Friday, January 13, 2023

Setting the Bozo Bit on Apple

The other day I was fighting once again with Apple Music. Not the service, the app. What I wanted to do was simple: I have some practice recordings for my choir and voice lessons that I want on my iPhone and Apple Watch. How hard could it be?

Apple: hold my beer.

These are sent via WhatsApp so the audio recordings are mp4 files, which for some bizarre reason won't open in Music and instead open in QuickTime Player, despite definitely being audio files.

OK, not a biggie, so export to m4a from QT Player. Transfer to the machine that has my audio library. Create a new playlist, transfer some previous songs over, then try to drop the new m4a's onto the open playlist. No go. Play around for a while, figure out that the entity that accepts the drops is the TableView, not the surrounding view. So you can't drop the new files into the empty space below the songs, you have to drop them onto the existing songs.

Who programmed this? Who didn't pay attention to this when doing QA? Who approved it for release? iTunes used to be if not the, then certainly a flagship app for Apple.

OK, plug in the iPhone, as for some reason wireless transfers don't seem to be overly reliable.

No Finder, I don't want to back...too late. Ok, do your backup. Waiting. Spinner. Waiting. Repeat. After a while it says it's finished. Unplug and ... the songs are not there.

I quit, relaunch it, and lo-and-behold, the songs are now no longer in the playlist in either. Re-add them, carefully aiming for the table, sync again (hey, it remembered we just did a backup and doesn't try again, kudos!), and now they show up.

Whew! Only took 15 minutes or so, the last time I was futzing with it for over an hour and the songs never synced. Or one did and two did not, which is obviously Much Better.

How can such basic functionality be this incredibly broken? And of course this is just one tiny example, there are legions others, as many others have reported.

With this, I noticed that I hadn't actually expected better. I knew it should be better but I hadn't expected Apple to actually make it work.

In other words, I had set the Bozo Bit on Apple. By default, when Apple does something new these days, I fully and quietly expect it to be broken. And I am surprised when they actually get something right, like Apple Silicon. And it wasn't an angry reaction to anything, in fact, it wasn't even much of conscious decision, more a gradual erosion of expectations.

It Just Doesn't Work™.

And that's sad.


Fazal Majid said...

Not supporting FLAC and other annoyances are driven by Apple’s business model: they really, really want you to buy from iTunes or stream from Apple Music. I’ve switched my home audio to Roon and my mobile audio to an Onkyo DP-X1 mobile player based on Android, but retrofitted with high-res audio support. The incessant ads for Apple Music in Apple’s apps are unbearable anyway.

Anonymous said...

Changing the MP4 file association would solve the "export to m4a from QT Player" step, but the rest of the rant is still valid. The high-walled garden has made Apple complacent.

Anonymous said...

The obvious question is: Why do you have to use a computer to get the files into Music? You had it in WhatsApp, on your phone, why can't you simply send these files to “Music”? You can't even import anything from iCloud Drive.

My kids had an old iPhone but used my computer. If I was busy/at work, they could not add a song to their phones. Their answer when I explained how to do it? “That’s stupid. When I get my own phone, I want an Android one.” When I told them that I cannot help them with Android? “You won’t have to! Androids are way easier to use!”