Five things Apple needs to fix now

Five things Apple needs to fix now

Summary: Here are five suggestions for Apple on how it could improve its products and services.

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Over the past couple few decades, Apple has come from nowhere to totally dominate and define the consumer electronics market with products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. The company has built up a global reputation for outstanding quality and service, but there are still areas where the company could significantly improve its offering to customers.

Here are five areas that Apple could focus on if it wanted to go that extra mile and help make things better for its customers.

iTunes

This product makes it to the top of the list, and with good reason. It is a purely execrable piece of software.

Without a doubt the one thing that Apple could put effort into fixing that would help millions of its users is iTunes. When iTunes was just a media player and a conduit into the iTunes Store, I was happy because I could ignore it. I didn't use it, and I pitied anyone who did.

That changed with my first iPod. Now I was tied to iTunes and there was nothing I could do.

It was a slippery slope.

I have iPhones, iPads and iPods which all rely on iTunes in one way or another, so I'm more tied into iTunes than ever. Work that Apple put into iOS 5 means that I need iTunes less than I once did, but there's a long way to go before iOS devices are truly standalone.

If it were just one big thing that was wrong with iTunes then it would be easy to offer suggestions on how to fix it. Problem is, iTunes is one big mess. It's a mess because Apple has bolted-on so many new features and support for new devices without putting much effort into the underlying architecture. It's resulted in a bloated, slow, buggy, unreliable, cumbersome, hard-to-use application.

This is a product that needs to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch.

Safari Mobile

Both my iPhone and my iPad have a connection to the web. They both have a built-in web browser. You'd think that the web browsers would be tuned to give me the best possible experience when I'm on the move, especially when I'm paying for every byte I'm consuming?

I wish.

Visually, Safari Mobile is a fantastic browser and does a brilliant job of rendering websites on a tiny screen. It's quite an achievement that I can visit and use a website that is designed for a big screen on a 3.5-inch screen. That's very impressive, and a feat of programming that we would have once thought impossible.

But that doesn't mean that Safari Mobile is perfect. It's far from perfect. The biggest and most glaring problem with the browser is its inability to handle multiple tabs without periodically deciding that it has to reload all the pages. On a Wi-Fi connection, this is an annoyance -- but on a 3G connection, it's actually costing me money.

While sometimes the browser seems to be loading the pages from cache, other times it reloads them from the server. A mobile web browser should strive not to do this. There are always going to be times when it has to take a trip back to the server for a variety of reasons, but in an ideal world these trips shouldn't happen often. I'm seeing this behavior far too often on my iPhone and iPad, especially when I have multiple tabs open, and Apple needs to fix it.

Hardware pricing

While I don't mean the price of Apple's products, I spend time considering what Apple charges for optional upgrades, particularly for Macs.

Take for example the MacBook Pro. Why does Apple want to charge $200 for a bump up from 4GB of RAM to 8GB -- effectively charging me $200 for 4GB, because the first 4GB is in the base price -- when I can buy 16GB of RAM from a vendor like Crucial for $240? It's crazy.

This is just one example of many that you'll come across if you compare upgrade prices on the App site to the true cost of the hardware.

I understand that companies need to turn a profit, but some of Apple's upgrade prices are truly outrageous.

OS X security

Over the past few weeks, we've seen the Flashback malware take control of over 600,000 Macs by leveraging a flaw with the Java platform that Oracle had fixed, but Apple continues to drag its feet, leaving OS X users vulnerable.

Mac users have enjoyed the longest period without having to worry about malware, but that's now changed. The bad guys are eyeing the platform, and users need to be aware of this. We need to put aside these "my OS is better than your OS" squabbles and help get the word out to average users that there's an emerging threat out there. It's time to accept the fact that if you can write code for a platform, it's possible to write malware for that platform.

Apple could do three things here. Firstly, the company needs to get serious about patching vulnerable code in a timely fashion by not leaving it to fester on systems for months. Patching is the first line of defense against malware. Secondly, Apple should build more malware protection into the platform, perhaps by adding full antivirus protection direct to the operating system. Finally, Apple needs to better inform users of the risks that malware presents to their Macs.

iOS Wi-Fi Sync

One of the new features of iOS 5 is the ability to sync iOS devices without needing a cable connection between the device and the PC or Mac.

It's a great bit of technology -- when it works.

Wi-Fi Sync in my experience works perfectly with the iPad, but doesn't work for the iPhone. Why? I wouldn't know. It used to work but then all of a sudden decided it wasn't going to work any more. I've been through all the help documentation that Apple has produced and none of the suggestions have helped.

I'm not alone. Wi-Fi Sync either doesn't work, or has stopped working with no real reason, for a lot of people.

The problem is that the mechanism is too simplistic. I'm supposed to check a box and it's meant to work. But when it doesn't work, or it stops working, that one check box doesn't offer any feedback or diagnostics. All I know is that the function doesn't work. I wish it did, but Apple is no help in getting it to work.

Wi-Fi Sync is a great feature, but right now it seems far too fragile, with it breaking for people and they not having a clue as to why it no longer works.

Image credits: Apple.

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Topics: Security, Apple, Browser, Hardware, iPhone, iPad, Malware, Mobile OS, Mobility

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147 comments
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  • How about iCloud?

    It might just be me, but all of Apple's cloud services are buggy or just plain broken. iMessages take 15 minutes to sync across devices. iTunes Match not only can't update play counts and smart lists, but actually screws up your iTunes library by messing with your files' metadata. Restoring from an iCloud backup sometimes takes several tries.

    Etc.

    I wish these issues, and the ones you mention, would get fixed before introducing new stuff.
    phronk
    • I will say that I am sad at how Safari has turned into a mobile brower.

      When I first started using the iPhone (iPhone 3G) it was a full browser. Nothing 'mobile' about it. Now it seems web sites recognize the browser requests are from an iPhone so they move into a 'mobile' display instead of full browser. This limits what I can do.

      Wish that would change.
      The Danger is Microsoft
    • Growing Pains?

      I have not had the problems you have with iCloud but it does seem you take it a bit further than I at least with iTunes Match. Not making excuses for them but with the rapid growth of iCloud is it growing pains? I did have issues with MobileMe before iCloud but those all seemed to be specific to the integration with Windows. Still Apples fault but not overall issues with the service.
      non-biased
  • Five things Apple needs to fix now

    6. Denial - Apple needs to recognize that their products have issues and to stop denying that it does.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • 7. Loverock Davidson

      Apple needs to recognize he's a Windows zealot and clueless about anything IT related because he has no IT qualifications.
      Pete&Pete
      • Jealous

        I understand you are jealous of me, but posting your jealousy all the time is hurting your image. Meanwhile, I can bask in the glow of knowing that I'm appreciated and looked up to by you :)
        Loverock Davidson-
      • Believe me, LRD, it's not jealousy, it's pity

        Rarely, very rarely, do you prove you even understand what you're saying, much less what the article discusses.
        Vulpinemac
      • @Loverock

        Jealous of what? I will gladly post my IT qualifications and background I've been in the industry over 25 years and have worked with just about every platform out there including industry certifications and degrees under my belt.

        All you have to show is a constant feverish love for Ballmer's sweaty pits and catcalls from the sidelines.
        Pete&Pete
    • What denial?

      Antennagate was completely overblown as was Batterygate. With the malware issues Apple came up with their own solution for that.

      It's not Apple so much as it is the Apple Store Geniuses and the raving frothing at the mouth lunatic fanbois that deny any issues with Apple hardware. Heck there are some who still deny the very existence of any sort of Mac malware despite documented proof and Apple's having written and incorporated an antimalware solution.
      NonFanboy
      • I agree with that (mostly)

        While I believe it is mostly the Apple Fanboys and Anti-Microsoft crowd that continue to fuel this denial of Malware and Apple products having any sort of issue Apple is not always the most forthcoming to release their faults and issues and reassuring their customers they are trying to fix the problem. A major part of this problem was Apple's own commercials that essentially implied that Apple computers were invulnerable to viruses leaving out the facts that other forms of Malware exist and the fact that most people refer to all Malware and attempts to exploit a computer as a virus. They may have clarified PC viruses but did pretty much nothing to expose the fact that MacOS malware and exploits do exist and could be a real threat. Naive people purchased Macs thinking they are invincible and some even wiped away MacOS and installed Windows with no protection simply because they believed Apple computers could not get a virus not realizing that the virus/malware targets the operating system or piece of software and not the brand of computer.

        As Apple gains ground so does the temptation to try and exploit it and the people that use them. And in this day and age it is easier to trick the user of the computer than to directly exploit the OS so an actual virus is not much of a threat on any computer unless a user was tricked into letting a piece of Malware in like a trojan that opened the door to let the viruses in.
        bobiroc
      • Fab Boys = Apple Zombies

        How true. I call the fan boys Apple zombies--those who are so indoctrinated that they can't see any Apple fault and, thus, will go to any illogical extreme to jusify the existence of any Apple fault.
        Znod
      • Apple Denial

        The fish rots at the head. Steve Jobs was at the head and he is the king of denial and set the corporate culture for the way Apple deals with problems.
        If you look up denial in the dictionary, you will find a message from Steve Jobs telling users they are holding it wrong!
        warboat
      • Right and wrong.

        Your right in that the real problem is with the Apple Store (so called) Geniuses and the raving frothing at the mouth lunatic fanbois, but your wrong in implying that Apple themselves has not played a very significant part in creating that atmosphere.

        There can be no denying this as the proof was in the Apple guy commercials, which were created by Apple and not the Apple Geniuses and rabid fanbois. Apple themselves, for the most part, have worked quietly in the background to foster this image of perfection about Macs and have been a fair bit more proactive at times in being downright avoidant in addressing the truth about issues. Its been going on for years.

        It wouldnt hurt Apple these days to simply speak about real problems and issues with their products as opposed to pretending they dont need to talk about them and then simply, eventually, silently push out the fix and say no more.

        Apples silence, or near silence on these things only foster a false sense of superiority in too many Mac users in particular and when, not if, but when the day arrives where something unavoidably bad happens it will really cause a backlash with the Joe Averages who were misguided into thinking the purchase of a Mac meant a tragedy couldnt happen.
        Cayble
      • Same but different colors

        @Znod There are definitely Apple Zombies as you call them out there but you do realize that there are equal numbers of fanboys and/or haters for each and every OS out there right? None are any better than the others but many try to pretend that they only exist for Apple products when all you have to do is read a thread or two around here to know that is false.
        non-biased
    • Number 7

      7. not require a credit card for new appstore users even if they just want to download free apps. I know a few people who do not use the appstore with their iphones because they don't want to supply their credit card info or they simply don't have a credit card. They ask me how they can get apps without going thru the appstore. I don't bother telling them about Cydia. I just shake my head in disgust and extend them my condolences.
      What about if a corporation was issuing iOS devices to employees. Do they have to get them a credit card as well? It's stupid and impractical.
      warboat
      • Actually...

        You just sign up for a free Apple ID without entering any payment information. I just did it for my mother who no longer uses credit cards. The prompt for entering credit card information is there as a convenience.
        ShockMe
      • You don't care

        Don't lie, you couldn't care less about this but only brought it up (or made it up might be more accurate) as you thought it was yet another way to bash Apple.
        non-biased
    • Never in denial, but never in trouble "YET" either.

      The fact I own and love both Apple and PC products convinces me for the quality and lack of problems with Apple products. PCs, generally you get what you pay for due to choice in hardware. I have experienced no dramatic or serious issues with my Apple products (as of yet) and haven't experienced the wrath of malware or viruses on any of my PCs since before XP service pack 1 . What I find funny is the incessant anal (almost tortuous) rants of people who prefer other hardware, of if you run Windows, Linux, OSX, UNIX, Android, iOS, or any other operating system and it is just so superior to anyone else's. I see you are a top rated post. How funny so many other users find it they have to agree that anything Apple is not the superior hardware that so many users already realize is just a machine (data in, data out) I won't knock PC I've been mashing its keys since DOS. I won't fault Apple, I've only reloaded OSX roughly three times since 2002 and the first time was due to my loading it with too much unessential freeware while tinkering with the OS. The others were clean installs of OSX when I upgraded, and even I admit Lion is not as nimble as Snow Leopard was. Apple is not perfect, I agree. Now that we agree can you disappear and please take other close minded people with you.
      partman1969
    • nonfanboy

      "Gate" - where did this idiotic suffix come from? Also the antenna issue was not blown out of proportion when the CEO was told of it by an engineer months before it came out... Said CEO telling customers they were "holding it wrong" was outlandish and unethical. These issues can be found quickly in a web search.

      Warboat-

      Agreed but despite Jobs I do like Apple. The more I read about Tim Cook's actions the more I will grow to love Apple again. E.g. the recent iPad 3 captures to confirm a defect for possible recall...
      HypnoToad72
      • Don't Assume (chuckle)

        [quote]E.g. the recent iPad 3 captures to confirm a defect for possible recall... [/quote]

        They are gathering them for analysis. What they do beyond that is anyones guess until Apple actually does something (or does nothing...).
        rhonin