Apple's five biggest misses of 2015

Apple shipped a stunning amount of products in 2015 and made an incredible amount of money doing it. Yet that kind of scale can create strain and that level of success can hide problems. Some will be aberrations that happen once and then seldom if ever again. Others, though, will hint at patterns, and at potentially larger issues both now and into the future. (And no, I'm not just talking about the appalling lack of hoodies at the redesigned Company Store...)

Part of iMore's mission over the last couple of years has been to explain, as best we can, why Apple does what it does. As we move into 2016, we'll be putting greater emphasis on critique, as well: Not just why Apple might do something, but how it could be improved. Not mindless internet rage hate, mind you—that's easy, and frankly, cheap. We'll be doing the hard work. It's something we've been doing in our in-depth reviews for a while, but we want to do a much better job separating and surfacing it for you in our editorials as well.

In that spirit, here are five areas in which I feel Apple struggled last year, and are symbolic of the larger struggles they'll face as a company going into 2016.

Apple Music not shipping as a beta

Apple Music

Apple Music (Image credit: iMore)

From the announcement at WWDC 2015, Apple Music was given an impossible job. It had to fit the needs of traditional customers with existing, potentially enormous local libraries. It had to provide streaming for a new generation of customers. It had to integrate new services like Beats 1 Radio and the Connect social network. And it had to do it all in one app.

The result was a dizzying, sometimes disjointed set of features and states, and the lack of anything approaching a clear and concise explanation on how it was all supposed to work or flow.

Taylor Swift had to "dear Apple" the company into paying artists during trial periods. Naked FUSE code strings were begging for localization at launch. Jim Dalrymple believed he'd lost almost his entire collection because the Settings screen didn't properly explain that switching off iCloud Music Library switched off both the new Apple Music and the old iTunes Match. Serenity Caldwell spent weeks helping people confused and concerned about everything from DRM to how to manage it all.

It was, to put it mildly, a mess.

Although it wouldn't have eliminated any of the technical issues, putting a beta label on Apple Music at launch would have better set customer expectations. Just like Siri did years ago. Just like iCloud Photo Library did earlier this year. Clearer explanations and better documentation at launch would have helped even more.

The Music app and Apple Music service themselves, divided against so many different and conflicting use cases, still require deep consideration, but the beta label would have given them some much-needed room to breathe. Instead of feeling frustrated today, customers could have felt like they were providing important feedback towards a better service tomorrow.

Supply constraints

Apple Pencil with iPad drawing

Apple Pencil with iPad drawing (Image credit: iMore)

The Apple Watch was announced in September of 2014 but only began to ship in April of 2015. Even then Apple ended up restricting orders to the online store and creating a try-on process for retail. And even then, trouble with a Taptic Engine supplier reportedly caused very low yields which, combined with production changes for some bands, resulted in some models not shipping until May or June.

Likewise, the iPad Pro was announced in September of 2015 but didn't ship until November and, even now, the Apple Pencil and Apple Smart Keyboard have been incredibly hard to find at retail and incredibly slow to ship online (At the time of this writing they're both still quoting 4+ weeks). Again, production changes and manufacturing yields are reportedly to blame.

Apple has experienced supply constraints with displays, sensors, and chipsets in the past but, with the notable exception of the white iPhone 4, they've been all but invisible to customers in the U.S. These weren't.

Holding the Apple Watch until summer of 2015 and the iPad Pro until spring of 2016 would have eliminated the constraints but at the expense of those who wanted one of the faster shipping Apple Watches or the iPad Pro without accessories. (And it likely would have hurt Apple with investors.)

By continually sprinting towards the shipping line, any significant problem can cause a miss. That everything comes together and Apple hits that finish line almost all the time is a testament to the company's operational skill. As Apple continue to scale, however, preventing or mitigating the misses will become increasingly difficult but also increasingly important.

Jeff Williams, Apple's long time senior vice president of operations, has just been officially promoted to chief operating officer. Hopefully that along with more communications and better setting of customer expectations will help.

Apple TV indecisiveness

Apple TV

Apple TV (Image credit: iMore)

Despite not having been refreshed since the spring of 2012, the new Apple TV launched in the fall of 2015 in a state that can only be called unfinished. What is there is really solid, so the designers and engineers obviously did their jobs and well, but just as obviously weren't given the focus and time needed to do it all.

No Siri for Music at launch, no way to share or link to apps, no persistent transiting of passwords to iOS devices, no concurrent update for the Remote app, incomplete TV Show app, and the list goes on. Some of that has already been fixed, both through constant server-side improvements and through a software update, but much still remains.

The reasons for both the long delay and the hot launch are the stuff of rumors—indecision over what kind of set top box to make, the allure of an over-the-top streaming video service—but that's the kind of noise Apple is traditionally really good at cutting through.

The box that eventually shipped is great, realizing so late that this was always the box that should have shipped was not so great. It almost feels like the Apple TV was treated as an accessory and a service, something closer to a Magic Trackpad or iTunes Extras than a device like an iPhone or iPad. It's not uncommon for accessories and services to languish. But devices—they ship.

The Apple TV, especially now that it has a developer platform attached to it, has to be treated as an iPhone or iPad-class device. It has to ship.

App Store sustainability

Last year, despite Apple's internal metrics supposedly reporting fewer "crashers" than ever before, the rise in "frustrators" led to the perception that iOS and OS X had lost its polish. Apple has seemingly recognized the issue—the company even rolled back the problematic discoverd—and begun making changes to improve not just the stability but the polish of their platforms. For the last few years, though, despite internal metrics showing greater volumes and revenues for the App Store than ever before, the loss of sustainability for independent apps has gone unaddressed.

Unless developers have casino-style gamifaction, venture capital and an exit strategy, an established subscription service, and/or see an app as a loss-leader for a broader business, making a living by making apps is only getting harder.

There are other issues to be sure: the aging iTunes infrastructure, the inability to purchase apps cross-platform and through the web, the lack of feature parity in the Mac App Store, crushing delays and endemic capriciousness in reviews, and the list goes on and on.

Apple may not see any of this as a problem or at least as a priority. The Google Play Store, with all its relative openness and options, hasn't produced a single universe-denting app that'd be impossible under the App Store as it currently exists. If it had, you better believe there would be incredible pressure to change.

Phil Schiller's recent appointment as head of App Store across all of Apple's platforms—thank you!—could be a sign that things will change. So might the iPad Pro and its need for truly pro-level software. And so might simply supporting the kind of software that's so great it reduces the chance of customers wanting to even experiment with other platforms.

Last year it remained a problem. This year it's an opportunity.

Product messaging

The Smart Battery Case for iPhone 6s is an incredibly well-engineered product that suffered from bad reviews and bad press because a) it has a wicked-obvious hump on the back, b) Apple didn't publicly explain the benefits afforded by the hump, and c) absent public explanation, many people—including those of us in the media—simply can't or won't put in the work needed to figure it out. A well-crafted webpage or Apple-style product video, silly as that sounds for an accessory, could have avoided the ton of cheap shots that followed.

That's a small example. WWDC 2015 is a bigger one. While some may enjoy the jocularity of recent Apple keynotes—and others not so much—few enjoyed the Apple Music segment. Even fans of Cue, Iovine, and Dre would be hard pressed to deny the timing, pacing, and polish of the keynote hit a brick wall right as they went into the one more thing.

The September event was much better, but the iPad story is still struggling to recapture the power of 2011's "We Believe" and the Apple Watch still hasn't coalesced around convenience.

That Steve Jobs was so central to Apple product messaging, both in personally communicating it and at line-item vetoing everything else, is part of what makes it such a challenge for Apple going forward. Yet Apple now has the advantage of greater openness and willingness to engage. Instead of the best voice in the world, they now have several world-class voices. Look no further than the incredible series of interviews and profiles this year.

Tim Cook or Phil Schiller just need to ensure they all stay laser-focused, and that needs of the products and customers always come first.

Your biggest fumbles?

Those are the biggest challenges I think Apple faced this year and the biggest things I think the company has to watch out for in 2016. What are yours?

Note: I spoke about several of these things with John Gruber on the 2015 year in review episode of his podcast, The Talk Show. So, for an expanded discussion, and John's take, be sure to check that out.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Product messaging? LOL yeah. I bet Volkswagen had the same problem.
    Apple: No, no. The hump is good for you.
    VW: No, no. More CO2 is good for you.
  • The hump is just lame. The CO2 though is such an insignificant amount that it's not worth a government mandated lifestyle and a reduction in MPG. Next they will be dictating how much water our toilets use and what kind of light bulbs we must use!
  • You obviously listen to Mark Levin!
  • And you obviously listen to (and believe) the propaganda from the media and collectivist politicians.
  • Suddenly everyone is an expert and thousands of scientists be damned. Political bloggers and politicians, and their blind followers, have the power of the internet, which grants them the right to talk without any knowledge or understanding whatsoever about a subject. :-)
    At least the oil companies were smart enough to hedge their bets against rising oceans due to global warming because, you know, it's such a hoax...
  • Here's the thing: The "hump" provides for several significant advantages over other cases (read the linked review). That those weren't explained to you, so you don't understand them, is the problem I'm discussing.
  • Oh, they were explained to me, by you, and I doubt Apple could've explained it any better than you did, and yet none of these advantages you wrote about were what I'd call even remotely significant. The only advantages that case has are the lightning compatibility and iOS integration, and neither of those have anything to do with the hump.
  • Agree. Not worth it for the ugly hump and smaller battery size than what other battery cases offer for similar price. Sent from the iMore App
  • The hump, is so that, it allows easily to swap out of the phone from the case. But I do wish, it have to be without hump, one thing Apple is lately compromising is in beauty over functionality, which didn't happened much in Steve's time, so looks like Apple is moving on from Steve.
  • 'Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.' - Steve Jobs. Do we really think people need extra explanation why iMac has a 'belly' ?
  • No it doesn't Rene. Stop kidding yourself. It's a dreadful case and honestly only a fool would waste 100 for that pitiful csse Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Are you just trolling? I have a Mophie and except for raw mAh capacity, the Apple case is better in nearly every way. It's way easier to insert/remove, it compensates for signal attenuation, it doesn't require a dongle for Earpods, and the phone knows it's a battery and not a wall plug. It's fine if the product is not for you, but to plug your ears and say "la la la it doesn't have any advantages!" is just ignorant.
  • Don't know about y'all, but I got the product message loud and clear. It reads, "get the 6s Plus and AVOID the Hump." The extra battery in my iPhone 6s Plus is fully integrated into ios9 AND there's NO HUMP! *points at an iPhone 6s user and laughs* Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple used to be masters of messaging. "Here's what's wrong with X, or a problem in general. Here's our solution. Here's what it's for. Here's why it's so much better than the rest and why it's worth the extra money". I dunno if the Watch, Music, or iPad Pro ever got that basic treatment. They jump straight into "here's the Digital Crown" or "It's got a huge screen and fantastic performance" before even describing what it's for, or why it exists. I know Steve was a big part of that clarity and messaging, but I feel like the director of these keynotes is also slacking off.
  • I never really thought about this but I couldn't agree more. Well said...good point.
  • I've also found this over the past few announcements. "Here's what it does and here's how much it costs." No explanation of how products will integrate (minus the brief explanation of Handoff) or how devices can make things easier for users, something Steve excelled at. And speaking of cost, the high price of the Apple Watch (and its bands) never seemed to matter to Apple. Did they actually do a market study to see how much consumers would pay for a product? Did they expect customers to buy a $400 band that you can find on other sites for a fraction of that? I just get the feeling they are appeasing themselves with their "newness" rather than thinking of customers. Product launches without certain features and poor updates that don't address problems seem to confirm that.
  • Plenty of people including myself bought the link bracelet for Apple Watch. $450 is not a lot for a quality bracelet. All the other knock off bracelets to me look and feel like something bought at a Walmart. Junk that I'd never waste money on. The links are loose and the finishes are subpar. But hey, that's okay because the link bracelet was never meant for you anyways and you have the choice to go with the cheaper option.
  • I never claimed nobody bought them at all. However, I can say that I have five friends with Apple watch and know two store employees. Of them, two bought the Apple band and the rest of us have third party bands. We can't tell the difference. The quality, the look, even the parts are all the same. I can say that the two who have the real deal are not happy that they spent so much. And the store folks say the metal band is the one they sell the least of (followed by the leather, but they say that's more the aesthetics than price). The watch bands were one example anyway and wasn't the core focus of my comment. I know Apple is expensive and I know you get quality, but this was a case of them not doing a good market study to find what consumers are willing to pay. The overall sales of the watch aren't meeting projections and I believe that is why. I'm glad you got a band that you are happy with and I'm glad you could afford the $450 for it. Based on what I've seen and heard you are in a small minority.
  • Based upon what you have seen and heard? Do you really think that's even remotely close to having a sufficient amount of information to come to a conclusion? I don't mean to use your post as the springboard, although I guess I'm doing just that, but this is a good example of a real misstep. Just like this entire article. People are too consumed with pointing out flaws and the Internet just exacerbates this. Apple is a company that makes products for purchase- You like and can afford, you buy; you don't or can't, you don't. No one needs to go spouting off about their displeasure because honestly, we shouldn't give a ****. It's a **** watch band. Or a battery case. Sent from the iMore App
  • I think seven sources, two of which work in the store, is a pretty good reference. The latter have national sales data and have had interactions with thousands of customers and hundreds of third party products. Thus it's a pretty good conclusion that you can find a third-party band that's as good a quality as Apple. I've seen it and others have as well. If that's not your cup of tea - great. That's no reason to pick apart everything I say as if it's just made up nonsense. Unless you're willing to buy a bunch of third party products and test them against the real thing, as my friends and I did, how can you refute what I'm stating? The post above mine stated that "plenty of people have bought the link band." Why isn't that statement under your microscope? I'm guessing because it's a statement you just agree with. You just choose to pick apart those who go against your beliefs. And, again, the Apple Watch was just one example - not the focus of my initial argument. My point was that Apple seems to be about satisfying themselves with products that are poorly introduced without mentioning integration or customer satisfaction in price or usability. It's a case of "here's our product, buy it - trust us it will help you." I'm entirely Apple in my life but in the past few years I've found myself researching at the store a lot more to find out about products that were just a reiteration of a past product, have little integration, or a price point that seems ridiculous. The watch being one of them. That's something Steve never had a problem conveying.
  • I think it's time to ditch the S models and have something new every year. With companies like Huawei bringing the top rated Nexus 6P to every US carrier for only $499 unlocked and Samsung, LG, etc. bringing multiple, top quality flagships to all carriers as well (for less than Apple's "entry" 16GB offering), it's time to really innovate every year and stop "phoning it in" with S models.
  • The point if the "S" models is to improve on the original numbered model, nothing wrong with this year's models which are a big improvement over the original 6 in every area and 3D Touch is gonna big big when developers take advantage of 3D Touch. Thankfully Apple will not listen to someone as insignificant as a fandroid. Posted via the iMore App
  • Well here's a radical thought... How about bringing an improvement across the board with a new model. Not just an "improvement of the previous model". It's simply their way of saving money by milking a design for 2 years, while simultaneously charging more than just about anything else on the market. The S models aren't bad phones, but they're a lazy effort and money grab.
  • It lets the internals team work 2 years out, knowing the space, thermal, and other constraints, which is a significant advantage. (And why Apple is so far ahead of everyone else on internals—a leapfrog every two years). Cosmetics wouldn't benefit anything other than perception, and probably for the worse for some.
  • In a vacuum, that's a fair argument. But Samsung, LG, Sony, Huawei, Motorola, etc. are doing both simultaneously. I'm sure a monster like Apple could easily accommodate both designers and the internals team to produce all new models every year, especially considering the premium price that iPhones command. And lets not pretend that the iPhone's internals are a "leapfrog" ahead of the Galaxy S6, LG V10, Huawei Nexus 6P, etc. Apple makes an outstanding phone, but it's no longer 2011...
  • It's tough to lump Apple and Samsung into the same space. Samsung hasn't been selling up to expectations, so they've been switching strategies (dumping SD cards, removable batteries, etc.) and the redesigns reflect that. Apple doesn't have that problem. Right now, adding a new color like gold is giving almost the same benefits with almost no drawbacks. (None of the other companies have significantly profitable phones, to my knowledge, so it's comparing apples to oranges as well.)
  • From a business standpoint, you're absolutely correct. Apple can literally add a color and it's suddenly a feeding frenzy. They have incredible brand loyalty. But call it as it is. It's not because the iPhone is more innovative or has "superior internals". They're coasting for 2 years because they can. It's an easy, very profitable thing to do. Hats off to them for pulling it off, but again, it is what it is. They've dominated the high end market and are simply maximizing profits.
  • If it's so easy, why aren't the other companies doing it ? Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • And Samsung is so hard up to sell the GS6 that they are pretty much giving them away and throwing in a 32" Samsung TV to sweeten the deal. This year they undertook the huge endeavor of completely redesigning their flagship models, likely due to the overwhelming success and great reviews the iPhone 6/6+, but to me they seemed like half baked efforts with a lot of "let's just do what Apple did". In the process they got rid of two of the best features; the removable SD card and battery. If I ever give android another shot (only as a 2nd phone, not going without an iPhone ever again) I would go with the Nexus line. I've gotten use to being able to update my phone's OS as soon as the new one is out. Since it's the only android device that has this capability and lacks an interface on top of android like Touchwiz (still horrible). Sent from the iMore App
  • No, that's Sprint desperately trying to get a new customer. That's who's giving away the very cheap TV Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • After reading your comments, I think you're missing the whole point. Apple dominates the industry in the one area that matters. Profits. What is the ultimate purpose of any business? Yes, making a profit. And how they do business (including designing their products) determines the amount of profit they make. Whatever you think Apple is doing wrong in relation to their competitors is irrelevant. Companies like Samsung, Sony, LG, etc have to constantly change their strategies (and the designs of their phones) in a desperate gamble to stay relevant and competitive in the marketplace. Apple simply releases singular products that not only manages to stay relevant, but stay functional for a very long time. By the way, you can thank Apple for bringing 64bit to smartphones. When the iPhone 5s came out, Samsung's cutting edge idea for the future was a 32bit Exynos Octa Core that Apple's 64bit Dual Core SOC (along with the first 64bit OS) completely outperformed. If history is any indicator, it would be wise to assume that Apple knows what they are doing. Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple has brought wondrously innovative things to the masses at "fair" prices and did so by making products that were nearly irresistible design-wise. Having created the smart battery case, with little or no apparent thought having been put into it's aesthetics, Apple seems to have become a victim of their own hype. In my opinion both Apple and the "flock" needed a wake up call; the battery case gave it to them.
  • There was an incredible amount of thought put into its aesthetics but ultimately a "prettier" case wouldn't have been usable, and given it's meant for utility, this design won out. (It's well crafted for what it is—start thinking about alternatives and you'll immediately see why other options were worse.)
  • Rene, Unless this company is "full of it", couldn't a company with the resources of Apple could have come up with a more "aesthetically" pleasing case, at least similar to this? Explaining why something is doesn't always drive consumer demand.
  • Based on the comments I am not even sure that case is even really coming out.
  • Is it not coming out b/c it's technically not.possible or because of crowd-source funding? I primary posted the link to show the possibilities that are not "a hump". Sent from the iMore App
  • That's the thing about aesthetics, it's quite subjective. I genuinely think the Smart Battery Case looks better than that Indiegogo project, and it doesn't require you to break apart the thing to insert the phone. I can only guess, but it looks like the materials on the crowd funded product are also not as nice to the touch. That's fine if you like that product, but it's a little short-sighted to say "why couldn't they have come up with something aesthetically superior like this" when there's nothing objectively better about it. It just doesn't have a hump :)
  • I hope you don’t take this as disrespectful Rene as that is not how it is intended, but this is a very refreshing article and one that I least expected to come from you.
  • Most of the reviews we do are like this, but buried. You'll be seeing much more of it!
  • I agree with the article, but I feel that industrial design should be mentioned beyond the "battery hump". It's shockingly becoming an issue in Cupertino. I know this is an opinion but I feel that the Apple Watch is very unattractive when sitting next to some of it's Android Wear couterparts, I owned one earlier this year when I still used iOS but switched back to Android in November and bought a Moto 360. Also, the keyboard cover for the iPad Pro is basically "un-Apple" in every imaginable way. I feel that the company is really losing it's way. Earlier in the year, I had a MacBook Air, iPad Air, iPhone 6, and Apple Watch. As we ring in the new year, I'm typing this on a Surface, wearing a Moto 360 with a Nexus 6 at my side. All of my Apple "I-Thingys" have been ebayed.
  • It's tough to separate subjective from objective. Personally, I find most of the Android Wear watches hideous by comparison. That's subjective. The Apple Watch build is far superior to anything else on the market into terms of materials and manufacturing precision. That's objective. I think your reaction speaks more to the lack of context given some products—the reasons why they are the way they are—than actual design?
  • Couldn't agree more, Rene... I personally like the design of the Apple case, but to some that makes me an *****... It's getting old to hear some haters continue to use terms like "brand loyalty" or "Fanboy" as if I only buy products that are Apple because I'm some robot... I buy Apple products because they work best for me... Walmart is a huge retailer not because people want to say "I bought this at Walmart", but because they are winning the retail battle of low cost alternatives... I've owned several PC's with several os's, but one purchase of a MacBook Pro Retina and the choice was very clear to me... Apple won hands down... I don't know how you deal with all of these whiners and nitpickers as calmly as you do, Rene... Keep up the good work... Sent from the iMore App
  • I prefer the round look of some of the Android watches over the Apple Watch I just wish the couple I looked at were a little bit thinner.. My wife prefers the Apple Watch appearance and the 38 mm size though.
  • I agree about the iPad Pro keyboard! I was at the Apple store last weekend to check out the Pro and I couldn't believe the design of the keyboard. Total Fail in my opinion.
  • According to Rene, everything Apple had designed and built is best in it's class. There must be a reason why it (the iPad Pro keyboard) look like a china made product. You just don't see it. Perhaps Rene can enlighten you.
  • As the owner of an original Moto 360, I cannot agree that it it's a better looking device than the Apple watch. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Waiting for my Apple pencil to go with my ipad Pro! I love Apple but when you bring a new product out have enough product! The Apple TV might not be finished yet but to me I love it. The Siri and the Apps are worth it!
  • I think the new Magic Mouse should be on the list.
  • I think Apple has two big issues when it comes to product cleanliness: 1.) The selling of old hardware at a discount amidst new product lines creates a confusion for buyers that didn't exist back when Jobs would discontinue an old model when a new one comes out. The fact that customers need to choose between something called an "iPad mini 2" and an "iPad mini 4" or a MacBook "Air" that is now thicker than something just called the "MacBook" is odd and confusing. I know why they do it - to lower entry level price points - but I would prefer if they remained a high end provider and kept the product line clean. 2.) The wake of the progression of iCloud services - I like iCloud Photo Library, but why are all my videos in an app called Photos? Seems like we need a new "Videos" app with iCloud Video Library that sunsets iMovie and video integration in Photos in favor of an app that can handle user-created videos, editing them, and maintaining a library of iTunes video content as well. Additionally, the legacy functions of iTunes that still exist in the wake of iCloud Music Library has created a messy mix of new and old.
  • The laptop line-up is now looking weak compared to the Windows competition. A major refresh is needed in early 2016. I'd suggest more MacBook options with more ports available and improvements to the design of the Macbook Pro which is now looking very chunky.
  • Do you even own a MacBook...? My MacBook Pro Retina is ANYTHING but chunky... It's sleek, thin and built with pure quality... Nothing, I repeat, nothing on the PC side even remotely compares to the design or quality of my Mac in any way...! Unbelievable... Sent from the iMore App
  • Excellent review of the year, Rene. Well written, too. Thanks for the insight/reminder. Sure, Apple dropped some balls this year but you can't name one other company that derives that much revenue from that many product lines, not even P&G. And even that would be like comparing the construction of a sand castle to constructing the new Apple campus. Apple's got to screw up a lot worse than 2015 for me to fall off the fan base.
  • I would have to go with pretty much everything Rene said and would add Tim Cook pitching the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement. It isn't a full laptop replacement for the majority of consumers. I use mine a lot, but as it stands it can't replace my MBP. iOS for iPad is getting better, but still needs a lot of work. I know Apple doesn't want OS X on an iPad because it doesn't have a good touch interface, but for iPad Pro to be a true laptop replacement it needs to borrow more features from OS X such as; Finder like local file management, a trackpad and a way to add more storage via SD card or a USB external drive. Yes keyboard shortcuts make it a little easier to navigate, but I still find myself needing to take my fingers off the keyboard to touch the screen far too often. A trackpad would fix this. Microsoft has the form factor right with the Surface Pro 4 and it does great as a laptop replacement. But it still sucks as a tablet. iPad Pro is what tablets should have been all along. But sucks as a laptop. Sent from the iMore App
  • Their biggest fumble this year: calling the 6S's Force Touch "3D Touch". It functions in the same way as Force Touch on the Apple Watch, so it should have the same name. Also, the Nokia McLaren prototype phone from 2014 was first to have the "3D Touch" name. If you look up videos of it in action, it truly is 3D Touch, whereas the 6S's so-called "3D Touch" is nothing like the McLaren's. The 6S's 3D Touch was poorly named and is essentially the same as the Apple Watch's Force Touch, so by that logic, the feature's name should be the same on both devices. Sent from the iMore App
  • My guess is they came up with the name 3D Touch thinking it sounded better after have using force touch on the earlier products. I'm guessing they'll update the name force touch to 3D Touch upon product cycle upgrades.
  • I tend to think it's deliberate, not a fumble at all. Force Touch on Apple Watch certainly accomplishes less than 3D Touch on iPhone, no doubt about that. And when one considers Apple's clear intentions to position the new iPads as solid productivity devices, it would come as no surprise to me that when Apple eventually applies pressure sensitivity hardware and software to a new breed of tablet in the near to middle future, 3D Touch will be surpassed by an even more functional and open-ended technology which they may name differently once more.
  • From a developer's perspective there is a big difference between Force Touch on the Watch and 3D Touch on the iPhone. On the Watch you just get to control the menu that is displayed when the user force touches, with no information about where they touched or how hard they pressed. Whereas 3D Touch in the iPhone 6S will report the individual locations and pressures of multiple touches. This should translate into a lot more clever features on the 6S than on the Watch. It doesn't help that most of the initial uses of 3D Touch are limited to one or two pressure levels of a single touch, when the device can actually distinguish hundreds of pressure levels for multiple touches. Hopefully developers will be more creative than Apple has been so far. I think shortcuts and peek/pop are great but they don't really utilise the 3rd dimension enough to justify the "3D Touch" name. At the moment the hardware is not being fully utilised by the software. I disagree that Nokia's 3D Touch was better named. The clever bit was the fact that you could control the device without actually touching the screen. I admit that it's debatable though. Having said that you are right that Apple having two names for such similar technology is confusing. I can see why they would want to call it something different because the 3D Touch technology is much more advanced than Force Touch. However most users don't appreciate that, so they should probably have kept the same name.
  • Meh, First World problems. And, hindsight is 20-20 vision; while knowledge after the fact is easy and ordinary, knowledge before the facts is mastery. This is what makes it so difficult to execute at the rate that Apple (and pretty much no other vendor out there) has managed in a long time. The original iPhone did not ship with a video camera, cut-and-paste, bluetooth and a million other little things that naysayers ranted about for an eternity. It didn't stop the device from changing virtually EVERYTHING in the mobile handset sphere, devastating the fortunes of the dominating incumbents and handing the keys of the kingdom to the fruity one. In a world market where one week is an eternity and timing is everything, software is increasingly able to overcome any hardware glitches that come in the wake of "hitting the ground running". Incremental upgrades will polish off the stragglers and "make our good better, and our better best"...
  • Agreed... Well said... Sent from the iMore App
  • Interesting article, and a good one. I enjoyed reading it. Good one Rene :-) Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • everything to do with apple music, i was a Spotify subscriber but i thought i would give it a try, sadly the iTunes problem has not yet been addressed, not to mention the lack web player, the latter bothers me more than the former because im often away from my computer for long periods of time. being tied to only a couple of devices is some what annoying, a web player elevates this. this before we even get into the huge problems plaguing the service, bad service, bad implementation, although beats one is a fine radio station, i live in the uk and iplayer has a much richer catalogue and more variety. not enough to differentiate and as a result ive left the service and choose google instead, i would have went back to spotify but i have a large cd collection, something google handles better not to mention youtube red. now im shocked apple news wasn't mentioned, yes its a fine app, if you like the news from two days ago reported as new, i dont understand how apple cant get that simple thing right. i would also love to be able to hide certain news, no matter how much you try to force it on me i will not read about the Kardashians, never ever stop making them a thing. althought he one thing i wish you would do, hide read stories. that one thing and i'd start usign the app again.
  • I have always liked the iTune app as a content management tool and I've yet to find better, but the bloat has gotten out of control and it's become worse and worse at one of it's original functions - content management, unfortunately. The news app is nice, but I agree, why can't I restrict certain content? Worse - why can't I restrict certain news sources? Why force me to show WSJ content when I can't view the articles without a WSJ account, for example.
  • Great essay, Rene. You hit the weak points that have been grinding me down this year. Apple Music iCloud Library was the main culprit. I have been keeping a keen eye on Photos this year. I continue to work in Aperture with a developing plan to migrate off of it and on to the next thing that I can trust with my photo libraries. I'm intrigued with Photos for OS X yet it's been difficult to follow what extensions developers have written that could fill the void that is Aperture's demise. I feel that this struggle of discovery is holding me back from diving into Apple's ecosystems, whether it be music, photography or dare I say Mac OS X itself!
  • I'm still waiting for Apple to get off their lazy *** and flip the switch on the Apple TV Podcast app. There's no good reason why it still lacks one. This is complete bullshit.
  • The problems for me are discovery in the app store and a proper iCloud service. I think people get a little too critical at times. An example I've seen many posts about how bad the badonkadonk case is then they put a picture of it beside another case like a Mophie and personally I would take Apple's case all day long just based on looks. My point is there are so many options when it comes to battery cases that Apple doesn't have to create the case to rule them all. The App Store for me is not somewhere I can browse and find great apps. I think that's a problem they need to figure out. Sent from the iMore App
  • I switched to Apple Music, but I thought the settings were obvious in preferences. They have had a setting for turning off iTunes matched files for years, so I don't think it was new to Apple Music. They just added an extra box to turn off the rest of the service. Personally, I need both boxes on the two Macs that run iTunes since I use them differently for my desktop and laptop. Siri for Apple Music has been awesome since day one on iOS and the ability to use Apple Music and Siri with the Appletv 4 and Apple Watch are game changers. The fact that AirPlay ( controlling the iPhone) can be used with this service right from the watch is ultra convenient, as well. If this is a mess, I hope we see more messes in the future. My main criticism is for the lack of the podcast app on the AppleTV and the AirPlay icon on the watch ( in Glances) that doesn't work with AirPlay.
  • Apple's biggest issue is that NONE of their new ecosystems / products hit like the iPhone. What's in the pipeline? A car? They can't figure out how to.make their own voice search service work in a TV. Something Amazon has done for a while. Are they really building a car? VR? It better be very good. People like to talk about how Apple doesn't release a product until it's ready. However their biggest hits MADE markets. iPod/iPhone/iPad. Everything else they're second or third or fourth to the market on - not a hit. Tim Cook has a tough row to hoe.
  • I found watchOS one wasn't that good at all even the first tvOS wasn't ready for prime time. I am a believer Apple works on so much stuff and doesn't have enough manpower to handle it anymore. Maybe that's why they building a campus!?
  • Hey Rene,
    Didn't expected from you to end the year with this kind of article. Lets hope Apple corrects all these mistakes. I so wanted iPad pro, after using it for a while in demo unit, I am totally convinced, but there is no accessories available in India. So have to wait 2/3 weeks. I so wish they could have made the smart battery case for 5s too.
  • I would mention a "meta-fumble": Apple stopped being desirable. In part this is due to disappointment with products. Rene listed several of these. But also those that weren't mentioned because nothing noteworthy happened to them. Why is the MacPro still being sold unchanged since 2013? Where is the real innovation in the MacBook Pro range? The excitement that had me looking forward to new product announcements has largely faded. Of course Apple is still issuing new products. Unfortunately these just don't matter as much to me. The iPad Pro may appeal to graphic artists but at that price point I prefer a laptop. The Watch is branded as a fashion product; pardon me, but I am not interested in the "Think Different" company joining the ranks of Gucci, Burberry et al. in catering to the nouveau riches. Which brings me to the most important point: I just don't like Apple as much as I used to, essentially because they appear to be following a hard-nosed capitalist approach that doesn't appeal to me. Paying over the top for RAM? Buying 16 GB iPhones with anorexic batteries? Accessories that cost twice or three times as much as decent alternatives? A solid gold watch at Rolex prices??? Thanks but no thanks. Investors may be happy with >40% margins; but I am not, I feel I'm being price gauged. Especially in Europe Apple is pricing itself out of the market. I do find this is a shame, because Apple has so many resources it could put to better use. Lots of research and design capabilities and some of the best people in the industry. Plus several appealing initiatives, supporting environmental and social improvements. So Apple, get rid of your fashion aspirations, concentrate on the basics, and price reasonably. That will make you not only into a 20th century but also into a 21st century icon.
  • A ton of premium games and apps broken by iOS 9 and the failure of the developers to update their software means that the App Store is no longer trusted store. This has to be remedied fast.
  • One fumble is the lack of follow-through on certain services like iBeacons and HomeKit. These two technologies should allow for greater iOS integration with the "outside world", but yet they seem to be stumbling along waiting for developer integration. There is tremendous potential here, but I fear that they will never get enough critical mass soon enough to make a difference.
  • Apple music App changes.
    -it made what was a music manager and music player into just a cluttered interface to sell paid apple music services. It is now cluttered, not intuitive and lacks features of a quality music player. AppleTV with no USB.
    -no usb means i can't attach my large drive full of my local content and would have to buy an expensive new router or buy a computer i can leave on all the time to run Plex. Thus forcing me in the direction of devices like Roku 4. AppleTV NOT at $99
    -Price is a large deterrent. Especially given the lack of a USB port. I don't pay a ton of attention to Apple news so whatever else they did wrong i wasn't much paying attention.
  • I'm reluctant to say this, especially since I currently have a LOT of Apple products, but my biggest fumble was not thinking through my iPad Pro purchase. Have no need of the pen--no matter how cool it is, and apparently it's very cool for graphics people--and the cost of both the Apple keyboard case (no backlight and no function key row...but it's a "productivity machine?" Seriously?)and the 128GB Pro version added all together was just a huge chunk of money...just too much for what the iPad and keyboard case added up to, function-wise. I even had to deal with touch lag, and really never felt like I was seeing the A9X speed demon at work. I sent it back, but will not be surprised if I go back to it in the spring after they fix iOS 9 a little more. That said, while I love the size of the Pro, if the Air 3 is a rocket ship, that's the way I'll go (coming in March, they think).
  • Biggest fumble was the awful battery case which objectively is a terrible product for your money with superior battery cases at that price and lower with larger capacitive battery, light indication of battery, larger batteries over all and an actual on/off button unlike Apples hideous case that continuously charges your phone even if it is at 100 and discharges the case which breaks the point of the case overall. Don't kid yourself Rene. It's a terrible engineered product. I wonder who those simpleton would buy it Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Do any of you people have any sense of responsibility for the fact that Apple pulled out of the United States almost totally. They make nothing here anymore and Apple doesn't even pay taxes here anymore other than payroll taxes and alleged profits in the Apple stores which I'm sure are extremely low, due to billing from the Irish company. Tim Cook swears that Apple pays all the taxes is legally obligated to pay but that has nothing to do with responsibility to the country that made you what you are. They don't pay for any roads that Apple devices are delivering on, they don't pay for any schools in which Apple products are inundated. They don't they don't pay to fight Isis and don't you for a second think that Ireland is going to chase Isis throughout the Middle East. Stop and think about responsibility and stop and think about what's right and maybe the biggest mistake, and I hope it's the biggest mistake that Apple made in 2015, was Tim Cook going on 60 minutes and telling everybody how wonderful Apple is and the fact that they don't make phones in China because Chinese workers make less it's because they work better because their heads aren't filled p with the reading writing and arithmetic. That's total b*******. Apple is in China because the Chinese people who work for Foxconn make $1.15 an hour and they are locked up in work prisons so that if an update is needed they just wake them up so they can get to work. I hope the American people get wise to this and either force their political representatives to make much tougher laws for companies like Apple or the boycott Apple products until Apple comes back. I understand it's difficult to compete in the world paying people here 10 to $15 an hour when you can pay them $1.15 but think about what happens when every single company follows what Apple's done and there no jobs left here anymore because Apple is not paying corporate tax here anymore on the profits the multi trillions of profits on the sales of the devices worldwide are gone from US tax. Think about the affect f that on the Treasury. I think Tim Cook also said something about that they don't want to pay tax twice if they have to pay tax in the jurisdictions in which they sell the devices. Well they're not paying tax here number one and when you pay tax in another jurisdictions, corporations can take a foreign tax credit against any tax that's due here. This is something you need to know. There's nothing wrong with Apple devices, they make a good product. That's not enough anymore. We can't allow our economy to crumble when CEOs like Tim Cook do what he did and take his company to Ireland. Once they are in Ireland, there are also services and other products we lose here. So to me Apple is a total lose lose situation for the United States. I certainly think we should get them out of our schools because their training children to what? What will be left with Apple and Cisco and Coke and now Pfizer laughing in faces, as our economy erodes more and more every year. That's not to say we don't have to get off our ***** and get our politicians to make better laws but you can't legislate absolutely every single thing and you would hope that a company so important to the United States, and we are so important to them, would not look to screw us like Apple did. Oh, & I just love Tim Cook's comment that America hasn't kept up with the digital age and taxes. What the **** does that mean? Does that mean that General Motors and Ford and IBM and General Electric they weren't important, so they could be taxed at any rate but these little Pissants in Cupertino they can get away with not paying tax by making a deal with Ireland that has no responsibilities whatsoever for the rest of the world like we do to pay them 2% corporate tax, and many times they get away with that also because of the difference in how the two countries laws state taxability and jurisdiction. So the new digital age means we're going to screw your middle class like they've never been screwed before because the money that Apple et al doesn't pay here, they, those in the middle class, are going to have to pay for the schools and the roads and the bridges and our military infighting Isis. Watch this video and remember you're and American before you're and Apple customer. Believe me, I have an android LG v10 that is far superior can the Apple 6S Plus. It's fast, has one of the best cameras anywhere, and I can add an SD card of up to 2 trillion bytes and I can have extra batteries so I don't have to go running around looking for charger is in Starbucks like many Apple users have to do as they sit on the floor when their phone charges. There are many alternatives that are just as good or better. LG is Korean but Android is owned by Google and Google is still American. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • WOW, you are beyond ignorant. Android makes ZERO money, Google makes money from Search. Android is a FREE product. Apple is an American company too, with the majority of non assembly line workers in California. The Mac Pro is entirely built in America. Sure, the chips and such are made overseas, but show me which computers are built in America these days??
    And 100% of Android phones are all made by non-American companies. At least Apple is still an American company even if the iPhone is made in China. The fact that you are trying to convince people that Apple is somehow less American than completely foreign companies whose leadership and profits all exist in a foreign land show how insane you are. Stop using nonsense in justifying your blind Apple hate and admit you're just a mindless Apple hating troll. And then go enjoy all your non Apple products made in China and Korea by non American companies. Here's how your precious Google works by the way (they are all the same):
  • Apple Music : FAIL
    AppleTV : FAIL
    iPad Pro : FAIL
    Watch : FAIL
    MacBook : WIN, but only at $300 Off msrp
    iPhone 6s Plus : WIN, 'cuz I don't need no humpy battery case! Sent from the iMore App
  • Would be interesting to get your definition of FAIL there. On what planet is the Watch a FAIL when it outsold all the Android smartwatch competition by leaps and bounds? Current conservative estimates are over 5 million units sold, which is more than the original iPhone sold in the same time period as a brand new product and many times more any competitor smartwatch. In what insane asylum is the AppleTV a FAIL when it's been highly praised and reviewed very well. Seems like if an Apple product doesn't completely decimate the industry and shatter all records, you consider it a FAIL? It's a good thing you don't run a business cause it seems you don't have a clue about it, lol.
  • Well Duke, you're right about Google. I honestly didn't know that they were in Ireland too. Well, it doesn't make it any better for Tim Cook, but it seems as though they all do it and they are are all scumbags. Cook's positions on 60 minutes were revolting, saying that Americans can't make phones like the Chinese can and it's not about money. That was disgusting lie but it also doesn't put him below anyone else. I never liked the iPhone because it was overpriced and I never liked the idea of a permanent battery and no SD cards. Also, the software I use will not appear on an Apple computer unless Microsoft totally screws up. With Satya Nadella at CEO of Microsoft, I don't. doubt that can happen. The important thing then is to push our political representatives 2-step all over Apple, Google and Microsoft and all the other companies that have done inversions and get them to pay tax here. Then the next step is to have a wage equilibration tariff on products made with sub standard labor rates. The $1.15 that Foxconn pays its employees, should bring with it a tariff a 50% of the difference between our minimum wage and what they pay for production employees. So that will bring our companies back and protect them. What's the justification? We are the world sheriff. Ireland is not going to stop Isis and it doesn't look look like China is going to do anything either. Thanks for the link, I really do appreciate it, I like I honest debate and being proven wrong is often times a relief. I'm still up in the air about what my next phone should be. I bought the LG v10 and it's really a nice phone Plus I can change batteries and I have an Micro SD card, so if the phone gets fried like my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 did, ability to backup it's right there on the micro SD card. Samsung is fixing my fried phone. However, you never should have gotten to that point as the phone was fried believe it or not because Microsoft changed servers fourth account and that wasn't reflected in the setup, or the automatic setup, of the Exchange accounts. I wonder if Apple had that problem with its users having outlook dot com or accounts. I do not like the iPads, I think they have a tremendous delay and registration problem causing miss hits. I had one and hated it, I used one when I went to vote in Delray Beach and it was missing I hated it. So I never had any warm feeling about Apple products Plus Steve Jobs was a *****. May he rest in peace. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • AppleTV no 4K. no 4K streaming. no 4K exclusives movie app. major fail
  • Was this a rush to get out a "me too" article about how Apple dropped the ball in 2015? I'm not saying Apple is infallible, but this just seemed ... contrived.
  • What Apple had in 2015 were several First Generation launches. Not even the iPhone had a favorable First Generation launch, and look where it is now. Sent from the iMore App
  • What about the idiotic design of the new mouse, which has it's charging port on the bottom so you can't use it while charging? This is by far the worst fumble given Apple is a design-centric company.
  • Don't think we need to talk about a case. I don't like it so I won't but it. Is more about iOS problems which we depending on