I am an owner of an embarrassing number of very expensive Apple products. I've also been a big fan of the massive changes iOS 7 brought to hundreds of million mobile devices this past fall. However, as a vocal supporter of everything Apple gets right, I am beginning to question more and more if the people designing and building some of their products/apps actually use them in the real world. In other words, Apple needs to eat its own dog food.
The most striking example of this is the Reminders app. I use this on an iPhone, an iPad, a MacBook Air running Mavericks, and via iCloud.com. Each version of this app has noticeable bugs and questionable design issues. Let's be honest, this app is designed to do only one very basic thing: let a user record something they wish to be reminded of. This is not rocket science now, is it?
I build software for a living and I understand quite well the challenges many teams face in the prioritization of features and fixing bugs. However, for a company with more than a hundred billion dollars of cash, there is no excuse for the number of issues with this app. I'm not talking about the design of the new icon or flat vs. skeuomorphic design, just basic things like being able to see what one is typing while they type it, trust that their data won't mysteriosly vanish, and avoid duplicating data. I find it hard to believe that the team responsible for these apps actually uses them, because if they did I'm sure they would be much improved.
This is just one example of many others I can think of that show a complete lack of empathy for many owners of Apple products. I could also have written about the terrible lag for the keyboard on my older iPad 3, the sorry state of iTunes Match playlists on iOS, or the poor memory handling on my iPhone 5s that results in springboard crashes. I'd have to guess that most working at Apple headquarters have the latest devices and access to unreleased versions of iOS months before the general public can. As a result, they are likely unaware just how painful these issues can be to millions of their customers. It's been over four months since iOS 7 has been released and Apple still has not released a substantial update addressing its many common bugs. I'd expect a 4+ month release cycle from car manufacturers, not a company like Apple.
So what am I asking from Apple?
They need to show more empathy for their users. Publicly acknowledge issues and let the public know they are working hard to fix them. Release fixes more often like app store apps, not bundling them up into a massive release. Finally, they need to reduce some of the secrecy around new products or updates so that real users can work out the kinks before being released to the general public.