If Apple keeps letting its software slip, the next big thing won’t matter

As devices get more and more complex, it's all too easy for the problems that come up to persist for years.

Tim Cook (CEO - Apple)

Tim Cook (CEO - Apple)

Credit: Apple

One of Apple's best qualities is the time and energy it spends on pushing the envelope of technology. In recent years, it's debuted impressive camera features, world-class tablets, amazing processors, and much much more.

But one challenge with continually moving the state of the art forward is that sometimes it comes at the expense of making sure the technology that's already here works as well as it can. After all, if you have to add a dozen new features in a year, that could mean taking away from work enhancing reliability, and squashing bugs in existing features.

We've all encountered a slew of problems -- some simple (if ridiculous) to fix, others are maddeningly difficult to troubleshoot. As our devices get more and more complex, it's all too easy for some of those problems to persist for years. And though the best part of the Apple experience has long been it just works, the question is… what happens when it doesn't?

Uneven distribution

As sci-fi writer William Gibson famously said, the future is already here -- it's just not evenly distributed. While Gibson's comment resonates mostly on a socio-economic level that is borne out by Apple's not inexpensive technology, it's also embodied geographically by the company's work: if you're interested, you can see which Apple features are available in which regions.

Many of these, of course, are due to restrictions and laws in specific regions or places where, say, Apple has not prioritised language localisation. But some of them are cases where features have been rolled out only slowly to certain places. 

For example, in last year's iOS 14, Apple finally added cycling directions to its Maps app. But a year on, that capability is still limited to a few places: mainland China, California, and a handful of other cities around the world. Much as I would like to be able to find routes that take advantage of my local bike lanes, I still have to turn to Google Maps for that.

Likewise, this year's fancy new augmented reality walking directions, which remain available in just a few California cities, New York City, and London. When will they come to where I live? Who knows.

It's surely less exciting for Apple to think about rolling out these (in some cases years old) features, especially those which might require a large degree of legwork, to various places than it is for the company to demonstrate its latest shiny feature, but it also means that sometimes these features don't make it to many, if not most of the users of its devices. Uneven distribution, indeed.

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Dan Moren

Dan Moren

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