Yakov Manshin

When It Doesn’t ‘Just Work’

Apple software is widely considered to be of exceptional reliability. However, the quality of development at Apple has been deteriorating over the past few years, which led to applications becoming less stable.

Last week, I had to factory-reset my iPhone because… it reset on its own—deleting all my photos (which I had a backup of) and messages (which I didn’t).

The business of software development has become inferior for Apple. The company shifted its focus toward designing more powerful hardware. Every year, we see an amazing new phone, an amazing new tablet, or an amazing new Mac (well, not always amazing—the latest MacBook Pro is definitely not as fascinating).

One of the reasons for such a change in priorities is the fact that Apple software costs nothing (in most cases) and lacks any alternatives.

Introduction of OS X Mavericks at WWDC 2013

You will install latest versions of both iOS and macOS, no matter how unreliable they are, because you don’t really have a choice (besides Android and Windows, respectively). And by making its upgrades free of charge, Apple shifts away much of responsibility.

“We give you the upgrade for free. How can you ask for more? Take it or leave it [for no alternative].”

Just like that.

The lack of responsibility made software developers pretty relaxed. If Apple had to stand for the price it wants to charge for macOS, the quality of latter would be much higher.

Another reason for the quality of software degrading over the years is the abundance of hardware Apple maintains. The situation is worth comparing with the Jobs era. Apple did not make a lot of similar hardware then—instead it made sure every app on every product worked perfectly.

iPhone lineup as of 2016

Today, the executive team at Apple seems to be far too distracted with a million of product lines it needs to support, like five iPhone models being on sale at once (iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, and iPhone SE).

What’s the point in offering such a big choice of iPhones if none of them works stable enough?

Bottom Line

Seamless integration of hardware and software has always been Apple’s strong side. Until recent years, the company managed to keep balance and pay enough attention to each. Today, there’s a distinct shift towards the hardware part of products, which means that every OS upgrade is a lottery.