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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.

Say what you will about Microsoft (suggestions include "Haha, Zune," "They got the Ballmer they deserved," and "Haha, Zune" again), but that's a company that doesn't pull features from its flagship apps. Microsoft Word's toolbars may eventually take up two-thirds of your screen, but you can bet your sweet bippy that the arcane feature you relied on in Word 2010 will stick around in Word 2013.

Microsoft doesn't cull features; Apple does. Apple's approach makes it hard for me to trust my most important data to its apps—I fear the backward incompatibilities of tomorrow.

Send in the clouds
And boy oh boy, don't get me started on iCloud. I don't use iCloud to sync my calendar, my contacts, or my email. I put my trust in—of all companies—Google. While Google has sync down cold, Apple's track record is terrible.

I've heard too many friends (including numerous Macworld staffers) complain of borked bookmarks, duplicated contacts, missing events, and worse because they relied on iCloud.

There's "it just works" and then there's iCloud. Sometimes it works great. Maybe it always works great for you. For me, sometimes it works a treat, and other times a reminder won't sync until hours after I'd scheduled it to, you know, remind me about something.

I trust that Apple wants iCloud to work, but I don't have faith that my data will sync properly. Apple wants me to believe that the truth is in the cloud, but my confidence is shaken.

Trust me
Apple isn't alone. Microsoft (PlaysForSure!), Google (Reader!), and every other tech company of any size will break users' trust over time.

But I'm a big Apple fan. When Google betrays my trust, I'm frustrated but not surprised. When I can't trust Apple, it's uniquely galling: Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe, I want to trust that Apple's products and services will work well, reliably, and consistently.

I want to trust Apple, and I don't. I'm stil waiting for the company to deliver on old promises it has made: Whither the FaceTime open standard? Where's the option to AirPrint directly to any printer?

I want to trust that Siri will perform my mundane task for me on the first try, and not attempt to placate me with hollow apologies. I want to trust that the features I depend on won't vanish from my apps. And boy, I wish that the confident "it just works" mentality I feel when I drag a file into Dropbox applied when I save a document to iCloud. But I don't trust Apple as much as I'd like.

Although I still believe that Apple's intent is to surprise and delight its customers, I get the sense that the company is coasting. Sure, we complain about iCloud, we whine about Siri, and we bellyache about features that go missing—but we're still Apple customers. Apple can milk our loyalty for a long while.

 

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