When the clocks go forwards or back, people from New Zealand to New York miss their appointments because their iPhone alarm does not go off on time. Every time I complete a 10km run using my iPod nano, TIger Woods congratulates me on having completed another 500km. And as you read this, thousands of backups are failing because Time Machines are freezing in time.
What do these seemingly disparate events having in common? They’re all presumably the handiwork of Apple’s “B-team”.
Apple sets incredibly high standards of excellence, and employs some the world’s most talented developers and engineers. Steve Jobs famously has an “A-team” of exceptional talent that he puts to work on his priority projects. As a result, most of Apple’s products are incredibly reliable. Mac OS X and iOS are both rock-solid. They “just work” as the saying goes.
But by definition, the existence of an A-team implies the existence of a B-team, and these are the guys who work on everything else. So where should we look for evidence of the B-team’s handiwork? Where are the glitches, bugs, lemons and gremlins? Apple has fewer of these than most tech companies, but as you look more closely, evidence of the B-team’s work is not so hard to find. Here’s my top 10… What do you think? Add your own suggestions in the comments.
1. iPhone Clock
The B-team surely couldn’t screw this up, right? How could they go wrong with the clock application? Hmm…
2. Time Machine
If you only have a couple of pics in iPhoto, and a handful of messages in your inbox, Time Machine will be fine. But for everyone else, this solution is only good for a month or so, before your backups will stall… Forever lost in time. After four years, the B-team still haven’t managed to get this working. (Update: many CoM readers are reporting good experiences with Time Machine in the comments below, so perhaps this one’s just me!)
One word. Sloooow. Two more words… syncing sucks. Move or rename a folder at your peril… Or try Dropbox instead.
Almost every AirPort device I’ve ever owned stopped working altogether after about 12 months – almost exactly to the day that the one year warranty ran out. And even when they are working, they’re extremely needy – requiring a restart every week or so.
5. Mac OS X Server
The cute “Server Preferences” app implies that configuring your Mac server is going to be super-simple. But if you succeed in setting one up, you deserve a PhD in computer science. Something that the B-team apparently doesn’t posses.
6. Dashboard loading time
With the introduction of Dashboard, the B-team achieved the impossible – a calculator app that takes over a minute to launch. Every time.
Each new iPod nano comes with a new version of Nike+ software, and a new set of glitches. The B-team pushes out one or two firmware updates that solve some of these, before they eventually lose interest and start working on the next iPod nano.
8. Bulging Batteries
I’ve owned many Apple notebooks over the years, and most of them have eventually succumbed to bulging battery syndrome. Don’t ask me why it happens. It just does. Don’t ask me if it’s dangerous. Who knows. But now that batteries are no longer removable components, the ones inside the current crop of MacBooks, iPads and iPhones could be a ticking time bomb.
9. Mac Display Drivers
It’s got to the point where I actually try to avoid plugging my MacBook Pro into an external monitor, because I just hate the way it screws up the machine’s default resolution afterwards. The only way to stop it booting in low-res mode after that happens appears to be zapping the PRAM.
10. iPhone 4 Proximity Sensor
“We’re tracking some problems with the proximity sensor and we’re working on it,” Apple said last year. The B-team have been on the case ever since. It’s a little better than it was, but it still doesn’t work as well as previous iPhones.