Apple's rotten week: Bent phones, broken software, and shattered security

The only magic in Apple land this week is black magic.

rotten apple

Rotten Apple

Apple's entire claim to fame is simplicity. Apple's hardware—be it Macs, iPads, or iPhones—is impeccably designed, paired with software that's just as tailored and thoughtful. Unnecessary complications are ruthlessly eliminated; everything just works. Even we at Windows-focused PCWorld have to acknowledge that.

And that's why the events of this week are so damned disappointing.

Apple suffered from a series of humiliating pitfalls: OS X, iOS, Macs, iPhones, nothing was safe. Hardware bent; software broke; security crumbled. All of a sudden, things aren't seeming so magical in Cupertino. Let's relive Apple's no good, very bad week

bent iphone 6


The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus supersized the iPhone formula but simultaneously—magically, even—slimmed down to thinner widths than the barely-there iPhone 5s. But as it turns out, a big slab of ultra-thin aluminum has some downsides, too. Namely, the brand-new phones have been warping from the stress of simply being carried around in people's pockets.

Cue the Internet explosion.

To be fair, phone warping is nothing new, and Apple says only nine people have formally complained about the issue, despite numerous other accounts. But the PR damage is done—and Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 phablet sure doesn't twist like that.

ios 8 icon

iOS 8gate

The company managed to quell Bendgate in mere hours… by releasing a borked iOS 8.0.1 update that disabled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus's TouchID sensor and prevented phones from connecting to cellular networks.

Bra—vo. Ironically, the entire purpose of the 8.0.1 update was to fix a bug that prevented HealthKit from being deployed in the original iOS 8 rollout.

Apple yanked the update, but not before a small legion of early adopters had downloaded it. Adding insult to digital injury, rolling back the update via iCloud backups dumps you back on iOS 7. The only way to return to vanilla iOS 8 for now is by connecting to iTunes on your computer.


Apple is Shellshocked

The final blow is no fault of Apple's, but it's still gotta hurt. Late Wednesday, security researchers announced "Shellshock," a critical flaw in the Bash shell command line tool found in many Unix systems, including OS X Mavericks. Shellshock has the potential to be bigger than the devastating "Heartbleed" bug found in OpenSSL earlier this year.

The bug has been confirmed to work in OS X Mavericks (update: though Apple says it isn't vulnerable by default). This StackExchange thread explains how to test whether your Mac is in danger, and it also offers a highly technical way to plug the hole. Apple's sure to officially patch it sooner rather than later. PCWorld's Bash bug report has all the details. 

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A bad run

And if you feel like expanding your horizons beyond this calendar week, there have been numerous other Apple snafus this month: The obligatory iPhone preorder fiasco. That iCloud hack that okay was technically social engineering rather than a "hack" but still. Tales of iOS 8 apps crashing at much higher rates than in iOS 7.

Will it all blow over in time? Sure. Does Apple still make exquisite products? Yep. But this brief interlude proving that the men and women behind the trademark Apple magic are indeed only human, and possible of making very human mistakes--well, it can't be over soon enough.

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