SLOWDOWN AND SPEEDUP!!!1, says internet to Apple

Last week, it seemed like you couldn't open the internet without tripping over an opinion piece telling Apple to slow down its pace and shore up its foundation. This week, new opinion pieces are telling Apple to — wait for it — hurry up and innovate faster.

If this all sounds familiar, it's probably because it's what happens every year, though the change between the two refrains isn't always this whiplash-inducingly sudden. So what's going on?

Back at WWDC 2014, Apple presented iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and Swift as a love letter to developers. Many things developers had wanted for so long all hit so fast that the community was caught up in collective euphoria.

And then Apple implemented all of it — tearing up and rebuilding a large part of the foundation for both operating systems as they did so — and, in the resulting upheavals and resettling, our euphoria turned to unease and frustration.

WHY DID THEY GIVE US WHAT WE WANTED IF IT WASN'T GOING TO WORK PERFECTLY AT LAUNCH?!

Back at the September 2014 event, Apple announced the big iPhone 6 and bigger iPhone 6 Plus, and showed off the Apple Watch. Again, updates that had long been on many wish lists and a new-for-Apple device category gave way to waves of excitement.

But now the iPhones 6 and 6 Plus have shipped, and the Apple Watch is still a few months away, and Microsoft just showed off an Oculus-looking device that lets you augment reality for Minecraft and Skype. And all that excitement has turned into ennui and impatience.

WHERE'S OUR OCULUS-HOLOGRAPHIC GOGGLES TO AUGMENT OUR REALITY WITH TEXAS HOLD'EM AND FACETIME, APPLE?!

For customers, these are all very human, very relatable sentiments. We simultaneously dislike boredom, but hate change. We want Apple to focus, but do more. Speed up, but slow down. It's what makes us... us. It's also what lets those who thrive off sensationalism exploit us.

Many of the opinion pieces written and re-written about Apple's software stability were reasonable and rational. So too will be the pieces written and re-written about Apple's pace of innovation. After all, there are reasonable and rational arguments to be made about both. Others, however, were merely exploitative plays for attention.

The truth is, Apple needs to slow down and shore up the foundations and they need to reach for the future, but they can do that not by focusing on internet complaint memes, but by delivering the absolute best products in the absolute best timeframes. Not slowest, not fastest — best.

Apple is coming off the biggest software release since 2008 and is in the midst of one of the biggest hardware refreshes and launches ever. It's a massive leap forward, now they need to stick the landing.

Apple wasn't first to music players, or phones, or tablets, or watches. The company won't be first to VR, or AR, or HUD, or TVs, or self-driving cars, or whatever else their competition is publicly workshopping at the moment. Apple will pick and choose carefully and, like the company always says, only enter the categories in which they think they can make a real difference.

BUT WHAT ABOUT MY iTOASTERFRIDGE — WILL THE WI-FI "JUST WORK"?

Yes, internet. Yes, it will.

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.

27 Comments
  • Maybe they can find a balance somewhere. As far as iOS is concerned, that can remain on a yearly cadence. The consumer / mobile space is hotly competitive and no way Apple is going to let up. But John Siracusa made a good point on one of his podcasts that there's no need for yearly OSX releases. Most OSX users are using their Macs for work or productivity oriented tasks. Stability, reliability, performance is more important for these users. So maybe having OSX on a 2-year cadence would more preferable. As far as the opinion piece of Apple being boring. That's just your prototypical hit piece.
  • I agree with you (and Siracusa in the same time). And since the OS is free, why not just release a X.1 when there’s a need for it. Just as the implementation of Apple pay was a X.1 release on the iPhone and Apple Watch will be in the near future. So it would look somewhat like this for 2015:
    > "EARLY" 2015 = iOS 8.2 + OS X 10.10.2 w. AppleWatch/Photos App integrations and stability improvements
    > END OF SUMMER = iOS 9 + OS X 10.10.3 w. whatever needs to be integrated for the new iOS features and stability improvements
    > FALL = iOS 9.1 + OS X 10.10.3.1 stability improvements and bug fixes...
    > Etc.
  • Handoff, for example, had to roll out across both platforms at the same time for it to work. A major new coordinated feature like that puts both platforms on the same schedule. You can argue that they should do less each year, but the year itself probably isn't the constraining factor.
  • I've never heard so many apple die hards talking bad about Apple. Is this unprecedented?
  • It's most definitely not unprecedented. Apple has seen many ups-and-downs since the 80s. That's one of the things I respected most about Steve Jobs and I seem some of under Tim Cook. They stay focused, no matter the flood of hate mail or love letters. One could look at the product line up Apple has now and the line up they had in 2010 and wonder if they are spreading themselves thin, but I'm not so sure I would jump to that conclusion. Anyways, there's always been diehards and haters.
  • I know they've had ups and downs but even in whose periods (i don't remember the 80s from a mac experience to be honest), there seemed to always be die hards to combat the 'known haters'. Now though it seems like they, the people that used to fight hard against the haters, are now speaking out publicly about apples reliability and usability. Thats my point really.
  • Heh. Read old Daring Fireball links some time. MacOS to OS X transition, PowerPC to Intel transition. Tons of past stuff.
  • Dude when system 7 came out, the hue and cry about how *color* in the OS was going to RUIN APPLE was huge. and stupid.
  • I would say the only difference between then and now is the signal vs noise ratio. As Rene and bynkii mentioned there's always been a critical voice among the fans. Heck, even OS X was pretty rough. Probably not as rough as System 7, but when it debuted it wasn't not the fastest and bestest all around. They did create a foundation they could continue to build on though. They've never shied away from pissing people off along the course they see fit.
  • No, you just never listened to them before. Apple die hards have always been critical of Apple. They chose Apple because they want something better. You don't think they'd just stop at "oh well, it's better than Windows (or Android). They can stop now."
  • Nice observations. Funny thing is, for us that are not the press, the windows holo lens thing is vaporware. Windows 10 timeframe can literally mean I day before windows 11 is available to the public. That could be years. Also betting windows 10 will have a subscription format for a few years to fill that void. All the while apple will keep cranking out useable products.
  • Siracusa has about as much in common with an "average" user as he does a yeti. In addition, "average user" is literally a meaningless phrase, because everyone uses their computer for different things, including the people who say they "only" use it for [task]. You can't even get people to agree on the problems. For example, iTunes. The stability and usability of iTunes is entirely dependent on what you use it for. Some types of users will have no problems with it, others will. My use of iTunes outside of an occasional iPhone backup is highly minimal, so for *my* needs, the "massive problems" with iTunes literally don't exist. Does that mean that everyone seeing problems is wrong? Nope, not at all. It means that computer use is, even within the same application, highly individualistic.
  • Awesome article Rene. I totally agree. You would have think with all the hoopla we would have had had Google Glass by now. But hey now its defunct. So slow and steady (not to slow) and nail the landing like you said. All the stuff Microsoft is doing is great but hey they have one vision and Apple has another. I'm excited about augmented reality but I'm more excited about the Apple Watch about to launch. The so-called tech media simply likes to fan the flames and see which way the fire burns. Sent from the iMore App
  • Honestly, Rene, you win the internet for using VampWillow and 'Bored Now' as the picture. You absolutely won the internet.
  • So great!
  • I admire Apple's patience, they could have released crappy watch years ago, instead they waited till it's good and ready so people can love it.. It's so easy to show some fancy prototypes, deliver fantasies and expectations, what is hard is to deliver finished product and new life changing technologies that people would actually buy and use. When can I buy HoloLens, months, years ? I know when I can buy AppleWatch and this is what matters for me from users point of view.
  • It's not called patience... It's called having the world's largest bank account and that means they can WAIT for a more mature market... Emphasis on the word WAIT... Time is money, and some of those companies out there (*cough* Blackberry *cough*) just can't afford to wait for a more mature market or better technologies...
    But I agree 1000000% with your opinion and Rene's article, although I'll wait for the second iteration of the Apple Watch (think width comparison between iPad and iPad2)
  • Yes, but big bank account is just the consequence of this patience. You can spend years developing a product to make sure it eventually brings great user experience, or you can rush it just to be first on the market. The first one is boring, but pays off when people are willing to buy great product, the latter is fancy and showy, gets press attention, but it doesn't mean it's good. People tend to call innovative everything new that is released or even shown, but for me 'new is easy, right is hard'.
  • Waited till it's good ? No, their 1st gen devices almost always have huge flaws.
  • Every device has huge flaws when you look from a time perspective, using now iPhone 6 Plus I could say my 5s was flawed having such a terrible battery life, it's all a matter of perspective.
  • YES!!! Sent from the iMore App
  • Great article. Perfect picture to represent it. Well done.
  • Well, Apple is screwing up their quality and at the same time isn't 'pushing the envelope' (or 'thinking outside the box') so they should decide on one thing and do at least one of those. Personally I don't want them to take a break because recently (since iOS 5) I've felt that we're in a slow-mo mode with their pace of introducing changes. Of course if it's not better than the competition then what's the point of paying premium price but now Apple is also 'the boring one'.
    Their Golden Age momentum lasted nearly a decade but one day people will move on to something else and Americans will lose interest in their favourite company that represents capitalism. Sometimes it takes five years, sometimes it takes twenty but it won't last indefinitely, the future is uncertain like never before.
  • If only WiFi "just worked" on Yosemite.. sigh...
  • "Have you tried completely reinstalling everything without restoring from TimeMachine?" - the go-to "genius" fix for any bug. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have to disagree with this article. I mean often Apple Stuff gets leaked but how in the world are we suppose to guess everything they are working on? There could be and probably is a lot of unknown unreleased or announced products. More often than not Apple announces and releases soon after. They aren't ones to announce hardware then work on it for years still before it releases. Even software usually is under wraps until wwdc and gets a 5-7 month beta but that's not really that long even. If they release something they want it to just work and be a finished product. I'm guessing more likely than not there is some vr or ar sets, tvs, apple tvs, and tons of top secret projects. Apple even had startled iPad work before the iPhone then set it aside to make iPhone first, then brought the iPad project back and released it soon after. I mean in iOS 8 and Yosemite they drastically changed, iPhones and ipads have improved, they brought out their first high res product in the 5k Mac and 4k capable Mac pros. We can't expect apple to have public announcements of stuff they work on. It's not the Apple ideal or Apple way to do that stuff or randomly to throw out new products. People complain about glitches and delays then but they're all the ones forcing Apple to make moves too. We need bigger screens we need this we need that but then they get it and its not good enough. Every os will have glitches too not just iOS and OS X. Honestly though most bugs in iOS get kicked out in beta. I was on all the 8 betas so far and all the public Yosemite betas. I've had fewer issues on both on my 5S iPad Air and iMac early 08 model than in beta by far. I rarely have many issues. I can understand some bugs too since Apple still hasnt started an iOS public beta.
  • The obvious answer for this is for all OS and Application updates to support version rollback, and a separation of Applications and Data as a core functionality. Annoyed that iOS 8 gave you extensions & handoff which you don't use, while removing the ability to use iPhoto (which you paid for) and replacing it with Photos which has *less* utility (no EXIF data, for example)? Rollback. Annoyed that a developer pushed out a buggy update which got through app review and won't be fixed for a week? Rollback. Annoyed that iTunes 11.2 wipes half your podcast library on upgrade because the "move previously downloaded podcasts to saved" function is faulty, and "erase 24 hours after listening" is switched on by default? Rollback. Annoyed that Apple keeps quoting adoption rates as if they're an indicator of quality when they have no relation to *satisfied* adoption of the new version because once people have upgraded, they have no way to return to the old version without sacrificing the new data in their apps? Rollback. If Rollback was adopted as a fundamental aspect of OS and Applications, as Time Machine is to user data, users would be safe from everything that is currently wrong with Q&A in the Apple-centric tech world, and everyone developing for those platforms would have a clear metric of whether their progress was in the right direction.