Walt Mossberg Says Core Apple Apps Need Work
If you feel as though Apple’s own apps aren’t living up to the company’s high standards, you’re not alone. At The Verge, venerable tech columnist Walt Mossberg has penned a criticism of Apple’s more troubled apps, singling out iTunes (“I dread opening the thing.”), Mail, Photos, and iCloud. “It’s almost as if the tech giant has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to these core software products, while it pursues big new dreams, like smartwatches and cars,” Mossberg said. Given the problems we and our readers have seen with iTunes and Mail in particular, we hope Apple pays heed to this warning from an elder statesman of tech journalism.
I really think that a lot of this is selective memory. The examples he gives (iTunes, Mail, Photos, iCloud) have not *ever* been shining examples of Apple software. In reverse order:
1. Apple has *never* down the cloud right, ranging from .Mac and iTools to MobileMe. They've all been bad.
2. iPhoto was getting terribly creaky by 2010 and needed to be replaced. In any case, Mossberg's complaint is about the cloud components of Photos, for which see point #1.
3. Mail has been glitchy in El Capitan, but it's always been off, leading to, I note, a lengthy article in TidBITS back in 2009 (!) on how to make it play nice with IMAP and Gmail that, with 185 (!) comments, totaled 25,000 words. That doesn't sound like a new problem to me.
4. iTunes is absolutely awful at the moment, but at least it doesn't try to delete large numbers of files when being installed, like iTunes 2. Again, software problems not new.
I agree 100% with Walt (although I do prefer mosspuppet..) junk mail filtering in El Cap still not working, other apps are just garbage. I challenge Tim Cook to find one employee who is really delighted with Mail or iTunes. If there were better alternatives I would switch in a flash.
PS. The IOS keyboard is truely an horror! It is the main reason I am considering leaving iPhone and 3rd party keyboards are poorly supported by apple.
Steve Jobs was said to generate a reality distortion field. I've had a growing feeling for several years that the whole company exhibits this phenomenon. Like so many Apple users I am an evangelist for their products — and yet I know that, when it comes to their apps, they really are indefensible. I guess we all put up with it because we have invested such a huge amount of time, money, and emotional energy on the Apple ecosystem that the idea of leaving it is simply unthinkable. Shame on Apple that they have so blatantly exploited this fallibility.
Is it too much to hope that the current market perception of existential crisis might lead Apple management to reconsider their philosophy of treating their loyal customers with such utter disdain — and sort out their software?
"I guess we all put up with it because we have invested such a huge amount of time, money, and emotional energy on the Apple ecosystem that the idea of leaving it is simply unthinkable."
I "put up with it" because it works superbly well for me, despite all the overwrought hysteria. I'm guessing that doesn’t fit with the narrative, but then so many things don't.
Some people don't put up with it. :-) I gave up on iTunes for music entirely in favor of Rdio (and I'm not happy about moving to Spotify for interface reasons) and I don't use Mail other than to have a local backup of my Gmail account. I do use Photos and iCloud Photo Library, but without actually doing much in Photos (and iCloud Photo Library's syncing speed often irritates me).
The problem in large part is that by making these apps bundled (and in the case of iTunes in particular, deeply integrated), it's hard for anyone to compete effectively, even if an alternative were to notably better. So there aren't many choices.
Jim Dalrymple and John Gruber have both weighed in on this topic now, generally agreeing with Walt Mossberg:
This tweet echoes my sentiment
"I just don't get why Tim Cook doesn't fire the executive staff & replace them with obviously more competent tech bloggers."
I agree and concur with Jim Dalrymple and John Gruber and now Walt Mossberg. Once you could be confident in loading up an update straightaway; then you learnt to wait to dot 2 or 3; now let a couple of versions to go by before attempting the upgrade.
It is unbelievable for Apple's core desktop apps not to be first class - it as if Apple employees dont use the company's software. Apple software developers dont seem to read about their poor efforts in the discussions on Apple's own forums.
Now every time Apple touts a 'new' feature in its core software I know something is going to be stuffed up - like new Notes simply disappeared my existing notes. iCloud simply cannot be trusted - there must be something in the Apple water means Apple never gets cloud right.
They've never been first class. Why are you reacting now?
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Concerning Apple Mail in iOS: I have many mail folders that are permanently expanded which makes scrolling to a specific mail folder tedious. Is there a way – like in OS X – to compact the mail folders? Alternatively, is there another mail app that allows me to do this?
For a while I thought I was lonely in the belief that iTunes has to be Apple-life's most regrettable necessity. It's an appalling piece of confusing software and the fact that Apple hasn't re-designed it is worrying evidence of how inexorably even the largest of tech companies become dinosaurs. When a flagship app earns so much hate, a refusal to address the problem is almost unbelievable.
Along with problematic Mail and iTunes, there are the “tablecloth” apps (they just pulled them out from under users), iWeb and Aperture 3 that causes me to change my AppleMantra (c) to “It just doesn’t work.”
Despite my continued efforts to find equivalent replacements for these apps, I find that none exist. So I continue to use the last versions. I still organize my travel pictures and post my Web sites.
Recently I wanted to make a photobook for my wife of our day at Giverny and again cast about for photobooks apps. I resorted to trying to print one from Aperture 3. Although it allowed me to compose the book, it was not clear that a book would be produced. Because of the Activity window I was able to see that things were proceeding. The book was composed and they took my money and sent me the book.
Why doesn’t Apple take these gems of apps, put them under the FileMaker management, and give us back some apps that “just work.”
Re the problems between Mail & gmail accounts: can anyone confirm that emails are disappearing _when_gmail_is_accessed_via_POP_?
I'm still on Eudora & Snow Leopard (don't laugh) and will be moving to Mail & Capitan in April. I tested Mail the other day & found that whilst it received test emails sent to my gmail accounts (I could see Mail sucking them in), they didn't always show up in the Inbox.
I have a POP account with my ISP too and it seemed that the order of creating my Mail accounts made a difference: if I created the gmail ones before the ISP one, emails for the gmail accounts did show. I rely on my gmail accounts and need to know whether I can trust Mail.
It seems that the disappearing emails problem only occurs with IMAP access: can anyone confirm whether it does or does not happen with POP access? Thanks very much :-)