Apple's five biggest misses of 2016

It feels like I spend most of my time these days knocking down manufactured controversies or "fake tech news". I do it because we get pelted with so much noise week after week it becomes almost impossible to separate the real problems from the sensationalized ones. And Apple, like any big company, has real problems.

Some of them are similar to those from year's past. Others are new or, in my mind, newly important. None of them are spell immediate doom for a company with billions in the bank, of course, but any or all of them could become critical to Apple's sustained relevance over the next decade.

Retention remains one of them. So is the scalability of the organization. The diversity of the board and the company. The stability of the various platforms. And so on. I'm going to pick four to focus on for now, though: The four I think deserve particular attention to in 2017.

Shipping

"Great artists ship" was a favorite saying of Apple's late co-founder, Steve Jobs. Logistics and supply chain management are skills Apple's former COO, now CEO, Tim Cook, and current COO, Jeff Williams have taken to near-legendary levels.

Yet for the last little while, Apple has been plagued by supply problems. We've had products come in hot, like iPad mini and Apple TV. We've had products come in incredibly constrained like Apple Pencil, iPhone SE, iPhone 7 Plus, or Apple Watch Series 2. And we've had products come in late, like AirPods.

Sometimes it's the result of inaccurate demand forecasting, of higher component constraints or lower yields than expected. Sometimes it's because of last minute issues or of changes to materials or manufacturing processes. Sometimes it's just about resources and priorities.

Whatever the cause, it means Apple can't sell as many of the products as they otherwise would, which is bad for Apple. Worse, people can't buy them in a timely fashion, which makes for a terrible customer experience.

Satisfaction levels are still tremendously high, so once people get the products, they like them. It's just the getting part that needs work.

Apple has always been a company with an incredibly focused product lineup. Once upon a time, that was just the Mac. Now it's iPhone and iPad, Watch and TV, accessories and AirPods.

iPhone still ships on time — it has to — but it would behoove customers if Apple figured out how to forecast and fulfill all the other products in a timely manner as well.

The horn effect

Apple makes more money from iPhone in a month than they make from Mac all year. Apple also sells far, far, ludicrously far more notebook Macs than desktop Macs. As customers, we're literally voting with our wallets that all we want from Apple is more and more mobile.

That doesn't mean desktop Macs aren't important, though. They're not just the trucks in Apple's fleet, they're the trucking industry.

Yet Mac Pro hasn't been updated since 2013, Mac mini since 2014, and iMac since 2015. It's tempting to simply file that under problematic as well but, since Apple's last major updates also made all of those computers into computing appliances, unable to be updated by the average customer, a better word is "unacceptable". When you take away someone's ability to do something for themselves, you take on the absolute responsibility of doing it for them.

Likewise, Apple is still making Magic keyboards, mouses, and trackpads, at least for now, but they've gotten out of the display business and, rumor has it, they're getting out of the router business next.

So, we're approaching a world where, if you want to get a high-end computer, display, or router, you have to get it from a company other than Apple. That's been the case with gaming and printers for a while now, but once you start adding video production and routers, and other industries and peripherals, there's an increasing chance it snowballs.

Once you start getting things from a company other than Apple, it's easier to get the next thing from that other company, and the next thing. Eventually that could include notebooks and, yes, even phones.

The halo effect helped build out from iPod and iPhone to full-on ecosystem that provides far more value than the sum of its parts. The horn effect could do the opposite. It could begin to break apart a lot of hard-won gains Apple's made over the last decade.

Services experience

Siri on iPhone

Siri on iPhone

Much of 2016 was wasted worrying about Apple being behind in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. But Apple's been doing both, quietly, for years. In some ways, thanks to owning their own silicon, Apple might even be ahead. Where Apple has been falling down, though, is in services experience.

For traditional products, Apple is famous for sweating every detail from the packaging to the pixel. Design paints the back of the fence. Software engineering is managed three levels down. Services, though, has had to transform from content contract negotiation and file delivery to a range of businesses vaster and more complex than perhaps any other organization.

And it needs to adopt some of the culture of the traditional software and hardware divisions to cope with it. Including, I'd argue, a high-profile, public-facing VP of services experience whose only job it is, day in, day out, is to make sure everything from Siri to Maps to Music is delightful.

None of the complaints made by major news outlets about silly Siri omissions this year should have been discovered by journalists. No Apple Music edge-cases should have curled Dalrymple's beard. All of it should have been found and fixed first by a team lead by a services VP whose only job is to make sure exactly that stuff is found and fixed first.

In 2016, Apple finally gave us a dedicated VP of App Store, something I've been wishing for for years. In 2017, I'm hoping we get a VP of services experience as well. And one smart and powerful enough that it's near-instantly apparent.

What's NeXT

20 years ago Apple hit a brick wall. The technology that had birthed the Mac would take them no further. And so they bought NeXT, got Steve Jobs back, and charted a course for the next two decades. That gave them macOS (née OS X) and, eventually, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS.

Another brick wall approaches, though. (It always does.) iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV are all riding high right now, but there'll come a point where the technology behind them reaches its limit and can take them no farther. (It always will.)

What then? It's doubtful there'll be another NeXT to buy. That means Apple has to prepare its own next NeXT.

This might not be a concern. Modern Apple is great at obsoleting themselves and it's quite possible Swift, Apple File System, and some of the other things they've been working on could combine, step by step, year over year, to eventually rejuvenate everything.

But the recent ups and downs with the rumored Project Titan could also show that Apple isn't looking as far forward as they could. My biggest hope for Titan was never a car but for new processes and technologies that could lead to many new products over the next decade. Now it looks like that won't be happening, at least not there, and it's uncertain what the others opportunities there will be for that kind of incubator.

NeXT and a few other key technologies and insights perfectly positioned Apple to ride the mobile revolution into unprecedented success. Another revolution will come, not just in AI or AR but in the core technologies that power them. And Apple will need the next NeXT, and the the next big insight, to ride that next wave.

Your biggest challenges?

Those are five of the biggest challenges I see facing Apple in 2017 and beyond. What are yours and how would you like to see Apple tackle them?

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

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.

88 Comments
  • First they should stop giving Rene much work to have to back then up or explain their mess. Sent from the iMore App
  • hehe..
  • I agree with the ability to ship a product. There should be no more than a two week lag between a product into and it shipping. I thought it critical given the controversy over no headphone jack that the Airpods ship on time. I also agree that desktops need some love (still love my latest gen 5k iMac). But we do have to recognize that there are problems. I do disagree with your CR evaluation, I don't think that was fake news just what they observed and reported on. I thought it a fair evaluation and didn't feel it incumbent on them to determine why they were getting those results, that is Apple's job. I think in general Apple needs to listen to their consumers a bit more. SJ was a genius at figuring out what people wanted before they even knew they wanted it. That is a rare talent and one I am sure Apple misses. But the other side of that, taking something out there and figuring out how to make the customer experience better, that is something i still feel they can do. W1 is a fantastically chip and a great experience, in spite of recommendations I opted for the Solo 3 rather than the QC 35 because of all the positives it brings (battery life, ease of use, less cost). That is what Apple has done and still does take something and make it better, that should be the focus. Sent from the iMore App
  • Yes, but "real artists ship" is complete and utter BS, to give the faithful something to chant. Artists create. Period. The work is it's own reward. Businessmen ship!
  • "They're not just the trucks in Apple's fleet, they're the trucking industry." I don't understand this comment at all. Is this narcissism taken to the extreme?
  • Steve Jobs once said iPhones were cars and Macs were trucks. The most extreme users of trucks are the trucking industry. I stretched the analogy, admittedly, to make a point.
  • Heck of a stretch when Macs are (and were at Jobs time) less than 10% of the trucks.
    Oh, and Jobs analogy was simply Jobs BS. In PCs trucks not only out-carry, but they outgun and outcorner cars.
  • For me, it's user privacy. Apple has several hundred billion dollars sitting in foreign, non-US bank accounts. The incoming government wants Apple to repatriate that money. Apple obviously won't do that with current tax laws requiring them to pay a bit less than 40% in tax. The incoming government may give Apple (and other companies) a tax break or sorts, enabling them to pay significantly less tax, but will want something in return. Domestic iPhone manufacturing is not going to come back anytime soon - vocational education and construction of new factories and supply chains can't happen overnight - so the government will most probably want cooperation in the other big promise of Trump's campaign, which is homeland security. Apple have made their stand on the matter of user privacy and data encryption clear (multiple times) before, but how will their moneygrubbing shareholders react when they hear Apple can repatriate all those billions stored overseas at a new significantly lower tax rate (the matter with the EU and Ireland will also play a part), and all they have to do is give in on encryption and privacy. Will Cook remained as principled? Can he? Fwiw, I don't believe Apple even respects user privacy as much as it claims. No megacorp does. But it'll be interesting to find out just how much Apple's loudly proclaimed morality - and by extension, that of their customers - is worth.
  • They can't turn back now, they have drawn the line and the Tim Cook Apple will sink if they did something like you are suggesting, It's a waste of time to contemplate that, imo.
  • Money grabbing shareholders?
    They don't care, why? Because Apple can issue bonds to pay them the dividends.
    So your theory of surendering privacy and encryption by Apple is a no issue.
    Besides Apple also invested in US bonds to earn interests and protect the value of their dollars profits from devaluation of the local currencies in comparison with the strengthening of the US$.
    Yes many of us think we are better at thinking the good folks at Apple especially the pundits who scream and shouts whenever Apple faces a problem with their products and their financial acumen.
  • Hey they send me a dividend four times a year, leave them alone.
  • iCloud needs some feature bumps especially with that paltry 5GB storage. Also the web interface needs to be sped up to be lighter to work on all computers, not just fast ones (think Google). In addition, knowing exactly where each MB of my iCloud storage is going would help. Some are listed, but others are not, and when I'm hitting the limit, I can't identify where I need to reorganize things.
  • The web interface works fine on all the computers I've tried it on. What problems are you having?
  • Hasn't been slow for me, but maybe on certain configurations it is
  • Instead of leading the pack, Apple is now trailing behind, and it shows. The entire touch experience, much of it invented/pioneered by Apple, is now leading a resurgence at Microsoft. 2-in-1 devices, and the incredible Surface Studio, are stealing the design thunder. This stubbornness and refusal to add touch to the MacBook experience is inexcusable. MS, HP, Dell and the rest have proven that touch is a great third input medium. Apple knows this to be true thanks to the iPad, but "inventions" like the Touch Bar are half-xxxed at best, and insulting at worst. But it is going to take a top down revitalization to kick-start the future for Apple. Cook is not even that good at supply management anymore, and Phil "can't innovate my xxx" Schiller hasn't hit a lick at his oatmeal can Mac Pro in three years. Good luck with that...
  • Firstly the whole touchscreen pc hasn't really been proved. We get percentages from Microsoft and their Surface sales but no actual figures. I suspect Apple cleared more MacBook sales in the opening weekend than Microsoft sold in the entire quarter. By a long way. Consider this. Apple has had many breakthrough products in the last 40 years but each breakthrough has occurred around seven year intervals. We're only just over that now but that's ignoring stuff you obviously feel is irrelevant such as the watch and the new AirPods. Tell me again, what are the advantages of a touch display floating in front of you? I suspect that usage would be very tedious within a short time. Your dismissal of the touchbar seems to ignore the actual ergonomic advantages over the touchscreen you are craving for. Don't assume that because something is for sale that that is where the bulk of the sales are coming from. That's like saying that Samsung are selling more phones than Apple and they're all at the high end. This ignores the fact that the bulk of Samsung's sales are at the low end. If you feel Apple is running behind them move to a Dell or an HP or a Surface. They fulfill your requirements and are available now.
  • Touchscreen on a laptop is incredibly useful. After 14 years of Macs, I gave in and bought my first Windows machine, a Lenovo Yoga. Why? Cause the new Macbook Pros are vastly overpriced for what you get. I got a 15", 4k laptop with the latest Kaby Lake i7, 16GB of RAM, 256G SSD, Integrated and Discrete graphics for $1099. Yes it has its quirks - notably the trackpad and the keyboard lyout and they may be deal breakers for me. But I've got more time to get used to it. Windows 10 is somewhat of a mess but serviceable but I could buy 2 of these things for the price of a low end 15" MBP. Touch is great for photographers. I fired up Lightroom and flipped it to tablet mode. 15" 4k iPad. It was awesome editing, etc with the touchscreen. Even things like OneNote were very nice to use. Apple needs to get off it's **** and realize the iPad is not the solution for us all. It sure isn't for many photographers as it has too many compromises to make it worthwhile. I really wanted a Mac but the value proposition was/is too hard to pass up. It's not like a few years ago where the "Apple Tax" was $0-300. Now it's more like $1000-1500 and that's crazy. We'll see how this experiment works out but Apple better be careful - as far as the snowball went in their favor it can easily go the other way.
  • Can't disagree with a reasoned, civil, response. Though I'm sure you understand the importance of pointing out deficiencies for the purpose of different points of view. For me personally, a touch screen does not hinder the user so I don't mind it. For the occasions that it is useful, I welcome it. There are no negatives.
  • "Tell me again, what are the advantages of a touch display floating in front of you? I suspect that usage would be very tedious within a short time. Your dismissal of the touchbar seems to ignore the actual ergonomic advantages over the touchscreen you are craving for." Selecting targets and links; scrolling; moving back/forward through pages; pinch to zoom/shrink; markup pdf's or webpages (even with sausage fingers). What, in fact, are the ergonomic advantages of the Touch Bar? Advanced macros for selecting program options - that would be good if user programmable. Replace function keys - you'll be spending more time switching view between keyboard, Touch Bar and screen (a third element)...just read how many reviews see the Touch Bar as a "half-measure" towards a touch screen; some even calling it a gimmick...
  • Touch screen is so useful. Way more useful than a touch bar. Love to see the next iMac with touch. The surface studio will pull so many professional mac users away.
  • "The surface studio will pull so many professional mac users away." That's yet to be seen. It looks like a great machine for graphics designers/artists, but for other professional tasks I'm not so sure
  • Windows 10 in itself is touch optimized, but many apps available for it are not, which more often than not resorts in you having to use the trackpad instead for a comfortable experience. There's also the factor that many professional applications require many tools to be available on the screen at once, which are easy to select with a mouse cursor, but much more difficult with a touchscreen. The buttons for accessing the tools have to be made a lot bigger, which means less on screen, tucked away in hidden menus which doesn't bode well for professional applications
  • Touch interfaces are a joke on a PC/Mac. Great for a phone or a tablet but the use cases are completely different. We got touch be Windows 8 was such a nightmare. Tell me that you like having finger prints all over the screen of you computer. If you do, you are in the minority.
  • Nice thing about touch is you don't have to use it if you don't want to. There is a keyboard attached after all.
  • I haven't seen a device which somehow eradicates fingerprints from appearing on the screen, so fingerprints are still an issue
  • BlackBerry aren't even making phones anymore so they can't be that "superior"…
  • They can be, but it's a necessary evil. It's not necessary on a MacBook which functions really well with a trackpad and keyboard
  • A few months ago BlackBerry did say that they were stopping production of phones, I didn't realize TCL had taken over in Mid-December, so I was just going off old news by mistake. Still, I don't think BlackBerrys sell as well as other phones in general
  • I don't know about Win 8 but with Win 10 and this Lenovo I'm using touch is great. Works just like an iPad with a keyboard, which I have used. I find myself reaching out and touching the screen a lot more and even scrolling by just touching it. Yes there are fingerprints but there were fingerprints on my iPad as well. The 4k display is GORGEOUS and makes text look so sharp and photos are taken to a whole new level. I'm really liking the touch experience. It's definitely a good way to interact. Shame that Apple is so stubborn on this- I'd line up in a heartbeat for an AFFORDABLE Touchscreen Mac. This coming from a 14 year Mac lover and Apple shareholder. Apple needs a true leader and visionary like Jobs. Tim isn't cutting it!
  • Some "ilemmings" as you call them (good patronizing skills there) do want a touchscreen computer, but they can't just go and buy another machine because they'll lose macOS in the process. It's all great saying "Windows isn't that bad" but some people hate it, or have Mac-exclusive apps, or are just so used to the Mac workflow that they simply couldn't change OS without it greatly decreasing their productivity.
  • macOS hasn't changed much because it hasn't needed to, why reinvent the wheel? And there's nothing stripped out of the iPhone 7, if you're referring to the headphone jack then Apple provides you with an adapter free with the phone, so you have no less functionality than you did with the 6S
  • I think it's definitely shipping. I was recently in New York on business and I wanted to make some purchases. I wanted to. Get a 42mm Series 2 Apple Watch, as I have the original). I wanted a 256GB Rose Gold iPhone 7 Plus for my wife. I was interested in buying a 15-inch TouchBar MacBook Pro and I wanted a 29-watt power adaptor for my iPad Pro. And I left the store unable to buy any of them. They didn't have any 42mm Series 2 Apple Watches in stock. They had a 128 GB Rose Gold iPhone 7 Plus, but that's not what we wanted. And they were out of stock on all of the MacBook Pros. This is not an infrequent experience, either. I don't know how you keep customers when you have an inability to make sure they can buy what they want. I've been an Apple user since 1986, but this is becoming all too common. There are a lot of software bugs, too, but I think we can accept a certain amount of those. But not being able to buy the products we want/need is unacceptable. Sent from the iMore App
  • I agree about the halo effect that Mac desktops can have - when you walk into a high end medical facility and you see all those iMacs or Mac monitors it certainly makes an impression when you know how expensive each one of those are. I honestly think dropping the monitor is a bad move, because they're so public-facing. I would probably already have an iPhone 7 Plus if availability had been better. I'm on the iPhone upgrade plan, so I want to walk into the Apple Store and walk out with my next phone knowing that it's all setup and working on Verizon - no risk, no hassle. Since I'm the tech guy in my family, that also means that my wife hasn't upgraded to an iPhone 7, because she'll just come with me and we'll both upgrade on the same trip. Siri is pretty capable, but the way you have to precisely word phrases to get Siri to do what you want is limiting. If Apple would keep the microphone rolling after Siri responds to queries simply listening for the phrase "F*** you Siri!" the number that come just from me would be astounding - but seriously, it'd show you where people are expecting Siri to be able to do something and it doesn't. I don't know how many times I've told Siri to adjust my HomeKit lighting in one way or another and Siri tells me it can't do that right now, or the device isn't responding, and then I pick up my phone, swipe up and go to the HomeKit quick scenes and press a button that does exactly what I just asked Siri to do and it happens - such inconsistency makes me hesitant to rely on Siri. BlackBerry, and their QNX subsidiary, could be an attractive "next NeXT" target, but I would think Apple would've already pulled the trigger on that move years ago if it was necessary.
  • The biggest challenge Apple faces is getting over the fact that they no longer can really determine what the user wants before they get it. They are waiting for the user to tell them how version 2 or 3 of a product should be after releasing a lack luster version 1. While I realize that the iPhone is an example someone can use to show that the same thing happened when SJ was on watch, I think the missed point in that is he had the product he wanted, Apps and all that were the icing on the cake. I feel like Apple is having a hard time making the cake. The second challenge Apple faces is another ingrained habit they have of foregoing usability for thinness. They need to realize people will pay their prices if the value is there, or at least perceived. Cutting performance and battery life for thinness is a mistake. I don't believe they have done a good job of that in the past few years.
  • Besides the obvious supply chain problems and lack of compelling updates, services need major attention. Apple seems to push Siri every chance it gets but let's be realistic, most will agree that Siri borders on useless. I recently drove 2000 miles across country for the holidays and found nothing but frustration when using Siri. A simple request to "send my current location" to a contact's mobile number was answered with "I don't know what you are asking". I can accomplish this action with a few touches of my finger if I weren't trying to drive. That is just one example. Apple should put some engineers in a car for a cross-country trip with the task of making Siri indispensable for travel then throw the resources necessary to make it happen for the next update. Do this until Siri is more "delightful" and useful than any competitor. This also ties into privacy. Apple must explain it's vision of privacy and how it relates to the functions of your devices and services. Don't tell me you cannot do something or require passwords constantly without explaining your reasoning. Of course, giving me some level of choice regarding security would help. All in all, it's frustrating to see so many missed opportunities for improvement when Apple has the resources at its disposal to catch up to the competition.
  • Saying Siri borders on useless, is a little harsh. I use Siri to reply to messages in the car or via my Apple Watch, I use it to check the weather, football scores, set timers and a few other things. I've not tried sending my location, though, but Siri is very useful for me and works well for me at least
  • I hear you brother I drive a lot and "hey Siri" was a big YES it is so much easy from now on and is so bad. Always telling me you have to unlock your iPhone first.
  • iCloud doesn't work for me. Apple can't even get it to work. The "it just works" isn't as pat as it once was. Apple sure seems to be good at marketing though. The pre announcements of the watch and AirPods are what I noticed.
    Thanks Rene! Sent from the iMore App
  • What problems are you having with iCloud?
  • Great article! I'd also add more stability to this list! macOs and especially iOS need to be more polished! Stability and reliability are still good but declining since ios 6! Adding more feature is great but quzlity control should not be forgotten along the way
  • I was so excited when Apple came out with Siri. I thought, "Finally, Apple is on the leading edge of a useful technology again," even though they bought most of the technology from outside. What did they do with Siri? Leave it in beta for many years, not allow outside vendors to use its API, and let it linger in mediocrity until now it is nearly useless. I bought my wife an Amazon Echo for Christmas. Plugged it in the wall, logged it into my WiFi, and guess what? It just worked! It works with all common Siri-type queries ("What is the weather like for this week?") but I also easily hooked it into a light switch and two wall outlets. Within 1 day, Alexa was more useful than the four year old Siri ever was, and guess what: she understands my voice without training and without messing up every other command. Amazon is the new Apple.
  • Show us the numbers and maybe you'd have a point. The Echo has been a "success" and yet no numbers have been released and it's only available in the USA, UK and Germany.
  • Siri is just a mess and only fans love it. I always try and never worked. "Have to unlock my phone first" what a joke. She should be able to locate where I am and be secure
  • Having to unlock your phone first depends on what action you're doing. Replying to messages, setting timers, checking sports scores, checking time/weather and various information requests should all work whilst the phone is locked. Siri works pretty well for me, not sure if I "love" it, but I do find it very useful and use it a lot
  • Is not useful while driving.
  • I've found it useful while driving, but I guess that's just my experience. Siri seems to vary in quality from person to person
  • This "we may be last to the party, but we got it right," should be a thing of the past. Look what jail breaking did for new features that Apple finally added. Stop doing stupid things, and calling it innovation. Headphone jack, that is "old technology" well if it was so old, and out of date, why put it back in the new MacBook Pros? I agree that thinner is not better. You can only operate a company so long on it looks really cool verses lack of performance. Are they heading in a direction of making cheaper products which have so many problems compared to a product that will last, and can out preform all the competition? If something works great do not fix it. You only cause more problems in the long run. Many the people in charge need to get out more. Just because you have a billion plus in baks does not mean you will be around forever. Look at Palm. They were on top at one time. If someone said they would be out of business one day, ahh your nuts. Palm will be here forever. Now it is Palm who? Apple should learn from this. Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple follows a very smart (for them) strategy. Wait and learn from everyone else's mistakes then come out as if you've invented it. A well oiled communication infrastructure keeps mind share high.
  • The headphone jack is old, other manufacturers are starting to get rid of it as well. As to why it's still in the new MacBook Pro, is anyone's guess, but it won't be coming back to the iPhone.
  • Rene, I think you do excellent work… keep it up in 2017 (with your excellent team)
  • Apple should make iOS more flexible, for example: why should I go deep into settings to change the camera resolution; toggles: why not pick what I need in control center. Why do I have to kill my background apps one by one, why not kill them all at the same time, I know that keeping them in the background saves more battery, etc. But that's my decision if I want to or not. Keyboard: why not have a fifth row with numbers, why do I have to switch the keyboard in order to get a number. Why they haven't kill the stupid volume hud that obstruct the view while watching a movie, etc. Put it on the status bar! Little details like that makes a huge difference. It looks like software engineers at Apple don't use iPhones!
    And no I don't wanna switch to Android!
  • Why do you need to kill all your apps?
  • The control center settings shortcut is a good idea, that would be nice to have. There are other camera apps which have all the settings directly in the app (including more settings than the default camera app) so they're worth trying if you're frustrated with the default one for now. Background apps are very well optimized on iOS, I rarely close them except for things like Facebook where I know how excessive the battery drain in that app is. I wouldn't worry too much about it, Apple's designed it such that you shouldn't really need to close them, they don't want their users to have to do process management. The numbers on the keyboard is technically something you can customize by downloading a custom keyboard from the App Store, it's just that you'll lose dictation. For me the volume slider appears to the left of the play/pause buttons in landscape on my iPhone, it's not obstructing the view too much, and I can't really see where else they can put it:
    http://www.download3k.com/article_images/0/292/full_2_fa80f6444e7ff686f0...
  • 2016 has been a terrible year for Apple. Most of their product line-up either received minor upgrades (iPhone, MacBook, Watch, iPad) or none at all (iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini). The only product that looks different from previous versions is the MacBook Pro, and that has so many issues that Apple would have been better off not releasing it until next year, after substantially more testing. Also their obsession with thinness over functionality (iPhone, MacBook Pro) and dictatorial approach to removing things (headphone sockets, battery indicators, everything except USB-C) make it seem like they are losing touch with their market. Even forums such as these, which were predominantly pro-Apple only a few months ago, have become mostly critical recently as the disappointments of each product launch and product fault (real or otherwise) mount up. The most important thing for next year is to release some decent upgrades to make up for this year. Secondly they need to up their PR game. A lot of the decisions they have made do make sense but they haven’t communicated them well. Also the “short term pain for long term gain” reasoning when removing useful sockets only works when there are plenty of upsides to upgrading, which hasn’t been the case with either the iPhone 7 or the MacBook Pro. It could be that there is a good reason for the fact that you need a separate dongle to connect the latest iPhone to the laptop released just a month later, but they haven’t explained it so it just comes across as one part of the company not having a clue what the other is doing. It used to be that Apple was known for stuff that worked together straight out of the box, but not with glaring omissions like this. As an iOS app developer I want Apple to do well. I have always loved their products but can't remember the last time I experienced the “wow” factor at a product release. And that isn’t just because of the unavoidable leaks: the products just haven’t been very exciting. Having said all that, I still believe that the potential is there for some great products next year. The underlying technology is great (SSDs, mobile chips, wide colour screens etc), and they still have some products that IMHO are better than the competition (iMac, iPad, Apple Watch), so I am still hopeful for the future. But they had better hurry up because 2016 lost them a lot of hard-earned good will from their customers.
  • Apple's "dictatorial approach" to removing things isn't something new. In fact, it's something Apple's done for a very long time, and it's caused technology to move much faster than it would've done had Apple not done this. If it's always worked for Apple in the past, why change now? "Also the “short term pain for long term gain” reasoning when removing useful sockets only works when there are plenty of upsides to upgrading, which hasn’t been the case with either the iPhone 7 or the MacBook Pro." The long term gain is that you have 1 port which is capable of doing all the things which previously you needed about 4-5 different ports for. This, and USB-C has a much much quicker transfer rate. These two things alone are very much an upside to upgrading, in the long term of course. There's nothing more annoying than saying "I need to connect this" and suddenly you don't have the right cable for the job. With USB-C there's only 1 port type, for charging, video/audio, data transfer etc. That's going to be incredibly useful
  • Sorry, I wasn’t talking about the lack of upsides in USB-C but the lack of upsides in the MacBook Pro generally. Usually when Apple remove something it isn’t too much of an issue because the rest of the new product is so good that people don’t mind. But the MacBook Pro has too many other disappointments (16Gb restriction, poor battery life, ridiculous price etc) so the need for dongles is harder for people to swallow. I think it will be a great machine in a year or two when 32Gb is possible, USB-C is more common, and they have sorted out the issues with the rumoured new battery technology that didn’t quite make this release. However at the moment there are so many downsides that forcing users into using dongles just compounds things. Especially when they don't even include one in the box, which was a frankly ridiculous decision given the price that they are charging.
  • Not sure where to start so many things went wrong this year. Stop apple from releasing unfinished products. (Watch. AppleTV. MacBook. iPhone. ) all unfinished products iCloud. Still a big mess and only 5GB free storage? At least unlimited pictures back up for iPhone 7 Siri still so useless. Every time I ask something to do her answer is you have to unlock your phone first. At least remember secure places like my car or home. Price. Please think about what you do with Canadian price. I know is the exchange rate but a lot people won't buy your product because of that
  • How is iPhone an unfinished product?
  • a lot of people won't by the products due to price regardless of country. They are expensive in the US too.
  • Apple could start by breaking up Eddy Cue's org. Let him keep iTunes, Apple Music, Apple TV and Apple Pay but give iCloud, maps, Siri and pro software to someone else.
  • I would like to see Apple try not to come out with as many new features, and rather make their next versions of OS X and iOS more stable to work well. This means that they do not necessarily need to come out with a new version every year, but when they do come out with something, it needs to work well. I am still using OS X v. 10.10, because the later versions do nothing but cause me problems. Apple also needs to quit removing features from their OS X and iOS systems, although the "downward spiral" in stability has been more pronounced on the Mac than the iPhone.
  • "I am still using OS X v. 10.10, because the later versions do nothing but cause me problems." You make this sound like this is a widespread issue. I'm signed up to the Public Beta, and even in the Betas, I've not really had that many issues. The release versions of Yosemite, El Capitan, and Sierra have never caused me any serious issues. Some minor ones which you'd probably expect with such a large piece of software, but nothing that stopped me from being able to use my Mac. It's really not as bad as you make it out to be. I have a friend that updates to the latest OS 6 months after it's release. You could at least do something like that, and then you really shouldn't have any issues, there's definitely no need to be on 10.10 now
  • Renee, your article is perfectly in tune with the vast array of pundits out there (who are so skillfully called out by Macworld). After reading your article, and the vast array of comments, I wonder why any of you buy their products. Buy a pixel phone, or a Samsung Galaxy, a Microsoft Surface, and a chrome book or Dell. And you could always get a watch from Fitbit. Why complain, when you think the competition had better products. When the delay in AirPod shipments occurred, I wrote on Medium that this was not a world crisis and made some suggestions for Apple to reduce prices with rainchecks. But in the end, they delivered; I got mine on December 20th and was blown away. Unlike the whiners out there, I use my Apple Watch all the time, and love it. If people don't like their products, just don't by it. This has always been the case with Apple. It's one thing for the no-nothing pundits from places like Business Insider or Forbes to write uninformed, provocative articles. But knowledgeable Apple users should know better. Apple is not perfect; they have had issues with Siri, iCloud and Apple Music. and they certainly have lagged behind with Apple TV. Replacing Eddie Cue is long, long overdue. And using their vast financial muscle to offer better competitive pricing for Apple Music and TV subscriptions would go a long way. Amazon eats their lunch with inferior products and services, and also without profit. But those who are waiting for Apple to compete with Google, Microsoft, and Samsung on hardware that Apple already is much better at are fooling themselves. And if you want superior service and support, no one comes close.
  • Good work, Rene. Agree, no doom but concern. Adding, cloud in the broadest sense: In aggregate, cloud-based services dwarf Apple. Amazon (AWS and on-line shopping), Uber, Google (search, video/YouTube, Mail, and Drive), Facebook, all the messaging Apps, photo sharing, machine learning, and many more. Cloud-first companies are inherently mobile-first, and include desktop/laptop, and are device agnostic. Cloud-first and device agnostic marginalizes Apple's long-term device centric UX advantage. Also China: Huawei also has dual lens, which appears to be a big iPhone upgrade driver. Huawei are fierce, smart, well-funded, and strong in China and in the developing world. Regardless of US politics, China's economy and nationalism are concerns. Apple may need more aggressive pricing internationally.
  • Apple is running out of fuel and it's a long way to the airport........ this is getting serious....... to deny this is foolish.
  • I can't tell if this is an "Apple's doomed" comment, but Apple still has plenty, plenty of fuel left, and that's just in their iOS user base alone
  • I think Apple is a great company and I just love buying their products. I see a big challenge as being the "Home" market. Apple TV is fine but is not as user-friendly (rubbish remote!) as, say, the iPhone, and while the company has a "Home" app it hasn't created a hub in the way that Amazon have with the echo. I would like to see their NeXt thing as something home-based, which combines TV with home automation, Siri assistant (only decent as opposed to pretty naff), music controller and pretty much everything else you can think of. I do think Apple should doorbells, lights and thermostats etc. To cede this market is to cede the home to other companies that are producing better and better products. Sent from the iMore App
  • Apples biggest crisis is keeping their Mac product lines up to date. With the exception of the MacBook Pro and the MacBook the rest of their lineup is up to several years out of date. What adds insult to injury is the fact that they still sell those products. If you can't keep them up to date take them out of the store. Totallly agree on the shipping problems. I ordered some AirPods today and I have been given a delivery date of late February!!!! Love Apple but they need to get their house in order.
  • Thank you Rene for mentioning services, and the comparison to Apple's core hardware and software is right on point, and shows just how shoddy Apple services are. Although, it's painfully obvious to anyone that tries to use Siri or the native mail app (which somehow got worse), or plenty of other things I could go on about. Ffs, siri can't even perform day-1 promised functionality. It's absurd. OT: It's easier to log into my f$%&ing bank account than it is to log into these forums.
  • Overall, other than services, no company can yet be compared to Apple in terms of the quality of the products and how Apple is able to produce these products in such volume (disappointment of airpods not withstanding). That said, I think there's one area that could use further improvement, which is PR. Apple has been a lot better, but apparently it needs to do a lot more, because the anti-Apple hysteria and misinformation significantly taints normal peoples' perception of the company. There are so many examples of when I speak to normal (non tech/fan) people and their negative perception of Apple is 180 degrees off (e.g. Apple forces its sweatshop workers to suicide, Apple releases something every month just to get you to buy more, don't iphones bend?, Apple is just like all the others with privacy stuff......). Apple is comfortable because of how great its products are; but it seems pretty clear that people continue to buy Apple despite these falsely perceived negatives, not because they see through the constant media negativity.
  • Ship dates will slip.. that's always going to be a fact.. because as u try and close the gap every product, it will just become ore popular as users demand more.. So, your always gong to be fighting for 'as quick as possible", and 'up the numbers of iphones for this year' to try and stay ahead... It will help, but it can't solve it. Add to the fact, we want it now, vs Apple takes the time to make sure a product is correct. This to me, is more vital to anything regardless how popular o demand people want it... How many products has Apple decided to make ready supply ahead.. For example we see dates slip,, then one week later we are surprised to see Apple is 'back on track' when in reality all that would have happened is 'Apple was racing against time" in which case u then end up with something that breaks later i the form of display issues in Mac's or watches with updates bricking them. or more issues as if they "Apple or the supply chain" got it ok first time, even if it takes 4 more months and does not beat Samsung to to the punch .. what is wrong with that ? It's not a competition to see who comes first... Apple is about getting it right, and sometimes u also must blame "because Apple rushed it out". Maybe not as the only reason, but it can always be a reason And for sure if problems increase in more products, then that would be a more of a likelihood as to why these things happen more. In 2017, i would like to see Apple taking more time. Tha same can be also said for services like iCloud as well.. The inter-mangled one central place for syncing everything, causes more problems, not solves it.. Apple needs to sort that out as well... All companies have problems. but if u do it right even as u grow, the problems will not grow, instead they will shrink as u'r supposed to be eliminating them
  • Whatever the strategic direction, I would like to see the following:
    1 A PAUSE button in the video app
    2 Accurate and current info in Apple MAPS
    3 ELEVATION recording and stats recorded through Watch 2
    4 Point 3 without taking your phone with you on a workout
    5 FORCE TOUCH on my SE
    6 REJECT CALL button on the lock screen for an incoming call
    7 Safari address searches should default to Apple maps, and not Google maps. In fact, I should be able to search directly in Apple maps. Point 2 again. Thanks for great products Apple. Please incorporate these simple improvements in your software. If users feel that their simple requests are considered they will be less susceptible by negative comments given here. That would be my strategy. Sent from the iMore App
  • For point 1, I don't fully understand what you're asking. When playing videos, a pause button is there whilst the video is playing? Or are you asking for a "Stop" (square icon) button which takes you back to the start of the video? For point 6, to reject a call you press the power button twice. Pressing it once mutes the call (e.g., if you want to let the call ring through but not make a noise) and the second time cancels it completely. For point 7 again I don't fully understand, Safari address searches do default to Apple Maps. If you start typing the name of a shop near you into the address bar it comes up with a link to Apple Maps. And you should be able to search directly in Apple Maps, though I don't know what you're trying to search for
  • Hi, thanks for your attempt to answer me.
    The pause would be handy if I video an event, and I want to only video the highlights of that event. So playback is one video, with only those footage that are important to me. This is oppose to several videos of the same event. Imagine your child swimming: I want to playback only the highlights so that my video is shorter and more compact. Hope I explain myself adequately now.
    My SE does not default to Apple maps. The search engine is set on Google. The other options are Bing, yahoo and DuckDuckGo. Google searches are more reliable and much faster. Which one is the Apple preferred engine then? I prefer Apple Maps as it is faster and better integrated with the phone, more intuitive.
    I know about the rejection of call via the lock button, its OK, but I would prefer it if the reject option was with all the other options. Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple doesn't have their own search engine, that's why it defaults to Google, but Apple Maps suggestions will sometimes appear in the address bar whilst you're typing. However, if you do a normal search, then Google is in control of what is displayed, which will come up with Google Maps respectively if you're searching a location using Google Search
  • I agree with most of this article, but regarding the "horn effect": The halo effect is premised on the fact that the iPod (and then later the iPhone) was a smash-hit product that sold huge numbers, and that some percentage of iPod buyers bought their first Mac when it was time for them to get a new computer. The potential "horn effect" that you're describing here makes little sense because desktop Macs don't sell in huge numbers. If some percentage of Mac Pro users decided to abandon Apple when it came time to buy their next phone, that would represent a negligible drop in iPhone sales.
  • 2016 saw an Apple unfocused and timid. The goal of putting a dent in the universe is no more and the most "courageous" and innovative thing Apple did in 2016 was remove ports and jacks from their products. Here are some New Years resolutions I recommend for Apple Stop obliterating function with form. If you don't stop obsessing over thinness above all else your going to end up producing pretty toys that look amazing but don't perform. Wether you make minor or major changes to product lines, the change should be an improvement over the previous version. The new MacBook Pro is not an improvement. Play around with the MacBook line and give the Pros the power they need. Stop trying to look cool Refocus on making solid, stable hardware and software. I don't care what celebrities you hang out with and which ones use your products. I don't care about the Met Gala, I don't want to see your executives in commercials. Simplify your product line! Stop trying to serve every tiny niche in the market. Too many iPads with no real differences. Make three. Small, medium, and large, same features. The Pro title is ridiculous. Why does the Macbook Air exist anymore? Why is something called the Macbook, thinner and lighter than something called the Macbook Air? Tim Cook is squeezing that line dry until it's embarrassing to have on the shelf. Add a dose of Steve Jobs perfectionism this year. Not everything Jobs did was magic, and he didn't always have the best ideas in the room. What Jobs did bring to Apple was laser focus, amazing intuition, and a relentless drive for perfectionism. Jobs put the fear of God into people and pushed them to produce amazing products that shocked the world, products that made people ask, how did they do that? I feel things at 1 Infinite Loop are a little more laid back, a little cozier, a little more warm and friendly these days. That makes for a super work environment but results in increasingly late, buggy, uninspired, and mediocre products. Dream big Apple, and stop timidly tinkering around the edges of your product lines. Push 10 times harder than you think you need to, to make the impossible happen. I see only weakness and uncertainty from Apple now and things need to change in 2017.
  • If Apple removing old technology has pushed new technology in the past and it's worked for Apple, why wouldn't it work now? It's more "distorted" to have USB-A ports on a computer in 2017…
  • You're the one drinking the Kool-Aid with having legacy ports on your new computer
  • And you're trolling, which is actually giving more views to the site, and giving iMore more revenue, so enjoy trolling and funding Rene whilst you do it ;)
  • Still, you're navigating to the website. If you're using a browser like Chrome, Google logs the websites you visit and more people accessing them pushes them up in search results, so you're still helping even if you're blocking ads
  • Removing ports is a good thing when there is a better alternative available. Apple did this with the floppy and CD ROM drives and replaced them with USB A, and quite right too. I also don't have an issue with the USB C ports on the MBP line as these mean that I shouldn't have to carry a separate power and data cable. However thanks to Apple not having the courage to get rid of Lightning I have to use a dongle to connect my Apple phone to my Apple laptop. This is very inconvenient and very unlike Apple. As evidenced by the iPhone 7, Apple are not averse to dongles so the only reason for not adopting the far superior USB C over Lightning is Tim Cook's avarice, pure and simple.
  • Apple should just give up on desktop...like they did with servers, monitors and supposedly routers. I suspect the next desktop Mac will be the last.
  • For me the greatest problems Apple faces is the products it is making are not the products I want; they products tend to be moving away from what I want not towards, and that's across product lines. I currently have an iphone 6 and a macbook Air as my only Apple products precisely because they fit closer to my needs than current models. And worse, I don't feel a drop of envy for iphone 7s or macbooks or even macbook pros. I want more ports they release laptops with less. They are concerned about being thin and i'd rather have thickness and battery and larger hard drive. They remove ports and introduce dongles necessitating me buying more accessories. But generally it's little things. Removing the headphone jack seems particularly pointless. I look at the music app and it's become a cluttered apple product delivery system when what i wanted was a power users music manager for local content. I don't need streaming music services. I'm not buying Apple content. Apple TV doesn't have Kodi (i don't think), it's very closed. I find it overpriced compared to a Roku. I think it lacks power. I have a fire tv stick which feels a better device simply since i can put kodi on it. As stated above i don't buy Apple content so It's just an overpriced streaming device that doesn't have the apps that Roku has. Apple watch? no interest because i have no need. No shade just not for me. The iPad? They are nice and pretty much the only think i'd use it for is maybe, reading, traveling (I do very little). And honestly, there are cheaper options if all i'm gonna do is read ebooks and surf the occasional web page and check my email. It would rarely be an alternative tv screen or movie viewing device. I use my tv for those and a phone in a pinch. But back to main devices, my iPhone. Apple hasn't added a feature in many many years that I find compelling; that makes me think "whoa I need to stay in the Apple system." My next phone will likely be Android because what i do on a phone can be done on either (text, email, instagram, music through wired headphones in a pinch). And on a related point, I used to view Job's Apple as making thing simplified and easy; don't do in two clicks what you can do in one. It was NOT cluttered. I've found Apple's design to have gotten less user friendly and far more cluttered. Laptops, i still use windows on my macbook air and the ability too was a huge factor in getting an air. But i could see myself going back to a cheaper windows desktop because nothing i do on a mac is unique to Macs and OSX is a bit quirky anyways and takes some getting used too. At least for me. So for me, make better products, laptops with good keyboards, mouses that don't give you carpel tunnel, software that gives users what they want and are hiding what people want and pushing paid apple services instead, laptops with ports and storage and speed and upgrades, things like itunes software that's not bloated and cluttered.
  • "They are concerned about being thin and i'd rather have thickness and battery and larger hard drive." This is the nature of Apple products and has been for a long long time, it's to be expected. I'm personally satisfied with the specifications of the latest Apple devices, but it's not for everyone. "They remove ports and introduce dongles necessitating me buying more accessories." Apple didn't remove ports, they upgraded them, it's just that to use your current devices you need a dongle to do so. It works out as a bit of a pain in the short-term but in a year's time it will much better for the consumer when there will be plenty of USB-C peripherals available and you have 1 type of port to do what all the old ones did. "Removing the headphone jack seems particularly pointless" Apple isn't the only one removing the headphone jack, other manufacturers are doing it too. A digital port offers many benefits over the headphone jack, including better audio fidelity. "I look at the music app and it's become a cluttered apple product delivery system when what i wanted was a power users music manager for local content. I don't need streaming music services. I'm not buying Apple content." Maybe the Apple Music advertising is a bit too much, but most people now stream music, and Apple Music is a very popular option considering the amount of music that exists on iTunes. You can still pretty easily do things as you did them before, though. "Apple TV doesn't have Kodi (i don't think), it's very closed" The Apple TV essentially runs a modified version of iOS, which has always been closed. Apple are very strongly against allowing you to use services which could be used to watch media illegally, and many people use Kodi for that, so it's unlikely it will ever be supported for Apple TV. Apple products generally don't bode well if you're planning to use them for watching media illegally, except the Mac which gives you full control. "Laptops, i still use windows on my macbook air and the ability too was a huge factor in getting an air. But i could see myself going back to a cheaper windows desktop because nothing i do on a mac is unique to Macs and OSX is a bit quirky anyways and takes some getting used too. At least for me." To get the true Mac experience you should use macOS (OS X). By using Windows you're missing out on a lot of things, such as trackpad gestures, shortcuts to things like Mission Control, and generally having an OS that's directly optimized for the device it's running on. macOS also would give you the ability to use Continuity with your iPhone 6, which is a really great feature. I would take the time to get used to macOS, if you miss the window snapping feature from Windows, there's a few apps on the Mac App Store which can give you the same functionality, such as Magnet for example.
  • "This is the nature of Apple products and has been for a long long time, it's to be expected." You continue to do things because it makes sense not simply because you did it in the past. Bottom line it's a choice that made me NOT buy their product. And nothing you've said makes the devices more appealing. But I'm pretty sure there are plenty of mac users like me that want more their laptops to get cheaper, faster, more storage, more battery life rather than just becoming thinner. "Apple didn't remove ports" Maybe I'm unclear but I thought they removed USB 3.0 ports and added USB-c ports. That's removing ports but it also necessitates dongles. Regardless, there are not enough ports for my needs even with the upgraded type of port. "most people now stream music"
    This post is about my use not "most people." Most people like **** pop music. They don't concern me. Giving me examples of other people using something I don't use doesn't make it more useful to me. "Apple are very strongly against allowing you to use services which could be used to watch media illegally, and many people use Kodi for that, so it's unlikely it will ever be supported for Apple TV. Apple products generally don't bode well if you're planning to use them for watching media illegally" I have my legal movie and music collection stored on a NAS. That is streamed over a network to Kodi. There's nothing illegal about it. Appletv plays mp4s right? You could easily watch movies downloaded from illegal torrents on and appletv. So apple may not like a home theater app like Kodi but don't fool yourself into thinking Apple is stopping people from watching illegal content. It's just trying to sell you content. "To get the true Mac experience you should use macOS"
    Who said i don't use MacOS. You've read into my comment things i did not say. The fact that i have windows installed on my mac and use it doesn't mean it's the main os I use. It simply means there are some apps in Windows that I still use. To be clear, MacOS has been my main device and the primary OS i use on my laptop since i bought the machine. That doesn't mean some of the quirks of the OS don't take getting used to like file and window management.
  • Having no touchscreen is definitely not a dealbreaker considering this is how I've always used computers aside from smartphones. You don't have to press any extra buttons to right-click, this isn't 2003, on the Magic Mouse you just click the right side of the mouse like a normal mouse. On the trackpad you just click with two fingers. The way OSX doesn't actually close applications when you close all the windows, is done for a reason. Some applications do background tasks, and you might not require any windows to be open. Also, if you want to clear an application from your screen but have it quickly accessible later, having the app still open makes sense. I do like to fully close applications when I know I'm not going to reuse them for a while, but instead of going to the menu, I just do ⌘+Q, so it's not really that hard. Yes that's a keyboard shortcut, but you don't have to "learn all these keyboard controls", most of them are the same as Windows except instead of using Ctrl you use ⌘ (e.g. ⌘+C for copy, ⌘+V for paste). And saying Windows is "faster" than macOS is debatable. In my experience personally, macOS has been a lot faster, even when dual-booting Windows on my Mac
  • I'm less concerned about touch screens for me personally. I wouldn't use it much. But I get past the right click thing by using the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort bluetooth mouth so it has the normal dedicated right mouse buttons and its far more ergonomic. Yeah navigating windows is taking some getting used to. I do prefer how it works in window in that i often seem to end up with windows hidden and have to rearrange windows. I also wish the menu on the left in the finder actually expanded as a tree rather like in windows. I don't hate OSX. It's alright. It just has some design things i'm adjusting too. Truth is windows has similar issues. Like i loathe the tiles look. My install is windows 7. I may upgrade to 10 at some point but for the moment it's fine. I only use windows through parrallels occasionally.