iPhone X Review: My First Month

The image (above) displaying the recent Apple bug instantly changing every instance of the letter “i” highlights the enormity, fragility, and dependence of the impact of technology and summarizes the unbridled free reign we give technology companies to influence our lives. A single bug, in this case, causing most of us not to be able to express ourselves correctly for about a week. The wrath of concentrated powers on unintentional yet prominent global display. Now imagine such a technology company gaining ground and unchecked someday taking, or being given, the reigns of our societal systems. We have already, but we better not.

Absolutely do our manmade systems need fundamental reinvention, but our society best not be changed with a version of societal influence and arbitrage more dictatorial, more totalitarian, more monistic, and more absolute than we have today. For even analog versions of the aforementioned have proven unsuitable to encircle, renew, and inspire the world.

Societal impact aside, the above-displayed bug is also symbolic of the incredibly sloppy work and nonexisting checks-and-balances incurred by the world’s largest and most influential technology company, praised to mind-numbing glory by the same herd of people who previously heralded Microsoft as the biggest and baddest, and were wrong. Money does not equal merit.

As a long-term Apple fan, way before the herd of populism latched on, I have reported here many times how Apple’s leadership is failing miserably to set the kind of compass and high bar of excellence we saw Steve Jobs deploy, as witnessed by the self-mutilation of a thousand cuts in Apple’s most recent products, and other eroding product qualities across the board over the recent years. Cuts that are indicative of a chaotic race for new features deprived of a succinct vision and cohesion, and thus a lack of focus. Preceded by my first 24 hours review of the iPhone X, below are the additional flukes of my month-long experiences with Apple’s latest iPhone.

The iPhone X is a nice phone with a great camera mutilated by a thousand cuts:

  • Camera lockup when used from the locked screen, a few times, similar behavior witnessed on iPhone 8 suggests faulty software.
  • Image rotation incorrect after picture taken, a difference in orientation between a picture taken and processed. Use case escapes me.
  • FaceID did not initially work with polarized sunglasses on, until later. Learning seems to work.
  • HDR turns direct sun exposure into a brownish color. HDR options turned off now, not much improvement.
  • New contacts on Phone still do not sync well to the desktop, how old is this feature and why is it still not working correctly after some ten years?
  • Notifications overlay and other opacity make bottom layer flicker. Very annoying. Anybody home?
  • Lots of photo UI wiggles and odd sliding behavior, especially after deleting an image.
  • Certain emails still do not open in Mail, yields a blank page from reputable senders.
  • iPhone Status indicators move around depending on App, bad, immature and inconsistent UI.
  • Bad UI and position of status indicators, weak in clarity and wanky.
  • Apple Pay Cash bad setup, should not require the recipient to be set up prior to sending (like square cash), only at receipt. Dumb way to stimulate viral adoption. Should be able to use without iMessage, silly and unnecessary dependency.
  • Not sure what purchased apps from Apple TV are doing on the phone, odd grayed out buttons appear after downloading to Apple TV, and don’t seem to work on iPhone until three days later.
  • iTunes suddenly mutes with no alternative audio to play, why?
  • iTunes download integrity is not guaranteed, incurs lots of cutoffs and blips from purchased music. Should not happen, download key should secure full download at all times.
  • Many hiccups in iTunes playback of downloaded music
  • Previously downloaded apps stall at re-download seemingly forever.
  • Text entry logic and grammar remains weak if not irritatingly deplorable must turn autocorrect from address book off, terrible use case.
  • Meters in iTunes playback should mimic real sound not be a dumb animation, important when music is silent, could incorporate volume and breath of other intuitive information.
  • Deletion of the individual message in iMessage does not yield deletion on the desktop. Deletion of the whole conversation on the desktop does not lead to deletion on Phone.
  • Conversations in iMessage with the same person initiated from different sources do not appear in the same thread.
  • Tethering from MacBook to iPhone flaky, works sometimes, at best.
  • Dual language keyboards simply unusable. toggle and rotation with emojis a dumb implementation.
  • Pausing music when the camera takes video, does not resume when finished (in a third-party app).
  • Sound hiccups on recording Animoji, through Bluetooth BOSE QC35. After the second record, won’t play back through Bluetooth. What a mess. Suggestion: call this feature beta or alpha. Half ass work.
  • Bluetooth connection status icons a scrolling disaster, design stupidity and cheap afterthought.
  • Bluetooth gets stuck on occasion requiring a reboot, the problem has been around for as long as Apple has implemented Bluetooth. I should know.
  • Notifications across time display on the lock screen? Not too bright. Another UI disaster.
  • Playback of multiple animojis in a single conversation loses track of which one to play back. Clearly, no usability testing has taken place here.
  • Changing video rotation in zoom mode does not make video responsive to new screen dimensions. Showing only a narrow portion of the video.
  • Tilt frequency on home screen shows annoying display jitters.
  • Lots of false negatives with Face ID without contact lenses in, and no glasses on.
  • Can’t reliably takes pictures during FaceTime anymore. The camera goes into freeze mode. Quitting app turns it back to the black screen of death.
  • Error saving a photo in Photos after edits. Wtf? A whole series of photos are now uneditable.
  • Text input on iPhone with autocorrect is a hot mess, a disaster of linguistic and intellectual ineptitude. So much for AI.
  • FaceTime camera switch button in a dumb location. Barely reachable and barely responsive. Who tests this stuff? No one?
  • Local audio does not pause during a FaceTime call, annoying to figure out which app is playing back audio during the call. Can sometimes be from leftover Facebook or browser window.
  • Bad recognition of taps in the upper left corner where some back buttons reside. Similar to other near edge taps. Multiple taps needed to initiate a function.

In the process of jotting down real-life experiences with the iPhone X, many issues with OSX as an iCloud companion of the iPhone resurfaced:

  • Address book on OSX still a hopeless mess, clearly Tim Cook must not be using it.
  • iCloud syncing on multiple computers is a disaster, most times doesn’t sync correctly or with extreme delays, like weeks
  • iCloud Drive does funky things, not downloading all at times. Bad for backup scenarios. Dropbox is more consistent.
  • Application switcher in OSX is still very unreliable. Fundamental OS issue lingering for years.
  • Windows overlay in OSX still broken, as witnessed by activated references in the window underneath current.  Mouse hover not applied to the right window. How old is this OS?
  • Bose QC35 Bluetooth stuttering in switching from phone to OSX
  • Tethering to the phone does not always work, why does it find the hotspot when it is turned off on the phone, leading to false positives.
  • MacBook takes 30 minutes to start up after battery depleted. Unacceptable power configuration. Also does not preserve battery enough to wake up quickly. Different from previous MacBook pros.
  • MacBook unlocks unprompted, while laptop sits on its side open yet untouched
  • iTunes stuttering on MacBook
  • Still can’t switch to App when it is busy, OSX app switcher implemented wrong. Age old dysfunction.
  • Why can I not take a picture on my MacBook to include in iMessage? Where is the UIX for that?
  • iMessage synchronization of notifications on OSX and iPhone is a hot mess. It keeps throwing old messages out as new.
  • Sound disappearing into iTunes, comes back with control of play and pause reversed. Bose QC35 report being connected, the problem resides in iTunes not blBluetoothiTunes playback unusable, switching to phone playback.
  • The Notes App takes a few seconds to allow text input, ball spinning each time, suggests bogus code.
  • OSX update process still a mystery, updates could not be installed, which updates? No updates according to App Store.
  • MacBook FaceTime camera of deplorable quality, unacceptable for a premium product. Pixelated in dimly lit environments, meaning almost everywhere at night.
  • FaceTime on MacBook pickup rate is terrible, calls fail to connect. Makes FaceTime unusable on MacBook, when iPhone is available for pickup.
  • Many spinning ball moments, where are you OSX? Hello? Hello? Earth calling.

Apple has some incredible engineers, some of whom are my friends. But they are led by “mice at play while the cat’s away”. Apple is broken at the very top of where its evolutionary compass and societal excellence must be defined and initiated. Bringing Jony Ive back to lead design once again will perhaps slap new lipstick on an already cute pig, but will not change the compass that must precede and guide its functional design.

Thankfully for shareholders feverishly short-trading the best of technology’s worst, it will take a long time before the innocent public happens to discern the reality of Apple’s merit from its current fiction. Until they take a good hard look at the Phone in their hands.

Let’s lead the world by example with new rigors of excellence we first and successfully apply to ourselves.

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