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  • Waiting for the Bug Fixes

    October 2nd, 2013

    I’m sure most or all of you understand that software is far from perfect, and that one release will begat many. Sometimes a new product will arrive with bug fix downloads already waiting. There was one, for example, for the 2013 iMac. The day it came out, there was already an update to fix a few things caught after the refreshed models went into production. For the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s, you had version iOS 7.0.1 awaiting you at Apple’s servers. One of the fixes supposedly impacted Touch ID performance, so it was certainly important enough. It would be a disaster for Apple to roll out that key feature and have it work badly. It would be worse than the Maps fiasco last year.

    Sure, if Samsung or another tech company released a product with features that barely worked, or didn’t work at all, and they do, well it’s just a gadget, and don’t take it seriously. If it happens with an Apple product, watch out!

    Oh and by the way, iOS 7.0.1 was supplanted by version 7.0.2 within just a few days, and there’s now a published report of a 7.0.3 coming perhaps as early as next week. The ongoing fixes include various lock screen security issues, but you wonder if Apple may considering adding a way to reduce animation for those who allegedly have suffered from vertigo after playing with their new iPhones.

    Understand that I’m just assuming that the complaints are genuine as described, although I wouldn’t presume to guess just how many people are impacted by such issues. Or even that app windows that jump out at you after tapping an icon are all or partly responsible. Maybe it’s the parallax effect, but it does seem that most of the stories on the subject aren’t terribly clear as to whether one or both trigger the unsavory side effects.

    If you want to look at the bad side of the equation, you might suggest that Apple really needs to get these products perfect before they are released, but there are obvious marketing reasons why failing to meet a deadline is not a good idea. This doesn’t mean Apple should be releasing buggy gear, but if a simple software update, usually small in size, will clean up a few critical things by the time the new gadget is out, there’s probably little harm done.

    Unless you’re a perfectionist.

    Part of the problem is that, whatever the problems might be, they will seem to be worse than they really are. Apple must aspire to a higher standard than other tech companies, so their bug fixes are particularly important. Microsoft rolls out dozens of fixes, usually every week (the infamous “Patch Tuesday”) and few care, unless the fix only makes things worse. But that’s nothing unusual for Microsoft.

    Now when it comes to Maps for iOS 6, the worst problems were so visual, it was extremely easy to demonstrate them with a photo or a YouTube video. How could you trust Apple when they released an inferior product that put you in the wrong place and didn’t even get locations correct? Sure, it was also true that Google Maps remains far from perfect, and it’s still curious how the media tends to ignore the beta label Google puts up when you first launch one of their navigation apps. If Google is warning you that you can’t trust the results, why should you expect better of Apple?

    Since iOS 7 came out, with the promise of improvements in Maps, I haven’t heard much about how well it does. There’s no epidemic of reports of wrong directions, locations, and serious flaws in the 3D displays. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily perfect, but the emphasis is now on other issues, such as the potentially nasty effects of parallax and rampant animations, not to mention the thin typefaces on iOS 7, I expect Maps is working far better and it’s time to find another buggy Apple product to complain about.

    Of course, we are still evidently a few weeks away from the release of OS X Mavericks, so you can’t say what early release bugs will be present on version 9.0. There will surely be some, but a lot of the chatter about the new OS is about the supposed lack of new features. Sure, there’s a lot going on there, particularly under the hood, but the look and the feel is not much different from Mountain Lion. Aside from the removal of skeuomorphism from such apps as Contacts and Calendar, it looks very much the same.

    But that doesn’t mean Apple didn’t add 200 new features, although many of those features may rightly be considered minor enhancements. There was a heavy emphasis on productivity, and it’s quite possible some of the internal changes may make Macs run faster, or at least more efficiently. Mac portables are lightly to have somewhat better battery life too.

    And, yes, there will be an OS 9.0.1 a few weeks after Mavericks arrives. What did you expect?



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    2 Responses to “Waiting for the Bug Fixes”

    1. Articles you should read (Oct. 1) …. says:

      […] “Waiting for the Bug Fixes: I’m sure most or all of you understand that software is far from perfect, and that one release will begat many. Sometimes a new product will arrive with bug fix downloads already waiting.” — “The Tech Night Owl” (www.technightowl.com) […]

    2. Paul says:

      Great column!

      You are so right about the way Apple gets viewed and treated. It sets a higher standard for itself and so do others–but often pundits scoff at a lack of *perfection*. It’s probably because so often Apple delivers just that.

      Thank you especially for the comments on Apple Maps. The first three times I used Google Maps after Apple Maps came out, the directions were wrong–a missing road, ending in a park, etc. Yet, there is little commentary about how flawed it is.

      Everyone scoff at AM–and the Australian Park Service issuing warnings about Apple Maps and the outback were highlighted. But the same press and commenters ignored that just a couple of days later, they issued the same warning about Google Maps–misdirecting people, leading them to end up stranded in the desert, etc.

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