The Arrogance of Apple

The good news – Apple has now released its latest iPhone operating system upgrade – what it terms iOS 4.0.  This is said to contain over 100 new features, and is the operating system that new iPhone 4’s come with as standard.

Most of these new capabilities can also be added to previous generation iPhone 3GS models, and many of them can be added to the earlier iPhone 3G model.  If you have an original iPhone, it can not be upgraded to accept any of the new iOS 4 features.

But now for the bad news and Apple’s arrogance.  What are these 100 promised enhancements and new features?  And how to use them?

Incredibly, Apple doesn’t tell you.  Perhaps this is because of their belief that the iPhone is so user-friendly and intuitive that it should be obvious and self-explanatory.  Not so.

I spent seven hours struggling to download and install the new software (perhaps because I was rushing to do this on the first couple of days it was released, and I was doing it from remote locations in Scotland with only moderate bandwidth) and eventually had to totally wipe my iPhone before installing the new software, and then discovered that just because I’d synched all my data, that was sadly not the same as backing it up.  I’ve no idea what synching does, but I do know that I lost a lot of contacts and other information, and many previously purchased and installed programs did not reappear subsequently (some did, others didn’t; and I’ve no idea as to why some did and others didn’t).

But, finally, I had the new software on my iPhone 3GS.  So, like a kid in a candy store, I started looking for the 100 new features to play with and use.  What were they?  Where were they?  How to use them?

I knew, for example, that the new software allowed for so-called multi-tasking.  But how to activate this?  I vaguely understood there to be some new ‘folder’ capability too.  What was it and what did it do?  Nothing, nowhere, answered these questions on the phone.  There is no help file on the phone, neither is there a ‘What’s New’ text file or any other type of explanatory notes at all.

Not having a help file or user manual on the phone is an extraordinary oversight.  Think about it – the iPhone is potentially full of eBooks and other formatted text documents, manuals, books, videos, etc, and it has many GB of local storage.  If ever there was a device designed to offer a built in help file, surely it is this.  So why not, as part of the upgrade, copy over a ‘What’s New’ file?  And why not also provide a Help application on the phone’s home screen?

Yes, you can download a 244 page manual from Apple’s website if you search around a bit to find it.  The length of this manual seems to attest to the complexities of the operating system and the need for people to be able to read and learn about its features and functionality.

But accessing this document embodies the assumption that you’re conveniently online with a fast connection to the internet and not paying data charges.  There I was in remote Scotland, much of the time with nothing faster than a GPRS connection (ie impossibly slow for web pages) and many people, if out of the country, could find themselves paying $400 each time they had to go online and access the online manual.

Why not copy the manual directly to the phone as part of the software update?  And, please, give us a ‘What’s New’ file and/or a ‘Quick Start’ guide as well.  Alas, there’s nothing on the iPhone itself, and nowhere can I find a simple list of the over 100 claimed new features in the new operating system.  Apple lists 12 features on this page, including some as trivial as new home screen background choices and others that only work if you also have a Mac computer, but I can’t find anywhere a larger or complete list.

Note – if you can find a complete list on Apple’s website, please add a comment with its url.

It is somewhere between ironic and arrogant that a company which prides itself on the user-friendliness of its software fails to observe industry standard practices for documenting its new software.

12 thoughts on “The Arrogance of Apple”

  1. You both misunderstand my point, and instead offer up variously the 244 page manual I’ve already written about and a guide to the iPhone 4.
    I want to see a list of the 100 new features in the iOS 4 software (not the features of the new iPhone 4), and on a single page rather amorphously sprinkled over many pages and possibly nowhere being present in a single complete list.

  2. Thanks for a second comment, Gerry. But…..
    1. My challenge is to find the list of 100 software enhancements in iOS 4 on Apple’s website.
    2. Your url is to a third party website and is a list of iPhone 4 enhancements. It is not a list of iOS enhancements and it is not on the Apple site.
    Sure – many/most of the iPhone 4 enhancements relate to the underlying software rather than hardware, but my point remains – where is a list of the 100 enhancements that I as an iPhone 3GS user can expect and enjoy?

  3. the initial link provided is the iOS 4 (plus iPhone 4) feature list.
    same as the iPhone 3G user, not all features are necessarily enabled on your particular phone.
    (which is the URL for the iOS 4 update for iPhone 3GS and 3G) just points to the other URL mentioned for more of the features when you click on the “features” link near the top.
    at least on their website, it comes down to a less than stellar design for finding the feature list. Although in most ways I do like the way Apple organizes their website. They just combine the iOS with the iPhone pages, rather than a separate page just for the iOS 4.
    it likely also wouldn’t hurt to have an included App for the iPhone that would point to video tutorials on the web on how to do the various things. like their “Find Out How” section for Mac users on the Apple website. Not a huge issue with earlier iPhone OS 2,3… but with 4 the list of features is starting to get to the point where it may not be obvious on how to do different things without seeing it at least once. on that point I can agree =)

  4. Back in 1993, I read an article comparing Windows to System 7 (the then Mac OS). The Magazine devised 10 comparisons, and declared Windows the winner. One of the tests that Windows won: Delete a file without using the mouse.
    This article reminds me of that. The only reason someone would need a complete list of the new features in iOS 4 in one place, is if one was writing an article on all the new features in iOS 4. The ultimate arrogance is calling Apple arrogant for not supplying the list you desire so that you write your article while doing a minimum amount of research.
    Fact is that Apple documents the features of iOS 4; and to the average person desiring to learn about a particular feature, it doesn’t really matter if the feature is new or not. Also, many of the new features are primarily of interest to iOS Developers, and are correctly documented in the developer side of Apple’s website. Other new features can only be experienced in apps that implement them, and Apple leaves it up to the app to expose these features to the user.
    As with the 1983 article, I wonder if you were really interested in documenting iOS 4, or if you were more interested in finding some way to spin iOS 4 into a fail. Don’t bother. Those people desiring to read about the failure that is iOS 4 don’t need you to provide valid reasons; and anyway, it’s not as if you have provided a valid reason.

  5. David! The manual is already on your phone. Try looking in the Safari bookmarks. You’ll find, “iPhone User Manual” near the bottom.

  6. Hi, Steven
    Two comments in reply.
    First, how would I know to look in the website browser for a user manual? That isn’t exactly as intuitive or user friendly as Apple holds itself out to be.
    Second, the manual isn’t on the phone. The website browser simply opens up a page on the Apple website.
    And, third, I’m still waiting to see my list of 100 new features. 🙂

  7. Hi, Steve
    Apparently it is my fault for wanting to see in a single concise place/listing all the new features that are promised to be in Apple’s new OS?
    If so, color me guilty. I did – and still do – want to understand all the new functionality that has been apparently added to my phone, and I don’t want to have to read through a 244 page manual and play a game of ‘spot the difference’ as between what is new and what was already there.
    This makes me arrogant???

  8. David,
    Wanting something like that doesn’t make you arrogant just petulant. Your expectation of finding a manual embedded in the device is reasonable given the storage capacity. Your disappointment at not finding one is also reasonable. I think it is your decision to label it arrogance that the commenters are objecting to. I don’t think Apple is arrogant in this case.
    While storage isn’t an issue, the best question becomes how to best illustrate those new features. You seemed unwilling to read through and illustrated color manual so placing that on the device in your native language clearly wouldn’t have been enough.
    The next method in your article was a list added to the phone on activation in the appropriate native language of the user. While this would be a convenient resource for a journalist, text descriptions might not help a new user who is not familiar with smartphones.
    I think the best solution would be Help feature that guides the user with highlights on the appropriate interface element to touch next. This could be on by default and dismissed by more experienced users.
    For example the swipe to delete feature that appears in many apps such as Mail and iPod has no obvious visual clues to aid discovery.
    I think you are asking for too little. If you are having trouble, you don’t need a list. You need a more robust help system. Apple isn’t arrogant. They just sometimes expect too much of us.

  9. Hi, David.
    Many years ago, when the PCs were just coming out, there were only two brands: IBM or Apple.
    At that time, it was common knowledge that IBM was arrogant and not very client-friendly, while Apple was the little company that would cuddle you.
    Since then, Apple has “evolved” and is now as arrogant (or even more) than what IBM used to be.
    So, relax, enjoy your iPhone (if you can) and wait until another company comes along with a better telephone.
    Best regards,

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