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Friday, March 16, 2012

How many Apple accounts do you have to remember?

Apple, we need to have a talk. You've created a monster with all of these accounts. You're looking at a disaster of usability here.

I just set up a brand new Mac Mini last night. It came with Lion pre-installed, and shortly after starting up, it asked me for an account. Okay, I figured I'll give it my iCloud account, which is a me.com address, because I had MobileMe. It liked this and managed to fetch my info, so I registered the machine.

Not too long after that, it asked me ... to set up iCloud. It had conveniently forgotten everything I had told it before, and I had to give it the same account details again. That made it happy, and it went away.

Once I landed on the desktop, I noticed that it had a "2" notifier on the App Store, so I went in there. There were two things which needed to be updated! There, it asked yet again for an address. This time, I knew I had to give it the account I first started using with the "iTunes Music Store" back when it was called that, since that's what all of my other purchases are linked to.

That's not all. If I go to the Apple Store and give them my credit card, they will swipe it and it will resolve to an e-mail address. That address is not the one I used for the iTMS way back when, and it's not my me.com account either. Instead, it's some address that I gave them back when they started using those hand-held devices.

It happens to be the same credit card I've used with the online store, but that's not enough to link things and let me fix where it points.

I also have an account for the "developer connection" stuff which lets me see the beta builds of iOS and all of those things. That is yet another e-mail address, and that was actually suggested by them at signup!

So let's review here. I have an address linked to using my credit card in the physical store, a second address linked to the online store, a third address for the iCloud stuff which itself is a fourth address left over from MobileMe, and a fifth address for developer stuff.

What's worse is... I think there may be one or two more lurking out there, from way way back when I first used this stuff and then stopped for a while. They wouldn't be linked to any valid credit card by virtue of them expiring after 3-4 years, but it's still super wacky.

All of this is garbage which I have to track every time I go to do something. I have to figure out which context they're probably in and then cough up the right credentials to match. That's a modal interface which puts the burden on the user, and it's garbage.

It's embarrassing. Fix it.