There’s been a good bit of hub-bub lately about how Apple has over-extended itself. Whether it’s complaints about iOS 8 bugs or a bendy iPhone 6 it all seems to be much ado about nothing. No doubt there are bugs but this is nothing new. No company releases a major new upgrade to any operating system without bugs, not even Apple. Go back through the releases of iOS or Mac OS and you’ll see that every release has bugs and most releases have at least one or two big bugs. This is nothing new so why pretend it is? Frankly, given the ever increasing complexity of the Apple hardware ecosystem, my hat’s off to them for keeping it together as well as they have. We expect excellence and I think that’s what we get. Excellence should not be confused with perfection.
The big bugs with iOS 8 that I’ve seen mentioned the most in my Rss and Twitter feeds? HealthKit needed an immediate fix so 8.01 was pushed out sooner than it should have which turned the just released iPhone 6s into iPods. No doubt a big problem which was rectified by 8.02 a day later. Aside from that I’m seeing the usual anecdotal complaints of instability. Another issue, not so much a bug as an issue of different timing for the different upgrades, are iOS 8 users upgrading to iCloud drive who were unaware of how this would effect their ability to access their iCloud documents from Mavericks-based Macs. Apple presents a warning for those choosing this option. Perhaps they could have done more? On my devices I’ve had no instability. My personal experience with iOS 8 has been nothing but excellent.
The critiques I’m seeing on iOS 8 seem to include the notion that Apple is rushing things and should slow down releases but this is a damned if they do, damned if they don’t scenario because it’s often said that they are not releasing enough. Not enough hardware, not enough software. Complaints about a lack of updates for iWork or iPhoto or iTunes being too bloated… the list goes on. I’m the first to admit that I often wish for new features or updates more often but that said I’m also usually very happy with what I have. Again, excellence not perfection. Most incremental updates have proven great. Major app rewrites such as iMovie several years ago or iWork last year have come with a bit of pain, no doubt. Not just in the adjustments needed for users to new interfaces and workflows but also in lost features (or temporarily missing features) and bugs.
With each new season of changes and updates there is a predictable outcry from the Apple using community about changes and bugs which is followed by a few weeks or months of bug fixes and, in the case of the major app rewrites, the return of many if not most missing features. The end result is that within a few weeks or a couple months everything is back to “normal”. iOS or OS X has returned to a stable state with it’s new features and everyone is happy. By January or February the end of the world has passed and by April Apple geeks are anxiously awaiting WWDC. By August they are beside themselves as they await the new iOS around the corner. The cycle repeats.
But along the way Apple has built an increasingly complex and collaborative ecosystem which is, increasingly, taken for granted. I remember the days of OS 8 and 9 and near daily crashes of my Mac. A week without a forced restart was nearly unheard of. I considered an uptime of 3 days amazing. Now? My Mac goes weeks without a restart, often months. Often restarts are only after OS updates that require it. That is absolutely fantastic. My iPad and iPhone? The same. Not only do my devices just keep running but they now work together in ways I would not have expected before. In just a few weeks even more so with the release of Yosemite.
But right now, even before Yosemite, my 2012 Mac Mini with 4 GB of RAM is my daily workhorse with 8–12 apps open at any given moment. An example: Safari, Mail, Wunderlist, iTunes, Illustrator, Photoshop, Messages, Calendar, Filemaker, and Coda. I bounce from one to the other with no crashes. None. This MacMini also functions as the household iTunes server. iTunes, often derided as bloated and somehow a problem, performs fantastically in our household. Always on, it serves 6552 songs, 170 GB of television shows, and nearly 1 TB of movies out to multiple iOS devices including 2 Apple TVs and a couple Macs. I wirelessly back-up my iOS devices to iTunes with no effort on my part beyond initial set-up. The only time I have to plug in an iOS device is to charge it or import photos into iPhoto.
I regularly open or create documents from iWork or Byword on my Mac which are then edited, seamlessly, on my iPad. Sometimes it is the other way around. Thanks to extensions in iOS 8 and apps like Panic’s Transmit I can easily use my iPad to access and edit an image or html file on my Mac Mini which I can then upload to one of my servers. With the same device and app I can share an image on my Mac’s desktop to Facebook or Twitter with just a couple taps. I can use my iPhone to control media on my AppleTV or stream a video from a Mac to AppleTV. These little sharing workflows are things we do in our household everyday, many times a day without a second thought and more often than not they work flawlessly. We just assume they will work and they do. The list goes on and will only grow as apps are updated or new ones created. With the release of Yosemite it will get better with Handoff and Continuity. I’ve already taken phone calls to my iPhone on my iPad, with Yosemite I’ll be able to take (or make) a call on my Mac.
It’s a fantastic time to be in the Apple ecosystem and I’m just as excited about the release of Yosemite as I was iOS 8. In the first weeks there will be bugs and the usual chorus of complaints will erupt on my feeds. I’m not suggesting that people should not mention the problems with Apple releasesd, be they OS, software or hardware, only that they keep a bit of perspective. Honest and factual critique helps us move forward, dramatic headlines and exagerated problems do not. Take a deep breath. Expect excellence from Apple, not perfection.