#Ideas,  #Tech

Why I’m Breaking Up With Apple

26 min read...

Background

I’ve been an Apple user since I can remember. My first computer was an Apple IIe. I’ve used whatever version of Windows (or DOS) for about as long. BSD Unix came in a bit later, as well as Linux. I was compiling Linux Kernels before it was cool, and before Google had all the answers.

I’ve owned G3’s, G4’s, PowerMac’s, survived the Intel transition, bought the first (and subsequent) iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods… The last count, I own an AppleWatch, iPhone XS Max, iPad Pro, AppleTV, retina MacBook Pro, and AirPods. I’ve used AppleMusic, AppleNews, have iTunes Match, AppleTV and iCloud.

I’ve mourned the loss of Xserve and MacOS X Server, Aperture and a whole host of other products. I’ve been happy to be an early adopter, but recently, the amount of odd issues and problems I’ve encountered with day to day use has put me over the edge.

The Griviences

Since the area of Steve 2.0, I’ve seen the vision of what Apple is trying to accomplish, and for the most part, has made my life better, easier, or more pleasant. I’ve appreciated them taking bold leaps, like supporting USB, killing the floppy drive, making CD & DVD burning accessible to the masses, pushing laptop standards, making handheld computing useable, and many many other things. I really appreciate the attention to design astatic, pushing material science to the limit, retina everywhere, seriously, this is about the only thing keeping me Apple at this point… and maybe iMessage.

🙄

I’ve been called an Apple fanboy in the past, and have had countless heated debates with my PC friends. I was a Mac user before it was cool, back when there was a community by association because you needed something that only Apple was doing or could accomplish well– in those days we needed each other!

I’ve been losing sight as to where Apple is going for a few years now. It’s been getting more and more fuzzy as the focus seems to have switched to iPhones & iPhone accessaries (AppleWatch, AirPods, HomePod).

The new MacPro hit with a buzz. What folks missed, and the press often leaves out is, Apple left the MacPro line in the search for over 6 years… and seemingly forgot about it. What they created is essentially a PC with insane modualgerality and cooling. The new GPU design is neat, but it’s proprietary to Apple, something Apple is becoming increasingly good at (and some might argue has been good at for a long time). Afterburner is a great addition, but 3 or 4 “PC” vendors have similar products.

The 2019 Mac Pro 12-Core runs Adobe Pro Apps 31% to 66% faster than the 2010 Mac Pro 12-Core with a fast AMD GPU.

Rob-ART ~ barefeats.com

30-60% faster might sound like a huge upgrade, but we’re talking about a machine that’s 9 years newer. We’re also talking about an app suite that runs very well on Windows and supports the much better and faster NVIDIA GPUs.

The new MacPro is one of the best examples of what Apple has been excelling at for years and in the past few, has mastered… creating buzz around their products. Apple is increasingly ditching traditional media and has been focusing on ‘social media influencers,’ these folks get stuff for free and tend to give positive reviews… that’s not surprising.

The problem seems to be that Apple competes with itself and its own products. This was working pretty well for them in the iPhone/iPad/iPod space, since they were the first out there, and you can’t compete with what doesn’t exist. This, however, especially recently, has cost them a lot in my opinion. Other venders have caught up or surpassed Apple. Apple has largely ignored this and keeps competing with itself. They’ve completely ignored the MacPro market for a solid 6 years, without even a mention of something new until the last WWDC. It’s very difficult to run a business, let alone a small one with no dependable hardware roadmap. When time is money, speed matters, and the newest hardware often means more profits and the ability to take on more work.

macOS is lagging behind Windows and even stand out features are now freely available on Linux platforms. Most of Apple’s core OS features, depend on its existing products or services. While the new Mac Pro might be an entry-level Pro Workstation, the OS, just simply is not. It’s also increasingly more difficult to make the Unix roots work with standard OSS software and tools. The Linux ecosystem has become much more stable and user-friendly on the desktop and the package management far surpasses Apple’s App Store. It seems they intend to make macOS the desktop version of iOS. And it seems a majority of the work that went into macOS 10.15 was to prep for tighter more iOS-like integrations. Neat.

iOS, on the other hand, was pretty groundbreaking at its release and for years after. For a while, Apple had unrealistic battery life on iPhones. It blew the competition out of the water. They maintained tight control over background services, pretty much disallowing them for the first few years all together. Hell, they didn’t even have apps at launch… It’s too bad web apps never fully took off… Apple was ahead of the times too far there. This philosophy has increasingly walled off iOS, iPhone, and iPad from any user input outside of Apple-approved apps and services. Once they stop supporting the hardware, your OS doesn’t update and you have no other OS options. Google does similar to Android and ChromeOS, which I think they’ve learned from Apple. Most Android phones, however, can be loaded with alternative versions of Android and maintain support from other vendors or community volunteers.

I’ve been experimenting with a 2012 Nexus 5, which can run modern UbuntuTouch Linux or a number of Android folks such as privacy-focused /e/ or LineageOS. There are plenty of other options out there too. That hardware keeps working, supporting 4G LTE, HD video, and makes and receives calls just fine in 2019… going into 2020. While an iPhone might keep working, Apple iOS doesn’t receive updates for improvements or security. There is no hard support dropoff, something else Apple is great at (not communicating), but it’s usually around 5 years of OS support.

I do get it, they want you to buy new, and they don’t want to support old… but they refuse to let you, the customer, the one who purchased the hardware, make the choice if you want to keep using that hardware or a different operating system. Something that works better on Android devices, not that Google makes it easy. PC’s of course, support BSD and Linux for seemingly ever.

It use to be true that each year, hardware leapfrogged and you got more power, faster speeds, better battery, etc. This is less and less true for MOST people. Moreover, what Apple does innovate, well, it’s nowhere near as exciting or better– especially when you consider prices keep increasing. The $400-$600 iPhone every 1-2 years is now $1100. It may have been easy to justify shelling out $600 for a brighter screen, and a couple of extra hours of battery life, but with this year, a better camera, some AR features… maybe not so much. Apple, of course, has made it easier for you to purchase their products, providing payment plans and “cash back” if you charge (aka borrow) the purchase to your Apple credit card.

The stuff is just expensive. I don’t mind paying a premium for quality, and I have been for 15+ years. However, other manufacturers are getting pretty comparable in terms of hardware, and Windows is pretty stable these days.

Apple doesn’t help things by making 32-bit macOS 10.15 apps obsolete, I still have flashbacks from the OS 9 -> OS X days of classic or PPC -> Intel Rosetta days. Pushing the envelope means making concessions and I get that, but there are better ways to do it. Dropping 32-bit brings macOS closer to iOS and drops a lot of system baggage, space most people probably don’t use… hopefully you don’t own a creative studio, depending on expensive 3rd party hardware… anything in sound or video, a lot of the ‘older’ stuff just works™️ fine, but the software doesn’t get updated. Hardware from everyone isn’t getting cheaper, and it’s the prosumers, the startups and the independent contractors that are getting hut by these decisions.

I got bit by this, finding out my $400 sound card no longer worked with macOS 10.15, due to Apple dropping 32-bit driver support. They’ve made quite a few changes on how things interact with the kernel, the most fundamental level of the OS. They say it’s for security, and there is some truth to that, however, it’s broken a lot of 3rd party stuff, a lot of which workes perfectly well, but left not working with Apple’s most recent OS.

Throw It Away

It’s become too much about throw-a-way. Thin and light is amazing… I remember the days of a 1+ inch (2.54+ cm) thick 5+ lb (2.2+ kg) laptops being thin and light. I welcome the advancements, however, it’s increasingly lead to a throwaway culture of Apple products. First, it was making the battery internal. Which leads to soldering ram directly to the logic board. Then we got directly integrating the storage into the logic board, of course, each step shaved a few mm here and there.

Now, I fully understand the desire to innovate on this front, and technology has gotten a lot better. Batteries will last nearly all day, bad ram sticks rarely go bad in the lifetime of the machine (enterprise/data center is a different story), SSD’s, will in theory last the average consumer 5-10 years, which has historically been deemed the useful life of the machine.

The thing folks don’t talk about as much, making the battery internal, makes it much more expensive to replace if it does go bad or no longer lasts as long as you’d like. When Apple internalized them, the average battery life was ~300 discharge/recharge cycles @ 80%. What that means, is that you can fully charge and discharge the battery ~300 times and it’s expected to hold 80% of its design capacity. They moved to ~1,000 cycles, and even then, 80% of 10 hours is 8 hours, which is probably more than enough for most people. The match isn’t exact here, you might end up with 9 hrs after 1,000 cycles, maybe 10, or even 6, but for most people and most use cases Apple has deemed that acceptable… they’re also betting you’ll be buying a new machine from them.

I’m increasingly finding myself in the category of “this just works™️.”

Ram. It’s true it rarely goes bad in consumer devices, it does happen. It’s likely to happen under warranty or late in the useful life of the machine. I partly agree with this decision, however, I don’t agree with the pricing model. Apple charges obscene prices for storage and RAM. To max out the RAM in the new MacPro costs $25,000 from Apple, which is ~30% more than buying bulk from a RAM vendor. At least you have that option, most Macs don’t have an aftermarket upgrade and you’re stuck with Apple’s 25-50% RAM markup. I saw an article a long time ago that suggested most people (80-83%, it was a long time ago) never upgraded the RAM or drive in their Mac. Neat.

Some of us do, or some of us expect to be able to do so in the future. The jump from HDD to SSD was huge, but for most people, even the slowest SSD is fast enough. Spec porn will always exist, but what are you actually doing that you need 2,000 MB/s throughput on a laptop?.. maybe 4K/8K video?.. you’re likely not the folks I’m talking about when I say most people.

Since there is no possibility to get RAM after the fact, Apple can and does charge whatever it thinks the market will bear. It’s usually 25-50% more than other companies. And folks, most RAM and specifically RAM chips come from a handful of factories. And you don’t have to take my word for it, look at a competitor (though many are increasingly copying Apple on this, looking specifically at Google phone and Chromebook pricing over time). It’s also a bummer to buy a system with 8GB of RAM and realize that in the future, you need more, but can’t upgrade because everything is soldered in place.

SSD’s are the same way. Spinning HDD’s use to be considered ware parts since they were mechanical (just like fans). This isn’t so much true anymore, but writing data to an SSD is destructive and over time it will fail. Most manufacturers have a warranty write limit to drives. Many will last longer, but if they don’t it’s on you. In the case of Apple, it’s a new logic board, a $700+ expense. Let’s just ignore the rest of the logic board (CPU, RAM, etc is likely perfectly fine). Again, throw away for the sake of a few mm of thinness.

Useful Life

Apple seems to unofficially think that computers/phones should last and be supported ~5 years. That’s a 1 yr warranty; up to 3 years with an extended warranty, and 2ish years running outside of warranty. Apple typically has parts up to the 7-year mark (because they’re required by law to in some countries and states). That seems reasonable right? Maybe, more on that in a bit.

Apple is making things like AirPods that have almost 0 chance of being repaired. A lot of internet folks expressed issues with AirPod battery life 1-2 years in (up 80% decrease), which seems reasonable, the tiny batteries succumb to physics far more quickly than their larger and more robust counterparts. Batteries have a finite useful life and eventually will no longer hold a charge. The Apple TV is largely unrepairable too– the iPhone is increasingly this way (the HomePod is largely unrepairable as it s the AppleWatch).

The worst part of all of this: if Apple decides to stop supporting the device, you either have to buy a new one, or you risk running unpatched, unsecured devices. In a world where what you have on your device runs most of your life (bank apps, credit cards, social networks, communications, etc.), this is an increasingly large risk to run. But what if that device still works for you or what you need it to do?

But, My Device Still Works For Me

I’m a highly technical person, I’ve been doing “tech” for over 15 years. I can write code, run any OS, physically modify hardware, solder, you name it, I’ve probably had some exposure to it; however, I’m increasingly finding myself in the category of “this just works™️.” I don’t need the newest thing, this especially true because I tend to buy on the higher end. Even “low end” tech is surprisingly ‘future proof’ anymore. We’re not really in the old area of you need better hardware to run newer software. Even then, CPU advances and higher RAM capacity often made buying a new computer more affordable than upgrading. Again, I’m talking most people here. Most people run some niche software (Card Maker Pro anyone?) they don’t want to pay to upgrade and do almost everything else in a web browser. Maybe a little word processing or gaming. The reality is most people are just using their phones or other “mobile devices.”

For example, the MacBook Pro I’m typing this on is a 2018 (ZOMG better run out and upgrade), has a quad-core Intel i7 processor “8000 series aka 8th gen” with 8 threads. In a speed test comparing this to my still chugging along with desktop featuring a quad-core i7 “3000 series aka 3rd gen” 8 thread processor. While this isn’t an Apples to Apples 😈 comparison, here’s a quick breakdown:

DesktopLaptop
i7-3770i7-8559U
4 cores/ 8 threads4 cores/ 8 threads
Base 3.4 GHz, boost 3.9 GHzBase 2.7 GHz, boost 4.5 GHz
TDP 77WTDP 25W
8MB Cache8MB Cache, 128MB eDRAM

On paper, they’re fairly similar, and yes, I realize we’re comparing a desktop and laptop, and there’s a lot more that goes into “speed” then Watts and numbers… the point here is, my 5 generations newer, laptop processor is 30-60% faster in any given task then my going on 8-year-old desktop. It’s quite impressive since laptops in most tasks have never been able to get anywhere close to a desktop performance until recently (and no, this is little to do with Apple and far more to do with Intel). The best part is, I can’t even use the full performance of my new Intel chip, because of the thin obsession of Apple products, which decreases the capacity to shed heat “thermals” and makes the processor run slower than it’s capable of due to excess heat.

This still might seem like a big deal until we realize that my going on 8-year-old desktop does everything I need it to, just fine. The four cores and eight threads chug along just fine, 16GB of RAM is less used due to better OS ram utilization. I added an SSD that’s more than fast enough to meet my needs, and I’ve upgraded the GPU that can shred 4k.

Now, synthetic benchmarks show a clear faster advantage to my new hardware, however in things like booting up, launching an application, browsing and loading websites, and videos, there’s at most a few seconds of speed increase on the newer hardware. It’s almost unnoticeable when surfing the web or consuming content. Now, “pros” could benefit from increased performance, but for most people, they’d be more than happy with my 8-year-old desktop. It even holds its own in high FPS video games… a system with a newer CPU might be getting some more frames, but I don’t have the desire to game in 4K, everything drives my 2K monitory just fine… and frankly I don’t do much gaming anyway… and when I do it’s usually something that doesn’t require twitch like speed. Even doing content creating, like encoding audio and editing video is plenty fast. Yeah, my laptop might shave 30 sec off a task 🤷‍♂️.

Useful Life Part 2

The take away here is I’ve lightly upgraded my 8-year-old computer and it’s still “just as good” as a “brand new” machine in 2019 (going into 2020). It was able to accomplish this because it’s not a Mac. I anticipate keeping it for at least 2 more years, having it hit the 10-year mark… I haven’t even had a fan die.

I bought said desktop about 4 years ago when I tried to ditch Apple for the first time. I bout it refurbished for ~$300, and it came with an i3, 8GB of ram, 250GB HDD. In the next few months I got an SSD ~$120, an additional 8GB ram ~$50, nVidia 1050 TI GPU ~$120 (before GPUs got stupid expensive), and i7 processor upgrade ~$100. For about $700, I had at the time a pretty fast machine looking at performance per dollar, the CPU was only a couple generations old at that point. Today, it still works just fine running the latest Windows and Ubuntu Linux OSs. I compile software, run a handful of VMs, and contribute to scientific reasearch.

I ran tests running Windows on my Mac and desktop, and the numbers were as discussed above 30-60% faster on my laptop then desktop. However, using either, there is almost no perceptive difference between them, outside of boot times and some large file copies (Mac’s T2 controlled NVMe SSD is ludicrously fast).

It Just Works™️

This is why I’ve been an avid Apple support for so long. The tech was great, the design was great, Apple was innovating the space (solid metal construction, USB 1/2/3, retina screens, glass trackpads, ubiquitous backlight keyboards [but still not during boot?], OSX, AirDrop 5GHz wifi), Apple was on the leading edge of tech, but wasn’t early-adopting, the tech in the Mac worked, was stable, and it came in a great package.

Apple has had its share of bumps in product, more than a few buggy OS launches, but the whole package made it tolerable. The competition also wasn’t really competing (still waiting for that retina PC). This all started to change for me a couple of years ago.

~4 years ago, I was growing tired of my experience to abandon MacOS (~2 years in). The hardware was being outpaced by other manufactures more cheaply. I tried the Chromebook for a year. It’s great for 90% of what 90% of people want/need to do, but it fails miserably for what it isn’t good at. I have a similar observation for the iPad.

I hacked the Chromebook to run Linux and realized the quad-core Celeron, 4 GB ram and 64GB eMMC drive were more than powerful enough to drive basic computing at 13″ & 1080p. I think it cost me $230. I upgraded to a more powerful m3 Chromebook and it ran like a champ. I was unable to find decent and cheap hardware to run Linux on, at the time, Chromebook was as good as it got.

Having to hack the Chromebook to run Linux had a lot of quirks and some bugs. ~2 years into this I was still unable to find decent & reasonable hardware to run Linux cheaply. I wanted high-quality build, 1080P display 12-13″, and a modern CPU. The PineBook Pro, comes pretty close to this.

I ended up going to a 12″ MacBook after realizing how important a great screen is to me, and remembering Mac “just work™️” (most of the time). I also had a few instances where I needed an app that only supported Windows or OSX… and around that time Windows 8.x was a hard no for me.

I loved the 12″ Macbook. I would have loved an additional USB-C port, but having a dock/hub with me worked. I think Apple was a little early on USBC, and I think the rest of the world is still a little behind on adoption. I was using the Macbook for most work, using remote VMs for “real computing.” It did lack the power for somethings I needed it to do, and 8GB of RAM wasn’t enough (I do have some local VMs, and high compute requirements… also lots and lots of browser tabs). I’m fine waiting, but it was starting to really struggle with some tasks… and yes, I know it wasn’t designed to do what I was wanting… but it did do an OK job.

eGPU’s were starting to take off form hobbyist experiments to actual supported products (thanks Razor!). Apple in the sub 15″ MacBook has been using integrated GPUs for almost ever. They’re just fine for basic tasks, light video editing, and even light gaming, but I often required more GPU power and would have to use my desktop. I really hoped Apple would support this. At the time there were some hacks, but I wanted it to “just work™️.” I enjoy technical tinkering, but I want to tinker on my terms, most of the time, I want and expect stuff to work.

Some months pass and Apple officially supports eGPU’s, Thunderbolt 3 is announced with double the bandwidth of TB2, and eGPU’s become a viable alternative to integrated GPUs. It’s not 1:1 and there is a performance hit, but in my testing, with the same GPU in an eGPU vs desktop, I saw a 3-20% performance hit, which is just fine for most of my use cases.

I Took The Apple Plunge (Again 😐)

A few months later I decided I wanted one machine that I could use mobile (laptop) but also as a desktop (eGPU for more power). Ultimately, I wanted a minimal setup, and just one machine that could do everything I needed/wanted understanding that there would be some performance hit. I decided on buying a new (at the time) 2018 Apple MacBook Pro to accomplish this. I bought the Apple recommended eGPU box and even AMD Radeon 580 (after my newly purchased NVIDIA 1070 didn’t get GPU drivers in 10.14 [strike 1 for Apple], NVIDIA recently announced they won’t be supporting any GPU on macOS in the future).

I bought an i7 quad-core CPU up to 4.5 GHz (I was delighted Apple FINALLY released a sub-15″ laptop with a quad-core CPU), 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, eGPU w/ a Radeon 580 8GB RAM. I already had a 27″ 2K monitor, the only way I’d upgrade that would be to 27″ @ 5K (which got really complicated with eGPU and display options). I went into this setup as close to Apple supported as possible, after all, I wanted stuff to ‘just work™️.’

Being my first powerful Mac in years, it was great. I was and still am lukewarm on the touch bar (seems to add ~$130 to base price), love the fingerprint login (which PCs have had for many years), and retina screen ❤️. Now, I wasn’t a huge fan of the keyboard. This was v2, I had already replaced the keyboard on my MacBook after ~6 mo of use (which required a full logic board replacement and 5 days without my computer), luckily it was under warranty, as the full cost would have been ~$780, or about ~2/3 the cost of a new machine (clearly buying new is an incentive here).

Maybe this is a good time to note that ~3 years after my partner bought her MacBook Pro (and a few months after the warranty expired), the logic board and/or SSD died. Apple wanted $500 ish to fix it, (SSD was still detached in those days) but couldn’t tell us definitively what was wrong or how the new logic board would fix it, but they were sure that was the issue 🤷‍♂️. I fought with the Apple Store and Apple phone support, again no idea what the issue was but they knew a $500 logic board would do the trick. Maybe it was just bad soldered RAM?.. who knows. They offered a $100 gift card to the Apple store after a couple of calls and some complaining. I’m a highly technical person, I’m not accepting “no idea what’s wrong, but we’ll fix it *probably* for $500). So much for the customer first. Clearly, throw away the 3-year-old computer and buy a shiny new one was the push.

Anyway, v2 keyboard was better than v1, but I was gambling this one wouldn’t go out *hopefully* like the last… I wasn’t going to get AppleCare extended warranty within the 1 year period anyway (Apple changed the terms to 60 days sometime around month 6 for me, so I was SOL on that… strike 2 Apple). Meanwhile, Apple took a lot of heat for v2 of “fixed” keyboard (they just released v3 on the new 16″ MBP a few weeks ago in 2019). Maybe I could have called and fought them on terms changing, but I hadn’t had great luck with the blown-up MacBook Pro, and I wasn’t in a hurry to give Apple another $300 at this point.

macOS 10.14 was pretty decent, though I was experiencing issues with iOS 12, iCloud, AppleMatch (when did it ever actually work correctly?), AppleTV screen & audio streaming over AirPlay, and random “bugs” just showing up more and more. Pros and Cons, I still got more benefits than not, and Apple overall was still valuable to me. Watching the things Windows 10 was doing and Android, I was started to see them out-innovate Apple, but in the Apple bubble, folks were super happy to have Apple bring features into the platform, that were actually heavily borrowed from or flat out stolen from outside the Apple ecosystem.

I happily bought the AppleWatch Series 4 around this time and shortly after got the iPhone XS Max (qrstuv). macOS 10.15 and iOS 13 dropped along with iPad OS and WatchOS. This was the beginning of the end.

It Doesn’t ‘Just Work™️’ For Me Any More

I’ve been having crazy issues ever since macOS 10.15 and iOS 13 came out. I’ve spent countless hours troubleshooting, resetting, reinstalling etc. I’ve done everything possible to get my stuff to a useable state, after all, I’m a technical person. This, however, has been a HUGE deal-breaker for me. I pay a lot for Apple products, I expect them to mostly work. Sure there are bumps, but something has seriously broken at Apple over the past 4-5 years. This on top of what appears to be throw-a-way product design doesn’t sit well with me in a world that’s increasingly subject to climate change.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of what’s not currently working off the top of my head (seriously):

macOS

  • 32-bit apps
    • Knew this was coming for ~ 2 years, still grinds my gears there’s no way to install 32bit support or have some emulation layer such as Rosetta or Classic mode of years past. Broke some stuff I wasn’t expecting… 😐
  • Dongle madness
    • Not related to OS, but lacking USB 3.x in an A port configuration is and has been more painful than I thought. Most other vendors are including USB C ports as well as “old style” USB ports. Apple, in the pursuit of thinness, doesn’t do this, and it also hurts thermals & performance. We’re talking 1-2 MM (seems like they might have walked this back with the 16″ MBP)
  • Time Machine
    • While it works, it’s not compatible with snapshots (save a considerable amount of time transferring data)
    • It somehow finds 60 or so GBs of stuff to back up for me?.. seems wasteful… it’s no rsync
  • Handoff
    • Safari Tabs don’t always show
    • Application state sharing doesn’t work
  • AppleWatch Login
    • HUGELY ANNOYING, apple watch is supposed to log you in (after boot). I run docked often, and this has been awesome since I don’t have to enter my long password when waking from sleep
    • Now, while it continually fails to log me in, it will work to authenticate me on some password dialogue boxes (not all, seems to be part of security policy)
    • I’ve done everything, including reinstalling watchOS and macOS literally… it’ll work for 1-2 weeks to a month then stop working. No errors or anything. Running a Gen 4 watch & 2018 hardware… unacceptable
  • eGPU support
  • Has been broken for a lot of apps (especially games) due to API changes and sandboxing
    • This is a bit on app developers to update, but I’m not sure anyone was expecting this much pain. We’re ~6 mo into macOS 10.15.x, and stuff is still broken in macOS
    • Windows has no issues
  • App Store Updates
    • Updated prompt to update seconds after the update finished. Been an issue since 10.15
    • Either app store is broken, or all the app devs I use are incompetent?..
  • 2FA keys
  • HDCP?
    • AppleTV app refuses to play content on eGPU in 10.15.1. Maybe that’ll be fixed?.. who knows
    • Apple Support was super confused about support macOS app vs. physical product… super poor naming Apple.
  • AppleTV app
    • It’s so much worse than iTunes was. iOS even kept iTunes. I can’t find content I know exists.
    • Crashes a surprising amount of the time
  • It doesn’t support service integrations if there isn’t a macOS native app.
    • I have HBONow purchased through the iOS app, it integrates into iOS and AppleTVOS TV app (not confusing at all), but I can’t access via macOS AppleTV app. I either need to use Safari or buy an additional subscription through the macOS AppleTV app It just works™️ indeed. I’d maybe expect this on a different ecosystem
  • AppleNews randomly launching
    • No idea here, but decides to launch at random intervals randomly
  • Power Management
    • Battery life was an easy 10-12 hours in macOS 10.14.x, now I see 7-8 hours in 10.15.1… maybe it’ll be fixed?
    • I’ve been writing on wifi and listening to downloaded music over my AirPods, and I’m showing 3h18m on battery, with 41% left from 100%. The screen is ~60% bright. Same conditions in 10.14.x I’d be getting a solid 8-10 hours, same apps, same setup
  • 3rd party account mgmt
    • Things like Gmail and O365 have to be managed through system prefs, having issues in iCal and Mail.app…
  • Apple 2FA
    • Requires phone txt code…
    • Doesn’t support hardware keys
  • Apple Passwords
    • Apple is always asking me for my damn password
    • Even worse every time there’s an OS update
  • Sandboxing
    • App permissions have broken a lot of apps, isn’t a clear way to fix in some cases since permission asking seems to be inconsistent
    • I’m scared they’ll force all apps into this, especially now that they’re signed certs for non-app store apps
  • Bootcamp
    • Install process with T1/T2 chip is a bit of a mess, but somehow works
    • Not sure it’s possible to use Linux without disabling T2 security features
    • No TPM, so bit locker is less secure… glad Apple saved $2/device
  • eGPU is a mess
      • It seems to stem from how Apple allocates Thunderbolt addressing on the PCIe bus
    • Installing the initial driver is a fucking mess… I’ll write some tips in a different post
  • T2 chip
    • Increases vendor lock-in 
    • USB book requires disabling of security features which defeats a lot of the point of security features
  • Keyboard
    • Not related to macOS, but my ~1 yr old MBP 2018 v2 keyboard is likely starting to fail
  • Audio
    • Super flakey… headphone jack is a joke in terms of quality… issue on macOS and Windows post 10.15 upgrade, so I’m guessing T2 unannounced firmware update
    • Bluetooth: AirPods will freak out in some audio conditions (especially phone calls) and sound like they go to analog. They then don’t won’t with ear detection or programmed functions. 10.14.x had issues, but it’d switch back and work after a call for example
  • Touchbar
    • I’ve had five instances where it just goes dark in 10.15.1, and have to reboot
    • Two instances of fresh boot and touch bar is black in 10.15.1… reboot brings it back… for now
  • Networking stack
    • WIFI has major issues with disconnects either with APs (wifi access points) or VPNs
    • It’s like no one at Apple tests with poor or inconsistent connectivity
    • After enough disconnects, the networking stack will connect, but be unable to access anything
    • I wrote a script to fix this— you just need to clear the routs as they seem to persist… this has been an issue since at least 10.3

iOS

  • Passwords
    • Having to enter my password too damn much. I get their enhancing security, but it randomly wants me to authenticate to iTunes or iCloud far too often outside of updates
    • Randomly forces to use a password instead of face ID, usually in the morning
  • Qi Charging
    • Maybe iPhone XS Max (lol naming) charing pad shows charing, but never charges past 50% overnight. Happens on iPhone 8 & iPhone 11 too
    • iOS makes no notification
  • App crashing
    • Lots of app crashes and background app crashes
  • Phone call crashing
    • Happens at least once a week on iOS 13
  • Tower handoff
    • Moving around has me dropped more in iOS 13 than iOS 12
  • Cell reception
    • 1 bar is far weaker than in iOS 12; it’s basically unusable with 1 bar in iOS 13
  • Wifi dropping
    • When the screen is off, will disconnect from wifi, have to reconnect through system prefs manually
  • System Preferences randomly freezes
    • Has gotten slightly better since iOS 12, but will freeze for a solid 30 sec than relaunch. Seems to be no pattern
  • AirPods
    • Constantly require repairing now
    • Random disconnects
    • Functions reset, I like left AirPod to pause, keeps getting reset to Siri
  • Bluetooth connecting
    • A lot of issues connecting to things via Bluetooth, get the spinning circle for 1-3 min, usually have to unpair repair… reminds me of 2008 Bluetooth.
  • Analog audio quality
    • Out of lightning to 3.5mm jack adapter… like… just wow it’s horrible
  • App signouts
    • Sometimes after updates, sometimes just randomly. Assuming it’s not all app devs and is OS level.
    • This is super awesome when I don’t have connectivity eg, airplane 
  • Ghost mute
    • The phone will go on mute randomly when on a call
    • Either in the pocket or on desk
  • Random requirement for Siri short cuts
    • Asking Siri to “Call _____” requires a Siri shortcut now?
    • I’ve deleted them it then it’ll ask every time “humm I don’t see a shortcut for that” then I have to unlock and create… after a few days it’ll tell me shortcut is invalid
    • iPadOS works just fine…
  • Siri
    • Just let me uninstall
    • Seriously, it’s just horrible; I’d consider going back to Apple if they just deleted it

WatchOS

  • AirPod hijack
    • With OS 5, if I’m listening to something on my iPone via AirPods and want to interact with Siri on the watch, there is a 3-5 sec delay and the watch takes over the connection. There is many an 80% chance my audio doesn’t resume on my iPhone after
    • Prior to OS 5 I could use Siri on the watch independently, and it was actually awesome that way. Someone at Apple decided differently… no option to change as far as I can tell

Other Apple stuff

  • iTunes Match
    • Keeps “eating” uploaded music… it’ll just disappear… sometimes it’s even downloaded to a device
    • Outside of that, it’s a super great service I’ll miss
  • iTunes Store
    • Grabbing past purchases is more and more complex
    • Don’t accidentally delete an album incorrectly, no straight forward way to get it back (assumes purchase from iTunes)… it’s buried in a menu somewhere, many restarts required to force sync
  • iCloud Sync
    • Can we just get a force sync button?
  • Family Purchases
    • Don’t show movies between accounts… except on the AppleTV app for Roku?.. seriously maybe I’m just missing something here
  • Family Sharing
    • It works, but doesn’t just work™️
  • Costs going up
    • Each new product gets a slight price bump, and their profits keep going up… and more bugs in the ecosystem.
  • Siri
    • Apple was an early leader here… now I just pay someone to follow me around and do whatever I ask Siri to do… just kidding… or am I?
  • AppleMusic ADs
    • What are they YouTube now?.. stop trying to see me on Apple Music… I pay for iTunes match
    • For the longest time, when I’d search for music, it’d try to stream it through Apple Music, prompting me to buy a subscription… seriously annoying. That seems mostly fixed for now…
  • AirPlay
    • Random disconnects… everything shows as connected and streaming, but sound just stops working. Have issues on iOS and macOS, seems to be issues related to AirPlay 2

Final Thoughts & Opinions

I expect more from Apple products given the price. It’s interesting they’ve played down “it just works” marketing, because that’s no longer true. They’re pushing further and further into the Apple walled garden, reducing choice for their customer; which might be fine, but they don’t offer public product or feature maps, they don’t’ even officially have a support timeline for their products. They’re instance on competing with Apple, is largely leaving their customer underserved. They are increasingly focused interest on accessory and services while under-delivering on products.

I’m sick of paying for top dollar and seemingly beta testing for Apple. They’ve convinced a lot of people they have their best interest in mind, but just looking at the keyboard (literal) failures and increasing online complaints, it seems people are wising up to the sham Apple is running.

And yes, I’ve spent countless hours on social media, in Apple Stores, and on the phone with Apple trying to resolve these issues. I’ve never been able to get to anyone at Apple that’s had the power to make any changes; I don’t seem to be alone with a lot of these issues.

Ultimately, I think I’m mostly frustrated that Apple doesn’t give any indication of the direction it plans to go in, and increasingly they’re missing the mark on guessing what I want. Many companies have a published EOL (End-of-Life) lifecycle; which is a timeline of support they’ll commit to a product or service. I’d also like more control over what features are enabled or in what way, as the complexity of the software increases. They provide this for some features, but not others.

It started with a single button on the screen to “bring you home,” and has evolved into various swipes and taps. While I’m not a luddite, this has muddied UI as much as it’s provided for much needed feature expansion. The problem remains, Apple keeps trying to guess my use case and guess what I want to use their products for… or maybe they just think they know them better.

Going Forward

I can get a Dell XPS 13″ laptop with similar hardware to my 13″ MBP for $4-600 less depending on the configuration (4K display, sadly not retina, but I get two extra cores and four extra threads). That should work with eGPU just fine. I plan to run Ubuntu Linux day to day and have Windows 10 when I need apps that don’t work with Linux. I’m sure I’ll be writing about this more in the future. So far, I’m very happy with my PineBook Pro (updated review coming early 2020) and it does a lot of what my Mac does for ~10% of the cost. My going on 8 year old desktop is still doing just fine… so if anyone wants a 2018 MacBook Pro, I have one for sale. 😉


About the author:

Andrew lives in Portland, OR and has worked in tech for over 15 years. With a foundation in philosophy, political theory, and communications, he is an avid thinker & tinkerer, constantly learning and exploring the world around us. 

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