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A Few Apple Annoyances

So I was writing an email to a friend about something or other on my iPhone 3GS. I needed to refer to some printed notes before completing the letter. So when I put down the phone, after a few moments the letter was sent without being finished and without any further intervention on my part.

On another occasion, I simply switched to a Web site to reference an account number, but when I returned to the Mail app to finish the letter, the window was closed, the letter sent. So what gives?

It’s not as if there is a preference to automatically send incomplete emails after an idle period, or when you switch to another app. This is surely not a “feature” in any way I can justify logically. It simply means that the recipient receives unfinished emails and, no doubt, begins to assume I’m either a spammer or crazy, or a little bit of both.

To be fair, maybe I’m missing something, but I find no preference setting for Mail on an iPhone that addresses this irregularity. I can’t believe it’s supposed to work that way.

Now I do understand Apple’s logic about prohibiting most multitasking functions on the iPhone. The more stuff that happens in the background, the more performance — and battery life — are negatively impacted. They have, however, found a way for you to use the telephone and access other features on the iPhone at the same time with an active 3G connection. This is something that you just can’t do on Verizon’s and Sprint’s CDMA network, even though lots of people are urging Apple to release a version of the iPhone for the former, the USA’s largest wireless carrier.

In all fairness, the iPhone is still fairly young in its development process. Surely there are items about the fit and finish of the software that will be mostly addressed over time, assuming anyone else has noticed this problem, and that Apple can be made to believe it’s something they need to address.

But looking at a far more mature product, Mac OS X, I have to expect better. So I wonder why the Finder is still dragged down with minor irritants. Sure, the original Carbon version might have been flaky because of the limitations of that programming scheme. But the highly-touted 64-bit Cocoa Finder ought to be relatively free of the problems of the past.

But it’s not.

Take the basics of Finder memory, recalling your preset viewing options, placement and window size. The first is usually correct, but the next two aren’t. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and I find no predictable pattern of closing Finder windows, moving Finder windows or restarting that triggers such symptoms.

The 10.6.2 update doesn’t change a thing. But at least they got rid of that nasty Guest account bug, which threatened to zap the files of your Users folder, when switching between accounts. It’s not that I know anyone who was truly impacted, but a single victim is one victim too many.

In addition, on my dual quad-core Early 2008 Mac Pro with 16GB of RAM, I still see a slight delay in the appearance of icons in a Finder window, and we’re talking about column and list view. That, to me, makes very little sense in light of the promise of Snow Leopard.

Understand that my desktop Mac runs with minimal system enhancements, other than software for my Logitech input devices, plus ASM, a utility that recreates the Classic application window sensibility, including auto hiding of the apps you’re not using. I opted not to use Spaces, because some of my critical programs, such as Bias Peak Pro, an audio editing application, don’t play well with Apple’s native window switching feature.

These issues are not necessarily matters of preference or feature enhancements. They are all about basic functionality. Indeed, I wonder why the Finder engineers seem to have ongoing problems with fine tuning what is surely the most important application on a Mac, just as it’s been for the past 25 years.

What makes these issues far more important is how things differ on the Windows platform. After spending a decent amount of face time with Windows 7, I can tell you that Microsoft hasn’t a clue about delivering elegance. It’s not even close. When you look at the little things, such as the smoothness of mouse and window movement, you can see where Microsoft fails and Apple succeeds.

Under the surface, Windows 7 is basically just a refreshed version of Vista, but Microsoft has, with the past two system revisions, basically continued to tamper with the interface, largely to tout new features rather than make things work better. Yes, there’s a Dock-like taskbar that seems more sensible than its predecessor, but that’s not sufficient to make the Mac convert return to the Dark Side. Even the highly-touted speed improvements are so slight that most of you wouldn’t notice without a stop watch at hand.

But Microsoft is getting better and delivering mediocrity, so Apple needs to stay ahead of the game and get the little things to work more consistently.