Apple iOS 7, iTunes, iPhone 5x and OS X

As already mentioned in an earlier post, I believe that Apple has lost it. The design, the innovation, the ease of use, the relatively stable software…it’s all been thrown out of the door. Jobs put Apple light years ahead of the competition with the iPod and then the iPhone. Apple continues to make money because of this legacy, despite the current state of affairs.

Let’s take iOS 7 to begin with. The radical re-design is more like a kiddy project with garish colours and the overall UI being harsh and the UX almost completely destroyed. The maps disaster remains intact, the UI/UX almost completely destroyed, the ease of use and the visual clues gone. The release contains security bugs as before. The interesting part about the “maps” is that Apple continues to use Google Maps on the web site for “Find my iPhone” rather than it’s own, so called, non-existent, Apple maps. This, itself, shows the complete disconnect in Apple today.

Almost all the standard apps have been rendered unusable for most existing iOS 7 users who got the iDevices for their intutive UI/UX and almost no learning required. The “new” block list is all over the place and like most other such lists in iOS 7, including location, notifications etc, is not even indexed and does not offer any kind of search. So, if you have a 100 or so apps, good luck trying to figure things out. The age old bug when you downloaded any purchased app on a device, still persists and is still followed by an update prompt. If you have multiple contact lists, try setting a favourite number, more often than not, you will get a number other than the one you selected. Of course, there are more issues. This is not a comprehensive list.

The iOS 7 release on the iPad is an even bigger disaster. I re-flashed my iPad 3 just to make sure it was the real thing. The default UI on the iPad is probably the worst I have come across so far. It would be a major design challenge to come up with something worse. It has all the nuances of the iPhone version, plus, a huge lag in almost all operations. After a few days of struggling with it, I was reminded of a very old tagline…”The magic of Windows, turns your PC-AT into a PC-XT”. iOS 7 makes the iPad UX worse than the cheap Android based tabs around. Let’s see if Apple can actually wake up and fix this major issue, and perhaps more.

So…to deal with the “new”, unlimited folders in iOS 7, iTunes 11.1 was released. All that you see about the new iTunes release focuses on the iTunes Radio. Why? because iTunes 11.1 has also gone the same way as iOS 7. It would really take a hard core pro to figure out how to arrange the apps using iTunes 11.1 into folders. Apple took the easiest programming approach and the worst possible implementation in this “new” feature. It’s practically impossible to use. Almost all the older bugs are still around and some new ones added. For example, if you get app updates and then re-check for updates, the “Update All” button is disabled even when you have new updates. It will continue to expire your authentication after running for a while, so, you would need to re-authenticate or just re-start iTunes, etc etc.

The iPhone 5S also went the same way. Hey! we have a “new” gimmick now, a fingerprint sensor and a 64-bit processor in the phone. The 64-bit processor will be able to address more than 4 GB of RAM, even though the iPhone has only 1 GB, and it doubles the number of registers for speed. Yeah, right!

The hype continues with statements like “This is the best iPhone launch ever”. Yeah well…launching 2 iPhones with more variations than ever before and the widest launch yet, which included China, and the numbers did not even double. The numbers should have been more than double of the iPhone 5 launch, but, that fact would not be mentioned anywhere.

What Apple does not come up with are the facts that would affect users. For example, by adding more devices/resolutions and processors, it is also adding to the application bloat. You will run out of space on your device faster than before. Instead of improving on the user related issues, like optimising space, improving the user experience on the AppStore and iCloud, we just see more and more useless or un-usable “new” features and hype being created on half facts/truths.

The so called Flat Design for iOS 7 actually defeats the purpose of an actual Flat Design. A Flat Design gives more space and the ability to display more data in the same amount of space, not half the data as Apple has done. A Flat Design in no way means that you have to go back to the 18th century and use brackets for navigation. It also does not mean that all visual clues have to be removed so that users keep searching for navigation options. To think that most of us thought of Apple as a premier design company…

The new OS X update also displays the same mindset. An update is followed up with yet another update with the same version number. While there may be fixes for WiFi, the wired ethernet has issues now. The moment you try and heavy I/O (copying files from one iDevice to another or from the Time Capsule), you will run into this issue. Above all, even now, Finder fails to copy files across HFS drives with the old “.DS_Store” file already exists and cannot overwrite.

Remember the OS in place update and the radical difference and hype it created? Well, almost every small update requires a restart of the system now.

The all new, upcoming OS X Mavericks is also riddled with UI/UX inconsistencies and bugs in the GM release for developers. The finder freezes quite frequently and reminds me of Windows “exploder” once upon a time. Even though there are tabs in the finder, you cannot set any option for directories to be listed together before or after files. If you open an image format like an ISO or DMG, they will open in their own windows instead of tabs. The earlier issues of freezing on I/O and bulk copying stopping due to duplicate “.DS_Store” still continues.

The iCloud based keychain for saving passwords and cards, introduced in iOS7, is practically useless as it does not save passwords on a variety of secure sites, defeating the very purpose of such a “feature”. In short, excepting for the welcome addition of iBooks, nothing has really changed. It’s still a botched up, dated UI. The UX remains as before…inconsistent. The Apple Mail still cannot parse and render a variety of email including stock emailers from eBay. Interestingly, the iOS email app does not have these issues.

The all new Mavericks GM also makes the existing Time Capsules practically useless. The access times for a locally connected Time Capsule is more like a 64 Kbit modem connection. So, in case you have a Time Capsule, check out the connectivity and performance with Mavericks before upgrading. Nothing else changes in other parts of the Time Capsule access. You still cannot switch users and access the Time Capsule from both user accounts. The TC drives will still go off to sleep with no control over them. You still cannot put anything on the TC in the start-up as OS X simply does not wait or re-try network access.

In short, almost everything coming out of Apple since Jobs, show the same static mindset of the rest of the industry. Everything that Apple stood for has been changed. The Vision, Innovation, Design, Ease of use and the focus on the consumers have all gone down to zero!

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