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Can't trust this: Inconsistencies shake faith in Apple

Lex Friedman | Nov. 20, 2013
When it comes to Apple, I'm a pretty trusting guy. But in day-to-day practical terms, there are several important ways in which I don't trust Apple. Given how much I rely on the company, that's a problem.

When it comes to Apple, I'm a pretty trusting guy. I trust that Apple will protect my data the best that it can. I trust that Apple will continue to release new iPhones, iPads, and Macs every year. I trust that the company won't suddenly turn into an evil conglomerate bent on world destruction.

But in day-to-day practical terms, there are several important ways in which I don't trust Apple. Given how much I rely on the company, that's a problem.

Speechless Siri
I can't trust Siri. No one loves Siri more than I do—or at least more than I used to. The problem is that these days using Siri has started to feel like being a contestant on Press Your Luck. Sometimes, my reminders are saved near instantly, my iMessages composed and sent as fast as I can speak. That's wonderful—it's delightful technology at its best.

Other times, though, I get that Siri response that makes me want to smash my iPhone's delicate screen against the nearest available hard surface: "I'm really sorry about this, but I can't take any requests right now." Siri, like so much in life, is good only when it actually does what it's supposed to.

Unfortunately, Siri ends up shrugging off my requests way too often. Even if the intelligent assistant works eight times out of every ten, those other two times—when Siri ignores my instruction—are enough to make me question my continued reliance on it. In the time that I spend gritting my teeth and cursing over Siri's inability to open the Fitbit app, I could have just unlocked my phone and tapped the icon myself.

The fact that I can't trust Siri to be reliable is a problem—for me, and for Apple, which would dearly like us all to be using Siri day in, day out. I'm sure an Excel spreadsheet could help me calculate precisely how much time I waste if Siri normally makes me 50 percent faster but fails 20 percent of the time and makes the task take three times as long. But then again, I'm a writer, not a spreadsheet nerd.

The Apple app falls too far from the tree
But if I were a spreadsheet nerd, you can bet that I'd rely on Excel, not Numbers. I can't rely on Numbers, Pages, or Keynote as much as I can depend upon—deep breath—Microsoft's Office apps.

I know, I know. I can explain. (Clippy: "It looks like you're writing crazy talk. Would you like to be committed?")

Apple has demonstrated, repeatedly, that it has no qualms about revamping its marquee apps—and that said revamping can include pulling beloved features. It happened with iMovie, with Final Cut Pro, and more recently with the iWork suite. Pulling features is Apple's right as the company that makes the software. But if Apple yanks out a feature you rely on—even something as simple as a Keynote transition whose absence makes your presentation suffer—that can leave you with a Blu-ray-esque bag of hurt.

 

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