When Apple’s “it just works” ecosystem turns into frustration

For years, we have always loved our Apple products: iMacs, iPhones, iPads, AppleTV, and multiple Airports. None of these products are the first of their kind in our household. But, because they just do not just work anymore, they have begun to frustrate us more and more in the last months and even years.

OS X – Using two internal drives

I have one of the fastest iMacs ever built: a 2011 i7 3.4 GHz, 24 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD plus an internal 2 GB HDD. Power and performance has never been an issue for this machine.

But, Apple has crippled it by how it has implemented the access to the internal storage units. Every time a user starts an app, opens any open or save dialog or accesses Spotlight, OS X has to first spin up all internal drives before the user can select a file or location. For an internal HDD this can take up to 15 seconds! 15 seconds are a very long time to wait just to open or save a document, or to find something with Spotlight!

Even more frustrating is the fact that all of my documents are on the SSD anyway and there is no need to spin up the HDD. The HDD only holds my iTunes library.
To release the full power of the SSD, the user actually has to cripple the machine further: deactivate Spotlight on the HDD and manually unmount the HDD. Unfortunately, this is much easier when the user has administrative rights. Otherwise, the user has to enter credentials with every mount or unmount. This results in Apple forcing me to work in a less safer environment.

I suspect that no member of Apple’s senior management has ever used a Mac in this configuration. If they had they would have ensured that the user can open and save documents while other storage units spin up.

iCloud

Oh, I wish it would just work! I have saved Pages, Numbers, and other documents on the iMac and had to wait over a full day to have them appear on the iPad. It is extremely frustrating to leave my home having saved a document and find out in the office that it is not available on my iPad.
One time the synchronization of Day One using iCloud completely stalled leaving me with two different sets of entries. When Day One provided their own cloud solution I gladly abandoned iCloud.
I could go on and on with examples with Reminders, iA Writer, Tweetbot, and many other apps. Tweetbot is the perfect example: Tweetbot on the Mac will not be informed about the last tweet I read on my iPhone. It will then show me the last tweet I read previously on the Mac and sync that to the iPhone. Now, the iPhone is back on the old Tweet.  

Since a reboot of the Mac usually fixes the issue, I have to do what all Windows user had to do a few years ago: reboot their machine multiple times per day.

Apple and synchronization? A catastrophe about to happen. 

Airdrop

This used to work perfectly between a 2013 iMac and 2011 iMac. Since both are now on Yosemite, Airdrop doesn’t work anymore because they can’t “see” each other. “Look for older Macs” is only available on the newer iMac. And even then, it doesn’t work seemlessly.

Siri

I use Siri in German. Actually there are a few usages that actually do work, e.g. setting an alarm or identifying a song, you know, the important stuff. But, e.g. Siri still does not understand to ‚show me the way to work‘.

In order to set a reminder in German, the user has to ‚think different‘. In German, the user cannot form a real sentence like ‚Remind me to buy groceries‘ in order to have a reminder that makes sense. The German language is different. The user would have to say something like ‚Remind me to … groceries buy‘.

iTunes Store Switzerland

Many customers have been complaining for years that movies in the Swiss iTunes store have the German track in stereo while the English track is in surround sound. For US citizens that’d be like buying a movie in Mexican-Spanish having surround sound while English is only in stereo.

I have stopped looking at or buying movies in iTunes until Apple changes their malpractice in Switzerland.

Just across the border, in Germany, the store sells movies in German with surround sound, though. Due to contractual reasons, customers are only allowed to use the store in their home country.

iTunes Match

iTunes Match still can’t match hundreds of my songs while it has matched songs on the same album. And, I still have songs that have been ‚waiting’ for years.

The worst, though, is when iTunes Match changes my information of a song. This happens when it uploads a song, before I change all information including the rating. At some point, iTunes Match “corrects” my changes to what they had uploaded before.

That is the worst that a synchronization service can do: Mess up the synchronization.

iTunes Radio

Since iTunes Match has been available, the price has been stable in each country, in local currency, of course. While the US and other countries have received iTunes Radio without an increase in price, Switzerland and many other countries have not received iTunes Radio, yet. But still, the customers in those countries still pay the same price! Since they are not receiving the same service as customers in the US, they should be offered a refund and a reduced price by Apple.

iPhone settings

It used to be quite simple to set up an iPhone. I recently spent hours to set up the Apple Friends app. I had to find and switch on location services in three different places until it finally worked.

Apple Photos

Don’t get me started about the way Apple is forcing customers to use the unfit for purpose 1.0 Apple Photos app!

If Microsoft would force longtime users to abandon MS Word 2015 for MS Text 1.0, I’m sure Apple’s senior management would have a hay day with Microsoft in their next keynote.
Just read my previous blog for more insights on this topic.

Apple TV

I never know whether it will work. I switch on iTunes on my Mac to access my iTunes library. From the living room I start the AppleTV. Then I start the Remote app on my iPad. It shows the AppleTV and the iTunes library. I select the AppleTV and navigate to “Computer” and either then or later the AppleTV shows a spinning wheel of connect/death. I then go to the Mac, try to Airplay directly to the AppleTV only to find another spinning wheel of death. I then try to Airplay from the iPad – only with the same result: the spinning wheel of death. Since I’m not sure what actually is the issue, I restart the Mac and the AppleTV as well. Another eerie Windows moment in my Apple ecosystem.

It used to be so easy: pop in a DVD, lean back, and enjoy the show. Now, I’m the show running around the house.

Is this what Apple meant by “It just works”?

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