Apple does most things right, but here are the five things that press my personal hot buttons. I'd like Apple to fix them in 2015 once and for all, and then I'd be so very happy. Come along for the ride. Warning: it gets bumpy.
Here's my personal list in priority order.
1. Fix iTunes. The current iTunes 12 is a giant mess. I would use stronger language, but this is a family website. Basically, iTunes 12 is Apple's own special version of Odyne, the goddess of pain.
What I want is a new iTunes, factored well into key functionalities, and I want it to have a delightful UI. I want to be in awe of an amazing, well-functioning app that brilliantly handles music management, media management, device management and store purchases.
When I reviewed iTunes 12, "iTunes 12 is Apple’s Worst Software Ever, Should Be Withdrawn," I wrote:
For many people, music is a very important part of their lives. It's so important that Apple's iTunes should be the finest example of what Apple developers can build. It should be up to Apple's standards as best-in-class software. Unfortunately, iTunes 12 has a subpar user interface, and in a panel discussion, three TMO staff members judged judged it to be the worst software Apple has ever produced. It should be withdrawn from the market."
I perceived the problem to be that iTunes is so immersed in Apple agenda that it's no longer possible to turn this monolithic monster into delightful service. Worse, when things go wrong, so very wrong, iTunes is stupid. It can't fix what's wrong because it has no internal guidelines about how things ought to be. It just fails because it's just a pile of buggy code. So it can't offer suggestions on how to recover from a drastic failure, a borked library.
I know Apple could fix it if the company really cared. Or Tim Cook deeply understood the issues.
2. A new Snow Leopard-like release of OS X. Despite a period of public beta testing, which may have fooled Apple into thinking it didn't have to do its own extensive stress testing, Apple released OS X Yosemite in October, 2014. Since then, it's become clear that under duress, OS X isn't as refined as it should be. See, for example, this Bob LeVitus piece "My Love/Hate Relationship with Apple’s Handoff and Continuity."
In my own case, I've come to believe that the user interface for AirDrop represents the worst kind of UI thinking Apple has ever devised.
This all culminated recently when a well-known developer, Marco Arment, basically said that the OS X emperor had no clothes, and suddenly, there poured forth some ugly truths. "Mac Experts Weigh In: OS X Quality is Declining."
As a result, I'd like Apple take a breather and spend another 18 months fixing all the bugs in OS X Yosemite. Windows 10 is not such serious competition that Apple, in a panic, needs to come out with a new release this fall with hundreds more half-baked features. I want another Snow Leopard-like release that amazes and delights. And is rock solid.
3. Change the new iPhone preorder process. Each year, Apple confronts us with the abuse of crawling out of bed at the wee hours of the morning to do combat with 10 million other people, in a frenetic duel, to get the new iPhone we want.
Last year, I dearly sought a space gray iPhone 6 with 64 GB of storage, but Apple's ordering system wouldn't let me do it. (I had to use an iPad and the Apple store app. I never could connect with a Mac and Apple's website. Nada.) Knowing that every second literally counted, I quickly acquiesced and selected 128 GB. Some time later, about 30 minutes as I recall, one of my colleagues was able to order what I had originally sought. WTF?
What I'd like to see is a decoupling of the order request process and the order fulfillment process. I want Apple to take my order, starting on a specific date in a rolling window at noon local time (with first day allocations per time zone). No more midnight madness. I'd acknowledge that the phone will be charged to my credit card when it ships. Then, walk away. On the backend, later, Apple order fulfillment system can then, under much less stress, start to crunch through the orders in the order they were placed.
That's how I'd like it to work. Sane. Sensible. No late night split-second decisions, groggy-eyed and frustrated. What's more, if Apple likes the current system of glorious frenzy for its own satisfaction, and could change for the better, but won't, then I declare it not a glorious indicator of business success, but rather a sick form of modern techno-mistreatment.
Next Page: All the Good Stuff. iPad Pro, next generation TV.
Page 2 - All the Good Stuff
4. Deliver an iPad Pro with 12-inch display. I dearly love my iPad Air. It's amazing hardware. But I find that it seems to sit in a twilight zone of functionality. That is, when I want to read in bed, run off to an appointment that has a waiting room, or use and iPad as a second screen when watching TV, the iPad mini 3 is awesomely perfect. The iPad mini 3's weight and size are perfect for most of my activities.
However, when it comes to getting things done, the Air seems awkwardly incapable of becoming more than its sum of parts. It's not a great writing tool because its small display and iOS limits what I can achieve compared to my Mac Pro. I've given up trying to read magazines on a 9.7-inch display and the generally insufficient, frustrating wrappers for reading magazines.
Recently, I resubscribed to Car & Driver on paper, and it's been a delight. Shuffling though randomly, I can dive in, settle on an article and read it all the way through. You know me: I tried mightily to move into the future. But I don't believe a 9.7-inch iPad is the modern platform for magazines going forward.
I have a dream. I want a larger iPad, one with at least a 12-inch display. I want that larger working area to drive a significant push forward in iOS capabilities so that I can use it for the kind of work I do. Oh, wait. But I have a 13-inch MacBook Air that I love. Maybe others have discovered this reality. A 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 is a slender beauty, and it's widely used for so many wonderfully focussed tasks. But it seems somehow shackled in the present. And until customers see significant growth and maturity in iOS on an iPad, perhaps they're holding back, keeping what they already have.
5. Deliver Next Generation Apple UHDTV. Tim Cook has whet our appetite. He's led us to believe that Apple's keen interest in TV will bring forth something new and exciting from Apple. So far, however, there's been only shallow exploration and discussion by observers. In my own case, I've been in the whole widget camp. "Why Apple Really Has to Build its Own UHDTV."
I seem to be alone in my belief that Apple should re-conceive the whole viewing experience with hardware, including the 4K display, from the ground up. (Well, Gene Munster agrees with me. Few others.) Worse, however, the community of observers seems to have come no closer to a proper vision because Apple is taking its sweet time, holding its cards incredibly tight.
Frankly, we don't know whether Apple wants to get involved in the entertainment business so that it can carry us into the future. There's no apparent interest in acquiring Netflix. We don't know if Apple wants to be just another me-too black box by making a next generation Apple TV. We don't know if Apple would prefer to just sit back and make money with content deals while some other company comes along with a drop-dead gorgeous vision and steals our TV future from Apple. We just don't know.
I'd like to see Apple finally bring to fruition all its research and give us Version 1.0 of its vision. I know it'll be better than anything else out there. I sense that 2015 is going to be "a 4K Christmas" for consumers. Prices are already sensible and content is coming. I hope Apple sees a way forward and takes action.
In any case, 2015 is the year of Apple Pay. So I just keep dreaming in 4K.