NSFW: Note to Apple: Innovation shouldn't cost stability

How to use Handoff on your Mac
How to use Handoff on your Mac (Image credit: iMore)

NSFW is a weekly op-ed column in which I talk about whatever's on my mind. Sometimes it'll have something to do with the technology we cover here on iMore; sometimes it'll be whatever pops into my head. Your questions, comments and observations are welcome.

Everyone's had that experience where you're promised something, and when you get it, what you get doesn't live up to your expectations. That's the way I've been feeling with OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.

Every operating system release has growing pains, and Apple has boxed itself into a corner especially this year by rolling out two new OSes that are so closely mated to one another. When it works, it works spectacularly. The problem is that it's so damnably inconsistent.

Getting my Mac and my iPhone to work with Handoff features has probably been the single biggest pain point. Instant Hotspot took me days to get working. It ultimately did start working once I changed the name of my phone (changing it back again still allowed connections) — clearly a bug.

AirDrop is supposed to work seamlessly between Mac and iOS device now, but "seamlessly" isn't the word I'd use — there are random dropouts and sometimes devices are just not able to see each other. What's worse is that Mac-to-Mac AirDrop transfer, which worked just fine before, is now sporadically unavailable. My wife and I spent an hour troubleshooting an AirDrop issue between our two machines the other night before I just gave up and asked her to send me the files a different way.

Thank goodness Dropbox still works.

iOS 8 got off to a rocky start, too. We all recall the iOS 8.0.1 debacle.

I've read pages and pages of complaints and problems from customers who have installed Yosemite and iOS 8, and have all sorts of problems, ranging from Wi-Fi issues to trouble connecting to Microsoft Exchange servers, problems with Handoff and more. And some of you have e-mailed me to let me know of the difficulties you're seeing; posted to discussion threads on our articles and elsewhere. So I know this isn't isolated.

I won't go as far as some to declare these releases the worst or the buggiest that Apple has ever released; that's ridiculous. I've lived through much worse. But it is annoying, when you're given a bill of sale and an expectation of how your gear should work, and the software isn't able to deliver.

Certainly doing a "clean install" can eliminate some of the problems that we're collectively having, but that's a painful and traumatic process on the Mac, at best. And it shouldn't have to be that way.

I'm an early adopter. I expect problems, and I'm not naive enough to think that everything that Apple ships is going to be flawless. I also recognize that operating systems are incredibly complex things comprising millions of lines of code.

But Yosemite and iOS 8 are fraught with enough difficulties for enough users that I feel like neither of them are fully baked.

Apple made the decision a few years ago to adopt an annual upgrade cycle for its operating systems. That's brought tremendous innovation to the Mac and to iOS in a relatively short amount of time, but it's also brought a lot of pain for users. Here's to hoping that Apple can iron out the problems with iOS 8 and Yosemite in less time than it took them to get us a reasonably stable release of Mavericks.

50 Comments
  • Welcome to the bigtime. People give MS so much crap over the way Windows is 'evolved', but once your user base gets so big and so fragmented, it takes tremendous effort to maintain stability and growth. If Apple gave great care to backward compatibility it would be even worse.
  • Exactly, success has defeated Apple and it's obvious they are struggling. They are barely able to upgrade their products (or release two new tablet and two new phones) in a whole year's time. Quality instantly suffers, software updates feel unfinished but surprisingly it doesn't even help and it still takes too long.
  • Keep it up Cohen, and I might begin to respect your journalistic attempts... Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • This is a blog. Not Scientific American.
    You'll get over it.
  • It would behoove you to read AND comprehend in the future before trying to be witty... Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Your wit becomes you...that of a jerk. More respect is due to the writer--that's MR. Cohen to you--and we might begin to respect your.......nah, probably not.
  • Really?
    And what CRAB boat did you just come in off of sailor.
    Get over your over inflated sense of being, you look like a complete douche.
  • My beefs about Yosemite: - As with almost every release of a new Apple OS, all my mail filters and spam filters are non functional or have been re-set somehow. I've been absolutely *flooded* with non-stop spam from the first day I installed. We are talking an increase from a half dozen spans a day to perhaps 100-200 spams a day. - Spotlight is a GIANT step backwards. None of the "new features" are anything I use or need (or even see), but all of the features of Spotlight I actually use are now missing in action. - iBooks is simply non-functional. Period. Nothing works. - The WiFi share name bug that appears with every new release of an Apple OS is back with a vengeance. Finally, and most importantly ... what if I just don't like Blue? Given the installed base of users, there must be literally a million users out there (at least) who don't particularly want to have powder blue folders or have desktops that the powder blue folders strongly clash with. It's really just bad design to say, "well everyone will like blue folders." I'm not saying we need to go down the "so many f*cking choices it's ridiculous" road of MS operating systems, but again, given the HUGE installed base of Mac users nowadays, a few more choices and settings of every kind are really in order. One size simply doesn't fit all.
  • Dang! I only get a handful of spam per year. I host my domain name's e-mail on a Google account, which gets forwarded to my iCloud account.
  • Here's a tip, have 2 or 3 emails. On for your life, one for your professional life, and one for all the services that require emails, but you never need to read the stuff they send (social media, website accounts etc.) Posted from the amazing whatever device I can afford because I'm a broke college kid.
  • I don't think Yosemite is the cause of your SPAM, maybe the filters aren't working, but OS X never had the best anti-SPAM filter to begin with. Just google 'increase in spam' for the last month and you'll see. I've personally seen an increase in the last 2-6 months.
  • "If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
    - Mario Andretti
  • Lol ಠ益ಠ
  • I recently told my brother that iOS 8 was a public beta, 8.1 is RTM and 8.2 will be the first service pack. He has installed iOS 8 on day one while I am stil waiting at least until 8.1.1 Jan Sichula Sent from the iMore App
  • The annual big-bang releases are becoming a straight jacket. Apple is never going to go to iterative releases over a splash, but they need to break the target-date driven releases. Yes, Wall Street would punish them if next summer they said iOS9 was delayed 2 months, but if any company on the planet has a mass of loyal customers to get past that, it is Apple. In fact I'd love that - not only would it mean a more stable first release, but buying stock after that punishment would be the easiest capital gains anybody could make. Alternatively, Apple could simply do less. Back in the day, there was at least one release where iOS work delayed work on OSX. Around WWDC, Rene was far from the only one touting Apple's roadmap as Apple's declaration that they *can* do many things at once, avoiding those bottlenecks. Perhaps the problems around Yosemite and Ios 8 suggest this is not the case.
  • I agree. I lost some respect for Apple when they first released Apple maps, and I lost some more when they released iOS v. 8.0.1. Now, I'm not gong to get dramatic & say I'll never buy another Apple product; I also realize the more complex something is made, the more potentially can go wrong with it. But I came to iOS in early 2010, and was thrilled over the stability and ease of use; to start seeing these kind of problems keep surfacing does have me a little concerned. I agree, these kind of problems of "half-bakedness" seem to point to time pressures. I hope they can work it out to keep their reputation for simplicity, smoothness of operation, and "it just works" intact. Sent from the iMore App
  • I think it's time to decouple the iOS major releases from new devices. Get the software stable before releasing it, even if that means new hardware comes with the old software and new features of the new devices have to wait (happened this year with having to wait until 8.1 in order to make use of NFC). Also, I understand wanting to try and keep the interconnectivity between iOS and OSX going and improving, but that's already kind of been decoupled (also, really disappointed that the new photo syncing does not have a desktop component yet and as such keeps me from upgrading to it). Get the software stable before releasing major versions. Or better yet, don't try to lump all new features into major releases. Spread them out over point releases. Seems like they have too many things to get right all at once with the way they're releasing things.
  • I upgraded my iPad 2 with OS 8 ... It's now unusable ...thankfully I don't rely on it ... I upgraded my late model 2011 MacBook Pro to Yosemite -clean install .... Another mistake, sometimes screen has large white spaces where content is supposed to be ...websites consistently crash or page load incomplete again with blank areas on screen One thing I do know is that an older Apple OS system you could always rely on the screen being complete now they can't even draw on the screen correctly. This compounds the freezes and inconsistency. Again the MacBook Pro laptop is not my primary. I have top of the line iMac and based in these two experiences it won't get upgraded for a very long time.
  • Family and friends would tell me about their dislikes with their iPhone before the 8.1 update, and would just chuckle and say "well yeah don't you remember i'd always tell you to update your blackberry? don't worry, their going to fix that in their next update, 8.1." I'm not here to be a fanboy of Blackberry. Any power user of a smartphone knows that there may always be an issue or two with updates. I mean, c'mon guys--you didn't realize slight issues with 6 and 7? I know I did. I'm more worried with how Apple
  • Everyone does it. There's a fine line between innovation and IIABDFI (If It Ain't Broke...) - and in Apple's case, they are living with two legacy issues. They were once known for being the creative, hardworking underdog and for producing amazing products. In reality, we're looking at a monolithic Company relying on Mac OS that's 13 years old (albeit, with incrementals to 10.10 now) and a iOS that's 7 years old - and they've just about sucked whatever goodwill they can out of these, apparently now relying on tweaking GUIs and interlocking the environments to hold onto users without needing to, y'know, rely on creativity or innovation.
    So if that's off the table, rather than putz about adding features we don't really need, how about IIABDFI?
  • Your points are valid (and certainly useful) if enough people are experiencing the same problems you are having. In my personal experience, after updating three devices (an iPhone 5s, an iPad Air and a 2011 iMac 27") to iOS 8 and Yosemite respectively, I've had very few problems. I wouldn't call the latest releases halfbaked, but there is certainly room for improvement.
  • I have had 0 problems with Yosemite or iOS 8. Handoff works spectacularly, especially between iPhone and iPad. Sent from the iMore App
  • Reasonable observation. Don't think Apple followers to see a "snow leopard" type release for both OSes next year. Sent from the iMore App
  • Umm..my wife and I have not run into the issues described in this article. In fact my wife had her iPhone 6 stolen, gotten another phone and still had no issues. Yosemite has worked well out of the gate for us. Although I noticed that some app took a while to start. That was corrected with a p ram flash and all has been good. Sent from the iMore App
  • Yosemite problems for me: Safari reloading pages about once a day, but not a big deal. Finder preview pane showing Pages documents as a smaller icon in random files instead of a large, legible preview with navigation arrows (Apple support is working on the latter for me). Mail reloading Drafts after they've been sent and I had to recreate my Smart Mailboxes. iOS 8 problems: a few crashes now and then. Some syncing is slow once in a while. All n' all, not stuff that requires fixes right now--I can wait. I've been so frickin' happy since finally leaving Windows in 2011 (and then having the pleasure of using iPhones, iPads, and iOS etc.), that Apple has a long way to go to getting me pissed off like Microsoft did. (However, I will say it looks like MS is making a comeback of sorts. Really don't dislike them as much as google.)
  • We need a Snow Leopard release for iOS. Something to hammer out some of these flaws. Do us a favor, hold off on the next whiz bang thing and smooth out the daily driving experience. No Handoff issues here. iPhone 6 and 2013 iMac. Can't get wifi sync to work on any of our stuff and wired sync is extremely flaky. Hangs, says it completes and doesn't transfer files, locks up the Mac, resprings the iPhone. WTF? Love the new look of Yosemite and iTunes 12, using it is a drag. Sent from the iMore App
  • Bravo for writing this article! Too many times these posts feel like fanboys blindly following Apple. I love Apple, but the reason I moved to Apple in the early 2000's was stability and fewer problems. I was an IT guy who built my .com businesses on Windows and there were so many issues I finally migrated to Apple. I think Apple is getting too big too fast. In an effort to stay ahead of the competition they have reached a point where they can no longer deliver the "it just works" experience. Steve Jobs had a way of staying focused to a ridiculous degree. The first iPhone didn't even have 3G when everyone else did, BUT the phone rarely crashed. Now the OS is fragmented with various sizes and iOS 8 is so buggy apps crash often. Yosemite is so buggy it's beyond frustrating. Airport between Mac and iPhone? Forget it. I just use DeskConnect because it's more reliable and you don't need Bluetooth.
  • Completely agree with this article. Only now have started to really enjoy the updates, especially phone and text functions on iPad. Yet my instant hotspot probs really affected my enjoyment of 8.0. First world problems perhaps but apple hype things so much that they deserve the negative press this time. Sent from the iMore App
  • And again Mr. Cohen shows why he's probably the top writer on iMore. Calling it like it is instead of trumpeting everything Apple does as infallible. It's such a refreshing change of pace from the usual cheerleading. Love my Apple toys, but they're far from perfect and they certainly don't always "just work." Keep up the good work Mr. Cohen.
  • wrong spot, sorry.
  • We have had minor issues with iOS 8 and Yosemite, but we have the patience and experience to work them out. I like taking a phone call on any device, sending large attachments with e-mail, etc. I do expect some of the more drastically new features to be ironed out over time. Handoff is a strange animal which works best if you have both devices on while doing the handoff — that took a little while to figure out. I had a rare moment of clarity the other day. The iPhone — or the smartphone if you'd rather — is the big thing that is selling and that most of the real R&D is pouring into. When I get my iPhone 6+ an experiment is going to begin: I'm going to try to do EVERYTHING on just my iPhone. I will pair a bluetooth keyboard to the phone. The two biggest things I use my 2013 iMac for is music composition and also for usenet. I have solved usenet for non-segmented files, and I will be trying to compose/produce a piece of music exclusively using Garage Band on the iPhone (only using resident sounds and no external gear), after that initial thing I'll see if I can find a bluetooth music keyboard that suits me. My iPad Air is mainly for some games, reading books, and comic books, web surfing, and giving music lessons via Skype. I don't think the music production thing is going to work out (I have TBs of music "samples") but I want to see how far I can take it. The smartphone is now the big thing and I want to see how much I can move to using it exclusively — I'm retired and have the time!
  • Well done, I was starting to get a little tired of all the Apple Fanboy praise iMore is known for Sent from the iMore App
  • I was content with ios 7.0.6, but none of my apps were updating. I reluctantly downloaded iOS 8 and now I'm experiencing severe lag with everything that I do on my 4s :( Sent from the iMore App
  • As the OS's become more and more complex, apple is under the gun to launch them in time even though they may not be 100 bug free. We see this with Google too and they often treat their users as beta testers for new versions of android. I have an iPhone 6+, iPad air 2 and macbook pro but have not even attempted to use these features...yet. Posted via my OnePlus One!
  • I just hope they fix the Wi-Fi issues. My MacBook air 2014 cannot maintain a connection to my University network now, it only works with the guest network. Very frustrating since I need to be on the lan in order to access files and research. Sent from the iMore App
  • While I've not had a whole lot of complaints about iOS 8 or Yosemite, I must admit that there are enough small issues that I'm left shaking my head. I've also had little luck in getting AirDrop to work between two Yosemite Macs–both brand new installs. I've had disappearing Notification icons in menubar (though clicking in the blank space brings the icon back). And Mail refusing to work with my SMTP settings on an arbitrary basis has been annoying me since the release of Mavericks. I appreciate everything Apple does with their OS releases, but it seems lately that they're showing more bugs than they have in the recent past.
  • I haven't experienced as many bugs as my friends....fortunately I don't use Safari. My biggest gripe is Spotlight. What the hell were they thinking? I also don't like the ugly icons, but that I'll get used to.
  • I agree i've gone through the betas for IOS before but i decided to wait till public release, and to me IOS 8 definitely felt more like a developer beta version of IOS until IOS 8.1 the way things were so slow and crashed and just didn't work it wasn't too bad but it was certainly below the usual release standards and it was definitely enough for me to notice and wonder what the hell was going on. On the yosemite public beta i couldn't open mail until i had deleted my gmail because after half a second on my unified box mail crashed overtime without fail. I realise that was beta but surely apple should have basic native app functionality down to small bugs for public beta. Release yosemite has been much better though.
  • I agree. Apple has to stick with their motto. "It just works". That hadn't been true for quite some time now. Why use Apple? I switched to Mac simply because I got so tired of MS lack of quality. So please Apple raise the bar. If you send to much unfinished code out, there is no reason to buy the more expensive hardware.
    Microsoft has changed gear. At the same time Apple has compromised a bit too much. I installed MS Office on my iPad. Because the new version can create and edit. Here it comes: Excel for iPad actually has an easier to use interface than Apple Numbers. I never thought I would say that. MS cloud platform is pretty good. Apple cloud not so much. Our family is still Apple only. But honestly Microsoft is catching up. For me it is all about quality. Not so much if it is one or the other company. So Apple get in gear and get the quality back in your software. You may build the best hardware but if the sofware lacks behind you will loose customers.
  • Just a follow up. The new iTunes is really not good. I constantly run into dead ends, where I cannot get back.
    The new fullscreen implemenntation is also pretty bad it can catch you in fullscreen where there is no visible way to get back.
    Yosemite upgrade did a complete reset of my Logic pro X settings.
    This is what I would expect from a Microsoft upgrade not from Apple.
  • I'm a Mac guy, but there are so many little annoyances in OS X and iOS. Just one example:
    -The iOS keyboard design decisions are baffling to me.
    On the punctuation/numbers/symbols screen, all the punctuation is in a different place than on a normal keyboard. The period & comma are on the left-hand-side. Why would they do this?
    And symbols should be in this order: !@#$%^&*()-=
    And the hashtag key is on the secondary numbers screen. Huh?
  • Shift key is dark in normal state and turns white, like other keys, when it is ressed. It is darn confusing. I wonder what the dozens of Release Management folks at Apple do. They are letting tons of bugs just to get releases out? Pathetic.
  • I can additionally tell the story how I'm having 'fun' with their Photos since I decided to try out their iCloud Library solution. The waiting period has finally ended and the iOS 8.1 and OS X 10 are officially here (with new devices in stores) and my experience looks like this after enabling the full power of their cloud:
    Out of all my photos I notice only those from Camera Roll were transferred so I create new albums on iOS. OK, on my Mac I upload a few dozen to test the waters but only one album is visible so I check my iPad and wait for the arrival of those photos. Some time later they show up, those that I favourited in the Safari browser didn't fully merge with those favourited earlier but I decide to check everything tomorrow. Next day not all of my uploaded photos are available so I go to their website and upload two hundred additional photos (futily hoping that everything will eventually sync) and go to bed once more. No change on the 3rd day so I decide now it's the time to take care of iPhoto manually etc. and finish uploading my collection (because screenshots taken in the past are in .png format and iCloud doesn't like that one bit now). A day later I can admit it doesn't work, albums created on iOS did not show up in Safari and photos that I can browse there are not available on my iPad. Yup, it's beta alright.
  • "I won't go as far as some to declare these releases the worst or the buggiest that Apple has ever released; that's ridiculous. I've lived through much worse. But it is annoying, when you're given a bill of sale and an expectation of how your gear should work..." Wasn't the bill marked "Free"?
  • I've never had an 'issue' with any OS X or iOS release mainly because my quality of experience and life improved with the innovations. I don't believe in promises. Everybody makes them and brakes them - that's life. Believing in promises is a recipe for frustration and misery. For me, and not too few, Apple had my vote for a promise of technology that is elegant, easy to use, and more helpful to me than not. Still, I keep my expectations low so that I'm pleasantly surprised and inspired by what does work versus what doesn't. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm really only having one issue with Yosemite, I'm still waiting for a Final Cut Pro update so I can upgrade my work machine to it. My home machine loves Yosemite, my 5S loves iOS8, but the older iMac I use to test new Mac OS releases against FCP X indicate a few but meaningful bugs between OS 10.10 and FCP 10.1.3. I'm disappointed Apple has not even squeaked a peep on when a Yosemite-compatible version of FCPX is coming out. If you want to keep your pro users, Apple, better start getting those OS and pro app updates better sync'ed.
  • "I had an issue so everyone must have had the same issue." This line of thinking needs to stop...as does the idea that anyone who reports they have NOT had the issues are just being blind fanboys. Most people aren't experiencing major issues with either Yosemite or iOS 8...MOST people are very satisfied and have had a great user experience. Does that mean those who have had issues shouldn't voice them? Surely not...voicing them brings attention to them and helps to get them rectified. What needs to stop, like previously said, is the assumption that these issues are a blanket problem, and not isolated. It's easy to forget that even tens of thousands of people are still a small sample size compared to the whole amount.
  • I have had instability problems on both my iPads since installing ios8.1. Mostly an unresponsive touch screen and keyboards that may or may not work. I love Apple hardware but I am losing confidence in their software. It doesn't always 'just work'.
  • My early 2011 17" MacBook Pro with BlueTooth 2.1 should by rights not have Handoff or AirDrop available, but there's this clever hack by Mac whizz kid Dokterdok (with contributions from others) that allows for these features to work seamlessly on my laptop with the use of a BlueTooth LE dongle. Details and change log on GitHub. Didn't even require a reboot or login/logout of iCloud! Happy as Larry I am, because by rights my machine doesn't qualify to run these features. All my Yosemite niggles have been ironed out with careful, methodical sleuthing so personally I am one happy Apple camper and abstain from this round of Apple software criticism.
  • I dunno. I've been running the public betas of OS X and iOS on all my devices ever since they were first released. Besides Safari crashing every once in a while (just goes away and then comes right back), I haven't seen the kind of problems everyone else is describing, or that I well remember from previous OS upgrades (seems to me the move up from System 7.0.1 to System 7.1 was pretty hairy, but it did include a lot of long-promised features, so we didn't complain too much).
    Handoff works well, though I don't use it. AirDrop has always been a 'sometimes' thing. It's great when it works.