About Apple

On the evening of Oct 5, 2011 my partner and I were sitting in the Apollo Theater, Harlem, New York City, watching the famous “Amateur Night”. After the break, the host of the show returned on stage, infor­ming the audience that Steve Jobs had passed away about an hour before. Sad, but hardly a surprise! After the end of the show, we spent the evening with another couple from Ger­many, who at that time happened to also be in NYC, in the Lenox Lounge (mean­while gone, like Jobs), sipping cocktails and disussing what that could possibly mean for Apple. I recally very lively that I was convinced that Job’s death would not change too much. After all, he was extra­ordinary, but still an indi­vi­dual in that huge organi­zation called Apple. I was so wrong!

The good years

I have used Macs for over 20 years. I bought my first Mac in May 1995 and in the years to follow, used MacOS 8 and 9 – despite its technical (al­beit not usability) inferiority to Windows. When I first tried Mac OS X (in November 2001, version 10.1), I immediately realized that this is exactly what I wanted. I haven’t looked back to MacOS “Classic” ever since. In the years to come, Mac OS X was the operating system – not only for me, but for an increasing number of users, many of whom were developers. Stable, fresh UI, Unix under the hood, cool (and free!) develop­ment tools, safe, consistency every­where (in shortcuts, UI patterns, looks, …). Plus new features such as Spot­light, Time Machine, the Safari browser (an extremely good browser in its early years). It was in this time when I started to develop appli­cations for Mac OS X, primarily out of curiosity, later be­cause some of the things I built attrac­ted quite some audience.

This went on for a few years. If you used Mac OS X (later: OS X), you knew that you are using the right OS. And that com­bined with reliable, hassle-free and attrac­tive hardware. Perfect.

Going south

I don’t recall when I first thought things were go­ing in the wrong direction. I guess it was even before Jobs’ death, but the things that possibly had worried me then were nothing against what the future was about to bring. With each major release of OS X (later: macOS), Apple intro­duced more bugs, without need re­moved some fea­tures and hardly added new features that were not related to iOS (which I would be ab­so­lut­ely fine with, if macOS still had the quality it had years ago). One might argue that the economic im­por­tance of iOS devices for Apple can’t be over­esti­mated and that con­se­quently, it is a wise deci­sion to focus on iOS and iOS-related aspects in macOS. But then came 2017, and it became obvious that macOS does not suffer from a brain drain towards iOS, but it rather looked like there was hardly any brain at all, even in the iOS / mobile device depart­ment. The release of iOS 11 (which, by the way, made my iPhone signi­ficantly slower – thank you, Apple!) was followed by a whole bunch of up­dates and patches within less than two months. And then came Apple’s confession of thrott­ling older device’s CPU, just before media started reporting on problems the flag­ship mobile phone, the iPhone X, had with receiving phone calls …

In the same month as iOS 11, macOS 10.13 (“High Sierra”) was released, which intro­duced a new file­system – which is probably not the best idea when it is not yet supported by some of the appli­cations and tools that are shipped with the system. In late 2017, major security issues in macOS 10.13 were dis­covered – and a fix which Apple delivered broke file­sharing, at least for some users. Only a few days after we learned that both iOS and macOS include a bug that causes misbe­havior on at least some dev­ices when used on or after Decem­ber 2, 2017. (How shitty is that?) But this was even topped by a bug in macOS where you could just leave the pass­word field empty in an authen­ti­cation dialog and still authen­tication succeeded. Boy, what a mess! And the fact that Apple more often than not was reluctant to deliver security updates for older OS X versions didn’t win sym­pa­thies, either.

I could go on and on, but I guess you get the point. Currently, at the beginning of 2018, I feel that some­thing that I wouldn’t have con­sidered possible could become reality: that I leave the Apple world. This is not in sight yet, but the mere con­sideration of swit­ching says so much about what I as a long-term user (and developer of Mac software) feel about Apple right now …

Leaving

But while I not (yet) leave the Apple world as a user, I will leave it as a developer. Over the years, I wrote a whole bunch of Mac applications in my spare­time, some of which are used all over the world – despite the fact that most of them are rather specific and not very mass-compatible. In the last years, I have had little time to spend on main­taining these appli­cations, but still: if you are committed to deve­lo­ping appli­ca­tions, you will find the time. Unfor­tu­nately, I am no longer committed – at least not to Mac appli­cations. This has a number of reasons, but the decline of macOS is defi­nitely one of them. Is it motivating to develop for a platform like the macOS of 2017? Make an educated guess …

In the last maybe two years, I already declared a few appli­cations as discontinued, such as Exif Untrasher and Taply. And although I hate to say so, others will follow in 2018. Most notably pro­bab­ly Pashua, an application for which I still get feedback and feature requests frequently – so this is sad, but realistically: I haven’t delivered a new version for over two years now, so the situ­ation won’t get worse for Pashua, right? If you are a Pashua user and reading this, I can assure you that at least it will not simply vanish, but be open-sourced. Lots of people use it, and roughly 100% of Pashua users are developers of some kind, so if among them are a few Cocoa guys, this could even be the starting point for a brighter feature for Pashua, despite a code­base that is of mediocre quality and hasn’t had a major overhaul in its 15-year history.

This text started with a misjudgement on my part. Maybe in a year or so I’ll read this text and find out that, again, I was wrong and that Apple got its act together. I would be happy!

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