Overdue Thoughts on Apple

It’s been a long time comin’. Apple has engaged in plenty of really lame behaviors lately, and it’s time I sound off on them. Let’s take it section by section, shall we?

I’ll break this down into the following parts: OS X, iPhone, App Store.

OS X

Apple’s operating system, OS X, is still the best OS on the market today. I’ve heard several claims that Apple is proprietary and closed and doesn’t contribute to the open source ecosystem, but here is OS X. It’s built on an open source core, which is good, if nothing else, for auditing code flaws.

OS X is still the most beautiful experience out there, and still gets in my way the least when I’m trying to do work. Webkit still sits as the default browser in the form of step-brother Safari, and Webkit is not only open source, it’s also the available on Windows, super compliant, super fast, and it’s the core of Google’s Chrome browser.

OS X also uses open formats for mail storage, standard XML for most configuration files (yes, some plists are not plain text, but they are trivial to open as well), their backup software produces a browsable volume. Their native office suite produces clean XML file formats. The server system uses Open Directory, RSS, Apache, Ruby on Rails, iCal, WebDAV, Wiki software, Tomcat, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and more. SnowLeopard will implement CardDAV and ZFS. In fact, Apple has been pretty decent about using open source technologies. While they haven’t always given back in this form, certainly basing your apps and system around open formats is better than basing it on closed, proprietary systems, no?

I always say: “If you don’t want your open source work used in commercial derivatives, then don’t use a permissive license.” There’s no clause that says you have to give back when using the BSD license.

iPhone

I’m tired of talking about the iPhone. My first gen iPhone was the love of my life. It made me so happy. My 3G makes me cry. It used to crash all the time. Then 2.1 came out and fixed all of that. Except now I’m worse off.

Firstly, I get “Call Failed” about 3 times every day. Middle of a call, the call will simply drop and say “Call Failed.”

Secondly, I cannot install or update apps. I get a mysterious error telling me that the app will be available when I next login to iTunes on my computer. When I do, I get an error that I can’t update the app. Only solution? Delete the app and all app data from the phone, reinstall from scratch. Tons of people have this problem, Apple has no solution.

Thirdly, I’m tired of the feature debate on the internet. I cannot understand why Apple refuses to introduce certain features. Why, oh why, will they not introduce MMS, copy/paste, and voice dial to shut everyone up? What reason could they possibly have to willfully frustrate people? My God, this would quiet so many people down, if they would only introduce these fairly basic features. I haven’t seen a phone in several years that can’t do picture messaging, every time I tell someone I can’t get the messages, they wince in disbelief and say “The iPhone can’t do picture messaging?” As if that’s not enough, the ONLY medium to retrieve your messages is Flash, a technology NOT available on the iPhone! Say whaaaaaa?

I’m tired of it. Honestly, the experience has gotten so bad for me, as compared to my expectations, that I can’t say it’s impossible I’ll be on Android in 2 years. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still the best phone on the market by a longshot, but I don’t think it will maintain its top spot if things keep going as they are, with this lack of interest in catering to customer needs.

The App Store

I’ve been quiet for way too long about the App Store. Engadget had a great piece on Apple’s policies regarding the App Store. Apple is simply wrong. Period. They simply must get their act together.

The way Apple is behaving is unforgivable, and if I had anything to do with the App Store, I’d be looking to bail. Apple has made it clear, several times now, that they are not looking out for their developers. First off, the refuse to clarify the rules to qualify for the App Store. It appears that approval is an entirely subjective process. Secondly, the review comes after the app is already written, and therefore, the developer has no course of action and no appeal. That person or company’s time is just flat out wasted. Of course, there is no consistency either. A coin flipper appears to be ok, but a fart machine is “of limited utility.”

I own multiple Macs, multiple iPods, multiple iPhones. I’ve purchase family packs of OS X, family packs of iLife updates, and I buy applications that I like or need. I have an Apple TV, an Airport Extreme, an Airport Express, and apple headphone, cables, etc. And I have been directly responsible for “switching” at least 10 people. I am a very loyal Apple customer. But I feel betrayed. Betrayed because it’s clear Apple takes people like me – a tech inclined enthusiast – for granted. The fact that Apple doesn’t feel a need to open up about iPhone mistakes or App Store policies means that they feel no need to keep me in the loop. They do not feel as though I should care if things work, or that I should be able to plan. And I will certainly not dabble in Cocoa to play with iPhone programming, as anything I may write will be subjectively reviewed by God-knows-who and no particular rule will be applied.

Apple got to the top by doing things right and making a good and solid system. But as Windows 7 becomes more and more transparent via the E7 blog, all of Apple’s products and plans become more secretive. How can anyone invest their data and livelihood into this ecosystem?

Wake up Apple! Listen to us!

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