Apple: Software Quality and Customer Expectations. What Can We Do?
While it seems clear to many of us in the blind community that the quality of Apple's accessibility effort has declined with iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite, a small number of voices, including the popular app developer <a href="http://www.marco.org/2015/01/04/apple-lost-functional-high-ground">Marco Arment</a> are making similar claims in the mainstream technology industry.
From a blind perspective, these software quality issues have hit us hard. In iOS 8, for example, many of us have experienced significant issues that have not been addressed after five iOS updates. Safari is unreliable with VoiceOver enabled, VoiceOver stops and restarts many times throughout a typical day, Braille keyboard input is unresponsive, and many apps crash frequently without explanation.
On one hand, we all need to understand that all software is imperfect and prone to bugs. On the other hand, though, we as customers have legitimate expectations. iOS devices are not toys. Many of us have spent thousands of dollars over the past few years to purchase iPads, iPhones and iPods along with their associated accessories and apps. Don't we have a realistic expectation that, after a major iOS version has been on the street for over four months, we should be able to do something as mundane as browse the web?
The question is, then, what, if anything, should we do in response to Apple's decline in overall software quality?</p><p>How about an online petition to Apple? If we did this, perhaps, we could get some mainstream press? How about highlighting not only accessibility issues, but other problems sighted people have experienced?</p><p>Please let it fly in the comments. We at Blind Access Journal may consider taking some sort of positive action, depending on the feelings of the Applevis community.
I thank all of you in advance for your consideration.
I, too, think a bug report form on here is an excellent idea. I haven't found many VoiceOver bugs at all, and I think part of that is due to the fact I'm still rather new to the Mac platform. But I would definitely make use of a form if and when I deemed it necessary. Back when I had that problem with constant stuttering speech in VO, I emailed Apple accessibility and got back a helpful email from someone. However, the person asked me to perform some steps that were rather technical and over my head. I don't fault this team member at all, but I'm just saying that a bug report form probably would've come in handy there. Btw, I'm now running Yosemite and my speech isn't stuttering nearly as much. So Apple must have heard me. In addition, I talked to my tutor earlier this afternoon, and he's very happy to take me to the local Apple store if and when I need it.
To the person who said they might leave AppleVis, that is your own call to make. We certainly hope you stay though, if you can be constructive and not angry.
While the idea of creating a fill-in-the-blank form has been discussed, for a variety of reasons we recommend that those wishing to report bugs communicate directly with Apple. The best way to do this is by sending an e-mail to Accessibility@apple.com.
When iOS 7.1 was released to the public, a member of our team put together a blog post detailing the importance of reporting accessibility bugs to Apple and offering some suggestions on how to best do so. In response to community feedback, we've updated that post to include 6 things we recommend users include in bug reports:
- A brief description of the problem.
- State the frequency of the problem - for example, does it always happen, only sometimes, or very infrequently.
- Give details of the steps necessary to reproduce the problem.
- State what you would expect to happen after taking the steps above.
- Explain what actually happens after taking the steps above.
- Give details of the software and hardware that you are using.
Accessibility and product quality are and always will be a work in progress. My iPhone 6 is a real hot rod and the best yet. The author of this epistle is a known whiner.