Jony Ive isn’t killing the Mac, and Apple’s core isn’t rotten

I came across an article at ZDNet this past week that just drove me absolutely crazy. It serves me right for reading anything from ZDNet—because with little exception, they have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to Apple and the Mac. But when I saw the headline: “Is Jony Ive killing the Mac?” I just couldn’t resist clicking through.

Jony IveThe first thing that got my hair up about the article is that other than the headline and the summary at the top, the article makes no mention of Ive, or why the author seems to think the Mac is being systematically killed off by him. I’ve spoken to Jony Ive personally, and he assures me that he isn’t a killer.

Disclaimer: I haven’t spoken to Jony Ive, but I’m willing to bet the only thing he’s killed at his time at Apple is a mountain of bad ideas.

Even if you don’t bother to read the rest of the article, or actually believe that Mac OS X has gone to hell, most Mac users know that Jony Ive has had absolutely nothing to do with OS X up to this point. Obviously the headline is click-bait in an effort to gather more page views.

Now the reason the article is so short is because it simply points out another blog post titled Core Rot at Apple. It is here that I found myself throwing my hands in the air in surrender at the feet of nitpicking at the least, or in many cases, outright stupidity. My thoughts on a few of his points below.

“iTunes — a nightmarish kitchen sink design cluttered with dozens of tabs and modes and animations and clutter, all mixing highly variant purposes Fortunately, Walter Mossberg likes it (but it’s time for him to hang up his jockstrap).”

This is perhaps the only thing in the entire article that I could somewhat sympathize with. iTunes DOES do much more than it should. But “dozens of tabs?” Where are there dozens of tabs? Modes, animations and clutter? If anything, I think Apple has done a decent job of hiding what a mess iTunes is. The dig at Walter Mossberg just goes to show he had nothing of substance to say about it.

Still, at this point in the article, I thought perhaps it had some merit because I know iTunes is a sore spot for many, many people. I’m not in love with it either, so I read on with anticipation. Unfortunately, it got worse. Here are further thoughts…

“iCloud — a organization-destroying bug-ridden unreliable disaster.”

iCloud isn’t perfect but it’s pretty damn good, if you ask me. It doesn’t do a lot of the things I would like—but what it does do, it does fairly well. I use it on numerous machines and haven’t had any issues at all. While I would never use it for “mission critical” application, I would hardly call it unreliable, a disaster, or organization-destroying. Perhaps it’s the organization that is the problem, in this case.

“OS X Finder — damages the system, can’t copy files reliably, can’t do useful things it ought to do at all, hides key files, rife with bugs.”

Good grief. It damages the system? Yeah, I’m sure Apple coded the OS so as to purposely damage the very system that runs the computer. Surely it couldn’t be the user messing with the files he shouldn’t—the ones Apple intentionally hides so that you can’t do just that. I’ve been copying files on the Mac for decades and never had a single issue doing so. But the real bugger here is that the author apparently has a long list of things, useful things, that the Finder simply can’t do. I’m not sure what the system should do that it currently doesn’t, but I’m fairly certain that his list includes pooping unicorns out of the speaker holes at the tap of the Command key. Look, there are little things that would be helpful that OS X’s Finder doesn’t do, but calling it useless is ridiculous.

“iPhoto — arbitrary removal of keyboard shortcuts and similar made a slightly useful program into a useless toy.”

I’ve never noticed iPhoto magically remove a keyboard shortcut… as in: it was there just a second ago, and now it’s gone. Yeah, Apple updates the software every so often, and trade-offs are made which may include the removal of a keyboard shortcut. But iPhoto is a consumer-level photo manager. The author is (apparently) a professional photographer. If he’s using iPhoto, he’s an idiot and it’s his own fault he’s not happy with it.

“Aperture — so full of display bugs on dual-display systems as to be unusable.”

I personally know dozens of photographers using it with no problem. Every one of them has multiple displays. Go figure.

“Time Machine — auto-excludes critical data from backup, silently.”

Since he doesn’t list which specific “critical data” he’s referring to, I can’t say he’s full of crap. But I can say that I’ve done a full restore from TimeMachine backups more than once with no problems after. I did the restores on purpose, once when I got a new Mac and wanted to copy everything over to the new machine, and once just to see if it would work.

“Disk Utility — under some conditions, destroys arbitrary numbers of volumes, no real upgrade for years, took two minor releases to fix RAID support.”

Under what conditions? Perhaps conditions that the author was responsible for screwing up to begin with? And the fact that it hasn’t had any major upgrades for years tells me that Apple understand this piece of software is for a specific purpose, one that has powerful consequences for the user, and it’s best not to over-complicate it with features that don’t belong. And “two minor releases to fix RAID support… oh good heavens, would it have been better to wait longer and have one major update? What part of the fact that it’s fixed seems to be the problem?

“File system — continued use of HFS Plus instead of robust ZFS.”

Yeah, cause the consumer masses are banging down the doors of BestBuy trying to find a computer with ZFS support.

Final thoughts

Look, I’m not drowning in the Apple KoolAid. OS X isn’t perfect, and it does have bugs—just like any other computer OS. But it’s far from the disaster the author claims. MS Windows has the reputation of being a crash, virus and malware-prone OS. Yet I managed to use Windows 7 for over a year and I honestly never had a problem with it (other than the fact that I didn’t like it because I was used to the Mac). More often than not, it comes down to the user being self-aware enough to not mess with things or tinker when he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Yes, I realize that just because the dozens or so Macs I use don’t exhibit the problems he mentions doesn’t mean they don’t exist. But you gotta wonder… what am I doing or not doing that the author is (or isn’t)?

Articles like those linked to above drive me up the wall.

Photo by Marcus Dawes.