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Yosemite Ongoing: Only Minor Glitches

Usually when Apple releases a new OS, there are loads of problems that require a fast maintenance update. This was very much true with iOS 8, where Apple released 8.0.1, with a buggy “wrapper” that was killed in about an hour and replaced with 8.0.2, with a fixed wrapper, the following day. With iOS 8.1 things appear to have settled down for the most part. But the adoption rate, over 50%, continues to trail iOS 7 and even iOS 6. But it may not be the early-release bugs, which plagued the older releases too, but rather the difficulty in doing in-device upgrades on gear with limited storage.

With OS X Yosemite, Apple opened the beta process to over one million Mac users. Yes, there was a supposed limit of just a million, but I never heard of anyone being turned away. You just needed an Apple ID account, a heartbeat, approval of the non-disclosure agreement, and be good to go.

With such a large repertoire of mostly eager beta testers, you would expect Apple would get lots of feedback. Some of it not so well-crafted considering most beta testers aren’t power users, but maybe sufficient to spot and fix problems before they got out of hand. Don’t forget that earlier versions of OS X were afflicted with all sorts of ills. One year, with the Tiger release as I recall, some third-party hard drives crashed. Maybe it was partly due to third-party drivers, but still. Apple fixed their part quickly enough, but it still puts the lie to the claim that today’s OS releases are not as stable as in the past.

It’s not that Yosemite is trouble free. It appears that the most consistent problem, one I haven’t had mind you, impacts Wi-Fi connectivity. On the affected Macs, you can’t sustain a connection, and there are all sorts of home-brewed remedies. So some will use a script that resumes the connection. Some try to delete the settings files. Some reports fret that Apple has yet to acknowledge the problem, since a fair number of people might be impacted, but it may also be true that a 10.0.1 update is in the wings that will address this and other early release bugs.

Still, it’s not as treacherous as earlier OS X releases, so maybe the public beta paid off after all. Certainly the adoption rate is running somewhat better than Mavericks, which is quite promising.

The problems I’ve encountered are minor, but I’m troubled by the fact that they mostly existed during the beta process, developer and public, and weren’t fixed. It’s not that Apple didn’t know about them, since they were duly reported.

So with Safari, some pages continue to reload with an error message. It doesn’t happen with other browsers, but the list of offending sites is scattered. Some printer drivers need work. It takes a minute or two for my aging Xerox 8560DN solid ink printer to start processing a job. Normally the printer starts presenting the flashing green light within a second or two, and the first page of a document appearsd about five seconds later. But not so with Yosemite.

A newer printer, an HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus, fares better mostly. But some print jobs, of mixed text and photo content, will stall for long minutes or just finish up with pages left unprinted. The download of the release version of Yosemite was accompanied by HP Printer Software Update Version 3.0, but the update doesn’t seem to have helped.

Mail’s lingering problem appeared in the middle of the beta process. After a while the total number of messages in a mailbox folder are no longer displayed. It can be fixed temporarily by quitting and relaunching Mail, but the display soon vanishes again.

True I have over 100,000 messages, dating back to the late 1990s, stored in a number of folders across several accounts. But I never had any problems with prior versions of Mail, and these symptoms do not appear to depend on any type of account. I have some hosted on my web server, plus iCloud, Gmail and AOL.

In addition to the Wi-Fi issues, some Yosemite users also report problems with Bluetooth connections, such as a curious lag effect with some input devices. The typical battery issues are also being reported, although Apple claims enhanced battery life with video playback in Safari.

For me performance is somewhat snappier than with Mavericks. Apps launch a bit quicker, and overall performance seems somewhat improved. It may all be due to performing a clean installation on a somewhat customized late 2009 27-inch iMac. But there’s one occasional glitch. When I switch apps to one in another virtual desktop — I use Spaces to carve them up into workflows — the switchover process momentarily stutters. Now maybe the older graphics are having  a problem keeping up, but it’s not consistent by any means.

The only issue that really bothers me is printing, particularly when I need to get a document out quickly and the output stalls on the HP. The lack of Handoff support, not being able to have my iPhone or iPad pick up the email, documents and what-not that I began on the iMac, isn’t serious enough to fret over.

Now if someone asked me whether they should upgrade to Yosemite, I’d give a qualified yes. A bug fix release that would eliminate most of the issues reported in this column would change that to a more positive verdict. But if the potential problems don’t bother you, upgrading to Yosemite ought to be a fairly seamless process.