That flying by the seat of the pants routine is common with technology gadget makers and Apple is not immune to making it up on the go. The iTunes Music Store was launched on WebObjects, a technology relic from Steve Jobs’ NeXT company that helped Apple’s music business grow. Since then we’ve seen plenty of Apple products which are more beta than ready for prime time. Here’s another example.
Try It, You’ll Like It
Hardware is different than software, though you can’t really have one without the other. When Apple ships a new piece of hardware it usually comes with software, so it’s natural that hardware development be etched in stone by the shipping date, so to speak, while software can be fixed on the fly, right up to launch date, and then upgraded over time.
Examples of Apple rushing products to market only to force customers to wade through a beta test-like period for months while the software gets upgraded, fixed, and tested (thanks to the unpaid beta testers that Apple often calls customers).
The most recent example is Apple TV which has been out a few months, received one update already, with another coming soon. The latest update, now in actual beta testing mode (sans the paying customers) promises plenty of features which should have been included in the release version, but never made it to the starting gate.
Apple started the new year with a bunch of beta products– OS X, iOS, and even tvOS. The latest Apple TV will finally get Bluetooth keyboard support. What took you so long Apple? Bluetooth keyboards worked on previous Apple TV models years ago. I’m happy to report that tvOS has a Podcast app which organizes by episode, featured podcasts, subscriptions, and has a search function.
Wassup, Siri? Unfortunately, this latest beta of tvOS does not yet let Siri talk to the Podcast app the way it does on iPads and iPhones, so I think Apple is teasing us with new technology integration. The new tvOS user interface looks and works a bit more like iOS 9 on iPhone and iPad so Apple is working to keep a uniform look and feel between devices.
Wherefore Art Thou, Folders?
You know how folders work on iPhone and iPad, right? Drag and app onto an app and iOS creates a folder with the two apps inside. After that it is just a drag and drop exercise to move more apps into or out of the new folder. The same thing works, albeit clumsily, on the new tvOS beta for Apple TV.
The new folder arrangement displays a standard grid of three app icons across and three down– a total of nine– but you can add more and the grid scrolls downward with ease.
What’s really going on with Apple TV, and we see it to a similar extent on other Apple apps, is an ongoing development. Apple releases a first version to get something out the door to match the hardware, then quickly adjusts to fix bugs and add features that were missing from the original or subsequent update releases. That’s Apple’s modus operandi these days and it means Apple’s customers, like it or don’t, are often unpaid beta testers for the first version or two. In fact, unpaid is the wrong term. In reality, we pay Apple to beta test new software on new hardware.