the iPad because none of the other apps will allow side-loading of music! Okay…syncing is a crap shoot, you won’t properly sync my damn playlist and then the other apps I want to use are LOCKED DOWN so that they can ONLY use music that came through sync. Just wow. Apple sounds a little like United Airlines here — we only care about you during the moment you gave us your money!

        Software quality clearly does NOT matter to Apple. (Testing? We don’ need no steenking testing hefe…) Revenue streams created by their software are the ONLY THING THAT MATTERS. (Moo little cash cows, moo!)

        I would replace iTunes if I could but there isn’t a process I can think of that wouldn’t be a convoluted mess of extra steps I shouldn’t have to execute. And even then, I still have to keep iTunes in the loop so that I can use my iPad to do things on the go…

        Oh well. Let’s all hold hands and sing another chorus of how we love the fruit computer guys….

        (BTW, speaking of bug reports — did you know that if you bring an article up in Chrome on an iPad that the “reply” buttons will not work _until_ you request the desktop site? Interesting behavior, no?)

    • @john — your response sounds like a corporate apologist at work.

      What you are missing is that _APPLE’S PROCESS FAILED_, period. There is no way that when a reviewer at Apple is reviewing input from someone like Kirk who has consistently and prolifically submitted bug reports _for free_ to help Apple keep their software quality up to snuff should ever be tossed into the “go call AppleCare” bin, period. If their software cannot score the submitted input with respect to the quality of past inputs by that author then they have a problem. (…and as far as I am concerned, if _anyone_ at Apple doesn’t know who Kirk McElhearn is they need to be sent to re-education camp… People like Kirk can make you or they can break you and you, oh great and might Apple, need to pay attention to that. You ignore such input at your own peril Tim Cook…)

      What this says is that bug reports no longer matter much in the Apple universe.

      As a software author, the fact that two things that read the same data and format it differently for no discernible reason is a _BUG_ not a feature. Their test plan was flawed (if a test plan even exists…) or executed very badly at best.

  4. I might add that the once helpful Apple Forum that solved many of my Apple queries and issues is no longer viable. More often than not, when I submit a question to the community I get the Red-framed warning that I am not permitted to ask or comment on this issue. The question never gets posted to the community. Kirk, I feel your pain!

    • I don’t know what’s happened to the forum. Both the dev forum and the general forum have become useless. The general forum is full of people posting cut and past responses to lots of questions just so they get points and look important; the problem is the responses are often too long winded, and don’t often apply directly to the questions.

    • @Jeff — oh but please tell us all what sort of subversive stuff you are posting there??? Inquiring and salacious, gossipy minds need to know!

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