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Mossberg: Apple’s software has problems

Apple’s hardware remains great while its software quality has issues? Marco Arment wrote about that 13 months ago, but the issue hasn’t gone away. Here’s Walt Mossberg at The Verge (that still feels weird):

In the last couple of years, however, I’ve noticed a gradual degradation in the quality and reliability of Apple’s core apps, on both the mobile iOS operating system and its Mac OS X platform. It’s almost as if the tech giant has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to these core software products, while it pursues big new dreams, like smartwatches and cars.

Apple’s iTunes program was once the envy of the world. A combined digital music store and player, it could also sync your iPod. And it worked on both Mac and Windows. It was reasonably fast and very sure-footed…. Now, I dread opening the thing.

Today I was listening to a shuffle of a couple of albums1 when someone sent me an email with an interesting link to a free iOS app. I clicked on the link, and clicked on the Free button to kick off a download—mostly as a reminder to myself to download it from Purchased Apps on my iPhone or iPad later.

First iTunes threw up a dialog box saying that the amount of iTunes credit had changed, so I would need to click OK and try my purchase again. (It’s a free app, so this entire experience is already pointless, but whatever.) I clicked OK and the Free button was now inactive. I typed Command-R to see if that would reload the iTunes page—no normal user would do it, but it worked because the App Store and iTunes is more or less a disguised web page—and then was able to click Free and download the app.

At some point in this process, the song I was listening to finished and another song began to play. It was a randomly selected track from my entire music library. The act of viewing the App Store had destroyed my music shuffle.

This is what Walt Mossberg means by “I dread opening the thing.” I don’t dread playing music in iTunes, but I dread doing anything else because of its capricious, confusing behavior.


  1. In My Music, I selected an artist from the Column Browser and selected two albums I wanted to shuffle, then began playback. ↩