Apple 2019 Software Release Issues

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WARNING: Unfortunately negative post.

This has been an interesting year in the Appleverse. iOS 13, iPadOS and macOS Catalina were all dropped on us. This new software “regime” has been quite the challenge for me.

iOS 13 and iPadOS haven’t been that troubling. They generally work and do what they promised to do. I did find it curious that iOS 13.1, 13.1.1 and 13.1.2 all dropped in pretty rapid succession. That’s usually a bad sign that things weren’t up to standards and had to go through some quick resolution. There were either fixes or outright removals to get things out the door. I don’t like it when that happens, but I get it. I’m glad they stay on top of things well enough.

Catalina and Apple TV on the other hand… have been a complete shitshow.

Update: I resolved the Google Chrome issue. If you’re just interested in the resolution, please go here.

I stopped running beta releases of Apple software many years ago after I got jerked around on my devices. It’s ok, I signed up for that. You sign away your right to bitch when you ask for the pain of a beta. I get that. I consciously decided to forego that pain again after that software released. I don’t remember what version of OS I was running but it was a nightmare. It was a nightmare I signed up to accept. I reported the bugs that I encountered. I did my dilligence. I played my part. I don’t want to do it again.

Catalina released on October 7th, 2019. It was later than the iOS/iPadOS releases. That was an unfortunate decision because the upgrade on my other devices rendered Reminders and Notes useless on my macOS 10.14.x until Catalina released. This made me pretty anxious to get Catalina installed. It turns out that the release of Catalina is, for lack of a better way to put it, an incredibly buggy implementation. I tried to do an upgrade from 10.14.6 as just about any normal human would do. The installation froze on a black screen. I had to punch down the laptop multiple times to get it to boot back up - only to suffer the same freeze.

I knew that Catalina did away with 32-bit compatibility. I know for a fact that I had several 32-bit kernel extensions, but I fully expected Catalina to just toss them out and move on with life. I didn’t expect Catalina to choke on it (disclaimer: I have no evidence that these extensions caused Catalina to choke - that’s just my noneducated guess). Oh well, it’s been more than 13 years since I’ve had to do a fresh install of a macOS and I’ve carried around a Library folder with plists older than time itself. I figured it was about time to throw everything out and start over anyway. I did a phenominal job of keeping everything in Desktop and Documents, then syncing it with iCloud Drive. I also had multiple backups of everything in Time Machine and Backblaze (fuck you, Crashplan, once again, for ditching consumers).

Thus began a long journey.

Notification Fatigue

Between iOS/iPadOS 13 and Catalina, was anyone asked if we wanted to be prompted on every little file operation? FFS, it seems like everything I do in Finder to copy or move files or execute binaries will draw the attention of the OS. It wants me to approve almost everything. Run a command-line binary? Approve it. Are you sure? Are you really sure? Goodness grandpa titties, yes I’m sure. Please just do what I ask.

Google Chrome Has Been Slain

I use Google Chrome as an alternate browser because reasons that are much beyond my control (namely, PIV integration). Curiously enough, a freshly-downloaded Chrome won’t launch on a fresh install of Catalina released version. A search shows that this was a problem during the beta and a lot of people assumed it was some kind of notarization issue. All I can tell you is that it doesn’t launch and my system log indicates: “UNIX system error: 17.” A quick lookup of that seems to indicate some kind of security error. As of today, Friday October 11th, it’s still not fixed with release bits of Catalina and Chrome. I tried the Chrome beta and it has the same issue.

Update: This is resolved if you go here.

Safari Third Party Cookies Blocked

Apple has completely banned third-party cookies from Safari and there appears to be no way to enable them again. If you use Cloud9 in Safari, sorry… you’re not anymore.

iCloud Drive is Hosed

It took more than 48 hours for iCloud Drive to decide that it would download my files from the service. After it finally started, it took another 36 hours to do the initial update of 50gb over a gigabit connection. Something’s not right there.

The AppleTV App Isn’t Good

I had a rather confusing customer experinece with the Apple TV app on Catalina. I opened it up and decided to continue watching one of my shows on HBO, which the Apple TV version of the TV app (confused yet?) had lined up for me. When I pressed play on Catalina, it subscribed me to HBO again. I did some research and discovered that the HBO channel in the Apple TV app on Catalina and Smart TV’s is a standalone implementation that will not use your HBO Now subscription, even though the Apple TV Apple TV app on the Apple TV will show the HBO Now channel (which isn’t the Apple TV HBO Now Channel) in the viewing list. These are, unhelpfully, separate implementations within the same app (or so it is marketed).

I decided to try the HBO channel in the Apple TV app in Catalina and my Smart TV. I discovered that something is amiss with the video and audio features of the HBO channel in the Apple TV app that does not occur in the HBO Now version on the same hardware. The audio is much quieter and does not seem to support Dolby Atmos or surround sound at all. My back channels weren’t functioning while watching HBO through the Apple TV app on my Smart TV. When I watched the same show on the HBO Now app on the hardware Apple TV, it works fine! The video quality was also not as good. I don’t believe it was serving the content in 4K. My guess? There’s something weird and compressed about the streams being given to the Apple TV app that doesn’t happen with the native HBO Now app on the hardware Apple TV - but you’re paying the same price.

So, I canceled the Apple TV app version of HBO and I’m sticking with HBO Now.

Why is this so bad?

This Hasn’t Been Fun

All in all, this has not been fun at all. If I find any resolution to the Chrome issue, I’ll amend this post with information on the resolution.