The features that had me the most excited with the advent of iOS 8 and Yosemite fall under Apple’s Continuity umbrella. From the marketing page:

Apple products have always been designed to work together beautifully. But now they may really surprise you. With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you’ll be able to do more wonderful things than ever before.

Answer phone calls and send SMS messages from my laptop? Yes! AirDrop between my phone and my Mac? I’ve been asking for that since 2013!

Unfortunately, sometimes the most-awaited features become the most disappointing.

It turns out that AirDrop’s problem is that my mid-2011 Macbook Air is too old to support the feature1. OK. Apple gets a pass on that one. But what of the other promises? Can Continuity keep them? Not so much:

Now instead of just my phone buzzing incessantly when someone iMessages me, all of my devices beep and buzz. It’s like an Apple-branded flash mob. That’s not all.

Am I taking crazy pills or should swiping away a notification mark it as acknowledged? iOS doesn’t think so. And thanks to Continuity, Yosemite doesn’t think so either. “Connected like never before” means that both operating systems now propagate their annoying bugs to the other. And there’s more.

Mac-based phone calls might be the most disappointing feature of the lot. The ring is delayed. The connection often fails. When I silence a call on my phone it rings on my Mac instead. It’s a hot mess2.

There’s no doubt in my mind that these things are difficult to get right. It’s a cocktail of software, hardware interfaces, networking protocols3, context, presence, and more. But still, I think we’d all be better off if Apple would’ve held off on Continuity until they really had it figured out. Half-baked features are sometimes worse than no features at all.

Oh well, maybe they’ll get it right in iOS 9.

  1. We’ll see if it works when my shiny new 13” Retina Macbook Pro arrives next week!

  2. Ironically, as I was writing this a call came in from my phone, which was in the bedroom. I answered it from my Mac and it worked flawlessly. See what I mean.

  3. I believe the delay between the phone ringing on the phone and the Mac is Bluetooth-related.