Apple’s Patch Monday: All Problems Resolved?

July 19th, 2016

As development continues on fall’s OS updates, Apple hasn’t stopped working to improve the current versions. So on Monday, expected updates appeared for OS X version 10.11.6, iOS version 9.3.3, watchOS 2.2.2, and tvOS 9.2.1. All told, Apple has been busy, and it’s interesting how these were all timed to appear around the same time.

The cynics might suggest that Apple set a hard-wired deadline, and fixed what it could before the deadline arrived. Fixes that didn’t make the cut might be pushed off to the future or, if not significant, perhaps set aside for the fall upgrades. But maybe I’m just guessing in light of how well the signs aligned in delivering these updaters.

On the same day, the third developer betas appeared for macOS Sierra, iOS 10, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10. The public will very likely get the first two in a few days, perhaps a slightly later version. But I suppose that depends on the condition of these releases. But Apple does appear to have settled on a two-week schedule for now. I would expect that to become a weekly affair once it gets close to the final release dates.

In case you’re wondering, I did update my iPhone 6 with the iOS 10 beta a while back. For the things I do, it has worked quite well, with each successive release running even better. But I won’t fall into the foolish trap of a few tech pundits who have reviewed Apple’s betas and complained about the rampant bugs. When you’re two months or so from the final release, what do you expect?

Sure, it’s appropriate to mention problems when trying to describe how a feature works, especially of those problems prevent it from working properly. But the responsible reporter would also explain that it’s beta, so such things are par for the course. Sometimes things that work well in one beta, may be broken in the next. I know of one notable example in macOS Sierra, but I don’t want to dwell on it since it’s obvious enough that I’m sure Apple will fix it before long. Let’s just say that I am not prepared to put the beta on my iMac’s production partition just yet.

When it comes to this week’s maintenance updates for the release operating systems, most of them involved fixing bugs and improving security. It’s possible those fixes will thus go unnoticed for most of you. watchOS 2.2.2, however, requires that you install iOS 9.3.3 first. I suppose that might be a source of confusion, but one or more of the fixes must involve how the iPhone and Apple Watch integrate. I suppose.

The only update that actually carries much of a list of fixes is OS X 10.11.6. The list includes:

  • Resolves an issue that may prevent settings from being saved in accounts with parental controls enabled.
  • Resolves an issue that prevented some network devices, such as speakers and multifunction printers, from accessing SMB share points.

The update also has a few updates for Macs in an enterprise environment.

  • Improves startup time when connecting to a NetBoot server.
  • Resolves an issue that may prevent startup from a NetBoot image created with an OS X v10.11.4 or OS X v10.11.5 installer.
  • Resolves an issue that may cause Active Directory authentication to take longer than expected.

The security fixes are listed separately, and include the usual stuff about repairing problems that might make your Mac susceptible to being controlled or infected by a hacker. One notable fix dealt with a vulnerability that would allow someone to keep a Facetime audio connection open even when the call was terminated; a similar fix appears in iOS 9.3.3. This comes across as the sort of eavesdropping scheme you see on TV procedurals. Take that, “Mr. Robot.”

Unfortunately, nothing in the El Capitan release notes mentions Mail and that stalling issue I’ve experienced since the first beta. Perhaps it’s something that only impacts huge mailboxes, and some of mine contain messages dating back to 1999. To be fair to Apple, perhaps I should just archive all the old stuff. It’s not that I need to consult them in my daily work. I am not a pack rat either, but I do, on a rare occasion, search for a real old message for one reason or another. So I don’t want to just delete them yet.

Unless something nasty shows up from these updates, I would not be surprised if  these are the final updates for the current operating systems, although there will be security fixes for a couple of years at least.

The real question is whether these releases are stable enough to satisfy those who gave bad reviews to their predecessors. OS X El Capitan, for example, merits roughly three stars out of five at the App Store, and it’s not just about features. There are reports of bugs, but some problem reports make very little sense.

So one reviewer complains that Adobe CS2 apps won’t run. Of course they won’t! CS2 was released in 2005, before Apple released the first Intel-based Macs. Beginning with OS X Lion, Apple removed the Rosetta PowerPC binary translator, so it was never possible to run CS2 with that and later Mac operating systems. Adobe CS3, released in 2007, was the first “Universal” version of the Creative Suite. Clearly the customer is living in a bubble.

So maybe I shouldn’t take some of those negative reviews seriously. As I said, except for the Mail issue, which may be at least my fault in part, El Capitan runs just great.

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One Response to “Apple’s Patch Monday: All Problems Resolved?”

  1. DaveD says:

    I noticed that starting out this year the OS X updates were released every two months. The one yesterday that I do agree is likely to be the last update for El Capitan. Looking ahead, a release of macOS Sierra would be coming in mid to late September now that all hands are on deck for a weekly release of the four beta OSes.

    My impression being a late-to-the-party with El Capitan is positive overall. I have seen a few more appearances of the spinning beach ball cursor, but it is likely that 4GB of RAM is no longer sufficient for today’s Mac OS. There is still a minor bug that was present in Yosemite. In Safari or Preview the save as PDF slide-down sheet doesn’t acknowledge the Dock and the action buttons are covered. In a rare case where I needed to cancel, the Dock has to be hidden in order to click it. Maybe this oversight might get resolved in yesterday’s update.

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