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Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use?

By - September 13, 2012

I’ve been a Mac guy for almost my entire adult life. I wrote my first college papers on a typewriter, but by the end of my freshman year – almost 30 years ago – I was on an IBM PC. Then, in 1984, I found the Mac, and I never looked back.

Till now.

I’m not saying I’m switching, but I sure am open to a better solution. Because the past year or so has been dominated by the kind of computing nightmares that used to be the defining experience of my Windows-PC-wielding friends and colleagues. And it’s not limited to the Mac – the iPhone is also a massive fail in what was once the exclusive province of Apple: Ease of use.

I’ll caveat this post with the fact that I may be something of an outlier – I have thousands of contacts in my Apple contact database, and my iCal app is burdened with having to integrate with a multi-platform universe at work. And perhaps the fact that I love to take photographs, and have amassed more than 10,000 digital images, means that iPhoto has become mostly useless to me for anything other than as a storage vault. And that, apparently, is all my fault.

But my wife isn’t an outlier. She has about 250 contacts. She tries to use iCal, but can’t make it work. Her email breaks early and often. And she’s spent the past two months in IT hell, trying to salvage her digital life from the clutches of Apple’s self-centered, walled-garden update called the Lion operating system, which wiped out nearly all her previous settings and useful applications. Watching her struggles, and trying to help (and realizing I couldn’t without bringing in expensive professionals) made me wonder – whatever happened to ease of use?

I am certain this post will elicit all manner of Apple fanboys who claim I’m a moron, that I’ve brought upon my own demise through stupid decisions.  Well, let’s review a few, and you can judge for yourself.

Honestly, where to start. How about with the iPhone itself? I have an iPhone 4, it’s about a year or so old. The contract is for two years, and I don’t feel like paying $400 to get a new phone. I figured this one must be good enough, right? Wrong.

The phone is pretty much useless now, because all of its storage is taken up. With what, you might ask? Well, it’s a mysterious yellow substance – found, in a masterstroke of intuitive design, in iTunes – called “other.” I was alerted to this issue when I couldn’t take a photo because my storage was full. Oh, and I was also told my storage was too full to download any more mail. And I’m an inbox zero kind of guy!

WTF is all this “other” shit, I wondered to myself. Well, that’s what Apple’s self-hosted forums are good for (I’ve been there a lot lately, for any number of issues, only a few of which I’ll detail in this post). So off to Google I headed – “what is the other in iphone storage” yielded this post, among a lot of others:


 OK, so…should I restore the device from backup? How do you even do that? And if that doesn’t work, then what? I have to “restore as new”?

Sounds dangerous, like I might lose all my settings and apps and such. There had to be a better fix. I spent a half hour or so reading various forums, blog posts, and the like about the problem, which seems quite prevalent. Many of the suggestions are summarized in this post,  and included deleting your browser cache (that was pretty easy, I did it, no luck), deleting your entire email account and recreating it (a pretty drastic thing to do, but funnily enough, I’ve done it about ten times in the past year due to problems with our connection to work mail, and since I’d done it recently, I figured that couldn’t be it), and my favorite:

Go to /var/mobile/Media/ApplicationArchives using SSH (requires jailbroken iPhone) or DiskAid and delete everything. This folder contains partially downloaded apps which never completed nor removed and were probably interrupted at some point in the middle of downloading.

Are you frickin’ kidding me? I have to jailbreak my phone to fix this problem?

Oh wait, that blog post suggested one last thing I could do: If the above steps fail, do a full system restore :(.

Again, very drastic. But I was getting impatient. I wanted my storage space back. I found another site, one that looked pretty official, that said this:

Unfortunately, scouring available information sources and speaking with Apple hasn’t led to any type of easy resolution.

If you’re experiencing this issue under any version of iTunes, you’ll need to restore your iPhone to reclaim the space occupied by Other. That is the only known solution at this time.

Well shit. I spent a few more fruitless hours trying to find another solution on the web. There wasn’t one that didn’t require pretty significant technical know-how (such as installing a utility, running it to reveal all files on the iPhone, then deleting each file one by one, even if you weren’t sure what the file did). The only option that was relatively straightforward and seemed to work, according to many forums, was to restore the phone.

Which I did. And I lost all my apps save the ones that come preinstalled on the iPhone in the first place. And guess what? It didn’t fix the problem. 

OK, I’m going to stop on this example. Because the point isn’t to try to fix the problem (I know I’m going to have to go to an Apple store, and get a “Genius” to deal with this. And I know this “Genius” is going to tell me that my phone is old, and that I need a new one with more storage, and by the way, I should really get an iCloud account, because if I had one then I wouldn’t have a problem at all. In other words, Apple has architechted the iPhone in such a way as to insure that I spend much more money with Apple, and am committed to their cloud solution long term with my data. But that’s another rant). Oh, and the fact that Apple doesn’t respond in its forums about this (or any) issue? Ridonkulous.

My point is simply this: This. Ain’t. Easy. 

Another example: iPhoto. May I just say, and I won’t be the first, that iPhoto is A Piece of Sh*t, in particular given how image-driven the company is in its own marketing. iPhoto is about as dumb as an application can be. Just launching the things often takes up my Mac’s entire CPU,  crushing performance on anything else I have open (and no, my Macbook Pro isn’t old, it’s one of the newer models). Photos are organized by date, and there’s no easy way to change that. Album creation is utterly non-intuitive (again, I’m sure this is all my fault, Mr. Fanboy), and the “Faces” feature, which seemingly would fix a lot of these issues, is just plain useless.

Now, you Apple fanboys will scream at me: Hey Battelle, you wuss, don’t you know about Some Expert Photo Editing and Organizing Photo App That You Can Buy For Hundreds of Dollars. Or Some Bitchin’ Utility Written By A 19-Year-Old That Will Never Be Supported By Apple. Or something. Well I do, because I’ve searched high and low for help with iPhoto. Again, there are no easy solutions. I could take a class, yep. Or spend a few days manually tagging my photos. But wasn’t the point of the Mac that you SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DO THAT?!!

Another example: Nearly all of Apple’s built in “productivity” applications are terrible – email, contacts, calendaring, for starters. All of them are not ready for prime time. iCal is laughable as a shared calendar across platforms and the web – perhaps my IT department is filled with punters, but in five years, we’ve never been able to make iCal work seamlessly across pure Mac networks, not to mention with other solutions like Outlook or Google Calendar. And when we call Apple for support, it’s as if Apple really doesn’t care. Alas, we can’t seem to find anything better, so we limp along…apologizing when things “fall off the calendar” or, worse, when appointments stay on my iPhone calendar long after they’ve been moved from my main iCal on the Mac.

And dont’ get me started on Apple’s “Address Book.” As I said before, I have thousands of contacts. Is that so uncommon? Apparently it is. After months of trying to get my contacts to sync properly across my Mac, my assistant’s Mac, and both of our iPhones, my IT department finally got someone at Apple to admit that, well, the Address Book just doesn’t really work very well once you have more than about 1000 contacts. Seriously. Just – sorry, we don’t have a solution for that. We have found a fix – we use Plaxo – but now we’re dependent on Apple supporting Plaxo, which I’m not certain is a long term bet. Oh, and every time Plaxo syncs with Apple’s contacts, about one in ten of the contacts are duplicated. Why? No one knows. Is there a fix? Nope.

(And what if you want to sync to – gasp – an Android phone?! Well only way to do that is through a total hack involving Gmail. Seriously.)

Let me repeat my refrain: This. Ain’t. Easy.

Without going into detail, my little rant about Calendar, iPhoto, Address Book, et al goes for iTunes as well. I even bought a piece of software to try to fix iTunes myriad issues (Rinse). I can’t figure out whether or not Rinse has fixed anything, to be honest, and so far, all it’s managed to do is marry the wrong album art to about 100 or so songs which previously didn’t have any imagery. Which is kind of funny, but a tad annoying. And just the fact that there’s a market for something like Rinse kind of makes my point.

Oh, and then there’s the vaunted Apple Super Magical User Interface. You know, the Insanely Great Revolutionary Change the World User Experience that everyone fawns over as if it were a fact.

Are you kidding me? If Apple’s UI is magical, then I’ve got a Unicorn to sell you. Let’s start with Mac Lion. There are so many Fails in this OS, it’s hard to know where to start. You need a four-hour class just to understand all the contortions Apple seems to be doing in its attempt to make its desktop interface work the way the iPhone does. You know, pinch and swipe and app stores and mission controls and magic corners and all that. I’ve spent at least an hour figuring out how to turn most of that shit off. It just doesn’t work.

It’s really funny to watch my wife deal with all this, given she’s not exactly one to dig deep into system settings (you know, the very consumer Apple initial designed for). When she got Lion, the way her mouse, her iChat (now “iMessage” or someshit), and of course all her applications worked changed in very dramatic ways. For instance, she could no longer IM me – all of a sudden, she was on “” and her IMs came to my cell phone as texts. (In other words, Apple defaulted to its own iCloud services, and wiped out her AIM-based identity). I’m sure this is all her fault, naturally.

Oh, and every time she clicks her mouse to try to move a window around, a message about “Icons and Text” appears. WTF? Little irritations like this happen all over the place, piling one upon the other until it crescendos with a long, wailing lament – WHAT AM I USING HERE – WINDOWS?!

But we all know the future is mobile, right? And the iPhone and iPad are Perfect Expressions of Beauty, Ideal Combinations of Form and Function. Except they’re Not.


Have you ever done a search in your iPhone contacts? You need the fingers of a poorly fed six-year-old to activate that search function. No, really, I must waste four or five minutes a day trying to make that damn thing work.

Seriously, how can an adult finger ever touch that little search icon without either hitting the “A” or the “+”????

And then there the precious internationalization feature of the keyboard (see image at right). I must turn my texts and emails into Kanji ten times a day. And this is a feature??!

There are countless other examples of irritating UI features on the iPhone. Inconsistent navigation is a primary one, but …OK. I’m going to really stop now. Because I know, learning how to use the tools of computing is MY job, and I’m clearly falling down on it. I know there are ton of tips and tricks that would make my life easier, if only I took the time to learn them. If only I spent hours a week on the Mac tips websites and such. If only I wasn’t busy…writing rants like this one.

And I know that Andriod and Windows are hard to use too. And no, I’m certainly not going to install Linux.

My point is simply this: This stuff is too complicated. There has to be a better way. And while it used to be that Apple was the brand which uncomplicated computing, for me, anyway, that’s simply no longer true. Does anyone out there have similar experiences, or am I really an outlier?

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514 thoughts on “Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use?

  1. Dan Mitchell says:

    Sorry to break it to you, but you’ve been using Macs for almost *30* years.

  2. Kathleen Maltby says:

    I had the option of buying either a PC or a Mac as a laptop for work. I chose the Mac because I wanted a Mac. What I did not realize was the difficulty it would have opening acrobat pdf over a server. Constantly freezes my machine and I have to reboot, just a tad irritating. I have had more beach ball of deaths with this one computer then I have every had blue screens with my pcs. I have also had to do quite a few hard restarts too, So Mac does have it issues and you are defiantly not the only one, and it came with Lion.

    • johnbattelle says:

      I totally forgot about the spinning balls of death. I get those all the time with Mail, in particular. And with PDFs! And with iPhoto…I mean, I use Force Quit so much it’s like my favorite application….

    • freediverx says:

      Acrobat is a piece of junk – that’s not Apple’s fault. There are far better, and cheaper, products to view and edit PDF docs.

      • A.I. M. says:

        Acrobat works like a charm on Windows 7. In fact. I think that is the point. When on an Apple machine, you are quite often restricted to using Apple software. You have to go out of your way sometimes to use other software. With Windows, it’s all about the other software, leading to competition (except for adobe, anyway).

  3. narendra says:

    This iphone will be very easy to use!

  4. Steve Nelson says:

    I, too have been using a Mac for nearly 30 years now, and an iPod Touch since they first appeared, and an iPad for 2+ years now. I’m still waiting to get an iPhone, and probably will in a couple weeks. I had been waiting for the Verizon iPhone, but then Google gave us all free Nexus Ones in 2010, and I’ve stuck with that, until now. Because of my other iOS devices, I pretty much know what I’m getting into, but I’ll cosign your comments on these apps really aren’t that good. e.g. I always had trouble with syncing iPad & iTunes when it would say something like: “These don’t match. would you like me to remove everything from your iPad or everything from your iTunes?” No. I’m also getting upgrade fatigue (after nearly 30 years!) I’m still running Snow Leopard, don’t want to get too far behind, but not really eager to upgrade to Mountain Lion and iCloud. Why not stick with an Android phone? This. Ain’t. Easy. there either.

    • johnbattelle says:

      Everyone is running around making apps that Don’t Matter. We need some true visionaries who can solve this Problem.

    • Cowboy Coder says:

      > “These don’t match. would you like me to remove everything from your iPad or everything from your iTunes?”

      Yeah, I couldn’t figure that one out either. Also, if you have an iPad and a iPhone and want to have different things on each it seems you’re either screwed or the procedure isn’t obvious.

      It should be dead simple to copy files to and from these devices:
      1. Connect cable.
      2. Drag files to folders that mount.

      My camera used to work that way with my Mac back under Tiger, then OS X changed it to where I have to use iPhoto for everything and no longer can see the directories on the phone, and have to wait 30-45 minutes for it to complete reading every single photo so it can make a thumbnail before it will let me decide to import one photo.

      Apple doesn’t want you dragging stuff to folders because they want to control, monitor, and charge fees for each file movement.

      • JJ says:

        Much of these issues are due to licensing, not Apple. You cannot sync the iPod with multiple computers because of music licensing restrictions. This causes messages like the one you described. Everyone was blaming Apple for the DRM on it’s music when it was clear the labels required it by contract. The Internet is a fascinating place where people with no knowledge post their opinions based on their lack of information.

    • freediverx says:

      Your sync problems are probably caused by trying to sync a mobile device to more than one computer.

      • HumbleScribe says:

        Yes, but some of us have more than one computer and like to be able to transfer files between them, and our phone. iTunes simply makes this a MASSIVE pain in the ass. I have used iPhones and iPads for years but never was a Mac person, and cross-platform issues have finally defeated me. My next phone will be an Android, where I can just transfer a podcast to listen to on my phone without having to “re-sync” to the new computer.

        • freediverx says:

          If this is mainly about music files, iTunes Match gives you access to all your music from every device (even those you didn’t buy from iTunes. “Syncing” is no longer an issue when it comes to music.

  5. Patrick N says:

    I agree John… I have several Macs and several PC’s and several iDevices. And the Apple products do seem to be travelling down the age old path of diminishing usability returns as they add features. Both Apple and Microsoft are going to regret their efforts to make desktop computer user interfaces that mimic their phones and tablets. The good news for Apple is that Windows 8 is a complete goat rodeo, so Mountain Lion will seem like a joy to use by comparison.

  6. windrush says:

    Other: As far as I know this can for example be stuff like mail, or additional content that apps have downloaded. Or at least it was like that when I still had an iphone.

    • johnbattelle says:

      I have no doubt there is a very good reason my “other” is full. And I am sure it can be blamed on me. The point is it’s impossible to know what it is without wasting hours or days of my time.

      • Glen Raphael says:

        I’ve had quite good luck in this sort of circumstance making an appointment at the Genius Bar to talk to somebody in person. Computers just do too much stuff now for everything to be intuitively discoverable – you sometimes just need to have somebody to ask.

  7. john — congratulations for coming out of the closet as an old-skool Mac user who’s disenchanted with the new Apple world. i’m with you. iOS just plain bugs me; my Android phone is very unfun but if i’m going to be annoyed with my portable brain, it may as well be a cheap portable brain that costs $40 a month for unlimited everything.

    to me it feels like many Adobe products have gotten more and more professional/expert-oriented, while Apple’s have gotten more and more limited… yet i find them awkward just like you do. iPhoto is a mess; they’ve pretty much abandoned iMovie in order to hawk FinalCut; and Address Book has always been so inadequate that i repeatedly try it then resort to — ok this is absurd — a database i built in FileMaker Pro 5 many, many years ago. at least i can make all the fields i want and track tons o’ information within the database! i use Adobe Lightroom, switch back and forth between different versions of iMovie depending what i need to get done (committing to whatever the new FinalCut is like means not just money but a bunch of time learning the software). Mail is so-so compared to ancient but intuitive versions of Eudora. (Now i use gmail, but like you said — it’s not Mac, i’m not *expecting* it to be all that great.)

    i’ve actually heard that Windows 8, across platforms, may fill the gap. a weird idea, but heck, at this point i suppose i’ll try anything.

    it may be that aging, old-skool Mac users are an endangered species and we should just move along quietly. Kids Today are accustomed to the new normal and have no reason to think these products should work any better or differently than they do…

    • johnbattelle says:

      I am, I believe, indeed an “aging, old-skool Mac user.” Sigh.

    • jaystrab says:

      You are kidding about Adobe becoming more professional, right? I just canceled my Creative Cloud membership because all of the CS6 suite (mainly Photoshop) has so many bugs that it has been slowing down my workflow. I have never done this before, but I am actually in the process of writing a blog post about how pissed I am at Adobe for CS6. I should have it done during the weekend.

      • freediverx says:

        Some of my worst moments on a Mac come when working with software developed by Adobe or Microsoft. It’s like entering a parallel world where I’m back to Windows-style overcomplicated settings screens and complex, multistep installation routines. I avoid both as much as possible.

      • hi jaystrab, freediverx – i think by “professional” i did mean “overcomplicated” and “complex, multistep” etc. i don’t have CS6 and can’t comment on its bugs. what i’m trying to say is: i’d like something that falls on the spectrum between iPhoto and LightRoom , plus the equivalent of MacPaint-meets-Photoshop and Pages-meets-InDesign shipping with iLife. i don’t need 98% of what Adobe products can do and i need more/easier/”intuitive” adaptations of what iEverything now does…

      • Valerie Cudnik says:

        Is it CS6 or the Cloud that’s the problem. I haven’t upgraded. Not even considering a cloud based solution. I couldn’t work without my creative suite (5).

    • Sholto says:

      Oh don’t mention filemaker. The most beautiful little database that could. And where has that gone in the past years? Nowhere. So many great touches but it has not kept up. If only they had sold it to another company that really cared, it would have been a world beater. So sad.

      • sholto – i’m so with you! even though i didn’t do anything terribly complex with it or upgrade, it was so easy to make stuff in it. you could feel its HyperCard lineage. that sort of thing is what some of us old-skoolers miss: the feeling that you can adapt anything to your needs without going into Terminal or AppleScript.

  8. Knowles2 says:

    I do not use Apple much, so I will not comment on the content of the article, but you should really fixed this sentence;

    You have to have to have the fingers of a poorly fed six-year-old to activate that search function.

    I am sure there is such a thing as a perfect interface, I have yet to meet one. An Apple software never seem that good to me when I have been forced to work with it.

  9. Filipe says:

    I love Android Samsung (and my old HTC Hero) even more after I read this article
    My GB mail and thousands contacts on gmail/contacts, calendar always ok (synced fast)
    If you reset or change phone all magically ok again
    Even many app , and all paid ones ok.
    If you need power, rooting is not a real “jailbreak” it just works.
    I can choose and use my phone without any unreasonable restriction.
    Only catch.. if you use too many appications same time things slow down…. lol

  10. Thank you for posting this. Between these issues and Apple’s frankly arrogant pricing of accessories ($30 for a mere power cord, now also stranded in obsolescence), Apple has long needed a good talking-to.

  11. ForceQuit also has the most ‘plays’ on my MacBook, jbat. I was moderately OK with Apple until Lion, but it is an epic piece of hammered dog crap. iPhoto is driven by some insane kind of pretzel logic that has always escaped me. iCal – don’t get me started. And the new one, with the ‘leather’ interface *that you can’t change*?? (a) The vegans must love that, and (b) since when can’t you customize something that frivolous on a Mac? The whole thing makes me sad, and mad. I’m trapped like a rat. It’s like what Churchill said about democracy — it’s the worst form of government, except for all the others. Sigh.

    • johnbattelle says:


    • dminor says:

      What about the disfunctional log-in screen on Lion? Click, click, click where the hell do I click to log on! How did that ever get out the door. No fix, but you can change the picture, wow.

  12. Michael says:

    Great thoughts John and your frustration is apparent, I am not sure however, whether your frustration is not more endemic of the rapid transition in user preferences that has happened in the past 18-24 months….multiple email accounts, tens of thousands of photos, a comfort level with the MAC desktop OS and our belief that the iOS should work in exactly the same way, minimal phone usage, maximum txt usage, and massive data intensive apps.

    The list goes on and I am with you, right now it seems Apple is on a Microsoft-esque development/upgrade cycle with no thought as to how user habits are changing more rapidly than their own hardware and software upgrades. For a company that produces one of the best/easiest cameras ever invented, you would think Apple would have mastered iPhoto and as we both know….they aren’t even close…. patience grasshopper…consumers will speak with their wallets and Apple will either catch on or someone else will eat their lunch, most likely a company we haven’t even heard of yet…

  13. Oliver Marks says:

    Great post – Apple’s glory years in UI design ended with OSX, replacing intuitive user experience with brushed aluminum panels and now app icons. I too have been mostly mac since the mid 90’s period when I had Macs and Win NT boxes on a very delicate ethernet network, but have similar issues to the ones you describe with today’s Apple experience. IOS is falling behind Android rapidly (forget the hardware rev, that’s the jewellery market) and Apple’s walled garden is becoming more and more disjointed.
    There is a gap in the market at this point for someone to be more like Apple’s holistic past. I don’t think msft can reclaim that space and Android is still too rough around the edges on most of their devices. I waited for the new iphone before deciding what my old iphone replacement will be – at this point it’s a Galaxy, and I am thinking seriosuly about updating my macbook air with a cheaper pc clone right now, just for experiential reasons….

    • “There is a gap in the market at this point for someone to be more like Apple’s holistic past.” agreed! i’ve wondered whether some smartypants someplace is doing this. i think the iApple world is great for what it is and for the people to whom it’s marketing. i’m just not that market and i don’t feel well-served by Apple anymore.

  14. IMHO says:

    The level of stupid in this article and related comments is maddening.

    • johnbattelle says:

      AH, finally, the Apple geek fanboy comes out. I know I’m stupid. Thanks Apple, for making me stupid.

  15. Dallas Beahm says:

    I read this whole thing and then got to the part about the iPhone contact list, and then realized some of your issues are probably just operator error.

    The little magnifier icon is just part of the letters on the side, which you can slide up and down with your finger to navigate your contacts quickly. So to get to the search box quickly, which is at the very top of your contacts, you just put your finger anywhere on those letters and slide to the top to reach the search box.

    Alternatively, you can just tap up on the clock, and your contacts will scroll quickly to the very top revealing the search box. Easy! (works in lots of apps btw)

    Enjoy the 5 minutes per day I just saved you.

    • Lawton says:

      So intuitive he needs to be told how to do it… kind of the point.

      • Cowboy Coder says:

        There’s about a dozen people now in this thread smugly bragging how clicking on the clock and performing some kind of gesture is the obvious and intuitive thing to do for search and that it’s obvious that clicking on the magnifying glass icon is the wrong thing to do and no reasonable person would ever click on a magnifying glass icon to do search.

        These people seem to genuinely not be aware of how insane they sound.

        Each subsequent post they make about this method of doing search increases my desire to attack them with a briefcase filled with rabid bats.

    • johnbattelle says:

      Or put another way, RTFM (Read the Fucking Manual.)
      Except the bespoke case that the iPhone came in didn’t really have one. And Apple is supposed to be the device maker where you don’t have to read the fucking manual.

      • Dallas Beahm says:

        To be honest, it feels like you are hating on it just for the sake of hating. That’s the feel I get from your article. I normally like reading your articles, but this one felt like mostly whining.

        I’ve stated two simple ways to accomplish what you wanted. One of those, tapping at the top of the screen to scroll to the very top, is used all across iOS. The other, scrolling on the letters, seems intuitive enough to me.

        I’m not arguing that there aren’t issues in iOS and OS X, but I don’t think you can count this one as one of your issues. It’s both simple and intuitive.

        • johnbattelle says:

          God, I wish it was hating for the sake of hating. But I’ve literally lost weeks of my life over the past few years to managing Apple products. I feel like my lament is real.

          • Dallas Beahm says:

            Manual ( Chapter 3 (Basics) on page 20, Scrolling… describes both of these features. That took me about 2 minutes to find, and actually describes both methods I mentioned.

            To be honest, these days, I’d rather have a manual in digital format like this, which is nicely searchable, compared to the tree killing paper variety that I tend to throw in a box and never look at again.

            To each his own!

          • Cowboy Coder says:

            Your link goes to:

            > We’re sorry.We can’t find the page you’re looking for.

            I wonder how big that manual file was though before Apple removed it from their site. Possible as big as a couple of the ultra high resolution icons for the Retina displays? Well, that would have taken up too much space to include on the phone itself obviously, and now we see Apple has removed it from their web site as well, that’s probably a huge space savings on their server, along with all the other documentation they are constantly removing.

  16. James Barnes says:

    We bought Macs for the build quality, we didn’t mind paying a premium because they lasted longer. To me it seems that iOS exists for one reason: to shorten the life-cycle.

    I’m writing this on a five year old MacBookPro running 10.5.8. It still does what it did when I got it.

  17. Guest says:

    Pre-posted by mistakes.

  18. Lou says:

    No one can touch the usability of the Apple hardware (holding aside the home button) but I too find the software unusable at times. The in app menu systems can require so many touches its shameful. I photo is unusable and itunes is only used because it’s the only option for us.

    We are be fair – I haven’t seen great alternatives from android or pc, but agree apple lost an opportunity to remain a leader.

  19. John, Everything you say is so damn true. Apple has become a nightmare version of Windows NT. Nothing works like it should. Why am I always in fear of deleting all my photos and songs on all my devices by “syncing” the wrong way? Why is iCloud like using Russian politburo software? Why can’t it just — you know — work? Why must everything Apple make seem to be built for 18 year old wannabe DJs instead of people who actually work for a living? It’s infuriating.

  20. Johan Klarin says:

    Great article. I think there’s a business opportunity for someone to build a “professionals” simple phone with: 1. great phone / address book interface 2. enterprise and gmail simple to use 3. Evernote integration 4. Simple browser. 5. Swype keyboard 6. Good camera. Jobs himself was the master of saying “no” to stuff. I find myself wanting to say NO over and over to the many features and bloat in the iPhone, iTunes, and new OS.

  21. Nick R says:

    I’ve never used a Mac, but I have been an iPhone user since the first one… I have an iPad and recently got a Nexus 7. I LOVE it. Not so much because of what it does. But because of what it doesn’t force me to do. I feel like I have to jump through hoops with my iPhone. I can’t wait to replace my iPhone. I’m not sure with what, but I know it won’t be the iPhone 5.

    • johnbattelle says:

      If I were an Apple analyst, I’d be listening to these comments….

      • Sumit Maitra says:

        You are kidding right? Apple ‘listen’ to complaints? They pretend to be the ‘Rolls Royce’ of computing… and we all know what happened to them… (typing this on my Macbook Pro running Windows 7 using Bootcamp ;-)… )

      • freediverx says:

        If you were an Apple analyst, you’d glance at customer satisfaction data and realize that an overwhelming majority of Apple users are far happier with their products than competing products.

  22. JayND says:

    When you are trying to hit the search magnifying glass in contacts start lower down and then slide your finger up and it will appear if it doesn’t. Hit right at the top of the screen where it says the time and it will take you to the search bar.

    • johnbattelle says:

      I appreciate the tip and will use it. But man, did I have to write a 2000 word post to learn this?!

      • Cowboy Coder says:

        I’ve never been able to press it myself either, so it’s not like you and your wife are the only ones. I’ve had every one of the problems you mention in the article and I’m a pretty capable engineer. I find a lot of the iPhone UI to be infuriating. Cell phones in general as well though, it’s not just the iPhone.

      • Chris says:

        Hi, you can just drag the contacts down to reveal the search box. This also works in the music app and other lists. Hope this helps.


      • Dennis says:

        You are just stupid. Every child knows this.

      • Matt Daemon says:

        The search bar remains at the top of the list at all time now.

      • Matt Daemon says:

        On iOS 6, You can see what is hogging up storage down to specific apps. The “Others” usually are apps like Rdio offline sync features. You can see how many spaces these apps use in iOS 6

      • My Android has a search button at the bottom that works contextually in whatever I’m in at the time. My advice is stop thinking Apple is the top of the tree and try out a phone running ICS or Jellybean – you’d be surprised Google took a massive step forward with ICS.

      • Ed says:

        No, you didn’t. Most 12 year olds know this already.

      • Marcelo says:

        Using iOS 5 here. You can just touch the clock up there and your list will scroll all the way up to the search bar.

        I feel your pain with all the other shit, though. :/

      • In addition to the other suggestions about sliding your finger up, or scrolling to the top of the list to reveal the search bar, you can also use spotlight search to find contacts and bypass browsing your contact list altogether. It seems that a lot of people aren’t aware that this is an example of what spotlight exists for, which is probably a usabilty or UX issue in and of itself. In any case, start using spotlight (swipe left from home screen) to find anything on your phone … you’ll feel dumb that weren’t using it all along.

        • NeetWoorjees says:

          Spotlight search on a Mac computer is INSANELY slow and annoying. and the 3rd party apps that attempt to replace it are largely based on … guess what … it.

          Meanwhile, on my Windows 7 machine, which rarely offends me, I can run all manner of fantastic Spotlight-like search apps (locate32, everything search, etc etc). Results come back instantly. I don’t lose my place in the finder when I run a search. Etc.

          I frequently utter these words while attempting to do something on my Mac mini which is currently running some OS named after a big cat from like 2 years ago [and I will not keep updating to their newer, “better” editions]: “I’m sorry. Am I interrupting something?”

          • freerange says:

            What a crock! Spotlight is super fast. Where do you people come from? Another planet?

          • kevincp says:

            If you have large backup volumes (including time machine backups) or large media files like photoshop scratch volumes, this can slow down spotlight tremendously. The fix for this, and optimizing spotlight in general, is to go into the spotlight preferences and exclude particular folders or volumes from spotlight. This is, stupidly, under the “privacy” tab in the spotlight preferences.

            There is usually no reason to need to seach the backup volumes, and it spotlight tries to start indexing during a backup, it can slow things down to a crawl.

            To John Battelle’s point, why isn’t the OS smart enough to know not do do this on it’s own?

      • I am by no means an apple fanboy and agree that there are plenty of good alternatives out there but I can’t help but feel that some of the criticisms here are slightly unfair. I thought sliding up to the magnifying glass was fairly obvious and I personally find hitting it directly very easy. Besides, it would seem apple have provided more ways than most to search for things like this, such as the spotlight feature to the left of the home page. I do agree with you though that it seems apple are losing their touch more and more. I dont believe that they are the steps ahead that they used to be

        • Andy Hardy says:

          I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to find out about the magnifying glass… It needed my whining to an iPhone user about my iPad to find about this… But then again, I’ve not found many of the ‘intuitive’ features that easy to find…

      • yourroll says:

        no, you just had to use an iPhone for five seconds to realize that everything slides and rubber-bands, of course you can slide up to the Search, since you can slide the entire list and the magnifying glass is located in the list of letters.

        • johnbattelle says:

          It’s a very long list to “slide” and often is confused and stops on a letter. Instead I now use the “tap the clock” tip.

    • Note that on the Contacts screen, the index on the right is ordered just like the section headers that are across the width of the screen. The magnifying glass is right above A, so the search bar is right above the section header for A.
      If you accidentally click A on the right-side index, and are taken to the first A contact, just scroll up and you’ll find the search bar right there 🙂

  23. John Engates says:

    “Have you ever done a search in your iPhone contacts? You need the fingers of a poorly fed six-year-old to activate that search function. No, really, I must waste four or five minutes a day trying to make that damn thing work.
    Seriously, how can an adult finger ever touch that little search icon without either hitting the “A” or the “+”????”
    You don’t need tiny fingers. Don’t you just scroll all the way to the top? Or hit the time clock at the top to scroll all the way to the top? The search feature doesn’t require you to touch the hourglass. You can also touch any of the letters on the side and then just push your finger all the way up.

    • johnbattelle says:

      Honestly, why on earth does Apple think it’s intuitive to hit the f*cking CLOCK to get to a SEARCH menu? I mean, WTF!?

      • jonas says:

        i think youre trying to be mad when in reality is really easy… just scroll to the top to get the search. and hitting the top bar to go to the top of a list is available in almost every app for those who know about it and who dont want to flick scroll all the way to the top.

      • Adam Rothman says:

        It’s an idiom that’s present literally everywhere there is a list view in the OS. Tapping the bar at the top of the screen scrolls to top. It’s been this way for at least 3 or 4 versions of iOS.

      • zebratale says:

        Yeah I get this. It was a profound revelation to me when I stumbled on tap the clock to scroll to the top. Idiom is not the same as intuitive. I agree that Apple UI competency has been in general decline while Microsoft seems to have reinvigorated their UX with the UI previously known as Metro. I used to consider Microsoft Outlook as the worst application I’m normally obliged to use but iTunes has knocked Outlook off that perch. I was going to have a moan about Mac performance but actually I think that’s still one of Apple’s strengths. My old MBP can’t be upgraded to Mountain Lion and the fan comes on now pretty much as soon as I log on but it’s 6 years old and still useable (by my wife ;-).

  24. gregorylent says:

    mountain lion is bloatware … with 4gb ram, still can’t avoid the beachball in much use

    apple is the sharper image of the times, and will suffer the same fate

    • johnbattelle says:


    • Diego says:

      You desperately need to upgrade. 4GB of RAM is not nearly enough these days. Consumers should have at least 8GB in their machines by this point in time and would be better off with 16GB.

      • freediverx says:

        Agreed. 8GB is pretty standard now.

        • thewags05 says:

          4 gigs is pretty much the standard in most pc’s nowadays. Only professionals running some pretty intensive software should need 8-16 gb of memory. I’ve used some hpc systems that only had 16 gb of memory.

  25. bowerbird says:


  26. disambiguated says:

    Syncing between Address Book (with its hideous, unnecessary skeumorphism) and an Android phone doesn’t require a ‘hack involving Gmail’ – it involves digging down into the non-HIG/non-intuitive Address Book preferences and enabling syncing with one’s Google account.

    Address Book/Preferences/Accounts/On My Mac Local/Synchronize with Google

    No, I’m not making this up – apparently, Apple consider Google to be ‘On My Mac Local’.

    Words fail me.

  27. SystemSymbiosis says:

    My Mum was enticed into the Apple ecosystem in about 3-4 years ago. Around the time she converted my nickname for her was “Techno Gran” since at that time she was not too bad at using her Sony All-In-One PC. She now has an iPhone, a MacBook, an iMac and an iPad. She recently said to me that she wished she had never bought an Apple product. She has now been reduced to the level of a bumbling technological idiot by the Apple products. As an example, recently, she could not work out how to do a seemingly simple task such as downloading some photos from SkyDrive and transferring them over to her iPad. In the end I had to do a remote desktop session to help her. In another instance she had bought the latest version of iWork and asked me to install it for her onto her iMac which was not that old. When she tried to install the upgrade herself she could not work out what to do. It turned out that before we could install the latest version we had to upgrade the entire OSX, this required ordering a DVD from Apple. She lives out in the country so this took a few days to arrive by post, I had to go back home and by the time the DVD arrived I was not there to help install the upgrade, I forget how it worked out in the end. I feel sorry for her since she makes a real effort to use technology and she really does not need to deal with the extra technological frustration the Apple products are causing her. She thought she was buying into simplicity and it has turned out to be a nightmare for her.

    She recently told me that she wishes she had never bought an Apple product.

    I have been developing my own theory that Apple products are the technological equivalent to junk food psychologically fattening an already physically obese populace. Like the Sun newspaper their products are encouraging us to be lazy and dumb down our intellectual capacities.

    I think the bottom line is that, in spite of the latest glossy advertising campaign or shiny new phone, there are no silver bullets, technology like fitness requires constant effort to maintain and advance. If computers are going to help us resolve some serious problems that we as humanity collectively face we will have to up our game and our expectations considerably. We need to make a consistent and determined effort towards that end.

    • johnbattelle says:

      “technology like fitness requires constant effort to maintain and advance. ” very well put.

    • JonsonCRE says:

      I am a relatively new convert to a mac after many years working on and using windows and i really don’t see what all the fuss is about. I love my computer and my iphone and all that but I don’t see any massive leaps in user experience which i expected. I need to use Logic pro for stuff so I use a mac. Itunes works much more fluidly I have to say, but other than that I don’t feel much of a difference.

    • freerange says:

      WTF? To move photos to your iPad, you simply download them to iPhoto on your mac and then sync them to your iPad through iTunes snc process. What is so hard about that??? A 6 year old could have figured this out, or just google it for easy quick answers. Further, it is comical that your mother couldn’t figure out that she had to insert the new OS DVD into her computer, click on it and it would load the software with clear simple steps, certainly exponentially easier than even figuring out what version of Windows you should be then load. And you couldn’t explain this over the phone! Total nonsense!

      • andrewi says:

        Different ways to find out your version of windows =

        1.Use your Eyes, each version of Windows is radically different on the start menu then type system. on the start menu, click control panel, then click system.
        3A.If you use windows 8, go to the Desktop>Charms Bar>Control Panel>System

        Same amount of steps as a Mac, but different enough for a new Mac user to be dumbfounded.

        On the other hand, how logical is it to sync pictures through iTunes?

        • Valerie Cudnik says:

          You don’t use iTunes for pictures. You use iPhoto.

          Click on the start menu? Really? It doesn’t say “Start” anymore. It’s a damn circle. Of course going to the start menu to shut down always made me smile.

          WTF is a charms bar? (I have sindows 7)

          Mac — go to the apple menu and choose “About this Mac” It’s been in the same place for 30 years.

          I use both Mac and Windows. Now that Windows has yet again copied the user experience (as much as they could) from OS X, it’s mostly easy to understand. I’ll never get over the finger gymnastics that one has to use on a Windows machine to press the control key. They should have just moved the freaking alt key. Or changed its functionality since it hasn’t been much use since 3.1.

          I’ve already ranted about my Mac problems. Lately my PC is a godsend. I just don’t want to spend thousands of dollars buying all new versions of my professional software for it. I’ve mostly used it for running crappy little apps that aren’t available on the Mac.

          • andrewi says:

            Read before you troll. I said SYNC using iTunes. You add photos ove iPhoto, but your library is synced over iTunes.

            The start menu is still the start menu. If you need it to have sticker on it to remind you of its name I suggest you put a post-it note on your screen. For everyone else that’s had it in the same place doing the same thing for 20 years we’ll just use our heads okay. A BMW is still a BMW when you buy it with the badges removed. And please, explain your hatred of circles to the class, tell us how you feel because we really care. Do you hate your iMac power button too?

            The charms bar is a bar that pops up on the left side of the screen that is used (among other things) to access things typically reserved for the options/preferences menu on Windows RT. When you’re on the desktop, you can access system stuff from it.

            Control needs finger gymnastics? What are you, Arthritic? Ctrl-Alt/Ctrl-Shift is so incredibly simple with finger and thumb that this comment beggars belief. Are you serious, cos I have more problems hitting Apple+Cmd due to them being so close together that they force two index fingers to be used… but I accept that as habit and not a flaw in their design.

            And please, I beg you poor Win7 user, explain what Windows stole and for every single one, I will describe two things OSX stole IN THE SAME GENERATION. Believe it or not, Apple are innovators, that means they steal stuff and make it better. Do not mistake that for invention.

  28. jaystrab says:

    What I would like to know is how you have had your phone for a year and only have 0.10GB of apps? Something is definitely wrong.

    • johnbattelle says:

      That was because of the restore I did. It wiped out all my apps. I only put back those I really wanted.

  29. Mickie Tagle says:

    Nope. Not an Outlier. I hear ya. I could relate. Same frustrations and walls I’m bumping into over here. I feel recreated by your post. Thanks! Yep, I agree with you that Apple products are no longer easy to use.

    And iCloud? I’m not a fan…no, no, no on iCloud. I was testing iCloud email and it went dark on me two+ days of this week. Zero access. No offline access either. Nothing. No notice, no acknowledgment, no communication. Unreliable. All I got were clinical updates from what seemed like a support…bot…that I had to search for to find out what was happening to my email. (See attached screenshot.) My experience so far with iCloud email is that you’ll be left hanging and in the dark and it’s a breakdown on their side. John, can you imagine your email going down for two+ days and getting weird updates from a bot-like twitter feed? It’s like talking to a wall. (I know. I know. It’ll be nice to get a break from email some people will say, but that’s not the point.) Luckily, I wasn’t using that email for business. Lesson learned. I’m not trusting iCloud with my data again until it the overall experience and actual use of it is reliable. Bummed as whole experience was not representative of -my perception of- Steve Jobs’ Apple brand. Upset expectation. Anyhoo. [End of my rant.]

    The views expressed here and anywhere online are my personal views and do not represent anyone or anything other than me.

  30. jaystrab says:

    I have been using Apple computers since 1984 (Apple IIc). I like OS 9 a lot better than OS X as far as the UI goes. I do have to agree with some users here, though, that you are hating because you have had some bad experiences.
    What you really have to realize is that ALL operating systems suck. Windows, Mac, Linux, it doesn’t matter. None of them work the way that I (a big fat capital I) want them to. And they certainly don’t work the way they should when they have to. For example, when I need to get this web design done by tomorrow night and Photoshop crashes repeatedly.
    The only OS that had hopes of being any good was BeOS, and that was pretty much abandoned.
    Anyway, my point is, these things are machines built by humans. You will NEVER – not now, not in 2000 years – get a computer or any other device that is going to be the best thing ever or the simplest thing ever or the safest thing ever. Humans don’t make things like that. So if you’re going to get flustered because things don’t work the way you want them to, you might as well just go and buy one of these (which also has its problems)

  31. ianbnet says:

    There are a lot of folks on here who need to take a long, hard look at Windows 7 and Windows 8, I think…

    • Exactly, I don’t who brainwashed you, but do use windows 7 or 8

      • madoublet says:

        I switched to a Mac when I was sold on the idea that their products “just work” and are easier to use. I ran screaming back to a PC within a couple months. I think that the idea that Apple products are easier to use is one of the greatest marketing successes of our time. I am now on Windows 8 and am completely happy. In my opinion, the Windows ecosystem is just better than Apple’s. And, it is not even close anymore.

    • Mr. Momoto says:

      Hahahhhahahahahhaha! Good one, man!

      Ohwait – you weren’t joking??? Wow…

      • texaszman says:

        I was a Mac user too until forced into Windows 7. Very very content thank you. Still use a Macbook but Windows 7 is a solid OS that is for the most part intuitive to use.

  32. Hey John,

    Great article. I worked tech support in the 90’s for Acer America, back when they made a play to compete with Dell (and lost miserably). What I realized then is that the entire PC industry was selling consumers a product designed for geeks–and the results were tragic.

    Fast forward to 2007. When I first played with the iPhone, I realized that even OS X, as good as it was relative to Windows, was the same story: a professional OS masquerading as a consumer OS.

    iOS is the world’s first consumer-grade operating system. It can’t kill off OS X as a consumer OS soon enough. Mountain Lion and every iteration before it are utterly inappropriate for consumers.

    You’ve pointed out rough corners in iOS–and there are many. But it is world’s better than the Mac. It’s a tough balance. Apple is paranoid about being the “3-5%” OS again, and if they rest on their laurels and don’t keep adding features, they fear losing more share to Android. And they may be right. But with each feature comes complexity, and with complexity, the consumer-grade OS starts to look more and more like a 747 cockpit.

    Here’s hoping they find the right balance.



  33. Mac says:

    A lot of Apple software has always been a pain to use. Syncing device with iTunes has a number of pitfalls and hoops. Much better with iCloud.

    Some stuff is better. Some is worse. In comparison to Windows or Android, Apple is still like a “glass of ice water to someone in hell”.

    The “must do better” beseeching is worth it. Let’s hope they are listening. We all want to get to software heaven. But does it exist?

    • Kaspar says:

      True, iCloud fixed the problem of having to use iTunes in the first place. But it lost contacts of mine in the process of syncing, which was not so good.

  34. […] Battelle / John Battelle’s Search Blog:Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use?  —  I’ve been a Mac guy for almost my entire adult life.  I wrote my […]

  35. Preston says:

    When I upgraded my MacBook to Lion about a year ago, that thing completely screwed up my workflow in a major way. All the sudden, I couldn’t save jack and everything was a file permission error precluding work. I had to reboot, run some command/control something or another, and all the sudden I’m in a deep dark hole trying to reset passwords and file permissions, etc. It’s one of the many wheel spins I’ve been getting more often on my Apple things. I’m holding out on any further OS upgrades now — ain’t nobody got time for that!

  36. Vivek says:

    I switched from Windows to a Maca about two years ago. My motive was that I needed a ‘UNIX-y’ OS to run my development environment plus run Photoshop natively. After some heartburn fairly similar to yours, I’ve come upon the only solution I like–Snow Leopard, without using any Apple applications. I use Chrome, VLC, Lightroom+Photoshop, Gmail, Google’s business mail and I’m fine. I paid for Lion, upgraded and then wiped it out and returned to Snow Leopard. I don’t intend to upgrade the OS.

    Oh and by the way, I had to quit using Finder and buy Pathfinder in order to do GUI file management remotely as good as Windows Explorer.

    • freediverx says:

      People who dislike Apple’s ecosystem are usually those who customize it to work more like Windows or Linux.

      • People who dislike Apple’s ‘ecosystem’ are usually those who dislike being force-fed bad, counterintuitive, buggy operating systems whose faults become more pronounced with each iteration.

    • Kaspar says:

      I moved to Windows after OS X was introduced. The Finder is, still, an insult compared to the (admittedly crashy) Finder of OS 9. Another total POS is iTunes (on Windows at least), Apple really isn’t good at software engineering.

    • John McDonnell says:

      I did exactly the same! Pathfinder looks cool too although maybe a little too mousey for my taste.

    • jmk1ng says:

      Snow Leopard was the last great version of OSX. I’m simply baffled at their recent decisions.

      The sad part is that developers march along with Apple’s release schedule. There are already several apps that won’t run on Snow Leopard and require Lion and up.

      I’m begrudgingly running Mountain Lion currently and it drives me nuts on a daily basis. I haven’t dealt with an OS release this buggy since Windows ME (kernel panics, apps lock up and won’t close, my wallpaper randomly disappears, Finder crashes, etc – the longer the computer is on the worse it gets). I have to reboot several times a week just to make the computer responsive again. I haven’t had to do that since the early XP days.

      The moronic and baffling changes to things like “save as” and the ability to merge folders cause me grief daily. Also they somehow found ways to make Finder worse, the dock worse, expose and spaces worse. Multi-monitor support is worse…. I just don’t understand the rationale behind the systematic dismantling of the best ‘UNIX-y’ OS available.

      It’s at this point that I’m actually considering moving to Ubuntu and dealing with trying to get Photoshop to run with WINE.

    • Mike from Shreveport says:

      For a “UNIX-y OS” I would have suggested BSD, but if you’re happy with Snow Leopard, more power to you! (FreeBSD for a more truly Unix-like experience, and PC-BSD for a more automated, slick desktop experience.) And they’re both free (both ways), so always an available alternative (which you can try painlessly with Live DVDs).

      • thewags05 says:

        I tried free bsd about a year ago. If you’re looking for something simpler than osx, I really wouldn’t recommend it. Btw the bsd oses are pretty much the only unix oses left that can be freely used my everyone, so they get some credit there.

    • Valerie Cudnik says:

      I wish I’d never upgraded to Lion. Caused me a lot of grief!

  37. Murray Sanders says:

    Too many products are rushed to market these days without proper user
    testing, that`s all there is to it. Apple forgets how they got to where they are – by putting users first.

  38. Adam Rothman says:

    So, because your computer can’t read your mind and do exactly what you’re thinking right away, it’s hard to use? Any technology as advanced as a computer or iPhone is going to have some kind of learning curve. And unless you want Apple to stop innovating, they’re going to continue to improve their software. If you can’t be bothered to learn how to use new features and behaviors, then maybe you need reevaluate your relationship with technology.

    • Kaspar says:

      Advanced technology should be transparent and appear like magic (sic!). This is the Apple promise, a broken one.

    • johnbattelle says:

      I am.

      • John:

        I have a hard time reading this post. A quote of yours about the “Database of Intentions” hangs over my 27″ Apple Thunderbolt display because I thought it was so profound. This post, on the other hand, reads like the cranky rant of an ex-technologist who simply gave up learning. As Adam says, these things are hard. There’s a reason books, classes, online learning, forums, etc. exist: because mastering these skills require an investment.

        Have you tried accomplishing any of these tasks on another platform, namely Windows? It’s a nightmare. Apple has some of the smartest people on the planet working to improve the user experience. That’s their goal, plain and simple. It permeates everything they do. Maybe they don’t achieve 100% perfection, but at least they are constantly working toward that noble goal.

        Just look at the millions of people constantly glued to their iPhones: the young and old (sometimes very young and very old), business professionals, IT pros, artists, educators, scientists, doctors. All types of people. They do full-fledged computing on it. Emails, web surfing, streaming, VOIP, phone calls, banking, GPS, photography, business documents, music, watching movies. They do this all day and all night, day in and day out, and their phones don’t crash. They don’t get viruses. They don’t need IT departments to support them. They don’t call family members and say, “Help, my iPhone doesn’t work.” Because until 2007, 92% of people used Windows machines for all the above tasks and it was problems, problems, problems. In fact, they couldn’t do half the things I mentioned because it was too difficult. iOS liberated the masses from Windows and reintroduced them to the wonderful world of computing.

        The fact that Apple just introduced the iPhone 5 and essentially sold out of all of their 3:00AM EST pre-order in under an hour (a feat that took 22 hours for the iPhone 4S), should make you take a long look at your position. I’m afraid that yes, you are an outlier.

  39. With you. Calendar is mediocre, I completely ignore iTunes, iPhoto is an unusable CPU hog. Contacts works, apart from when sync doesnt. And I still don’t fully trust iCloud in the way I do Dropbox. 50,000 employees, you would think they could give us a great working core software/service set

  40. If your an Outlier then I am in another universe. I don’t even have a mobile! I am a developer and I have just grown tired of the complexity. I love my vege garden and hate mobiles. Apple starting pissing me off when they put some kind of stupid version system on textedit – WTF? Now closing a texedit file takes like 15 seconds while the OS goes off and does something pointless then comes back and closes the file anyway. And what happened to Save As? Why do I now have to duplicate a file in order to save a version. I am a skilled nerd and thinking of moving to Ubuntu just to get some work done. So if some pimple spotted Apple fan boy/girl can come out of Apples church for a second and help us out that would be great.

  41. Dick Dunbar says:

    Precisely matches my experience with Mac. I know operating systems, and every time I touched a Mac it seemed I became 6 years old again. Easy? In what way .. be precise.
    Different, sure. Every OS tries to distinguish itself from the crowd.

    So I bought two big beautiful Macs; an iMac for my wife and a MacBook Pro with second screen for myself. One month after using them, I turned them off and the MacBook comes back on every quarter ( or so ). I remember distinctly why I abandoned the Mac; it was the second screen. I need lots of screen real estate for the things I do ( mostly coding or learning with the Mac). There is one freak’n tool bar for every visible app? Are you kidding? Has no one actually used this? I must scroll my mouse from one part of an enormous desktop to the other, just to activate some features in the task bar?

    Then scoot back to do something useful on the app. I went to the Genius bar … they provided zero help.

    Then there is the fact that Mac is based on a Unix kernel … except it is smothered in OO junk that makes any Unix experience quite useless. Command lines that are “tweet sized”.

    Well I did get a book that put the unix/Mac disparity behind me.
    OS X for Unix Geeks

    All I needed to know about Lion is that it uses the same IOS interface as the iPhone; I’ll never install it. My brain does not need any more stretching in these dimensions just to use the platform.

    iPhoto, iMovie … useless to me. Much better solutions out there.

    I don’t need another pretty face on my computer screens … something that is a bit more useful and makes ME more productive is what I’m looking for. I’ve stopped looking to Apple to provide that.

  42. Kiddi Mús says:

    My advice is for you to stop your apple-cultist-ism and install windows 7. You will be surprised how many of the myths around it just are not true any more. I have two windows pc’s (Desktop and laptop) in my home, two apple macs (Desktop and laptop) and one linux server computer. Out of those three systems I must say that the mac has caused me the most grief. No kidding. I aint hating on apple. I’m just saying that the dogma that has caused people to avoid windows (And even linux (Ubuntu is super user friendly these days)) is made up of stuff that was fixed years ago, or hasnt even ever been true. With whatever percieved loss of ease of use you will experience you will notice that if you do run into problems there are far more fixes available on-line than for whatever issue you have with mac.

    Gone are the days of windows-blue screens (Havent ever seen one in win 7 so far) and programmer-like interfaces for linux (Well, for the most part) where Apple rode in on a bevelled, white, glowing horse to save the day.

    • Jason Reilly says:

      Couldn’t agree more. The only issues I’ve had on my PC has been need for memory (easy enough) and removing iTunes since it was such a horrible system hog. My machine skips along just fine now. No bluescreens, no viruses, no problems.

      • andrewi says:

        iTunes imo is malware on a PC. Apple were so religious about not using MS built in stacks, features and toolsets that they literally wrote their own Mac like ones, and then ran it *on top* on Windows’ ones, creating a massive amount of system overhead for no reason. I mean why not? It only makes your competitor look worse.

        Don’t believe me. Try running 1080p video in Quicktime player on Windows then use VLC or WMP. I have a core 2 quad (+ a £250 very fast HDCP graphics card) machine for gaming and an i3 laptop for the kids and Quicktime actually can’t play 1080p on either at any more than 5 frames a year. It’s appalling.

    • Apple has its problems, definitely, but Windows and Lunix are ten if not hundreds of times worse. That’s the problem. I haven’t used Windwos 8 much but. my god, there really is no comparison. And as far as the entire ecosystem is concerned, Apple still sets the ceiling and everybody rushes into imitate. That’s the really sad thing is how badly the others suck.

      • A.I. M. says:

        I’d really like to know what problems with windows you are having? After the initial setup, windows for me is just my start menu leading to my software. Everything else just runs! (Isn’t that Apple’s slogan or something?)

  43. Ria says:

    You are not alone… I have come full circle from thinking that Apple’s simplicity was a reason to swing your whole IT life into their stuff, to realising slowly the massive monopoly they are creating where everything is built to be replaced, not maintained. As you say: RIDONKULOUS!!!

  44. Stefan says:

    Here’s are my experiences since i installed Lion:I’ve about 880 contacts in my address book – syncing to iCloud doesn’t work!
    iPhoto is clunky, Faces in iPhoto is totally clueless (and no, i didn’t expect that i would learn how to recognize our twins).
    Facetime mostly doesn’t work at all, and iMessages are randomly delivered to some devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch).
    And iCal is a total desaster – duplicated entries, which i cannot delete and events (more than 1 year old) that steadily come up in my iCal-Inbox, which i also cannot delete!
    I outright hate this “iCloud”-nonsense which started this mess (i never had such problems with mobile-me, which mostly worked like a charm).

    Some days ago my wife said:
    “I don’t know, but it feels like Apple’s getting worse, since Steve Jobs passed away”.
    I have to admit, that i share the same feeling!

  45. @johnbattelle:disqus I agree with the commenter who said all OS’s (and apps) suck it is just that some OS’s suck less than others irrespective of the UI claims of ours is easier to use then theirs. If you think iOS and Mac/OS’s suck try any flavor of Windows. You’ve lost weeks with Apple? How about months with Windows. I am a Windows power user of 20+ years and it is total shite. Period. Does anyone seriously believe that Windows is a consumer OS? Give me a frigging break. Onto Google, who has taken ~5 years to sort out Android and to get it to a state comparable to iOS though it did sort of cheat along the way.

  46. Well you SHOULD try linux. It may take a bit of learning to use, but once you’re there, there are absolutely 0 WTF at all. Nothing breaks, Nothing acts fancy, Nothing has a mind of its own that you can’t modify, silence or destroy.

    Until then, hf with Apple’s fucked up version of unix, one of the very few that qualify to be worse than windows.

  47. spook says:

    Sounds like the default apple apps just arent right for you. But dont throw out the baby with the bath water. Being a recent convert to the cult of mac (late 2009 – though I had a mac classic for a few years back in the day), I enjoy the fact that for the $40 yearly upgrade/subscription fee I get a nice if pricey bit of hardware with a decent implementation of the unix shell where I can grep, vi and ssh with pleasure and with an awesome window manager (way better than anything ubuntu can throw at us) on top of it. The suite of iApps that comes with osx from my experience are the equivalent of windows OEM crapware – Im sure they used to be good when you started using them ,as they were for me, but i’ve long ago ditched them in favour of other services. Gmail does good for my addresses and email… i wouldnt use Mail as much as I wouldnt use Outlook. Dropbox et al tromp all over iCloud (not even sure how much space i get there, but last i checked 2 iphone backups used up 30% of it – and I cant access any of it easily on non idevices). Adobe apps will be temperamental on various systems at various times. Not apples fault. I think it’s your expectations that have changed and outgrown the free default apps. What exeactly do you get free with windows or ubuntu that will even remotely let you manage 10000 photos ?

    • A.I. M. says:

      Then why not just use a Linux machine? The whole point of Apple products, at least as according to their ads, is that its one big synced world that will take care of you. But you are saying the best way to use an Apple machine is to install 3rd party software. Then why use Apple at all? Just for the Shell features?

      No one, since Windows 95, really cared about windows OEM crap-ware. Because Windows was built to let users install their own choice of software.

  48. freediverx says:

    OK, I have my occasional frustrations with Apple just like anyone else. But I grew a little suspicious as I read through your article, and when I came to this item I knew you were full of it:

    “Have you ever done a search in your iPhone contacts? You need the fingers of a poorly fed six-year-old to activate that search function. No, really, I must waste four or five minutes a day trying to make that damn thing work. Seriously, how can an adult finger ever touch that little search icon without either hitting the “A” or the “+”????”

    Seriously? You have different ways to search for contacts on your iPhone and none of them require anorexic baby fingers or five minutes of effort.

    1) A simple swipe to the right from your home screen reveals your phone’s global search function which includes contacts among its search results.

    2) Within Contacts, you don’t need precision finger tapping to activate the search function. The alphabetical index on the right of the screen is used by placing your thumb on the right edge and then simply sliding your thumb up or down until you get within range of names you’re looking for. It’s meant to be “tap and slide” – not precision tapping on a specific letter or the search icon. To search you can simply do this and then slide your thumb all the way to the top of the screen to reveal the search field at the top.

    3) The easiest way to search is to tap on the title bar from anywhere within the app which will instantly take you to the top of the list where the search field is located.

    Then you whine about internationalization. The only way a Kanji keyboard should be coming up on your phone is if you went into keyboard settings and added a Kanji keyboard! By default you only have the standard keyboard activated.

    iPhoto isn’t slow unless you have an ancient computer. If you manage as many images as you claim to, quite honestly you should consider upgrading to Aperture. I have thousands of hi res images going back decades and Aperture runs smoothly on both my 2009 Macbook Pro and 27″ iMac.

    Restoring your iPhone will not “lose” your apps. Worse case you can re-download them from the App Store. If you backed up your phone to iTunes while charging – as recommended – you’d have an easy way to restore from backup. And if you used iCloud you’d have automatic wireless backups you could restore from as well. I recently had to get a new phone because I dropped the old one and smashed the screen. At the APple store, it took seconds to enter my iCloud credentials into the new phone. Per the Genius’ suggestion I left the phone there for a half hour while I walked around the mall, and by the time I returned my iPhone’s data and settings had been restored wirelessly from iCloud.

    OS X’s features and options have grown more robust and complex over time, but by default, new Macs come with a pretty intuitive configuration. If you or your wife can’t figure out the myriad multitouch gestures then you should have left the default settings alone until and unless you had the need and the familiarity to enable optional custom UI settings.

    • johnbattelle says:

      I agree on the Kanji and the contact search, easy fixes that I will implement. But iPhoto?No. I have a new, fast MacBook Pro.

      • iPhoto’s organization isn’t that good. But it’s far from slow and it sounds like you have a much faster Mac than I do. I have a 13inch Air.

      • Sven Peeters says:

        Just buy a PC and leave us alone!

      • freerange says:

        YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT! With the huge number of photos you try to manage, move to Aperture which is designed for heavy users! iPhoto is a free light weight app, not designed or meant for professional (read large database/number of photos). You claim to be a long time apple user but you show limited knowledge of how apple products work. Why is that? These things are just not that hard to learn by spending just a little time getting yourself familiar with them properly.

        • andrewi says:

          It’s 2013. Everyone and their dog has thousands of pictures, not just professionals. Aperture is for pros, correct, but that means iPhoto should be for everyone else. Hell Windows Picture viewer still manages to search through a crapton of pictures without freezing up. If you have a program that is inadequate for the job, you should have just left the job to finder, spotlight and preview.

    • drdcuddy says:

      Thanks so much for bringing a bit of balance to this. Apple products are by no means perfect but they’re certainly not becoming trash. This article sounds a lot like it was written with someone who would be equally frustrated with almost any operating system.
      I think its great that ‘ecosystems’ are forming under many different tech companies, you have options and I implore everyone to vote with your wallet. I just can’t figure out the hate when most of what I’ve read is based in user error and lack of googling.

    • Maccelerate says:

      The point isn’t that it’s difficult to do these things. The point is that he didn’t know, or discover HOW to do these things. I’m a self-employed Mac support guy who sees this every day. People just don’t “get it” anymore, and honestly, I don’t either. I have to study daily to keep up with the tips and tricks that keep me productive to the detriment to my actually being productive.

      Marshall McLuhan once said, “The media is the message.” Now, learning is the workflow, i.e., learning how sometimes is more important than the actual job. “Oh, I don’t do or make anything, but I know *how* to do or make something, so I’m valuable” seems to be the future of employment. Pretty soon, we’ll need a one-to-one consultant to worker ratio to get anything done.

  49. Bill says:

    I am having all the exact same problems as you. It is incredibly frustrating. On top of that, updating on the OS on my MB Pro required me to get a new motherboard (!!!) for it to not crash all the time and my iMac has had horrific Wi-Fi problems. Oh… and 3 of my iPhone 4’s just stopped working. This stuff is just brutal

  50. CDA says:


    You hit the sweet spot. I thought it was me because “jumping through Hoops” and endless button pressing with Microsoft is so much worse (It becomes addictive, you get good at it – yet another topic?).

    Do the WORLD a favour, present this “Fault Log” as a community effort to expose the failings, but in a helpful and unemotional way. Someone needs to structure this issue and help the grey masses build a colourful petition that Apple would find difficult to ignore.

    In the short term, Apple needs a push to address the problems. In the long term, the geeks need a problem to solve. Shine the light. The solutions will come.
    Oh yes, my (one of several) gripe is…I wish the creatives would just stop fiddling. If it works, leave it alone I say!
    Thank you for a very constructive rant!

  51. […] response to: the article AM I AN OUTLIER, OR ARE APPLE PRODUCTS NO LONGER EASY TO USE? (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; […]

  52. Ronald Allen says:

    Welcome to Windows – we have dealt with these “computer nightmares” from the inception – bout time Mac followed suit -and next stop for you all – “IPhone5” selective viruses. Bet you can hardly wait!

  53. dminor says:

    I can’t vouch for the mobile apps but you’re right on in regards to the desktop OS’s. Apple seems to have thrown the Apple Interface Guidelines in the trash for OSx. Also the new Macs have hardware problems I would never have imagined. The power book power supply is wired into the mother board with no isolating circuit. Bad power, mother board dead. They used to ship with the best power supplies. I used to work at Apple in the bad old days. I can’t imagine them letting this stuff out the door in 1990.

  54. Andrew says:

    I’m old-school-and-disgruntled Mac, too. So glad to read about others sharing Apple frustrations similar to mine. Apple is clearly too busy counting its money to listen. iWeb was the final straw for me. “Make all your web pages with us and we’ll publish them to the net for you! Great! Thank you! And now we won’t!” I was so frustrated I made a brief (2 min) video about it on Youtube ( or type in “Apple Poisoning its Faithful”.)
    There has got to be a better way for personal computing.

  55. Yes Mr. Battelle, you are an outlier – you finally have realized that the Emperor wears no clothes!

  56. Pablo says:

    Pathetic little piece of ‘journalistic’ crap aka whining

  57. Who told you Windows was hard to use? Windows 7 is on par with OSX and Windows Phone is way ahead of iOS in ease of use. Forget everything about Android its a complete nightmare. 90% of all Android users find it so hard to use they end up using it as a featurephone. Just look at the mobile internet traffic – Android is hardly visible.

    • Frans de Wet says:

      Odd, but I have no trouble whatsoever to use my phone. Neither does my wife. Or my friends. I think your statement is a little off.

      • Jason Crawford says:

        I agree. I had a bit of trouble getting used to Android initially, but that was just because of being used to using an iPhone for a few years. I still use both, but now I much prefer Android because of its ability for customization and ease of use. And the Google apps just work better on it.

    • kevincp says:

      That is because the carriers have taken to selling the android phones basically like feature phones (mainly because of the low cost of the phones to the carriers) to a lot of people that really don’t need or want smart phones. These are the perfect customers for the carriers, as they will sell them a data plan knowing a lot of these customers will not be heavy users. I don’t think you can read anything about android usability into the mobile traffic stats. That’s also why the android fans shouldn’t read much into the android shipment numbers as far as android’s power as a software platform are concerned. This is partly why android as a platform is lower return financially to developers up to now.

  58. ZungDoo says:

    Ease of use died with Steve Jobs. Bummer.

  59. I have to agree with you 110%. I started out back in the day with DOS, and made the switch to OSX around Windows XP. I got tired of Windows getting filled with junk and having to reinstall every 6 months. At that time, OSX was great and was a huge improvement.

    Over the past 10 years though, I have seen Mac go downhill. I get the feeling that the cause of this is mostly greed. Consumers will constantly spend money to get upgrades…it doesn’t matter if it’s 4.0.1 to 4.0.2, I believe they feel better knowing they have the latest and greatest. I believe Apple has banked on this and have been pushing products out faster than they can be tested. Many of the people that like this are people who can waste time spending hours online trying to find and fix the problem themselves. As I get older, I’m getting tired of doing this and don’t have the time anymore.

    Which brings me here. I believe many old school Apple users will make a switch to Linux. It’s been getting easier to use and a lot more stable. Since new hardware coming out is as thin and lightweight as Apple hardware and cheaper, I believe people will make the switch. Just look at Android as an example.

    I’ve been waiting for the iPhone release to upgrade my wife’s phone, as she has an Iphone 3gs. After we saw the announcement and price, she is happy getting an Android phone.

    This is just my rant. Hopefully somebody can say if I’m on track or off my rocker!!

  60. […] Battelle / John Battelle’s Search Blog:Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use?  —  I’ve been a Mac guy for almost my entire adult life.  I wrote my […]

  61. Duke of URL says:

    You’ve got plenty to gripe about. Definitely some issues here.

    More interesting, as somebody with nearly 30 years of experience with the Mac and a deep understanding of the shortcomings, you sound fully equipped to go out and build a better mouse trap, sell your technology to other equally frustrated users and reap the benefits of the growth in the Mac platform. At last, you too could be an app millionare
    I look forward to seeing your product launch and seeing you improve an obvious market shortcoming. That is unless you’re too busy whining about what others have created.
    To paraphrase, maybe those who can do and those who can’t report.

    • johnbattelle says:

      I wish this could be fixed with an APp. Maybe the iPhoto thing…

      • I tell friends and clients to not use iPhoto these days. Its slowness and obtuse storage schemes (my Air had eventually 1 GByte of “previews” on it that I could not remove) are horrible. Lightroom is the better option.

  62. Tzctplus - says:

    Ah! How refreshing to know I have arrived to the right place for sticking to Linux for the last 15 years. It has been though, sometimes frustrating, but at least every upgrade cycle cost me comparatively little (my 73 year old mum has been using Linux for the last 5-6 years and she never complains about it. She used to swear when she had Windows Food for thought)

  63. Ed says:

    These are some of the dumbest and most childish complaints I have seen in a long time. Of all the problems in Apple Devices, THIS is what you bring up?

    >OK, so…should I restore the device from backup? How do you even do that? And if that doesn’t work, then what? I have to “restore as new”?
    Sounds dangerous, like I might lose all my settings and apps and such.
    Sounds like you have absolute no experience with new technology.

  64. Bill says:

    Mac OS X was about 10 years old when Steve Wozniak wrote the operating system for the Apple I and Apple II. When an OS is 40 years old, it is long overdue for replacement.

    • Polimon says:

      You don’t know what you’re talking about. Mac OS X Public Beta was released to the public on September 13, 2000. Mac OS X has been in public use for 12 years. It bears no relation to Apple’s previous operating systems, other than a vague physical resemblance.

  65. J Guth says:

    Windows Phone is pretty easy, it all just works. (and Zune is waaaay nice than iTunes)

    • Charles Lancaster says:

      I second that! I love my Nokia running Windows Phone 7. Also I agree on Zune. I’ve never really used iTunes, but it looks pig ugly compared to Zune

  66. REBELista says:

    Yes! and I get insulted by late adopters! If you say: maybe aapl could do this better? Gestapo fills my inbox with insults?=($aapl funboys that switched from PC to Mac last year? &/or bought iPhone a year ago?)…on Tablet i find Nexus 7 Jelly Bean_ simple coz Google services which I use 80+% of the time are Fantastically integrated and FAST..use my Mac seldom, it’s so slow comparing to iPad or Nexus, unless i buy a New one? Maybe Chrome OS will be the answer? —it looks super fast and simple but hardware still not attractive….
    Anyways, Apple don’t MOVE me any more! Still use it but …. yes’ It ain’t easy or exciting no more. Take a Look at Jelly Bean/Nexus 7 combo.

  67. andken says:

    John, regarding the “Other” yellow bar at Itunes the fact is that sometimes the Itunes does not show the real free space that you have. To me, there is sometimes a almost full bar, with a big yellow bar called other, but it still synchronizes.

    I have to access the Ipod disk with Windows Explorer to know the real free space available.

  68. Girl fan says:

    100% AGREE with everything. I work in the tech industry (on the business side) and am kind of a gadget addict and tech “capable” Loved my iPhone for a few years (3 and 4) but every single thing you mention above has been an issue for me.

    I have been helping friends with Android phones in last 6 months and realized wow – Google is really solving all these issues (contacts, calendar, photos, syncs across tablet, phone, PC). It has made me consider a Galaxy III. 2 way contact, calendar, phone sync are so difficult to maintain especially if you want to also use MS Outlook (without exchange) and don’t get me started on my old iTouch that has photos not saved anywhere else – try copying them off – cant’ be done cuz it won’t recognize it as a drive like newer devices.

    iTunes is the most limiting and kludgy way to do anything and if you use a PC sometimes iCloud doesn’t help and actually hurts.

    I am quite tech capable, I research all these issues and try to resolve but boy I can’t believe the pain in the neck it all is. A huge epiphany one day when I realized to use Outlook on my PC (without MS Exchange) and TWO WAY sync mail, calendar & contacts to my iphone was darn near impossible except to use Google as the intermediary (okay that’s funny). Those online who have actually got this working seriously use Google and CALDAV in a freakishly complex way just to have a contact you save on your iPhone sync up to one of the most used programs in the world – Outlook? Seriously?? I have printed over 100 pages of tricks/help etc on this one issue. I would try some more to get it working but all warn that iPhone/itunes might blow away all your stuff in the process

    And iTunes/iPhone backups – seriously? This has to be the most insane process I have ever seen that doesn’t even really work most of the time.

    Unwanted photo compression, not backing up photos and vids, larger fonts in Accessibility (I am not disabled just older eyes), response time for texting slowed by olds texts stored, too many clicks to find a contact, separation of texting and dialing/phone functions in a bizarre way, safari, if you keep texts must scroll thru entire conversation to find persons phone number, random reset of phone numbers to add a 1 in front of them (making them a new number not associated with a name), can’t see all the albums in my camera app, and on and on.

  69. Bobby says:

    John you’ve merely turned into a moron. Quit whining like a little baby and go see a Genius. Sheesh, you sound like a six-year-old.

  70. melat0nin says:

    What blows my mind is that you can’t change the font size of the UI in OSX. So, if you’re visually impaired, then you’re screwed. This is such a fundamental requirement for an OS that when I discovered this about OSX it told me everything I need to know about Apple and their respect for diversity.

  71. ab123 says:

    Apple is spiraling downwards into the same hole Windows Vista put Microsoft in. Apple isn’t a technology company. Apple is a marketing company, and they’re very good at it. They can get by selling last years tech dressed up with contorted, backwards UIs to idiots that will buy it because they remember better times. It’s like playing the lottery… keep buying losing tickets and you’re bound to get one good one right? right???? As a UI/UX designer, I’m stumped trying to find what my money bought me with OSX Mountain Lion. My system settings were all reset, and I have to relearn how to use my computer. This is an upgrade??? I hate how I can’t search for apps in Finder anymore… do I have to manually track down and launch them now? There’s gotta be another way to search that I’m missing.

    All over, Apple gets an F.

  72. Robert Paulson says:

    It’s easiest still, if you’ve ever tried doing these same things on an Android phone before

  73. Hui Zhou says:

    The culprit is “magic”. Apple is selling the impression of magic, but as adults, we should know magic does not exist.. When eating apple food for too long, people start to lose the reality and expect too much 🙂

  74. Ronald Allen says:

    Apple – Windows – etc. it’s all the same message from the engineers, “we will not rest until the entire population of the planet comes to the conclusion that they are too stupid to own a computer!”

  75. Amy Alkon says:

    You’re absolutely right. They ruined iPhoto — they made the editing functions more difficult and you’re right about the storage issue. Also, in Lion, when you restart, Word will open every single page you had open before (no, unchecking “restore all pages” doesn’t help). Safari does the same, no matter whether you uncheck it. Same goes for making the last 10 docs in Word zero. I searched online and I’m told I can paste text into Terminal. I found that, pasted in text, and nothing. I’m just a regular user. Should I really be looking on nerdpages for workarounds, or should my computer just, you know, work.

    (I got my first Mac in 1985.)

  76. JohnDoey says:

    There isn’t anything easier. Sorry. You are just seeing the world get more complicated as you now have multiple computers that you use many hours a day. You are remembering the early Mac nostalgically becaus you spent only a tiny number of hours with one computer and never relied on it much. Your newspaper and TV still worked when the Mac was down.

    Apple gear is easy, but iPhone/iPod still have to be backed up so you can restore them if necessary, and same with the Mac. You can’t lose data on an OS upgrade if you backup first.

    Also, you can go to a Genius for help. That option is not even available elsewhere.

  77. Amy Alkon says:

    PS Great program for Mac for writing – Scrivener, by Literature & Latte. $45 and they give you a month free trial. Exports to Word, Final Draft and others.

  78. Dave Smith says:

    Wow, an Apple person dissing Apple! John, I agree and not just because I am a PC guy. I am frustrated by the “genius” system. Their most common fix when I take an iPad or other device in for troubleshooting is to say that I should erase everything and start over. I don’t need a genius to help me with that. I have two iTunes accounts. I didn’t mean to, it just happened with multiple devices. Their inability to help me to merge these two and only have one is baffling. I could go on, but you said it best.

  79. schandur says:

    Completely agree about the internationalization feature on the keyboard. I had the very first iPhone that came out in 2007, and don’t recall running into that issue. Recently I borrowed a friend’s iPhone 4, and the first problem I encountered was this.

    Have you tried out the contact search feature on Windows Phone? It’s a *joy* to use.

  80. Mr. Momoto says:

    Just an aside to those claiming to be “old school Mac” folk: you simply don’t exist in the Appleverse, sorry.

  81. Tim says:

    Nope, you’re right on point. I have the latest Macbook Pro Retina. I also had to upgrade to the latest Mountain Lion ( shouldn’t that have come with the machine ?! )

    — One thing that sold me on Mountain Lion, was that I really craved the speech-to-text feature. It’s crappy. Can’t make out even simple words and sentences, even when I speak very slowly.

    — Full Screen, Mission Control (I miss my stackable workspaces), Hot Corners, are all great ideas. But I find them buggy, unintuitive, and poorly implemented.

    — The Tab and Delete keys are squeaky… on a brand new machine !!!

    — The driver for my wireless mouse dies occasionally. I have unplug, then replug in the USB … , to get it back.

    There’s a lot more annoyances, but I won’t go on. I’ve been using Apple products, and paying the extra money, specifically to not have to deal with these usability issues. My Desktop Linux investigation will be underway shortly.


  82. ScrewApple says:

    Come over to the dark side, John. LOL. Apple has been brainwashing users for years into believing their products are “superior.” Hogwash I say. I’ve only known one Apple user who has ever really accomplished anything with a mac. Most of the rest use their iPads to play sidoku and crap. All the productive people I know use PC’s. I swear Apple is like cocaine. You can’t get a user to accept the fact that they have a problem. They just go get another fix from some “genius”. Keep spending your hard earned cash at the Apple school, fanboys, while I breeze past you in productivity with my PC.

  83. J B says:

    As a thirty year Apple user, I have to say that YOU ARE SO RIGHT!

    I can’t reconcile Apple’s billions of quarterly profits with their woeful under-investment in their core apps.

  84. Julie Bot says:

    i agree with you so much it hurts. We switched to Mac in my office… tried hosting our own email on our Mac Mini Server… there is NO WAY ON EARTH that iCal or Address Book could ever, ever, EVER handle the needs of even a small business like ours (10 users). We had to get Kerio Connect (like MS Exchange, sort of) just so we could schedule with meetings with clients who (shock!) were not on the same network as us and (obv) not on Macs. We leapt at Outlook for Mac once it was available. AND TotalFinder so we can have our “folders on top” in Finder.

    I don’t fully regret the switch, but no, not easy in the slightest.

  85. I used a mac for about a year or two and here are two tips and annoynces:

    * coming from windows’ snap feature, I was appalled at the annoying way mac works with partial full screens, and impossible windows stacking. A small free utility fixed it but dammnn.
    * also, maximizing a window doesn’t always “maximize” it, it will only make it span full height and a predetermined width. Extremely annoying
    * when using photoshop, trying to zoom in always created a new search window due to shortcut conflicts 🙁 why wasn’t there a “mac” button or something for it? The same way searching windows you use “Windows key + F”
    * maybe I’m spoiled but when I had those 20 search windows open, I had no way to review all of them easily (the same way windows has pop thumbnails that you can close out). It was shitty

  86. Eddie says:

    We’ve got a mac pro laptop and a 27 imac in our house. I have spent about 2 hours over the past few weeks on the phone with apple support trying to get our mail app to open. It quit working when we installed mountain lion. Won’t even open. Apple engineers are “looking into” the issue.

    I’ve never owned an iphone and probably never will. ICS on my galaxy s2 is awesome and my wife’s galaxy s3 is even better. Apple not going with the industry standard micro usb just seems irresponsible and a giant middle finger to all their customers. Don’t really like being treated that way.

    Really wish apple would just be more open to working with google. It would be so much better and easier for the end users but that just doesn’t seem to be their concern.

  87. Nikki Jayne says:

    This surprises me. I have recently navigated over from Windows to a Mac and I had it all down within a few days. Everything syncs beautifully with my iPhone (I’m on Mountain Lion) and it all just seems that much more intuitive. Maybe the way my mind works is better suited to the Mac environment than yours.

  88. Jason Crawford says:

    Hi John,
    Excellent take on the current state of things.
    The first computer I ever bought was in the late 80s, the MacII. At the time it was the dog’s bollocks (sorry, too much time overseas), which is to say that it was leaps and bounds above the MS-DOS stuff all of my friends at the time were struggling with. I upgraded to one of the PowerPC models in the early 90s, and again was completely satisfied with the product, even if I did have to pay 4 times the price for the software (if I could find it), secure in the knowledge that my hardware and OS were superior and I never had the compatibility and programming issues that my MS using colleagues had. It just worked.
    In the late 90s I moved overseas and my access to Apple software and products became severely limited, so I was forced to switch to Windows 98. I found this to be a cheap ripoff of my excellent MacOS, with usability and refinement not nearly at the level of what I had been used to. After this I was stuck in a Windows world, upgrading to XP (then Vista, W7 and now W8), all the while pining for the days of my long lost friend. It wasn’t until my purchase of the iPhone 3GS that I was reacquainted with that friend. And like most things viewed through the cloudy haze of nostalgia, sometimes it is better to leave them in your memories, as the reality never seems lives up to what you remember as great times.
    Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone was, and is, an excellent product, just not the holy grail that its disciples claim (I like my new Android phone more). It was actually not the iPhone itself that turned me off, but the iTunes program that I was forced to install just to get the phone to work for the first time, and to do anything else for that matter, that put a bad taste in my mouth. On top of being a bloated system hog that froze and crashed almost every time that I tried to use it, it simply wasn’t very easy to use. I thought perhaps it was an issue with my Windows machine and Apple compatibility, but the more research I did online, and then using iTunes on a friend’s new MacPro, i found that it wasn’t just my machine. And it wasn’t just iTunes that was the problem. As I watched my friend play around with his new MacPro, and have problems with at least half of the the things he was trying to show me (the beachball of doom), I had a feeling of deja vu: watching my old MS friends trying in vain to get something to work.
    I don’t know what has happened to Apple in the past decade, but it seems like they have taken their “screw what everyone else is doing, we’ll do our own thing” mantra that spawned innovation and excellence for so long, and turned it against the customer.
    Maybe it’s just an extension of the new corporate mentality, the sue them rather than out perform them attitude.
    Like I said before, everything looks better through nostalgic glasses.
    Sorry for the length of my post.

  89. dbcreativity says:

    Just because you stated ”
    I am certain this post will elicit all manner of Apple fanboys who claim I’m a moron” in your post doesn’t mean you are not a moron. Maybe a computer isn’t for you. Or your wife. You know there are lots of folks out there in the same boat and it’s TOTALLY ok. If you can’t figure out that your wife is right clicking when she’s moving a window around and that’s why it says “Icons & Text” there’s nothing anyone or any Apple Genius can do to help you.

  90. Polimon says:

    There are always exceptions, but Apple’s stunning success means only one thing: For millions and millions of people, their stuff just works. If your Apple stuff isn’t working, take it to the Genius Bar. That is what they are there for. Not to belabor the obvious, but a trip to the Genius Bar will be much more productive than complaining on the internet.

  91. Hi_Fi_Guy says:

    +1 My wife and I have used Apple exclusively for our home and business. Lion is a mess and broke everything. The computers run slow and crash daily. All the problems you point out about Mail, iCal, and more. iMove is now a bloated app whose only function I believe is to spin the progress wheel and lock-up the computer. This stuff worked elegantly and smoothly for well over a decade and has crumbled into a worthless pile of rubble. The frustration is now constant.

  92. alanb says:

    I agree with a lot of your points. I am no techie but have had to become one especially with the introduction of icloud. My wife uses an older macbook pro and it’s a nightmare. As well she has an iphone3G which of course isn’t supported now. Wayyyy toooo hard from where it was 3 or 4 years ago. Itunes really sucks big time. It des way to much when all I want is a place to store my music and use it in various ways. I am happy to use another app for books and stuff. I love Apple but they are up their own butts now with too much meaningless integration and woweee stuff like integrated message centers.

  93. alexvas says:

    If you’re young and interested, Linux is the way to go. The idea behind Linux is that everything is customizaable – you invest the first day into making everything exactly how you like it. No other OS will let you do that. Of course, you have to invest time into learning how to use Linux; I can understand why that’s a deterrent!

    I have to use a Mac at work. I hate the thing. It’s interface make me vomit. I’ve gotten to the point where I practically don’t use the mouse or the UI and do everything from the terminal. There’s no such thing as “poorly designed text” haha.

  94. simplyphp says:

    You aren’t alone, give Windows 7 and Android a chance. Google has mobile OS down perfectly, especially with the latest version.

  95. Aaron Weiss says:

    You’re not an outlier. This is precisely why I switched to the Googleverse for my mail, calendar, docs, and contacts. Not having to deal with local apps AT ALL makes my life so much simpler. (And no, I don’t think Google is The One True Cloud Answer. You could probably do as well with any number of other services. I personally find the Googleverse convenient, fast, and reasonably well designed.)

    I spend very little time in desktop apps any more. I’m not dependent on any one device. Hardware failures don’t scare me any more. I wipe my phone regularly (I enjoy playing with custom Android ROMs) and it’s no big deal. I’ve resurrected an ancient Dell laptop as a de facto Chromebook (Lubuntu, but running nothing else besides Chrome), and It Just Works.

    Cloud failures scare me now instead… I need a more complete or automated cloud backup solution… probably involving Dropbox, Skydrive, or AWS, so I’m not reliant on Google alone.

    I’m thisclose to biting the bullet and going with ChromeOS for my next mobile device. Photo and video editing are the only things I do in local software any more. Photo editing is possible but clumsy in the cloud. Google really needs to do a full Picasa port to HTML5/NaCl and support local editing before uploading. Video editing is a ways off, at least until the feature set is comparable to iMovie or Premiere Elements. I’d like to be able to do that on a laptop, so I think I’m a couple years off from dumping local software entirely… but having those be the only local software left is very liberating.

  96. HR says:

    Any computer/phone with a full disk will suck to use – this is universal. Your first step should be finding out what filled up your iPhone, a great place to start is to go into Settings ➞ General ➞ Usage and wait for the Storage report to fill up, that is where you’ll most likely find the storage hogs. It’s highly probable you’ve put more apps with content in your phone than you would believe.

  97. I have had a macbook pro for almost 6 years which has lasted at least twice longer than my two previous Toshiba laptops. I do not own an iPhone or have not tried the new OS for mac laptops. However, my own experience with macbook pro is that they are built to last. More importantly, the in store customer service is superb. I did have a few problems with my laptop that were resolved expediently and with relative ease (I did have the extended warranty). This I suspect woud not have been the case with a PC laptop (based on my experience with Toshiba). So, I do think that Apple still shines in customer service and product quality. However, the competition should make it easier for frustrated people such as yourself to make a switch but I don’t think they are there yet.

  98. Although I don’t have many issues figuring out my Mac, I do have to figure it out from time time. That means it isn’t “easy”. What I think of as “easy” is asking my Mom to do something on my Mac or iOS device. If SHE can figure it out, then the task is probably “easy” as she is completely unwilling to learn how something is done on a computer for fear of breaking something (her experience is that computers are expensive and prone to failure and she doesn’t want to be blamed should one break).

    You aren’t an outlier. I felt the migration from Snow Leopard to Lion was especially fraught with pitfalls for even experienced Mac users. Conversely what should have been fraught with error, the upgrade from Lion to Mountain Lion, because of its dependence on internet access, was the simplest upgrade I have EVER experienced on the Mac.

    Although Mountain Lion has eliminated the source of most spinning beach balls, iPhoto, iTunes, and the Flash plug-in for Safari are still huge memory hogs. As Willy might say, “I feel your pain.”

  99. That Guy says:

    The alphabet in the contacts app, including the tiny search icon, is meant to be scrubbed not pressed. So slide your finger across it to move around alphabetically.

  100. Dubly Duud says:

    Windows 7 is a better OS. It just is. I switched to Mac, iPhone, and iPad beginning in 2003 or 2004 after 15 or so years of Windows. Win 7 is just a better OS, period. I’ve switched back for the couple years. I’m anxiously awaiting Windows Phone 8, and Surface tablets. Goodbye Apple!

    • Robert Johnson says:

      Same here. I used Mac back in 2009/2010 and switched back to PC (high-end hardware yet still cheaper than a mac) when Windows 7 came out because I was way more productive on it.

  101. meliorist says:

    That fancy, childish-looking animated dock is annoying. It’s much more intrusive and obtrusive than the Windows task bar. It actually gets in the way.

  102. Apple’s products are compared to an imaginary perfection.

    Microsoft and Google products are compared to going without them entirely.

    That’s why there’s been people like yourself handwringing over minute details of everything Apple does, while the unwashed masses make excuses for the completely ridiculous, unintuitive and ugly design of everything in Windows, Android and so on.

    But do continue! Your harping will only refine Apple’s slightest flaws, while those making excuses for Apple’s competitors will make it certain that those alternative never really try too hard.

  103. I think what you are missing is that it is ALL becoming more complicated. But that is also because we expect a lot more of our devices than we did just a few years ago. It wasn’t that long ago that I had a phone that had an address book that didn’t sync to anything that could send texts and that was it, and that was pretty advanced. But now it is a handheld computer that takes pictures and video and surfs the web and has a bazillion apps. It is the same for our computers. The things that we use our computers for we weren’t doing 10 or 15 years ago.

    And scale is a big problem. The average users doesn’t have those kinds of contacts. But I have run into plenty who have pounded iPhoto with too many pictures. I think that level of scale has been an area that Apple has not done well at.

  104. I definitely agree. My wife has the iPhone 4 and we’re constantly finding small things about it that just bug. For example: You can’t always tell exactly what time you send or receive a text message. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to gauge about what time you did something based on when you sent or received a text message. But if you’re looking to do that with the iPhone, forget about it. My HTC EVO tells me exactly when I sent and received a text.

    Also, my wife is constantly hitting the mute button with her cheek when she is talking on the phone. My EVO’s screen blacks out whenever it is covered so no buttons can be pressed when it is up to the ear. I think this is is a genius feature and am surprised it’s not a feature of the iPhone. Maybe it is and we just have to toggle some switch but I’ve played with it for a long time and haven’t been able to fix the problem.

    Just little things like that surprise me about the iPhone. My wife’s experience with her phone has made me grateful for my EVO.

  105. ajvizz says:

    Apple has it’s hands full to make iCloud work for non-Apple files but other then that… Apple products are the easiest technological solution.

  106. Anonymous says:

    I had that “Other” problem with my 8GB Touch. I wiped it and when it said “welcome to your new iPod” I selected “restore from iCloud backup.” It was fully restored, including the app data! I’ve also done this process with my iPad, but wiping it through Find My iPhone, because I forgot my iPad password.

  107. rdp2011 says:

    What corporate email backend do you use? Our iPhones work great with Exchange Active Sync — contacts, calendar, etc. That being said I use Ubuntu at work and remote into a Windows 7 VM for Outlook and Exchange access. At home I use Ubuntu, Nexus 7, a Chromebook CR-48, and Windows 7 for gaming. My cell is CyanogenMod 10 on Samsung galaxy Note. I am very happy with the Google ecosystem so far for personal use.

  108. fred lapides says:

    answer simple: you are now on the old side and things seem more difficult for you than they used to …young ones do not have your issues.

  109. Jerry says:

    I stopped reading after the second sh*t. Nice mouth, lotta class.

  110. Sam says:

    I agree 100%. Apple software used to be intuitive and made it unnecessary to ‘figure something out’ to accomplish what you were trying to do. Now, as I’ve experienced with two iPhones in my house, you have to become an expert on Apple’s way of thinking if you want to do something more involved than making a phone call. Go ahead and try to put a homemade ringtone on your phone without spending 30 minutes or more online learning how to do that. I’m on my 2nd Android phone and was this close to waiting another couple weeks for the iPhone 5. Glad I made the right decision and stayed out of Applejail. They have really managed to make their software harder to use the last couple years. Sad.

  111. bobby says:

    Why wasn’t “Go the Apple store and get free Genius support” listed as an option?

  112. Ric Sansand says:

    Oh man, this so beyond rich to me that there arent any words to cover apples stupidity and and mobile telecom’s laziness. Am I an outlier in it being absurdly obvious that the more you try to innovate in the mobile space and not take into account service providers inadequacies, the more moronic you look as a hardware and platform provider.

    Apple likes to tout all the things their shit can do in a perfect world and I laugh like a hyena every time because our mobile infrastructure cant even come close to providing the pipes to meet that sort of experience expectation.

    All apple is good for now is offering hardware that could do lots of things if only it didnt crash the network its attached to. When we can come out of the dark ages of last gen mobile service and build out to the capability of the current tech then maybe the handset makers potential can be fully realized.

    Unfortunately, if they do build it, no one will come because they will want to charge $250 a month for the privileged! (shaking head)

  113. Grestony says:

    I have used macs since the 2c’s. I too have have become something of an anti-apple fan boy recently. The author hits it right on the head with iPhoto. The fact that they make their phones work with every computer on the planet, and not the reverse, may tell us something. You can blah, blah, blah all day long about stability; but if it’s difficult to use, or figure out quickly – it doesn’t “just work.”

  114. David Eilers says:

    You are an outlier.

  115. I’d have to say you and your wife are outliers. I’ve never experienced the issues you have and iCloud has worked beautifully for me.

  116. kgelner says:

    iCloud is free, once you have that then iPhone restores will always get your data back – but even without that you can back up in iTunes and then restore from there also. It could be the “other” is data used by some application, did you try going into settings and look at general->usage?

  117. One the glossy shine of the new gadgets wares off, everyone comes to understand what a software exec. told me a decade ago: “the dirty little secret of the software industry is that none of this stuff actually works”. Welcome to knowledge 🙂

  118. Amos says:

    Luckily, I bypassed all these problems, because in 1984, when I started using computers for a projects, I realized that Apple II didn’t have any useful software – like a good database manager or a Wordperfect. So I bought a IBM PC (still DOS) and everything worked well. And I have been outside the Apple ecosystem since then without any downside for me.

    However, I will never buy an Apple product because 1 – Apple is a monopolistic construct and 2 – their business model is 30%+ profit on everything. I do not see why people have to pay such a premium when there are godd alternatives.

  119. narg says:

    I support both Macs and PCs in the business I work for. I HATE THE MACS! They are 10 times harder to fix issues than PCs are. And, YES! They do have issues. As many as the PCs have if not more.

  120. Seems to be missing the obvious. If I have any Mac problems I book an appointment and head up to my local Apple Store. The Genius bar fixes things for me. I don’t need to use my UNIX knowledge or anything else techy (despite my 3 tech degrees)!

  121. bring back the Amiga!

  122. in-laws says:

    My in-laws moved to Apple about 1 1/2 years ago – they hate it – they love iPads but hate all the rest. They are constantly having problems and hardly anything “just works”. They are moving back to PCs and already switched to the Samsung Galaxy SIII – which was a real surprise to me, but they love them.

  123. fanboy says:

    You’ve pre-empted any criticism by denouncing anyone who might disagree multiple times as a “fanboy”, but it seems like a lot of your problems stem from your resistance to adopting iCloud and the new UI direction of Lion / Mountain Lion. In my opinion, while some of the stuff around iCloud is still rough around the edges, Apple products have never been easier to use. I restore from back-up at the press of a button. No longer have to connect my iPhone/iPad to my Mac at all. All my contacts and appointments sync seamlessly. I couldn’t go back to using OS X before gestures and I now hate having to use a computer with the scroll direction reversed (this is probably an issue of whether you use a trackpad or a mouse). All these things have been big, positive improvements. Of course, if I refused to use them, I might be hopelessly lost and confused too.

    • johnbattelle says:

      I remain open to being wrong and being schooled. I’ve learned about the clock tap, for example….

  124. BillSnebold says:

    I agree that Apple needs to do a better job to ensure ease of use, and certain Mac Apps aren’t up to snuff. I definitely think iPhoto needs an overhaul. I’ve been using it for over a decade now and have thousands of photos (don’t we all) and it’s starting to feel sluggish and the UI looks old and not as helpful as should be. iMovie doesn’t seem intuitive at all. AfterEffects is a piece of cake by comparison. That all said, I still enjoy using my iPhone and iPad, and wouldn’t switch to Windows any time soon.

  125. […] Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use? | John Battelle's Search Blog I've been a Mac guy for almost my entire adult life. I wrote my first college papers on a typewriter, but by the end of my freshman year – almost 30 years ago – I was on an IBM PC. Then, in 1984, I fo… […]

  126. MaxF says:

    John, as a longstanding user of Mac (with Windows sprinkled in for a few years here and there for work purposes), I can relate to some of your frustrations. My feeling is that a lot of your frustrations are tied to the expectation that Apple’s default apps bundled w/the OS should be able to scale, manage reasonable complexity, and communicate with multiple other systems. I’ve never found that’s viable over the years with just about anything bundled with Apple or Microsoft’s OSes. iCal, Contacts, Address Book, iPhoto etc are nice built-in products for light users, but for any heavy lifting or volume good third party apps are required.

    Aperture is $80 and leagues better than iPhoto, and Lightroom is (by some accounts) even better, and you don’t need to spend $600 to wallow in Photoshop.

    Apple (and other companies) are pushing more heavily to get everything in the cloud and to have problems resolved in their stores w/Genius staff. I understand this isn’t a direction you’re fond of, and I’m ambivalent myself. But without boring you with a bunch of stories, I can say that this path has worked well for me and my family once I made some adjustments, and I still think Apple’s customer service is at a level beyond other companies even if its software is creaking a bit.

    Regarding the direction of Mountain Lion, I have some reservations, but I really find the gestures implemented using Apple’s Macbooks well done because their trackpads and displays are so good, even if I want no part of a desktop OS dumbed down to mobile levels. Perhaps Windows or Chrome OS will be the answer some day, but having seen both recently, I’m just not feeling that the grass is much greener in other pastures.

    • johnbattelle says:

      You make valid points, as do many in this thread. Thanks to all. I’m overwhelmed with the nerve this has touched.

  127. Vishaal says:

    I think people really need to take a look at Android. With ICS (and now JellyBean), there is no gap between iOS and Android. Some of the features that Apple introduced in ios6 and the iphone5 have been around on android for a long time now. Google contact sync is awesome, and the preinstalled apps work just fine.

    I had a problem moving my Mom from the ipad2 to the new ipad, because her notes were not synced with icloud on the ipad2. Apple is excellent with hardware, but it stops there. Want a powerful Os/ecosystem – look elsewhere!!

  128. matt says:

    so you’re saying you don’t know how to go to Settings -> General -> Usage.

    in life there are 5 people you should have in your circle of friends: doctor, lawyer, accountant, mechanic, and apple techie.

  129. David Tyree says:

    So one of my co-workers insightfully noted that all of the OSes in recent memory have really struggled to improve in a meaningful way, as a result of Tabletitis (the desire to become a tablet OS).

  130. Others have probably indicated workarounds such as breaking your iPhoto into multiple libraries (hold option at startup—I know, stupid) and “I’m sure I found a way of getting rid of the “yellow crud.” *All* you rstuff should be mirrored on the Mac of you’ll lose it all if the phone goes away.

    Agreed: Macs are getting lousy at UI and housekeeping. Fixes come slow if at all. It’s depressing. Being better than Windows is not enough, though i take some perverse Scheadenfreude comfort that it seems to be worse with PC’s.

  131. pizzapanther says:

    If you live in the cloud with GMail, Google+/Picasa for photo uploads, Google Drive, etc and an Android Phone your life will be a hundred times simpler.

    The main problem is Apple chose the sync everything local approach. Where Google followed the approach of always work in the cloud and only sync locally if you have to. If you always have to sync locally then your still in the game of having backups, keeping drives clean etc.

    I work mainly on a Chromebook now and if I loose my device or buy a new one I can be up and running on another device within 5 minutes. Chrome OS is going to be the next paradigm shift. Right now you are an outlier but in the future you will not be and the only way to simplify things is to follow a new paradigm.

  132. AndrewGM says:

    Agree with most of what you’ve said. Been using Macs since the Mac LC came out. iPhoto got corrupted years ago and became such a pain that I eventually switched to Picasa, which has worked fine for my thousands of photos. iCal I would like to use, but it seems to be corrupt, and there’s no way to reset it, apparently. iCloud keeps restoring calendar entries I delete or won’t let me add a calendar to start over fresh. Recently, reminders stopped letting me add a new list — keep getting a server error. Contacts works OK for me (I only have a couple hundred). As a result of all this, I downgraded iCloud to the free account and have switched to GCal, which is working fine. Basically, I’m a Google apps user on Mac and iPhone. (I should add that I was a MobileMe and iTools user too and kept hoping that they’d improve, especially with iCloud, but too many times I lost data or got duplicates. Sync has to be absolutely reliable, or I’m not going to use the service at all.)

  133. Mario Albertico says:

    I think you would love Windows 7 and Windows Phone. Anyone–and by anyone I include iPhone users, Android users, feature phone users, non-phone users–who has had direct interaction with my Lumia 900 without my guidance has figured out how to use it.

    • Mitko says:

      I agree, been using WP7 for a several months now and it’s the best I have used. (and I’ve used Symbian, Android and iOS)

  134. Emily Wilson says:

    Want simple? I’m really liking Chromebook. My husband mastered it in an hour, without whining. But I am getting an iPhone 5. Why? Because iPhones have the best selection of third party accessories, of course.

    • Mitko says:

      Actually iPhone 5 will no have the best selection of 3rd party accessories due to the different connector.

  135. uncphan says:

    You don’t have to hit the little search button. Just hit the A or even the B or maybe even the C. Then scroll up to the top.

  136. Oatmeal says:

    I agree. I just spent an hour trying to get Final Cut Pro to import an AVCHD file format. I know it’s not natively supported, but my wife has imported it a million times before through the camera import feature. All of a sudden, without any good known reason, Final Cut blows up and says “unsupported file or folder structure.” I tried changing the structure, removing old files and pictures from the card, and more… to no avail.

    I then tried converting the files outside of FCP but because I’m running Lion the built in MPEG decoder doesn’t seem to work nicely with other applications — and I’m faced with spending $20 to download it separately from Apple.

  137. holydevil says:

    I didn’t read your full post, just read the contact search problem and jumped straight here to tell you how easy it is to use that search feature.
    Just touch the time displayed on the iPhone(works on iOS devices) and the screen will scroll to the top automatically.

    This trick works across iOS, e.g. scroll to top of a page in safari, your twitter timeline, instagram, etc. Once you start using it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. Cheers!

  138. GonzoI says:

    Well, it’s nice to know that I don’t have the option of swallowing my pride and switching to Mac to avoid Windows 8, the fail is there too now. I found that Windows 95, NT, 2000, XP and 7 were very easy, usably stable and intuitive to use. I’ve used literally all versions since 3.1 – 3.11, 98, ME, CE, Vista, and the 8 preview releases. It’s only been 8 preview that I had ease of use and lack of intuitiveness as complaints – and just as you’re complaining about with Lion, it was badly adapted mobile features that just don’t work on a desktop GUI and never will.

    I use Windows, Android, and BSD, and have in the past used and supported Mac 7 up through X, use several Linux distributions, PalmOS, Solaris, OS2/Warp, and AS/400. As a programmer, I have to know the difference between “easy” and “easy for me”, but with the changes we’re seeing in the mobile-to-desktop fiasco, I’ve started adding the question of “possible”.

    Linux, of course, is still there, but having dived deep into that community in my youth, I can say that it isn’t a pleasant option. The average Linux user is nice, but the support network is so plagued with problem personalities that it stifles any attempt to move towards a usable OS for the average person.

  139. Dude, you need to relax. Certainly some valid points, but you are a little too spun up.

  140. grammar nazi says:

    have to be the nazi in here, but it’s “failure”, not “fail”…

  141. Dan nelson says:

    I am a huge fan of Apple products and agree with nearly everything you said. In trying to own the universe, they suck at a lot of things and I am so happy you took the time to put all this down. iTunes is embarrassing.

  142. You are no outlier. Apple’s last couple of Mac OS X releases have been big steps backward in ease of use.

    Sadly, it’s like the old Churchill quote about democracy: Mac OS X is the worst operating system and applications package on the planet — except for all the rest. As bad as Mac OS has become, it’s still marginally better than Linux/FreeBSD/KDE, and much better than the steaming pile of mismatched parts and 20-year old GUI bugs that is Windows 7. I use all 3 daily, and I still prefer Mac OS, but I sure won’t be updating any of my older Macs running Snow Leopard or Leopard to the awful Lion disasters.

  143. […] a Democrat; Ballmer spreads the love; where are Zuck, Page & Bezos? – Claire Cain MillerAm I an Outlier, or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy to Use? |  John Battelle says what few people will say — that Apple products have […]

  144. bronzini says:

    you can always click the status bar/clock to show you the search bar. i bet your big thumb can find that.

    • bronzini says:

      you seem to fit into a narrow band of users with complex use cases who lack the knowhow to resolve their own issues. most people don’t have these problems, but those who do can figure out how to solve them. at the end of the day we are talking about software. it’s always going to have bugs, and bugs become more common as you complete less common tasks.

  145. Dan Ericson says:

    Eh, it’s a computer… what do you expect?

    I am a mac user but not a fanboy. I’m personally coveting the Lumia 920 (love windows phone!) and I don’t think apple craps rainbows at every given turn. I will say, however, for being such an “old-skool” mac user, you act as if previous mac OSes (OS 8 and OS 9 for example) never existed. I actually worked support for a large company for those OS revisions and there were just as many issues on them as well.

    The problem isn’t that Apple is getting worse (although I don’t think they are getting better – and I’ll give you iPhoto is a P.o.S.). There were just as many problems before but people got used to them and they weren’t such a big deal. The new OSes have fixed those issues and brought with them new, different ones.

    Also, you gotta realize that the average consumer always expects MORE with the next release. Snow Leopard was so frowned upon (as is the new iPhone 5) for not bringing enough change to the table. More features = more complexity = more things to possibly go wrong. Less features = less sales = Apple almost going out of business again.

  146. Tony Bove says:

    There are so many things wrong with this article that I’m surprised you wrote it. I like this comment: “The Internet is a fascinating place where people with no knowledge post their opinions based on their lack of information.”

    After more than a decade of iPod, you mean to tell me that you don’t know how to restore your device using iTunes? You don’t know that your apps and content are stored in iTunes and are simply synced back to your device after a restore? All that time you wasted searching for answers! The restore operation takes less than half an hour.

    I won’t even comment on the idiotic rant about searching for contacts with fat fingers. Others already pointed out how easy it can be.

    What I can’t understand is how you can flame Apple’s products as “not easy” and not provide a decent comparison with other products or systems. Do you know of a FREE photo app that handles over 10,000 images and offers all the features of iPhoto?

    I didn’t see a mention of Pages, or Numbers, or Keynote — $20 Mac apps that are far better than Office and run on my iPad as well.

    I guess I never had any of the problems you had. Not even with Mail and an Exchange Server. Yes, all of these systems, especially Windows (with Windows 7), have grown more complicated. Would you say that MS Word is now better than its previous versions? I doubt it. I certainly find it much harder to use (on Windows) compared to Pages on a Mac.

    This is such a one-sided article that I don’t think it serves your readers well. I thought I would learn a few tips about fixing legitimate problems that Mac and iPhone users have. No such luck. I wasted time reading it, and wasted even more time writing this comment, which Apple haters will probably not read. You did arouse my attention, which (I think) is the only reason why you wrote it.

    • johnbattelle says:

      Actually, I wrote it because for me, it’s true. And I’d think Apple would want to take advantage of things like the fact that I have 10K photos in iPhoto. Picasa/Google sure want to. So does Facebook. Anyway, I read your comments, and I am learning from them and all the others. So thank you.

      • MD says:

        You have to remember that over time, things change. Yes I’ve been an Apple fan for more than 30 years, but I also realize that being involved in computer support for so long, I have to study and learn many new things every single day.

        If you don’t want to get frustrated by new software and OS’s just stick with your abacus.

        I can’t believe people agree with your ignorant attitude… until I remember that people still drink Coke and eat at McDonalds…

        I hope that ignorance is bliss, because that is all you are… ignorant. Enjoy your bliss.

  147. Christopher says:

    Seems like the author bought into marketing fluff and is using the OS with rather unrealistic expectations of software consistency. If nothing is suitable for your needs, perhaps desktop and mobile computing isn’t for you.

  148. Sorry, but i’ve been using iPhones since 2009 and recently bought a Mac about a year ago. It took some time getting used to how my Mac works, but that’s normal when you switch to any new computer system particularly when you’re used to a different one all your life. But most things either came intuitively or were easily available with Google.

    Another option (that I wish I had taken advantage of) is head to an Apple store and participate in free classes. What other computer maker gives free tutorials from their staff on a regular basis and for free?

  149. Tudor Higgins says:

    Yes I had similar experiences. With my ex-iPh4 too :). After long battles (all lost) and a lot of money and time thrown “in the cloud” and the lack of favourite music in iTunes (this was the cherry on the cake) I decided to quit. I took the phone and the charger and gave it as a gift to a 10 y/o neighbor. That moment was one of the happiest in my entire life. A super-heavy rock pressing on my heart dissapeared instantly. I am the last to brainwash anybody, I just tell my personal decisions. Since 6 month ago my way is called SG Note and I am really happy. No problems, even no netbook need anymore and a lot of time for pool. But I repeat, thats just my way. I also consider interesting the combination Nokia/Win8/Carl Zeiss. It’s a dream mix. But if you want Apple please remain to Apple ! Dont consider this an advice !

  150. […] I just came across Jim Battelle’s article on how bad Apple products have become. He gives a lot of absolute horror stories. I have to agree with him that iPhoto is “a piece […]

  151. Nathan Schor says:

    Battelle, you hit another out of the park (as evidenced by the growing comments). But its not so much the content that I want to point out, as the writing style. Since I own an iPhone, I only experienced a small portion of the issues you detailed, but I ‘felt the frustration’ as if I encountered each of them. Communicating the emotion so clearly using such authentic examples, is, IMHO, the most memorable part of this piece.

    • johnbattelle says:

      Why thank you. That is very nice of you to say. All the things I write on this site are first drafts, of course. The community does the editing, and is certainly doing it here.

  152. Jason says:

    If you want to search, drag the screen down a centimeter so you can see the giant search bar. Or when you’re trying to press the tiny letters on the side, just keep your thumb there and scroll up.

    You’re doing it wrong.

  153. I have a lot of observations and comment about your blog post. I agree that Apple’s ease-of-use has suffered from a lack of clarity of vision with its file management system and seeming division between the iOS, iTunes and old desktop metaphors for navigating apps, data, and media. Files get suckled up into apps and you can not file them in iPhoto or iTunes. You have much less control and easy access to the metadata. In their attempt to hide the inner-workings of file management and make the apps store and analyze them in a primitive default fashion, they taken away a base level control. Even hiding the Library files is an act of condescension toward the Apple Mac user. And I can’t tell you how much I hate going into Apple Tech Forums and being attacked by fanboys for criticizing or providing feedback on broken design and unworking parts of Apple software or hardware. Recently my wife’s iPhone stopped ringing. I went to a Apple Tech Support Forum seeking answers, trying to narrow the problem to hardware or software I was attacked by their lurking fanboys who started accusing me of refusing to accept their prognosis – Go buy a new iPhone 4S and SHUT UP! – for the problem her ONE YEAR OLD iPhone was having not ringing. The hardware switch has been swapped out at the Apple store and we were legitimately trying to use standard troubleshooting procedures. Finally, Apple deleted my tech questions and blocked my access to their Support Forum. Who needs the arrogance of a bunch of self-righteous fanboys living in their mothers basement that hound these forums relentlessly. If things are broken, or even if they are not, Apple must be willing to listen to feedback. Like you, I’ve been a loyal Apple customer since 1984. I’ve advocated and literally working with Apple VARs sold thousands of Mac desktops, laptops, iPods, iPhones, and iPads and the dozens of them I’ve bought for myself and family members. With all the business I’ve given Apple, I don’t need to listen to bullshit from fanboys. There is little danger I am going to switch to vastly worse Windows or Lunix platforms but Apple BETTER start listening to its customers. iCloud is one hot mess. The way Apple treated MobileMe and dotmac faithful users is appalling. BOOM! wipe out accounts, lost data, bad syncing, unreliable restore… Wow, I worked in consumer software development Quality Assurance and that’s really a major fail. Having said all that iPhone and iPad are NOT failures. They are amazing in concept and hardware design. I think the whole platform and iPhone app developer model has been revolutionary for smartphones and mobile computing in general. What Apple has done with transforming the industry in the last 10 years is bold and innovative and all that any of the others have been able to do is COPY and imitate Apple. Part if that is a credit to Apple innovation but it is equally a failure for other hardware and software companies to execute original ideas. Apple needs to work to fix its problems and clarify its vision but the competition is appallingly bad.

  154. Johnvak01 says:

    I own a macbook right now. i’m a pretty technical guy but the only reason i know how to half the stuff i know how to do with my mac was because i got into the opensource/gnu/linux experience. i barely use any stock apple stuff anymore, and as soon as steam officially releases to Linux, i will be installing Xubuntu. Simple, fast, clean, and while not necessarily easy to get started with, all you need to know is free on the internet with a quick google search. I admit I am a tech geek, but i personally dislike, even leaving behind the philisophical debates, where apple and microsoft are going. Social integration with apple. turning our desktop into a tablet with microsoft. SERIOUSLY!! The only upside to this is that Linux gets more attention and people are more likely to switch.

  155. salgud says:

    I agree, at least in part. I made the switch to Apple when I bought an iMac about 4 years ago. I made the move because the Windoze offering at the time was the infamous, Vista, probably one of the worst OSs in history. I read an entire book on how to make the switch. I can honestly say that I haven’t found OSX to be, in most ways, any better than most versions of Windoze, excluding Vista. I’ve had some serious problems with my iMac (I’m posting from it right now) since it was new, to the point where after 10 visits to the Genius Bar in 14 months, Apple offered to replace my iMac with a new model if I agreed to not bring them this problem any more if it continued to occur. I took the offer, and it did recur. It’s finally gone away, through a number of upgrades to the OS, thank goodness. But it was a major PITA for over 3 years that even Apple couldn’t fix. But it is working fine now.

    As to my iPhones, I’ve had a much better experience. I’ve had a few minor problems, but nothing worth mentioning. It works well and consistently, with the exception of Siri, who should be summarily executed without waiting until sunrise!

    One helpful piece of information. You are accessing the Contacts Search box wrong. I didn’t even know that “Q” was up there until I read your article. It is impossible to hit, just as you said. But the way you access the Search field is simply to swipe downward when you are at the top of the Contacts list, and the Search box will show. Very easy. It does help to at least review some of the “Tips & Tricks” you see all over the net when a new IPhone comes out, just like with any OS.

  156. […] Am I an outlier, or are Apple products no longer easier to use?  (John Battelle) […]

  157. Nathan Schor says:

    Battelle, you hit another one out of
    the park (as evidenced by the growing comments, so I hope you’ve put some time
    aside in the next day or two). But it’s not so much the content that I want to
    point out, as the writing style. Since I only own an iPhone, I actually
    experienced a small portion of the issues you detailed, but I ‘felt the
    frustration’ as if I encountered each of them, thanks to the authentic examples.
    Communicating such emotions in an easy digestible style is, IMHO, a sign of
    memorable writing.

  158. Xiaojun Ma says:

    “Go to /var/mobile/Media/ApplicationArchives using SSH (requires jailbroken iPhone) or DiskAid and delete everything. This folder contains partially downloaded apps which never completed nor removed and were probably interrupted at some point in the middle of downloading.”
    This is the root fix.
    Do you know the fact that OSX and iOS are UNIX-like systems?
    Once you understand how flexible ( and powerful) UNIX-like systems should be.
    You won’t feel that jailbreak is wrong.
    Everyone deserve such freedom from device they own.

    “And no, I’m certainly not going to install Linux.”
    Linux is a the kernel supports OS like Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, …
    Even Android is based on Linux kernel with different upper layer stack.
    Linux based desktop has bugs, countless bugs on the issue trackers.
    So you decision is right.
    But the different thing is, if you find something wrong in free / open source software, you usually have chance to communicate with developers directly (through mailing list, issue tracker). They are just there. They are not necessarily friendly, though.
    Customer services are shit; they always try to accuse users.

  159. NeetWoorjees says:


    I have only this to add, as fuel for this delightful fire: I get emails several times a year from my mother. She is no slouch with technology. She manages a fleet of Windows xp and 7 laptops for her business, and tends both a Windows 7 and a MacBook as personal rigs. She also tends to run out and update her phone to the latest iPhone every time one is offered anew. Her emails containing pleas for my amateur tech support are, almost without exception, related to the iPhone and the Mac. Sometimes I will ask her: “Say, is everything ok with the Windows rigs?” Her response is always the same: “Oh, yeah, no problems”

    • NeetWoorjees says:

      Her queries have become much less frequent since I weaned her off of Apple’s cloud services, iPhoto, and basically everything else having to do with Apple accounts and services. The Google equivalents are significantly less hostile to users and their adult children!

  160. narg says:

    Also I’d like to say that after reading this, I can say without any pause that a PC running Windows 7 and any software for it written in the past 4 years is not nearly this hard to use.

  161. John Eich says:

    Another vote for “Amen”…I’ve used most phones from all the biggies (iOS, Android, Blackberry, WinPhone, even iPaqs back in the day), and computers running Windows/OSX/Linux. I just bought the new MBP/Mtn Lion and have been helping my wife figure out glitches on her iPhone (4s) for the last year. Honestly…OSX/iOS aren’t any better than Win7/JellyBean – they just aren’t. In many ways (that John points out), they’re worse; in some, they’re better. They’re all just flavors, not saviors.

    I think a significant part of the angst of realistic Apple fans, and the very existence of the Rapid Fanbois, is around Apple’s choice to market their products as a ‘lifestyle’. A lifestyle of creativity, independence, and beauty…a world where you don’t have to be a techie to use technology. Great campaign! And for many many years Apple lived up to that last part. It seems like they’ve stopped trying…but are still marketing it that way. That’s the key. If it’s merely a computer, you can take it or leave it. If it speaks to your sense of How The World Should Work…well… And Android fanbois fall into the same trap with the “open” b.s. It’s less controlled, but not really open.

    People, it’s just another operating system designed by a very large company with an eye on making money and lots of partners/competitors they adjust for…just like Microsoft or Google. Win/OSX both have strengths, weaknesses, and tradeoffs. Anyone who says different is speaking from the heart, not the mind.

    If I want simple video and music making, or kick-ass trackpads/keyboards/monitors, I’ll long for the Mac. If I want to crank through Office files (sorry, they’re default business apps) and have a gillion free helper apps, I’ll want Win7. If I dream about the best of both, utter freedom to customize and no corporate thumb, I’ll turn to Ubuntu. (though the hardware compatibility is a PITA). I dunno…triple boot? 🙂

    Thanks for speaking Truth to (mock turtleneck) Power, John. Sorry for the fanboy drubbing you’re getting.

  162. Fgh says:

    To scroll up in any application, including the contact app (aka to show the search field), just tap the menu bar (clock). This technique is also super helpful in safari when you want to input a new URL

  163. Paul Sexton says:

    I had a 11c, got my first Mac in 1986 and was a major, major Mac bigot for many years. I remember how shocked I was when I first tried OS X – it didn’t become even barely usable for software development until 10.2 (and that only because there were decent third party tools available), and it was 10.3 at least before it started to approach the usability of OS9. I had my doubts before, but Win7 finally got me to the point where I prefer using Windows. It has its problems of course, but networking that works, printing that works, and apps that work outweigh them. I’ve been using Server 2012 at work and find that I like it; I was worried about Win8 being as lobotomized as Mountain Lion, but it’s actually better than 7 in many ways, and much more productive than any Mac in the last ten years.

    I enjoyed writing software for Classic Mac way more than I do any flavor of OS X: it’s not as “modern” and took more time and effort to master, but it was _fun_. CodeWarrior was a better dev environment than Visual Studio, but it’s gone and XCode is awful, just awful.

    I recently ditched my iPhone (swapped it even for a Windows 7.5 Phone that’s way more fun to use too.) I’m writing this on a CoreDuo Powerbook Pro that I really don’t think I’ll replace when it goes. The new MacBook Pro is cool, but then I found how much more machine I could get for how much less if it didn’t say Apple on it.

    My advice to anyone who wants to go/stay Mac is not to bother with any of Apple’s apps, bite the bullet and buy good ones. I still use the Finder and Terminal, sometimes Preview, but I find Thunderbird, Chrome, and (no more Mac development) to be the key to a happy life (along with Snow Leopard.) I regret the ability to resize a window from any edge: that was worth the price of Lion to me, but not the rest of the package.

  164. Ro Atkinson says:

    I am shocked that you have been using Apple products for all this time and you can’t recognise a feature when you see it. This is included to remind you of the benefits of buying a more recent iPhone. Because iPhones are so reliable it is necessary to break the phone by software means in order that users will not stagnate and grow miserable as a result.

  165. sd_krimo says:

    Microsoft is just much more mature when it comes to software engineering. Apple makes beautiful hardware, no doubt, but they’ve got nothing on Redmond when it comes to software. Actually, let me rephrase that : they’ve got nothing on Microsoft with regards to function; when it comes to bling however, Apple shines.

    • Valerie Cudnik says:

      Microsoft publishes bloated crapware. There office software was once a beautiful thing, but that was at least a decade ago. Once they started putting graphics editors in Word, the honeymoon was over.

      • sd_krimo says:

        It’s true. Up until now, they were publishing “bloated crapware”. This is no longer the truth : take a look at the new Outlook, or office365 for that matter. Microsoft has realized it was lagging behind the competition and has now reacted accordingly. I’m a developer and thus used to hate IE, but even I have to admit that ie10 is a great browser.

        • way_more=educated says:

          no thanks. that’s how it works. they lost me. I don’t have to ‘try again.’ are you stupid or just ignorant?

  166. Martin Wildam says:

    I have never been an apple user, but my wife had an iPhone and it was horrible. Not for her to use, but for me to administrate. Backing up or syncing contacts to something else but Apple is close to impossible and the worst: If something goes wrong or breaks (and this is a fact in IT world that by getting more and more complex) I have quite no possibility to fix it other than jailbreaking the iPhone and doing a lot of hacks. My wife’s iPhone at some point did not get e-mail any more and I never could figure out why. Neither was I able to clean the cache or data so that it worked again. Solution was: Bought an Android phone for her, because I had good experiences with that. I even already had the SD card rotten but the system reported that and so I replaced it and it worked again. Before that (maybe as the beginning of hardware failure) it happened two times that I did not get email any more but clearing cache through the settings menu solved that.

    As a former Windows user I find Apple – from administrators point of view – even worse than Apple.

    While all over the IT world there is the wish to make everything easy to use but in the same time to manage the field getting more complex there is even a loss of features in many cases while narrowing down GUI.

    I don’t have THE solution for you. I am far from being really satisfied with IT.

    However, since my wife changed to Android (Samsung Galaxy S II) she also had one time email not arriving any more – also cleaned the cache, reboot and done. While on Android you also need to root your device for full control, even without rooting (which I don’t do) I have much more control over the phone as on the iPhone.

    I am an IT guy so I want to have the control over the system. I want to decide how and what apps to use. This is why I settled with Linux where I can decide everything, from the kernel to desktop environment and all the other apps and I can configure the behavior into detail.

    That said, my wife use Linux in it’s pretty defaults and she needs only very few support in using it. But: She doesn’t have much needs – just email, web, office and some image viewing.

  167. […] Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use? | John Battelle’s Search Blog. Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  168. Love apple TOTALLY agree with you…help

  169. pilotrtc says:

    Mr. Battelle, I agree with you.

  170. Windows-JustBetter says:

    Something I recently discovered, although too late to help you reclaim your space on your iphone – Go to Settings, General, Usage. Look under Storage and you will see the apps and how much space they use. Many of those apps for whatever reason will be using much more space than they should – for example, i have TWC using almost 400MB. Delete the app from the phone & reinstall. You will likely find at least several apps using more space than would seem reasonable. Now wasn’t that simple??

    • johnbattelle says:

      alas that is not the issue. I am going to have to restore my phone again….and if that does not work, go to the Genius bar

  171. Jimmy Angelakos says:

    Your “certainty” will be your undoing. Linux is the easiest UI you could be running on Apple hardware…

  172. Iain Wood says:

    I have also noticed this trend – But (and not being a fanboy here) I really found that google docs, calendar, and mail work fantastically for me – all my stuff is cloud based now (ok I use dropbox more than drive but that’s because dropbox was there first)

    I really feel that google is starting to get this right – I remember ranting that google should go hire the UI designers from apple – offer them a load of money to sort out what was a load of great tools, but uuuuuugly and complicated. Now they appear to have that nailed. All I’m waiting for now is online versions of the software I use regularly (and they look like they are on the way) and I will happily use any computer with google chrome/firefox on it.

  173. […] Apple Patents Point to Siri Controlling iTunes on an iMac & More Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use? Apple has been absolutely “blow away” by demand on pre orders of the new phone The […]

  174. jameskatt says:

    Since 1 year-olds can use the iPhone, you must be an outlier.

  175. jameskatt says:

    Since 1 year-olds and grandmothers can use Apple’s products better than Windows or Android products, I think you are an outlier. Or at least your brain hasn’t evolved with the rest of society.

  176. […] Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use? | John Battelle’s Search Blog […]

  177. […] kommen, dass Apple-Produkte vieleicht nicht länger “leicht zu benutzen” sind. Das ist auch die Quintessenz dieses Artikels – der ein anderes Problem adressiert. Ich sach’s ja: Der Lack ist ab. Werbung Social […]

  178. […] kommen, dass Apple-Produkte vieleicht nicht länger “leicht zu benutzen” sind. Das ist auch die Quintessenz dieses Artikels – der ein anderes Problem adressiert. Ich sach’s ja: Der Lack ist ab. Werbung Social […]

  179. disqusant says:

    Spot on John!

    I started computing life as a Mac user way back when in the last century. Then the world of work dawned so it was off to PC-school. In the meantime Mac use has blown up outside schools and the hype is all about Apple so I thought I’d have another look.

    The hardware is lovely. I bought a Macbook Pro and I’m impressed with the speed of the thing running Win7 on a partition. It’s better than HP desktops at work. There are drawbacks mostly related to not having certain keys that I’d regularly use on a Windows machine, but I manage. There are weird design things like USB ports so closely spaced that I can’t directly stick to memory sticks in there at the same time. Or no provision to stick a SIM card for all of us needing to get some work done on the go. Didn’t somebody in design think about this? Isn’t it strange that the lifestyle iPad has a SIM card slot but the more professional offering doesn’t? Other that those couple of things I’m generally happier with the hardware than the PC laptop offerings.

    The software side of Apple is a less happy story. I’ve tried out some of the stock stuff on the other side of my partition. You’ve written about it already so thanks; Address Book, Mail and so on are major letdowns. Migrating your stuff is a headache. Most other contact management systems allow you to point to a CSV file but Apple doesn’t provide for that. (I have to admit that I’m now pissed off at RIM for dropping that support when it moved to v7 of its Desktop Manager; professional users with thousands of contacts value stuff like that). Like some others have said I also find that faux legal pad or leather-look skins horrid. (They are also hugely context-specific because Americans identify with them way, way, way more than the rest of the world so it’s kinda arb to not allow style elements like that to get changed).

    I’d like to add to add to the voices of others about iTunes which you forgot in your note. It’s basically crafted so that you open the application, buy and listen (or watch). If you try to do anything more such as reorder where your data should live, it rains problems because as I’ve since learned, iTunes relies heavily on Default locations and fixed links. You don’t simply move stuff where you want and tell the application to always suck-up-whatever-lives-in-this-folder. If you put a new file in a folder, you have to go tell iTunes that. If you delete an app (I have an iPad too) you have to do it from App menu. (Deleting it on your device is not good enough because when you connect it to iTunes again, it restores it to your device). I have bought apps where I’m supposed to able able to use iTunes to upload the CSV file but haven’t been able to do so and feel dumb. Wasn’t Apple software supposed to be designed to lift me from this sort of funk?

    I could go on and on but like you say, it doesn’t feel at all like Apple cares really. Like you said, it doesn’t look like they care to actively engage with their user community which I fear is going to result in user alienation down the line. Just like RIM, and guess what? RIM hardware takes a pounding and keeps getting up. Just because APPL and RIM make solids cases doesn’t mean they couldn’t become coffins of sorts. Just sayin’ ..

  180. IDEA_org says:

    You know you can drag your finger up and down the ABCDEF..XYZ strip. You don’t need to tap the right number.

  181. […] Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use? By Dave M. Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use? | John Battelle’s Search Blog. […]

  182. The other school inside Apple of UI design is the one following skeuomorphic design – the yellow legal pad metaphor for note pad, the stitched leather brief for iPad contacts, the green flannel and faux-wood plastic in games center or in Garage Band. I suppose this designer metaphor borrows from the past “comfort-food” experience in using the apps and gives the uninitiated entrée into the world of software tools. Does anyone else find this tacky? just think they need to reign their UI design in a bit. And the primary repeated source of my frustration using Apple Lion, Leopard, Snow Leopard and after is file management, hidden files and metadata that is not accessible but predicts default behavior.

  183. Josh says:

    You just just don’t understand how the system works. Yes, you can use it for work, but it isn’t meant for EVERYBODY IN THE WHOLE WORKFORCE to use. it’s mainly for personal use only. as for the “other”, it happens to be those 1000 contacts, files, and other stuff that you probably have on your phone. Did you know that you have to clear your safari browser every now and again of history/data? Oh, and that search icon in the list? You can get to that by scrolling to top of the list by tapping the status bar, and then pulling down on the list. It’s been like this forever. as for your address book not syncing, unless your iphone is an iphone 4 or higher, it isn’t supported on the stupid network anyway. The phone needs to be plugged in and locked, and your computer should have everything updated in both addressbook and made sure that it’s properly sent. You’re getting old dude 😛

    • johnbattelle says:

      Nope, it’s not what you think it is. A post on what it actually was – corrupted firmware and a bug in how the OS handles Voice memo files – is coming.

  184. george says:

    All hell breaks loose on this one! lol: I’m definitely a big fan of apple but yes, there are some flaws with the latest release. However, so does every other OS – each have their unique home-brew issues.

    I’m a one-to-one subscriber and I would recommend the service to all; I walked in an apple store and within 15 minutes, all my presets were restored, problem solved! They have the best support system on the planet and that’s what make’s a big difference to me – their pit crew is exceptional, period!

    I hope you don’t get black listed jbat! 🙂


    • johnbattelle says:

      They are not as good as all that, I wish they were. I was at the Genius bar. They failed to fix the issue. More in my next post.

  185. Sounds to me like an RTFM error.

  186. Peter Cheng says:

    Finally someone said it. This is so true. I still love my iPhone, but it sure can drive you crazy sometimes.

  187. […] attention, write about Apple. A rant which had been boiling inside me for some months finally erupted into words last Thursday, and since that post, more than 60,000 people have come to this site, leaving more […]

  188. Paula Hunter says:

    Try buying a new MacBook Air. At home and the office, I lose wifi at least once a day, after reading about it endlessly on Apple’s forum, you know the solution? Reboot your router! My PC has been turned on for months and never once has it lost a wifi connection. So, I need to get up, go to another room, give everyone a heads up that I am restarting the router, disrupting their work, and hope this doesn’t happen again for at least another 12 hours or so.

    • I tried to download the latest version of Bootcamp on my Air and it did not work. After long forum scouting, I learned that I needed to change a *standard setting* in the network control panel. “It just works.” Yeah, right.

  189. […] hace unas semanas. Afortunadamente un amigo me ha pasado un enlace del 13/09/2012 en Wired (Am I an outlier or are Apple products no longer easy to use?) que me confirma que no soy idiota, que no soy el único que está encontrando las cosas de Apple […]

  190. adavies42 says:

    if you’re still having issues with “other” space taken up on your phone, try getting one of the phone browser programs for your computer — iphonebrowser, iExplorer, Phone Disk, etc. — they don’t require jail-breaking to be able to see the non-protected section of storage.

    Phone Disk is really the ideal–if you’re comfortable in Terminal, you can do a very fine-grained analysis of disk usage without needing to buy a license, since just checking file sizes doesn’t actually transfer any data.

    when I’ve had large “other” blocks on my iPhone, it’s generally been due to bad behavior by the Photos app. it seems to save absurdly large thumbnail cache files which it can’t clean up properly. these can be deleted without affecting your own photos.

    i’ve also had Camera lose track of pictures and videos, to the point where you can have a GB or two of video data lying around in DCIM somewhere. sometimes Image Capture can pull these out, sometimes you have to use iExplorer.

    for the record, i should note that the existence of either of these problems, and the amount of work required to discover, let alone implement, their solutions, both constitute gross incompetence on apple’s part. i still love apple, but i don’t like them all that much anymore.

    let’s not even talk about what safari is like on lion….

  191. Peter Breis says:

    +1 for Apple = Stupid.

    Apple pushes the iWork suite as a replacement for MsOffice which is fine but as usual it over hypes it and most users are told it is a total transparent replacement, which it is not.

    There are boundless lists of sheer dumbery in the iWork implementation, starting with its installation.

    Most users get to iWork via the demo version. Unfortunately the demo version is poison to the bought version. People pay for iWork or its components only to have the demo version still cut in and demand a serial number after 30 days. You need to scour through your System folder to delete every last vestige of the demo install, before reinstalling iWork all over again. None of this is explained by Apple who also hides the System Folder from users to compound the problem.

    That really is what I object to most about where Apple is heading. It hides just about everything these days and uses hidden commands and contextual UI that you need to align the planets on first before you can actually see what you’re looking for. Having made things so complex, it changes them and changes them back almost randomly so you are never sure what is working in this particular implementation of the System or application installed on your particular hardware.

    They promised a stack of “features” in Lion. Some of them like syncing with iCloud “transparently” were plain lies. Others such as eliminating Save As and many of the productive keyboard shortcuts are just plain annoying. All that along with the alternating directions of scrolling and weird missing keystrokes slow the user down, redoing their work incessantly.

    Sigh, the sad thing is the worse Apple stuffs things up the more the new punters love it. I guess they have no memory of how it used to work and for them it just is.

  192. jmk1ng says:

    I’ve been saying this for a few years now. Every time I pick up an iOS device, I feel like an idiot, because I can’t figure out how to make it work.

    Most recent versions of OSX have been utterly miserable. In an effort to make things appear simpler, they’ve made them far more complicated. The recent changes to the way files are saved and managed are infuriatingly broken.

    My most recent experience was trying to get a ring tone onto an iPhone. On Android this was super straightforward and intuitive. On iOS, it was a complete nightmare of Googling and no straight answers.

    In the end, it turned out to be something like a 10 step process that NO ONE would have ever figured out on their own. It also required understanding the iTunes sync voodoo that puts the user’s iPhone at risk of getting their files wiped off it if they happen to not plug the phone into their personal, “canonical” library.

    The only people who seem to really understand iOS and iTunes are those who have been burned by it several times and understand what traps to avoid. This is the face of “easy to use” software?

    Modern Apple likes to wrap complex functionality into one massive assumption and then hides it all behind one vaguely named button with a wink and a smile that says “trust us”.

    Making software that both looks easy and is intuitive to use is insanely difficult. Apple is only good at the former these days.

  193. Elaine Chaika says:

    I am still a Windows7 user, but I have a new iPad. U r right. iPhoto sucks. Pages suck. Etc. But I am thinking of the Mac 27″ Desktop Mountain Lion because I’m writing a book with embedded audio & video in the text. I can get an equivalent Windows 7 AIO for a lot cheaper, but don’t know what’ll happen with Windows 8. Advice?

  194. […] Battelle asks “Am I An Outlier, or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy to Use?“—and with a headline like that, we’re not surprised it wound up on Top […]

  195. Alex says:

    Try Windows Phone for a bit. Microsoft make a Mac client for syncing and updates and everything works. Haven’t had any major problems in over a year of use.

  196. […] Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use? Published: September 18, 2012 Filed Under: Readability Leave a Comment Name: […]

  197. I used to be a fanboy – been using since ’87 – and I’ve converted most of my family, but I couldn’t agree more – it’s like commercialism is taking over again – and that’s a disaster waiting to happen. Remember the last time Apple was without Jobs? Sadly this time it’s permanent. It’s as if a monster has been unleashed knowing there is no master to hold it back.

    It’s got to the point where I have not installed Lion (too locked-in to Apple) and, shock horror, my next phone may be Android.

    I see the writing on the wall(ed garden) : Letting Apple control every digital thing you’ve ever created or owned is one thing, it’s another thing to allow Apple to block you from changing your mind later.

    “Apple has architechted the [insert any apple hardware and software product] in such a way as to insure [sic] that I spend much more money with Apple”. Spot on.

  198. WaltC says:

    Ah, a Mac user grows up and finds he’s at last outgrown his Apple toys….;) Seriously, guy, what took you so long? Well, at least you are being honest with this PSA.

    Since I left the Amiga in 1993 (although I started my own personal computer odyssey with a Tandy 1000 in 1986), I’ve more or less been a Windows guy–and I’ve got to tell you that I have *never* had a computing experience as bad as the one you outline above. Yes, the truth hurts, but the truth is that if Windows was *ever* as bad as some Apple people believed it to be, Microsoft would never have gotten anywhere. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that that little gold nugget of truth would have occurred to many a Mac user. But, Apple folks as a rule are not savvy where their computers are concerned–which is why, I suppose, that they buy Apple in the first place.

    I have very little confidence that a majority of Mac users even understand that today their “Mac” is an x86, 100% IBM PC compatible clone mostly manufactured by Intel–and that the only substantive difference between an Apple Mac & a Dell PC is that OS X is only available for the Mac, and that the Dell is generally a lot better buy.

    Because of that, because there’s nothing remotely “special” or “different” about a Mac today, Windows will boot natively on a Mac–with or without running Bootcamp. But the irony is that while Windows will install and run wonderfully on a Mac, because a Mac is just like any other x86 clone, Apple artificially prevents OS X from booting anywhere except on a Mac, thus guaranteeing for all time that OS X remains merely a niche OS with very spotty application and game support. Apple could open up OS X to every platform and compete head-to-head with Windows for market share, but Apple doesn’t want to do that and has never wanted to do it…;) Nope, if Apple can find a couple of million souls to pay it 65% margins for its x86 clone *hardware*, Apple is very happy with that outcome.

    Good luck–you need to abandon OS X immediately if it is as bad as you say. Again, those kinds of problems with Windows 7 systems today are pretty much unheard of–at least they are unheard of on my systems.

  199. gm oc says:

    combine the real probs w your rapidly advancing age (you, not M) and you are f’d on all platforms my friend. Always On = Completely F’d

  200. Jasoturner says:

    Yep. They had a toaster, but they had to glom a coffee maker and a microwave onto it to ship “new” and “improved” product.

    Actually, though I am a mac user, I have started working with SQL Server from MS and I’m blown away by the power of their business intelligence tools. Great stuff. That’s a little off topic, but just want to point out there a good products out there without a fruit logo on them.

  201. […] Cât de intuitive sunt de fapt produsele Apple. […]

  202. Dude says:

    Sigh. I could go through every single one of your ‘issues’ and explain what you’re doing wrong, but you would tell me to get off your lawn or that I’m a fanboy or something. This is a standard case of DONT-MAKE-ME-LEARN. You started using a Mac in 1984… so you’ve got to be at least approaching grandpa age by now, so I know it’s hard for you to figure out things like “scroll all the way to the top to get the search box” and so on. Just know that if you were a Windows user or a Linux guy these past 30 years you would be freaking out about the complexity of the new stuff there too. To prove the point, watch a 16 year old use their iPhone and their Macbook. It’s not Apple that has changed, it’s you. But don’t feel bad, I’m sure it’ll happen to me and all the other ‘fanboys’ one day too :/

  203. Wraiththe says:

    I think the fact is they want you to go to the cloud, they want your data and they want you to be dependent on a connection to the internet but try to hide it. What they are willing to give you is in the form of a cache that stays on your device hidden taking up space… in the name of speeding up your downloads. The fact is you cannot work on much of your stuff off line, because you cannot get to it – to work on it… Based on these truths, all other inconveniences are born. You are being herded. Your data directed kind of like trying to dam up a spill, and direct the flow. This and the truth that apple is a lot about marketing… data farming…and selling you as many over priced proprietary accessories. (notice the new change in adapter rendering many accessories’ feng shway inconvenient and coolness mute.) The issues with internet and web pages and imcompatabilities… Trying to enter data on a web page can be insane on mobile devices… or even the Ipad. It is what it is. Sometimes that is quite unfortunate.

  204. akteta says:

    Maybe you’ve been using chemicals in an unventilated room? Done a lot of painting lately? Stuff like that will definitely damage your braincells.

  205. FrankR says:

    I have experienced this problem myself with my
    “other” category getting rather large. Mine only went to 6 gigs
    before I decided I had to do something about it. The first time I went to fix
    this issue I had to manually reset my phone and rebuild the apps and settings.
    It was a huge pain to deal with and a lot of time spent getting my phone just
    right again. After everything was fixed a while later this happened again, not
    long after I performed a differential update to my iOS, I think it was version
    5.1, perhaps it was due to the differential update because the first time I
    performed a differential update on the iPhone was the first time my “Other”
    category grew to 6 gigs. I wasn’t going to wipe my phone again, I did
    some more Google searching and got lucky I found these steps on another site
    and they worked for me, I will write them below, hopefully it helps someone
    else out there.

    Step one: while leaving your phone plugged in to
    your computer (I had iTunes open at the the time I did this, not sure it matters, but I thought I would mention it) press the power button and the home button on your iPhone at the
    same time, then allow your phone to shut down, leave it off for about 30

    Step two: power your phone backup, wait till it gets to the main home screen
    and it’s fully loaded up. Now go back to iTunes and re-sync your phone, you
    should see the “other” category go down to something reasonable

    • johnbattelle says:

      That does work for some. Not for my bug…which was a voice recording thing (see my follow up post)

  206. Why didn’t you take the phone to an Apple retail store and ask one of the consultants there how to fix it? Even if it was out of warranty you would likely have gotten free and knowledgable advice, perhaps better than what you found on the web. They might have fixed it for you.

  207. Patrick Pelinski says:

    Apple Products are simple to use – but if there are problems you have to be a expert to solve this. I noticed this last week as i was helping a girlfriend who had problems installing dropbox on her 3-year old macbook. She couldn’t figure out herself how to install applications. Then she bought a external hard-disk drive which she wanted to use on her Windows-PC and her MacBook. Using NTFS (read/write) on MacOS X? Not that easy. Using HFS+ on Windows 7? Forget it (for free). In the Conclusion, this “problems” aren’t problems taken by itself. You can solve them by just searching the web and think/try a bit harder. The real problem is the way apple announces the iDevices as the simplest you have evern seen. They arent that simpler as Windows. But users of Windows knows that.

  208. penguinstorm says:

    While I agree with the premise of the article, I disagree with the headline and the assignation of blamed to Apple.

    COMPUTERS are too hard, plain and simple. I remain amazed at things that seem simple and obvious to me that rational, intelligent people can’t get done.

    The problems the article outlines with respect to the author’s iPhone could just as easily happen with an Android based product, and those have their own source of confusion.

    Tablets appear to have been a bit of a tipping point of sorts: user interfaces are changing as tablets replace laptops for many types of interaction. The next few years are bound to be interesting.

  209. Alex says:

    You are not alone. I don’t get the “best experience” Apple sells. I got a MacBook Pro at work. I was open to change. As part of my work, I do a lot of editing. Missing ‘End’, ‘PgUp’, ‘PgDn’, ‘Home’, ‘End’ buttons; ‘Backspace’/’Delete’ is another issue. Pressing 4 keys simultaneously to make a screenshot? I guess, it may be my fault for not learning shortcuts. But, hello, isn’t it supposed to be easy to use? The next thing I learned was that my MacBook (after I put it too sleep) occasionally can enter a state when it overheats and there’s no way out. Obviously, unsaved data are lost. Tried to find out what’s wrong, but OSX keeps mum – no traces. Lesson learned? Apple products don’t fail, they just suddenly and quietly die. After some time I learned the video card may be a suspect. On the other hand, Windows could handle a huge variety of configurations (vendor, people build own boxes, …). But in this case, Apple’s product with meticulously hand picked hardware, again, for the best experience, is failing, oops, ‘experiencing a situation’. The Activity Monitor with over 100% CPU utilization is big joke itself.
    Then I started to notice people in the office started getting Parallels/Windows installed. Did that too. The result? I got a productivity boost. A couple more things. The windowing system is horrible. Suppose you work on a document, you have another document open, and you want to incorporate feedback in an email. You switch to your email client, then press command-tab and select the application you use to work with your document, OSX brings up _all_ windows of that application (as opposed to the last document) effectively negating all efforts to switch to the email client. You have to do this with a mouse or trackpad. Does Apple really think this is easy to use?Then time came to upgrade from 10.6 to 10.7. This was the second time I learned that an upgrade does not mean it’s getting better (the first one was Microsoft’s ribbon interface). 1) They changed the way of scrolling. Okay, thanks Apple for leaving a configuration option to turn it back. 2) The scroll bar became unusable, especially on large documents. 3) Safari became unusable as it reloads pages when you switch between the tabs and there’s no options to turn it off. Deleting the current URL in the address bar to type a different address is another annoyance. Normal browsers auto-select the text so when you start typing, the old text is deleted automatically. This is UX 101. So I moved on to Chrome.
    After seeing all this I decided to stay away from iPhones and iPads. I don’t regret it. I don’t want to be a slave of my gadgets. I use gadgets as productivity tools to do things I want and how I want, not how Apple wants me to. Relying on one vendor (hardware, OS, and basic applications) scares the hell out of me, especially when the vendor is controlling.

    As a note aside, I wanted to share some observations. Apple seems to make little or no effort at all to make your device to last longer. The ‘Others’ storage issue mentioned earlier, the battery you can’t replace, easy to break screens and so on. These issues make consumers buy a new device, which is source of Apple’s revenue. So I don’t anticipate those issues to be resolved by Apple anytime soon. As a pragmatic consumer, I’ll stay away from Apple products for a while.

  210. Joe says:

    old habits die hard. most just dont want to change or adapt.

    My son is good at using ios, os x, w7, or anything thrown at him. He learn and adapt at ease. We, old people, just stand in awe!

  211. srminton says:

    You started off with some pretty interesting points (I didn’t know my address book would stop working when I pass 1000 records), but then by the end this started to sound suspiciously like a rant…..(renaming iChat to iMessage bothers you?) But it will sure please the Apple-haters, who will be feeling ticklish all over. “See! I was right! You fools were all wrong!”

    The truth is that Apple is all about consumers, that’s their market, and you are clearly trying to use your Mac for work-related purposes. That’s fine too, but you need business applications on top of the OS, just as you would need business applications on Windows or any other OS. Did you ever hear of a business using the built-in Windows address book for its enterprise contact management, or the built-in Windows calendar for meeting schedules? (actually I did come across this once, and it was a disaster – an entire set of records corrupted and lost forever). This is a lesson I’ve learned while using both Mac and Windows side by side for a good number of years. Neither OS is ready for the enterprise without adding applications, security and tools.

    Your critique of iOS suggests you’ve never used another mobile phone. I’ve used Android extensively and it too is full of quirks and oddities and reboots and instances of lost data, as is my Blackberry. It seems like your anger comes from a sense that Apple was supposed to be ‘different’ than those other platforms, because it markets itself with the ‘it just works’ concept, and I get that part. But then your anger should be with the marketing message and its impact on your expectations, and not delude you into thinking that other platforms are havens of trouble-free performance. (I know you briefly allude to an acknowledgement of that, but there’s no denying that your article is heavily balanced towards the suggestion that Mac OS is worse, not equal).

    Just yesterday, my Blackberry refused to download new email because it claimed the memory is full, and my Windows phone once deleted my entire calendar. If you use a computer of any kind, **** happens. I use Windows and MS Office every day and EVERY DAY Excel chokes on the macros I’m trying to run, then boots me into a 15-minute loop of recovering all the lost files (it’s good that the files are all recovered, that’s progress, but my PC is unusable for 15 minutes at a time….). While presenting to an audience yesterday, my colleague’s PC shut itself down in mid-presentation to install ‘critical Windows security updates’. Yes, there are ways to avoid those things happening, or deal with them when they do, but those solutions are hardly more intuitive than the solutions for your Mac-related problems.

    I also think it’s a little sad that this anti-Apple bandwagon is gathering so much pace, because whether you use Mac or Windows or even Linux on your PC, the truth is that Apple’s presence in the PC market is the only thing forcing Microsoft to innovate at all. If you don’t believe me, see Windows ME for details. Windows ME is what happens when a company has such an unbreakable monopoly that it stops caring about making its products better. Windows Mobile pre-iOS is much the same story (even though there was competition from Palm and Blackberry, that competition didn’t threaten MSFT’s hold on the PC market at all). This headlong rush to the clutches of Microsoft worries me. Not because I hate Microsoft – I use their products every day, including Microsoft Office on both Windows and Mac (Word for Mac is actually better than Word for Windows), and I’m interested in what they have to offer the Tablet market – but because it’s just plain sad to imagine returning to that world of single-company dominance and the gears of innovation slowly crunching to a halt again. I know that younger folk won’t understand this, and will find it hard to understand why some people ever saw Apple as a necessary counterweight to the Windows-dominated world…..but as an ‘old school’ Mac user, you probably should.

    I believe you were fully aware, before writing this article, that you were jumping on that bandwagon and that a happy band of Apple-haters was ready to pat you on the back for doing so.

    • Sven Peeters says:

      Well said! Apple is trying their level best , with new features come new problems. I own a small business with 20 macs running in a network. I don’t need an IT guy . It just works! I think apple haters are mostly IT guys whitout a job.

    • kevincp says:

      I agree with you to some a large extent, and I believe that the OSX is still way superior to Windows. However, John Battelle has a lot of valid points, and I hope that someone at Apple is listening.

      In general, I think it is getting very difficult for Apple (or MS, or Google) to increase the functionality of these platforms and make them easy to use at the same time. That goes for iTunes as well, as they now have iTunes as a catch-all for everything related to portable device management and media management. Of all things, they have now carved out podcasts into it’s own app. I think that rebuilding the iTunes functionality from the ground up would fix a lot of the current complaints.

      What I can’t understand is how anyone thinks Windows is any better. I use both, as my company is on a Windows network (with a MS ERP system, but that is a whole other issue), and I can say that Apple is still way ahead of MS. This is true for power users as well, particularly for programming.

    • andrewi says:

      I think you largely misinterpret him. He does not ever mention other OS’s being better, and most of his claims about OSX being worse was in comparison to older versions of OSX. He just stated he was open to trying other platforms.

      I love OSX (lack the spare cash for an iPhone, I have much more important things to do with £600 unfortunately), but I always feel like if a problem occurs, Apple have tried so hard to shield the end user from the techy bits that it becomes a huge uphill struggle to fix it without a reinstall. Even time machine seems to restore all the problems from the older install so I cant restore using it and have to pull files and folders manually. I can’t imagine what kind of hell this must be if you try and run an un-jailbroken iPhone with it’s complete lack of access to the folder structure and instant syncing.

  212. Laura says:

    Not an outlier, but perhaps just not dazzled by the pretty outsides when the insides are rotting.

    I said the same thing to a manager at the apple store yesterday where I went for a one to one session b/c I am not a tech type and need help learning how to use my first mac computer and phone.

    The main reason for my complaint was that I ended up leaving my session with more problems than I came in with. In an attempt to prepare for the ios 6 install by backing up everything, I ended up with my photo program – Aperture forcing me to update yet again which created a crash of some sort, This problem the “genius” fixed by erasing all my settings in the process of getting the photo program working again.

    So far what that means is no bookmarks (14 years worth) no mail, no passwords, no wishlists for the sites with no passwords, which have no bookmarks to get me back to them anyway. I can only hope I get a more cautious genius tomorrow who will be able to restore all that stuff using my external drive backup. Yikes.

    It does feel sickeningly like pc and I am feeling really oppressed by the constant updates and crappy changes. I thought they were gods, but they really have feet of clay don’t they?

  213. Tiernan says:

    In what way other than chronologically are you trying to sort your photos in iPhoto? Can you be more specific?

  214. Ara says:

    You must be kind nuron challanged… U cant seethe giant search box in contacts.
    U run out of hard disk space and it is iphones problem… Lol
    Most of what u say is pure missinformation.
    What are u getting paid to write and report bs like this here and bloomberg tv.
    And the language u use in your blog sure is an indication of a lowlife aspect to u!

  215. stacker says:

    Dude, you’ve been living in a bubble. You’re not an outlier, your fanboy bubble just burst.

    I’m an agnostic. Each of the systems has its problems. It’s basically what you know and what you’re comfortable with. I’ve worked on windows machines for over 20 years, have supported my wife who has had a mac for the last 15 years, and a family of iphones and ipods. I’ve never seen the Mac as easier to use especially when it comes to fixing some esoteric problem. Just different.
    I’m surprised that you haven’t been told to restore your iphone from new before in response to a problem. It’s been recommended to me by a “genius” to fix a battery problem. Not sure that it’s intuitive that I should restore my machine to fix a problem with a battery. I resisted because I didn’t want to lose my messages (although they’re no longer lost with icloud restore).
    One interesting difference… Microsoft has the blue screen of death or a message that pops up when an application crashes. The iphone just restarts or the application restarts without telling you that there was a problem. Does that make it easier to use?

    • Phil Simon says:

      I’d agree with the notion that all platforms have their problems. I’m not an iCal or Apple email user but I find it tough to swallow the notion that Apple can handle contacts and email better than contact-specific apps and Gmail. I could be wrong. I’d argue that there’s still no one best-of-breed app, platform, device, or service across the board. For now and the forseeable future, we’ll face a choice: deal with multiple platforms or stay with one–and face some restrictions and difficulties.

  216. freerange says:

    Give me a break! The ability to go to the top of a program in the iphone has been a feature for a long long time and was super easy to learn. Just like going back to the top of a web page, simply click / touch the top of the screen. It is NOT hard to figure this shit out! When ever I run into a problem I can’t solve I do a simple google search and usually end up in the Apple forums where there is plenty of help. This is just not that hard!

    Also, the ridiculous rant on iPhoto! You said in your Bloomberg TV interview that you are into taking pictures, and you have over 10,000. That puts you in the professional category so WTF – get your ass to the app store and get Aperture – it is NOT hundreds of dollars and is designed to manage much larger libraries! Sure it has a learning curve but for christ sake you’re storing 10k+ photos! You think they just magically come with meta tags and sort themselves! No matter what photo program you use you need to tag and sort when you upload them.

    Sure none of this is “as easy as it used to be” but its because we are loading exponentially more and more of our digital lives into these systems, demanded that they perform ever increasing functionality, more interoperability, handle more and more applications and thus it is our own demands that are making them “more complicated”.

    • thewags05 says:

      I am a very technical user and had no idea you could do that on the iphone (I had one for 2 years before making the break to windows phone 8). They need to make some if these feature more discoverable, discoverability is an os is one of the most important aspects to os/ui design.

  217. Zorro says:

    I agree 100%. I’m voting with my feet the map debacle is the last straw. I could post a longer litany than Battelle. Frustration with IPhoto, lack of Flash, plus all the problems outlined has caused me to hate Apple. The tech support at the stores is horrible. I predict they will close sooner than the “fanboys” think.

  218. Gladiator says:

    Your a true idiot pal saw you on blomberg tv. Looks like you been smoking to much pot. Or perhaps you just became ab AAPL hater because maybe you never bought the stock.who knows but you are wet behind your ears. Go buy a dell see how long before it crashes. I had all dell products before I saw the light. It was pure garbage along with get lost dumb ass and stop smoking that weed AAPL rules nothing comes close

  219. […] s1.parentNode.insertBefore(s, s1); })(); John Battelle caused quite a stir with his recent anti-Apple rant. It’s worth reading and checking out the […]

  220. FakeEmail@bla.bla says:

    I had the same ‘Other’ problem, it’s really not as difficult to fix as you want it to sound.

  221. gasco says:

    Do you think that … perhaps Apple’s ease of use died along with Steve Jobs? He was the brainchild of the ease factor…this was my biggest concern following his passing…is that computer geeks would take over Apple in the worst, PC kind of way….shuffling out artful simplicity for a useless myriad of complex steps and gadgetry.

  222. gasco says:

    Do you think that … perhaps Apple’s ease of use died along with Steve
    Jobs? He was the brainchild of the ease factor…this was my biggest
    concern following his passing…is that computer geeks would take over
    Apple in the worst, PC kind of way….shuffling out artful simplicity
    for a useless myriad of complex steps and gadgetry.

  223. Linda says:

    John, I too find my iPhone more difficult to use. I’m not able to sync anything from my iphone to my Macbook. They made me think it would be automatic. And now Apple is retracting its Maps app. They are sounding a lot like Microsoft (10 years ago). This always happens when a public company is under pressure to gets its stock to be $1000/share. They just throw a bunch of new features without getting real users to test it out. Real Users = non CS programmers, Moms, the demographic that enjoys 80s music, etc. The reception on my iPhone is so bad that I actually need to talk to my friends via a landline! Seriously, 80% of users just use only 20% of the apps/features on the iPhone.

  224. Joe says:

    Oh gosh. You see, this is why I never read Wired magazine. The amount of bullshit and sheer stupidity you have in your post despite being a so called tech writer makes me cry. Some posters above me have already explained why.

  225. noone says:

    Technology is
    changing and any new technology has its faults and with any new technology you
    have more possibilities and all get a bit more complex. There is a time you
    love all this new features.

    But with
    every new technology or feature you use the probability of faults is increasing.
    30 years ago you wasn’t able to sync 1000 contacts between your devices(?) and
    others persons! What with 10.000 images 30 years ago?

    happened to ease of use?”

    You use more
    technologies, more devices, more services etc. and expect everything will be

    It seems
    that the “one day” has come to you there every new thing is too complex for you.
    Maybe you are too old and don’t want to spend more time with exploring all these
    new features. “it used to be better” 😉

    But this
    day will come for everyone!

  226. Tim Acheson says:

    True. Apple products were overrated in the first place.

  227. Shane Tipping says:

    I know you expect it but, well, a number of these “issues” simply are your fault. Just because you didn’t correctly intuit how the OS works doesn’t mean it’s broken, it simply means it doesn’t follow your particular view of “how it ought to work”

  228. kip says:

    My complaint with apple is the products are made to be replaced. I got a lemon display 3 years ago and was happy I bought applecare because it broke 3 times in 3 years. When I asked if I could extend applecare I was told no, when I asked what they expected me to do I was told our products are made to be replaced every 3 to 5 years buy a new one. Being a tightwad I hate throwing away products and adding to the junk heaps of the world. The fact that I pay a premium for a product to me means it will last. This is not just apple have you seen the latest junk sony is putting out. As a video editor I can’t tell you how unhappy final cut pro users are that they have been left high and dry. Apple seems to forget who made them stay afloat before ipods. All my employees switched to macs at home when we started with final cut to edit now they all feel betrayed. This base of video editors and graphic artists are the ones that kept apple going and now apple could care less. I’m not brainwashed into thinking they are the greatest thing ever made. My sons galaxy s3 blows my iphone away. Apple needs to remember who and what really made them great. Last note: Find another company to make these products here in the usa and not on the broken dreams and backs of the Chinese and I’ll pay more for the choice.

  229. […] Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use? […]

  230. […] Todd has written an interesting article answering John Battele's gripes with Apple products. […]

  231. […] brand in the digital era A comprehensives review of the iPhone 5 from The Verge Am I an outlier, or are Apple products no longer easy to use The thin social line between security and privacy Twitter’s clash between idealism and profit […]

  232. […] brand in the digital era A comprehensives review of the iPhone 5 from The Verge Am I an outlier, or are Apple products no longer easy to use The thin social line between security and privacy Twitter’s clash between idealism and profit […]

  233. Graeme Dennis says:

    No you’re on the money. Mac user since 1984, now feel like I’m on the outside looking in.

  234. Vicky Newton says:

    I Don’t Need My Phone to be any Thinner I Just Need It to Work!

    Snce I had to wait for my iphone to restore from backup I started to wonder the same thing, is apple loosing it? I found your article and it’s the same issue.

    I’m no novice either. I learned to program on an Apple II basic then using 6502 assembly, and wrote my first commercial application with HyperCard using Mac Pluses as Point of sale stations for a fast food delivery franchise. Then I went to work for the financial industry and had to move to SQL .NET and PC’s I came back to apple when I bought a new blackberry and was so pissed off at the interface I went looking for something better.

    I’m considering buying the iphone5 but I’m afraid. If someone like me can spend 10 hours trying to sync an audiobook then what hope is there for Apple? It’s gotten to the point that every time soneone in a Keynote says thinner I kringe. I don’t need my phone to be any thinner, I just need it to work. I’ve hated Microsoft and loved seing Apple become the new masters but I worry that some day if I look from Microsoft to Apple and from Apple to Microsoft and back that it will be impossible to say which is which.

    Perhaps with Steve Jobs gone, there’s nothing left in the Apple Corporate Immune System to keep the simple moto It Just works. It breaks my heart to admit at Apple there’s a lump there do you feel it? I want to hug Apple and tell them it will be ok, but I’m afraid the diagnosys won’t be benign. Apple doesn’t need diet exercise and herbs it needs chemo.

  235. Daine says:

    Man, I’m so glad someone someone shares the same problems as Apple that I do. There used to be an iTunes feature called Home Sharing which allowed you to transfer music to different devices, I spent.. lets see, three hours now searching the web for a solution, (this forum being my last search to see if I’m not the only one) but it turns out that for the new iTunes update they either got rid of it or just refuse to listen to the Apple users begging for better instructions. I also checked Apple’s website but they are too lazy to put the newest version of iTunes for the Home Sharing help so everyone’s left confused.
    I’m sorry that you have to deal with Apple like the rest of us, but welcome to the club. 🙂

  236. awakeinwa says:

    windows 8 compelled me to move to macosx. computers are complex. they are multipurpose. they aren’t mindreaders. searching contacts is easy. press the clock zooms you to top of list and search box. type your query. or just double press home button and get spotlight to find it for you. -hal2012

  237. […] Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use? | John Battelle’s Search Blog […]

  238. lex says:

    You’re not an Outlier…Apple has steadily fallen into the clutches of ineptitude. Where do you think all these “new” programmers came from? If Jobs was still alive, there’d be a massive line at the Cali Employment office.
    The first issue is, nobody at Apple has a boot the size that Steve had. The second is, the people in charge dont KNOW what good is. Thats what set Steve apart from the ENTIRE industry. He KICKED Microsoft’s arse up between their shoulder blade in ways they are only just now understanding. I give it 5 years and Apple could be just like any other tech giant…wallowing around in their former glory releasing half assed products.

  239. High Quality blog commenting says:

    People who dislike Apple’s ecosystem are usually those who customize it to work more like Windows or Linux.
    Quality blog commenting

  240. CHAD says:

    I also find Apple is getting harder to use. Perhaps it is because Steve Jobs was critical to the ease of use theme. Perhaps they are feeling less competitive threat from MICROSOFT.

  241. […] well but continues to stumble on cloud services and even its software is not very good, as John Battelle and Nicholas Carson have both pointed out. Apple’s terrible Maps app is just one example of […]

  242. Dev Mohan says:

    technology is so much part of life that it is competing with our other parts of life for ex –friends and socialising …technology and friends they are not mutually exclusive and the new trends show that you can get around to socialising by using new technology …facebook….levels of satisfaction will differ…..have we not come full circle then from technology and friends being exclusive to being connected..another ex- is of travel and technology…they do go together…take a look here –…hope its refreshing

  243. LarsJ says:

    You nailed this. I am assuming that a younger Steve Jobs would have put his foot through some programmers by now – this is just not what the company was built on. Ten years ago you could contrast Microsoft and Apple products by this generally true observation: one builds computers that expect you to adjust your needs to theirs, and one builds computers with intuitive tools that let you adapt the computer to your needs. Now I can’t tell the difference. And I agree, Apple’s first Microsoft inspired software was iPhoto, built around someone’s vision of what a grandmother would want in an image management application. It wants to tell you how it thinks you should organize your photos. Freedom is gone. Very Microsoft like. I’m expecting merger talks any day, since there’s not much difference anymore between the two.

  244. mguarini says:

    No you’r not, the dead of Steve is a Disgrace. All the system is becoming really twisted.

  245. iamhal says:

    Not outlier. Having used and developed in many other OSs and environments, I firmly believe that Apple is a pain in the ass. I think the mystique they have managed to build about being user-friendly and intuitive is one of the greatest con jobs ever. Very few things work as they should, much critical functionality is hidden. It *seems* like my latest and greatest iPhone 5 and MacBook Pro should start doing many useful things together as soon as they walk into the same room. They certainly don’t do what *I* want them to do (a pox on iTunes, as well while we’re at it.) OS X ML does not have a default system-level shortcut for Finder – the graphical file manager is the beating heart of a graphical operating system, yet there is no corollary to win-E. No ‘up a level’ button in that graphical file manager and Save As dialogs (Steering wheel? Oh, that’s too complicated – we’ll take it out for you. It’s no longer a car.) You have to know the secret code of Cmd-Up. I have an iPhone 5 that wants to send an email message to a phone number when I click that phone number (not an email address) in my contacts list in my phone to try to make a phone call – let alone not being able to automatically figure out this is a problem and offer fix the faulty association of a phone number as an email address, they couldn’t bother to check for a validly formatted email address before launching the email client and trying to use it? Safari won’t sort bookmarks alphabetically. Full screen and multiple monitors. Greatly Insane. Still buggy and unstable, too – that impression has not changed since I started using Macs in the early 1990’s. UNIX-type systems shouldn’t lock up and crash like my MacBooks do. And, of course, Apple doesn’t seem to be any more responsive to people complaining about long-standing problems than any other ginormous software company. They seem to be beset by internal political problems. And as to throwing their power users and graphical designers under the bus??? *%#% ’em. It’s really sad that Microsoft has gone even more insane by far (similar problems to the above, plus the Windows 8 touch interfaces can not be made to work for desktop. It just ain’t possible.) Computers are irreducibly complex systems of files on storage devices in networks. Nice hardware though, when it works. Oh, yeah, Time Capsule backup devices that are acknowledged by the company to be unreliable? Madness. /rant. Have a pleasant day.

  246. marqueB says:

    I only needed to read your first couple of paragraphs to realize that you have completely captured my feelings. Intuitive use has been on a rapid decline since OS9. I have used Macs since the first one (literally), and was a long time advocate, but since OS10.4 or so I have stopped recommending them to people, and cautioned them on switching from Windoze. Windoze has gotten a lot better and more stable, and though it remains counterintuitive, Macs are no longer any better. I’m not an idiot ( just don’t ask my wife) – I am an ME, I have programmed an 8088 in assembly language and an airfoil design program on a PDP11 – but I am thoroughly disillusioned

    • johnbattelle says:

      Apple needs to pivot to software, fast.

    • larry Heckler says:

      marqueB, I agree! Panther was the last release that I really loved. It was all downhill after Tiger was released. I miss the simplicity of os9. What I really hate is the fact that they just totally abandoned the business market. I thought Xserves and OSX server were the future of Unix. I remember having racks full of Xserves and managing them remotely with ssh and Apple Remote Desktop. That was the best time of my career. With that bloated Application support directory and a trashed file system, you can’t just drag the .app icons around anymore from machine to machine. OS9 was the easiest OS to maintain. Firewire drive with a bootable install with troubleshooting apps and a default clean production system in a directory. Just boot off of the firewire, copy over the user’s files, format the drive, copy over the default install and the user’s files, bless the system folder….. Easiest time of my life!

  247. Gary says:

    As has been said, you are not alone. I have been a Mac user since 1991, but I think I’ve had it. The last straw for me was the release of the latest iMac, designed forf absolutely no intelligible reason without a DVD drive. This is a consumer machine. I have kids who want to play Sims 24/7 — and, to quote old Apple anti-Microsoft advertising — THIS is supposed to make my computing life better? What are these guys smoking?!

    I have accordingly been looking at Lenovo products and experimenting with Ubuntu, because unless there is a change of direction at HQ, I will be wanting a way out.

  248. Jonny45 says:

    Haha… he said “outlier”

  249. Starman_Andromeda says:

    Nicely humorous, critical take on Apple’s OSs, especially the iPhone. It would work even better as a piece without all the crudity, however!

  250. If we are going to start blaming he user for basic things not working then yes Apple has become Microsoft. And just like back in the 1990s when Windows NT and Adobe ported all their graphics apps to Windows Apple is starting to loose their high end market and also at the same time priced their lowest systems beyond what most in the US with a Median House hold income of $47,000 are willing to spend. If the Apple looses the high end markets (and they are a Video pros and 3D animators and Music pros are choosing PC Workstations over the Mac Pro that has been neglected) the Apple Brand will be weakened and users again will say thing like Well Macs are ok for home use but if you want real power the pros choose a PC workstation so then the user thinks well is Windows is good enough for them then it is good enough for me so why should I pay more for a Mac. See it Apple is repeating the same mistake they made before. They abandoned what their high-end graphics pros wanted and who’s primary apps where Adobe or QuarkXpress) when the pros started to choose Windows NT workstations and and Apple’s cheapest MAc was priced way above what a PC was. Then Steve cam back and the iMac was released and a G3 imac could be had for $399 and the PPC G3 towers again offered a advantage for about the same price as a NT workstation so Macs became cool for consumer and most of the pros came back to Apple again. BUT now again Apple has only the Mac Mini at $599 (you can get a PC with a display and PCI slots for that price) And the $999 mac book air (the small screened one) and the Mac pro has been late to get upgrades and has fallen way behind when you do a price performance comparison and the advantages of OSX don’e matter much when you spend most your day in other apps that basically are the same on any platform once you up and running and in CAD and 3D animation the PC versions of many of the most popular apps are better on the PC with including missing features in the MAc version or like Motion Builder Not at all on the mac. Apple is making the same mistakes all over again and if NOT for the iPhone and iPad (which is going to face some serious competition itself from other tablets) Apple would be in the same position again it is not too late to turn t around before it reaches the same level as it did before but just like then it will take more then just a good marketing campaign to do it.

  251. Tracy says:

    You are not alone. I recently (6 weeks ago) made the scary (for me) switch from PC to Mac. I’ve been PC since the 80’s but wanted the “ease” of Mac. I do love a lot of things about my new Air however, I have already had to call support three or four times and haven’t been “supported”. How can they claim not to know that there are problems when it’s so obvious there are if you look at all the web posts out there? The answer to most of my problems was a restart. There was no answer to my concern re: snoozing reminders. The support person claimed not to understand what I was referring to. Why would anyone offer “snooze” on reminders without offering a snooze period (hour/day/week whatever)? Okay, my rant over now. I’m sticking with Mac because I love the speed, the trackpad and, yes, even the ease of use in general. I am, however, disappointed in those basic apps such as Mail and Calendar. I really hope that someone at Apple will take some notice soon. I have to trust that they will otherwise I’ll just look a fool for jumping on the Apple bandwagon…..

  252. Valerie Cudnik says:

    I could have written half this article myself. The past couple of years (after almost 30 years of owning Macs) I’ve had to restore my system several times. Now my brand new freshly restored iPhone won’t sync with my apps. First the contacts wouldn’t work properly (fully of facebook shit), so I reset the thing. Okay, so I’ll have to reorganize 10 pages of apps. If I could. The fricking thing won’t sync. I click install, then apply then the screen flickers and nothing is installed on my phone.

    I have a perfectly good Samsung Galaxy here. I bought the new iPhone because I wanted trouble-free syncing with my calendar, contacts, email, etc. $400 later and I was apparently better off using gmail.


    Sadly, I may never buy another Apple product again. WTF am I paying premium prices for what has turned to crap? Not only that, the superdrive in my iMac quit working — it’s not the drive, I replaced it… another KNOWN problem that Apple hasn’t addressed… AND my hard drive has been recalled and I either have to ship my whole computer (which is what I work on 7 days a week) to Apple or take it to the Apple store (I guess I should be grateful there is one only 45 minutes away) and either leave it there or wait for it… if they can do the installation then. But they can’t tell me in advance.


  253. Ihatemac says:

    File management on mac is a nightmare. I expoted some photos to reduce their size for upload to a website. I gave each a distinctive name, I tried browsing by name in finder, but finder finds thousands of old mail files and when I click on the file menu to limit my search to pictures, my search term disappears. I would switch back to pc in a heartbeat – but the mac was a gift and I don’t want to hurt my husband’s feelings.

  254. Zavera Farid says:

    technology has a carve that creates a gab if not given proper attention with advancements every day in smart devices and changing the way we work!

  255. neilw says:

    I converted to mac 2 years ago, now seriously disillusioned. About a year ago flash player uninstalled itself and despite many, many hours of trying I am unable to reload it at all, neither, I might add, can the geniuses at the 2 apple stores I’ve visited. Had countless glitches during my troublesome ownership, on my 3rd battery, had my bought music erased on itunes. My daughter spilt a small amount of liquid on the keypad recently which has been the death knell. I feel sure the replacement machine will not be apple.

  256. disgruntled says:

    I am ready to scream. Wasting SO much time trying to move my business from PC to Mac – it’s been over a month now and I’m still using both. Contacts from Outlook – forget it, not working at all even after hours, literally hours, of massaging the data. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Not an apple fan, sorry.

  257. Roger B-M says:

    Clearly you don’t need a 443rd person to tell you this, but Windows 7 just works. Forget Windows 8, or Vista, or whatever. It works. Ice Cream Sandwich works. Just come back to us. We’ll take you back.

  258. Astrofish says:

    I totally agree with this perspective. It’s like a bunch of high school students are making upgrades. Nothing is intuitive about the design. I found this page because I cannot remember how to add a new album. The “Help” is useless. Drag and drop doesn’t work, even though it appears to be doing the right thing. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Apple has become increasingly frustrating to me. Don’t even get me started on iTunes and my iPhone… holy living f…k!

  259. Jia says:

    Thanks john for the motivation, indeed a good work.

  260. foo bar says:

    Lion killed me. I have been a semi-enthusiastic Mac user with windows and linux in my life also. Having a bsd based system is nice. But Apple seems to be getting more talented at finding the most obscure manner to get in the way of what I want to do … getting rid of Spaces would be my first thought. Reverse scrolling the second. Ad nauseam …

  261. AD says:

    I use Windows 7 at work and iMac at home along with iPhone and iPad. I want to punch my screen in at least twice a day on my work PC. I’m amazed at the comments here. How about the annual flush your Windows PC hard drive and start over routine.

  262. […] Am I An Out­lier, Or Are Apple Prod­ucts No Longer Easy To Use? — Jbat […]

  263. Chris R says:

    It’s not you. It’s the downhill decline of Apple. Let’s see, I have a perfectly functioning iPod Touch 3rd generation, and now I cannot buy any more apps, or even download free apps and games, because Apple only makes available the latest version for an iOS that my iPod can’t upgrade to. So, really, toss out a device, buy a new one for $200+ to be able to buy $.99 apps? Don’t think so. Spent hours trying to figure out why Time Machine, supposedly designed for turn-it-on and don’t-think-about-it use, wouldn’t work on a particular external USB drive. Gave up, employer bought a Firewire drive. Ditto on intermittent black outs of Apple Cinema Display. I’m a designer, I have used Macs since 1992, but I am at the point of total exhaustion with how g-d hard anything is to maintain, update, or troubleshoot.

  264. grandmere says:

    John, I’m right there with you. The problem is the Mac developers we knew have all retired, having been replaced by their techie-kids who assume everyone has time or the inclination to keep their noses in something electronic 24/7. Personally, I like pursuing other things in life.

    I began using Macs in the late 80’s in the office. Bought a new LC when I had the money saved. IT WORKED FOR 20 YEARS. When we moved to “the city,” I gave it away. I had used a simple “Quicken for the Mac” money program. Decided to buy a new shiny white Macbook, spent the money, and then learned there were no decent money programs for the Mac. That’s just one example. Don’t talk about iPhoto pictures disappearing into “the Cloud.”

    Remember how Macs used to be organized. Simply. I’m 72, retired. I’d like things simple again. I’m not stupid. I just don’t want to take the time to learn a bunch of stuff when the simple way worked fine and didn’t waste time. I have a program called RAGE Macintosh Explorer which helps keep me sane. Thanks for allowing this old gal an opportunity to rant right along with you.

  265. Kyle says:

    That is one of the most brilliant, down to earth and honest articles I have read in a long time. Man, I am so pissed off at the iPad 2. In fact, at Apple in general. Staring at the same old boring interface, knowing that if you want to get anything functioning correctly passed the so called ‘limited trial phase’, you are going to have to once again fork out even more cash. I mean, I don’t mind paying for the odd application when it is actually a joy to use the device, but, seriously, it feels like every time I need to accomplish a simple task with iOS software, I have to take my wallet out and be grovelling at the feet of the supreme Imperialist sheep herding device. If my calculator told me I needed to pay $100 dollars each time I pressed the = sign, I would go find the company directors that make said device and stick it so far up… know where.

    I mean, why? They have a popular product(or at least used to), they make billions off their hardware and they then still do not even have any software developers of their own that can actually design an interface. I suppose paying somebody from the NSA to set up your security software and hide the back hand dealings and price fixing, might cost a fortune. But common, at the end of the day, what this crapple is actually doing is cutting off their own oxygen. So, I have two choices, struggle my arse off every day, to do simple tasks while apple dips into my bank account like it is their born right to do so, or, get a windows PC/Laptop and an android phone/tablet and then just have a real good time with technology that communicates with ease, while I do not have to sell my gold coins just to send a freakin email.

    Anyways, yeh, I won’t get carried away, made my mind up, I will never use an apple product ever again, okay, maybe if I felt the need to burn or punch something, it would give me satisfaction, a smashed crapple product that is. Thanks for your article bro, you have most definitely hit the nail on the head. But I wouldn’t worry, many, many people are getting tired of Apples gestapo sales tactics and greed and I reckon soon, apple will have signed their own death notes by playing against the popular freedom of choice alternative like Android. Okay, except for the trendy teens, who have pictures of Justin beaver on their walls and an iPad on their desk just to show how ‘hip’ they are. Oh yeh, maybe a few of the apple directors might have one, somewhere, that they use when the boss is looking while hiding their android tablet under their desk.

    • johnbattelle says:

      My. Thanks Kyle. I do sense a tide turning.

      • Kyle says:

        Ha, thanks John your a legend. It is so strange, just after writing the comment to your awesome article I stumbled on one of those ‘best 60 apps for ipad’. They do in fact actually charge for a full functioning calculator. I reckon I am going to donate mine to charity(my ipad 2, not my calculator since it doesn’t require me to pay in order to be spied on), I cannot with a good conscience waste money on something that should be viewed as free knowledge. I can’t wait until we as the human race realize that money, wealth and the pursuit of material objects doesn’t in fact bring happiness, it only makes us slaves to that which we THINK we own. And true progress will only be made once money falls away and we simply have a system that’s sole purpose is the advancement of humanity through exploration, invention and the sharing of resources for a sustainable future. Either way, we will however end up suffering the consequences of our greed before we are forced to consciously bring about a paradigm shift. No worries, mellow article, thanks friend.

  266. dan says:

    This has got the be the worst product i have ever seen.. instead of making my life easier as it should it has complicated it to the point where i want to take my ipad2 and its useless operating system and throw it on the ground and watch it break into a thousand pieces. I then want to take a hammer and break each of those thousand pieces into thousands of smaller pieces. It is the biggest joke of a product especially comparing with android and windows and even linux! Those systems actually work and do things. The camera connection kit no longer works with 6.1.3 so why then did you market it and then make my harware useless, and make me feel like your stealing from me? Why also can i not just copy and paste as i do with my android phone. I have great reviews about android but il never.. ever… buy any apple product! it has wasted so much of my time its unbelievable. literally days! trying to get things into the right configuration just to be able to use my own files on one particular device is taking me back to the dawn of computers. I cannot get my work of this silly tablet without having my computer next to me. So why then do i have this tablet?? i didnt even buy this silly tihng which im glad about.. it was a present ..and im about to walk out right now and buy an android tablet as soon as i finish writing this. I have not felt this frustrated in .. i dont even remember the last time. its unacceptable to market such rubbish.. cant even get a grace period on the app store like in andriod to see if apps work and ask for a refund if they dont.. its junk! not worth the materials used to build it!

  267. Ormulogun says:

    I’m pretty mercenary like when it comes to product loyalty, and I used Windows all my childhood life. After working for a few years and earning, I really thought the iPhone and Macbook air and getting into the Apple ecosystem would make life easier / smoother. But it is NOT user friendly. Every product has its problems, and I think the bottom line is that every product is user-unfriendly to new users.

    I’ve actually never figured out how to use iTunes, I’m always worried that it will delete my music. Why can’t I connect my phone on my iTunes on my PC and my Mac, why can’t I just drag and drop songs, it just baffles me why they made it like this.

    Anyway, i just changed my usage.
    1) I use Gmail for all my contacts and everything, no point in tying myself to the Apple ecosystem
    2) I use my Macbook air as a simple laptop that is super light and has great battery life, it is pretty much used for browsing, and max some simple spreadsheet work nothing else. I have my desktop PC that I use for anything needing serious processing power or work related.
    3) I own a Nexus 4 now

  268. William Burke says:

    Don’t feel alone; I’m using OSX ML 10.5.8 on an almost-new iMac, and ML has been one frustration after another; it doesn’t play nice with Gmail, and ten or twelve times a day, forwarding a link, it will bring up a second Gmail window after I start typing in the original one.

    Moreover, it’s taken to bringing up a Yahoo search page, without me clicking a link; I’ll be just reading a post, and up comes the Yahoo search page, without any kind of request that it do so. To quote Hendrix, Mountain Lion is a frustrating mess. I could write pages upon pages of all the hinky stuff it does on its own.

    And hey, “caveat” is always a noun, never a verb. Using it as a verb makes about as much sense as using “kiosk” as a verb.

  269. Bob says:

    Apparently not getting any better. I finally switch to Mac and they turn it into a windows machine, too funny, and about that iPhone iOS7, what idiot …

  270. […] First, my statement that iOS is “becoming awful.” Faithful readers know I’m not a fan of iOS. I switched to Android almost two years ago, and I’ve never looked back. But it’s not […]

  271. That lady in Austin says:

    I LOVED reading your rant. I am happily married and apparently so are you, but I still love you. We TRY to pay Apple for movies on Netflix but there is always some need for a password entry, and it is never the right one – so OK, stop everything, find the password list that must have dates for Apple apps, make another new one, and recently they are all variations on FuckYouApple1 or IFucking Hate Apple2 (because …1 was already in use). The Apple “help” sites are useless, and yes it does seem to be our faults – such unworthy Apple worshipers are we. I Googled “apple passwords” and got a bunch of hits – changed the search to “apple passwords + fucking annoying” and got 49,200,000 hits. Ha ha. And yeah, they don’t care. Well, Mr. Battelle, I hope you got some satisfaction somehow – you made my evening.

  272. Stuart mckay says:

    I was opening a screen shot as wanted to crop it with iphoto before sending it on and it took 40 minutes as iphoto kept “not responding”. This is a task that should take less than a minute tops. But that is not possible either as it takes about 5 minutes for iphoto to open once you select it.

    This happens every time I use it. When I started using home computers more than 10 years ago Windows had software that did all this in minutes, now 10 years on with the leaps in technology and the supposed fast processors why is this an issue??????

  273. David says:

    I had been using a ma pro book for the last 5 years. When it died I decided to go on with mac because of its simplicity of use and I really did not want to take time or energy in learning windows all over again, even though I could get a PC at a third of the price for what i needed. 3 months ago I bought the mac air. It has been a never needing struggle to understand what the heck is going on, and my first thought was ah well now that Steve Jobs has passed its just not the same anymore. I have had much the same frustrating experiences as you and your wife, and to be honest at this stage Im really sorry I spent the money, as I could of gone back and learnt how to use the windows with the same amount of energy, So this is one very unhappy customer, and there is no one really to complain to.

  274. Nicola says:

    Bad translations lead people to get into a better place. File maker is the example on how frustrating and annoying is to get the essential of a common DBRMS environment. I will continue to use my mac for what it’s worth for and continue to enjoy Windows to do my business. and that’s it.

  275. Kelsey says:

    I know this is an old post, but I’m so frustrated with my macbook air. I bought one in September. I have no clue why, i was thinking of durability. Worst decision ever. Not only did it cost me so much, I can’t do so many things on it. Everything is 10X more difficult to navigate around than PC. One time I spent one hour just trying to find out where my Library folder was. Yes, it was nowhere. Not to mention, all the other things that i can’t download and use that I used to do on my PC. The macbook randomly decides to shut off and not wake up at all. It does its own thing. I was told that its a common thing with MacBooks. Wish I had known beforehand. Sometimes it wakes up in a few seconds, but other times it takes 15 minutes or more. I’ve used it for 4 months and I still feel so unfamiliar with how things work. PC users stay away. Apple products are only pleasing on the eyes and are durable, but difficult and frustrating to use.

  276. Dennis says:

    I’ve also been a fan of Apple’s OS for many years, decades, in fact. I haven’t had the same issues, as you, mostly because I kept well away from the iphone for its first few years. I saw little changes in OSX over the years as Mac jumped the cat, but nothing really bugged me until the dumbo decision to drop ‘Save as’. Then, a few months ago, my brother gave me his old iphone 3GS and, boy, was I surprised to find…

    1. It wouldn’t let me transfer files using bluetooth or let me connect to my macbook air or any other computer without a cable, something my ancient Sony Ericsson can do, no problems.
    2. The alarm wouldn’t work when I turned it off. Again, all my other old phones never had a problem keeping the alarm functioning when switched off. With the iphone’s thirst for power, it seems even stupider that they didn’t have this function. Airplane mode’s an option, but that still draws more power than if switched off.
    3. There was no memory card as an alternative means of back-up or transfer.
    4. Files stored in the unit’s memory couldn’t be accessed via the device.
    5. It wouldn’t interface with non-Apple programs, e.g. I couldn’t add a ringtone to the phone without using itunes.
    6. Alarm couldn’t be set for gradual increase in volume.
    7. Same was true with ringer.
    8. The only way to send to or receive images from the iphone was through an attachment to an email.
    9. There was no access to the sub-folder items except via apple’s programs.
    10. Even with every, and I mean every, setting governing data communication switched off, it would still send and receive information. I found out because I was being charged for data and nobody, Genii and their masters included, could tell me why. This was in Australia though. Maybe different on other networks.
    11. I had to jump through all sorts of hoops to make my own ringtones.

    Now, I know some of this stuff’s probably been fixed in later iphones, but It became apparent from a large number of the design limitations that the real problem was that Apple had gone bad.

    The fact that jailbroken phones could do things that Apple’s releases couldn’t (Video on early iphones, for example, or transferring contact info from the phone to the SIM) revealed that Apple had withheld capabilities from its phones as a means of planned obsolescence, and their design and usage restrictions were intended to corral customers into dependence on Apple systems. In short, they moved away from making money by making a product that people would want because it simply and practically served their customers’ needs and gave some of that up to move instead towards making their money by turning their customers into cattle to serve Apple’s machinery, both corporate and actual, and promoting pretty idols.

  277. AussieinHK says:

    I’ve been in IT for close to 30 years. Spent 20 of those working with Apple products. I am what most people would call a bigot or Fanboi.

    In my opinion, there is no doubt Apple, along with any other electronics manufacturer have become harder to use.

    How may on this forum can set a microwave clock, let alone set your iPad to remotely control your Apple TV or port forward video through your router, so you can show Grandma her Grandchildren on your iPhone.

    I think we are all expecting so much more from our daily IT and there is no real instruction manual for it. Does not matter if it’s Apple, Samsung, IBM, LG or who ever.

    Though I personally used to expect better from Apple and they have joined the nerds only community in the last few years.

  278. Natural Nurture says:

    John I am standing at your side…been a Mac Hac for a quarter century….the old systems didn’t do as much but what the did DO IS WORK…so productivity was king not the colour of the box. The thirteen year olds have take over our ship…colour is king…toys r’ us…but productivity is down the tube.
    Just bought an iPhone…love it and hate it…ps…bought the 64G and wished I didn’t… now that I know you can swap out the memory for a tenth the cost…Apple is just another proprietary drone….you need to be a techmech but you can swap out your own replacement battery…But the Apple gouger’s even chip the power cords etc…to scare or prevent you form using them…plug in third party cords which you paid less than ⅓ the cost of apple’s…manefest a POPUP…”this is not Apple approved…your machine, your data and your home could blowup before you can call 911 if you use this power cord and not our overpriced ones we make out of recycled coat hangers.”

    WHY is there not a smart little video that comes installed…and POPSUP when you open the box and says————
    “hey fella…you want to make your life easy and find out neat stuff like double tap the space bar and you get a period…the camera works as a great macro and telephoto…but you need to know how…and you can even use you earbud remote as cable release….blah blah….if you haven’t got time now come back when you get frustrated and we will show you how to make all the settings work for you…” and “when you want more space you can scrub this video or leave it on for when YOUR memory goes.”

    IT AINT you JOHN…it is Apple which has become rotten to the core and festering with CUPIDITY! As many have said they are the new Billy Boxes that MicroSoft peddles.
    CUPIDITY has trumped PRODUCTIVITY, Sadly…money corrupts and big money corrupts BIGGLY, PIGGLY and HIGGLY!

  279. Natural Nurture says:

    PS…when I wrote below…this was Tuesday – March 18, 2014
    and with all the latest updates on both Macbook Pro and iPhone 5s…not much has changed…except better and faster ways to sell books, music, printing, disk space, accessories and consumer anguish.
    THEY have shot themselves in the foot…complacency doesn’t work in retail.

  280. Chance Williams says:

    Word. And it’s gotten even worse since this article was written.

  281. jamie says:

    Oh man…I was looking on the internet to see if anyone felt similar to me in that Apple has declined….you nailed it. I laughed, I cried, and I felt hugged by your article. iPhoto can suck it!!!! And this new post-Jobs Apple as well…not to be beating a dead horse (heh) but come on, it’s an awfully weird coincidence that Apple started becoming shit when Cook took over.

  282. John says:

    Amen! I’ve also been a mac guy since the 80’s, and I’m fairly tech savvy. Apple’s appeal has always been ease of use and intuitive design. Not only are they now constantly pushing new useless frills, their “fixes” are upgrades which add little new value and simply create more problems. I’m so sick of having to re-learn how my phone works every 3 months! Do I really need to learn a new alarm clock, I mean seriously how many “new” ways are there to wake up? I actually think they started down this road with itunes and the concept of sync, which was a good idea they totally blew out of proportion. Whatever happened to true drag and drop? I want this file on this drive, I just did it, done! Now I have to fumble through countless setting to ensure one file syncs to a different device and stays there! The beginning of the end….

  283. Danny Halverson says:

    You’re right. I have an IQ of 150 and I’ve spent many hours just trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my photos.
    I’m going to spend another 15 hours, probably, resolving the fact that I can’t get all my music in one place and “iTunes Match” isn’t working and my old Apple IDs keep popping up.

    My observation is that the source of this “incomprehensible user experience” issue lies in the word “intuitive”. Apple uses the word “intuitive” to give their products an aura of effortlessness.

    That’s a mistake for two reasons:
    1. Effortlessness is an impossibility because it’s an idea where “the current amount of effort required to do a task is unacceptably high” is a sentence that applies at all times and creates infinite dissatisfaction with any required effort at all. Doing things “the easy way” is a doomed way of going about life or anything. Life takes effort; learn to enjoy the exertion.
    2. You don’t know something until you learn it. That’s too simple for some to digest so let me rephrase: If you don’t first tell me that the photos in the photo folder called “Photostream” get deleted after a month then I won’t know that fact. I thought my photos were safe there–but they weren’t and I lost about 50 photos. FLUNK! That. Is. Not. Intuitive. Tutorials for things are in the obscure corners of Apple’s website. Though half the time you search for a solution online, you just encounter other people with the same problem and no solution.

    “Intuitiveness” has gotten out of hand and it’s time Apple starts telling us how to do
    things before we try to do them.

    Apple, you are not simple anymore. Please become simple again.

  284. nastybrutishshort says:

    My boyfriend’s getting on (I’m older) and he cannot “get” the new ical; 1. it’s grey; he cannot see it. 2. the lines are too thin; he cannot see them. but worst of all because he can not really see the grid, he’s entering his appointments under the date, yes, but it’s the wrong date because the grid & text are almost invisible, he doesn’t see that the date is at the Right (incorrect) side of the space; he’s entering his stuff for Tuesday under Wednesday, and is consequently a day late. Together we are trying hard to second-guess every darned appointment; I’m on an older mac so I can read the type and see the grids so I’m the date champ. But I’d like to help him more, and give him a version of my old ical. Help please; I’m getting older too and what if I have to have a new computer then we are both f****d. I’m beginning to despise Apple; Steve would NEVER have approved the latest icons on that darned phone.

  285. Tom says:

    no you are correct, I use apple stuff but the products and service of apple has become very bad. my ‘genius’ bar appointment just deleted itself and apple don’t know or care why… my mac laptop always dies and apple can’t / don’t help, the ‘genius’ kids at the shops never know anything and all say different answers to the same question. apple products are way over-priced, the culture is elitist and smug, everything breaks as much now as my old PC hardware, they change everything but never actually make anything better. update update for the sake of it. nothing is intuitive anymore. i would not be surprised to see apple decline it’s market share a lot in the future over google and microsoft even though i can’t stand either of those. i will use my sketchy apple stuff only because i don’t have any choice.

  286. michaelgeebee says:

    Was impressed and converted when the Mac came out.
    Soldiered through Vista, and the tried the newer Apple products
    Tried ipad – went back to Windows XP (I love you) and 8
    Tried iphone – went back to blackberry (sorry I said all those mean things about you)
    Maybe I’m missing something, but unless you have a lot of spare time on your hands, the patience of a saint, and you enjoy poking yourself in the eye, Apple products are CRAP.
    But full marks for marketing and fooling people that it is a “superior” system.
    I’d rather use Linux.