This page was last updated 28 December 2012.

My life with Apple computers and iPhone

Operating systems can be a religious issue. If you switch from one to another, the first thing you notice is all the things that you were doing all the time no longer work, and all your experience and how-to knowledge becomes useless. You go digging through the manuals to find out how you can do the same things as before on the new system, and you are frustrated if you can't find them or if things are done in a different, "strange", way. Then you start to understand the philosophy, the model that the new system is using, and you become more fluent, and things begin to mesh again.

Yet the Apple approach to things is different. You unwrap the computer, iPod, or iPhone, turn it on, and it performs its function in a natural way without sending the user through an obstacle course through endlessly nested preferences, menus, ribbons, and popups. It just figures things out by itself and works. It's such a joy using a system that was designed by human interface professionals, not engineers (and I say that being an engineer myself).

But of course, nothing is ever perfect. The hardware is rarely leading-edge (still no USB3!). Sometimes drag and drop behavior is hard to predict, or clicks get hijacked, or error reports are inscrutable ("one of your files failed to upload"). That's the kind of thing that stumps people who switch from other systems. I'll dwell on these probably more than they deserve, but if you want eulogies I suggest you visit :-)

And the more I use Apple products, the more I get annoyed by their way of building insurmountable walls around their products. They are the opposite of "open". Not only do they have the absolute minimum of ports, and sometimes fewer than that (no Ethernet and no UMTS on the Macbook Air, and just one USB port?!), but they handcuff you to their products. Can't use an iPhone or iPod touch without iTunes. DRM isn't in your face as much anymore but it's still there. Try to write an iPhone app, and you must pay Apple for the privilege, you must write it in a primitive archaic Apple-only language called Objective C (think Microsoft's C# but designed a quarter-century earlier), and your app must be approved and can be pulled from the store at any time at Apple's whim. Apple's whims change. If Microsoft would pull stuff like that, everyone would be up at arms and screaming at them. (And trust me, I rarely approve of what Microsoft does.)

And hey, why would Apple need to keep up with the competitions? That's what attack lawyers are for. If the competition catches up, Apple fights back not by out-innovating them - Apple can do that but not sustain it - but by blocking them in court. That's why you won't find comments on the iPad here, I refuse to get into bed with SCO 2.0.

But still, you have to hand it to Apple: they get a lot of things right that everyone else gets wrong, and they are such a pleasure to use. They build software for human beings, not software engineers. So, here are my musings on Apple I have written up over the years:

Written in 2011: Apple's new MacOS 10.7 Lion operating system.
Written in 2010: Apple's MobileMe web service subscription.
Written in 2010: Tips and tricks for using iPhoto 2009.
Written in 2012: iPhoto 2011 vs. iPhoto 2009. The latter wins.
Written in 2010: Heretical thoughts about the Apple desktop, and why it can be harder than you thought to click a button.
Written in 2010: Experiences with Apple's new Magic Mouse.
Written in 2010: Experiences with Apple's iMac keyboard.
Written in 2008: I have tried cell phones made by Nokia, Siemens, and Sony/Ericsson. They all had more features than my iPhone, but my iPhone is the only one that I love to use. Despite all its flaws.
Written in 2007: I bought a MacBook notebook. Read how an Apple notebook works as a desktop replacement, compared to a Mac mini and a desktop Linux PC.
Written in 2007: Two years later, I wrote this followup on my Mac experience.
Written in 2005: My newest computer is a Mac mini from Apple. My first Mac after a decade as a Linux user. If you are thinking of getting one too, read this.

I seem to buy a lot of Apple stuff. Why is there no iPad review here? Because of this. Maybe I'll reconsider when the next generation is available. Maybe not. I don't want anything to do with Apple's walled-garden Taliban anymore.

Those Android phones look awfully good - sync anywhere, no more USB cables to sync my phone against iTunes on a single "authorized" computer only. What is this, the year 1980? And nobody rejects cartoon apps from an author who later wins the first online Pulitzer, because they might upset someone. And Android innovates fast compared to Apple. That's what you get from openness. Still no multitasking in iPhone 4 that deserves the name, I am so tired of finding my way back after switching from, say, an RSS item to Safari, or making a Skype call (receiving a Skype call is not practical with an iPhone). You think my use of the word Taliban is too strong? If so you haven't been in Apple's dev program, and lately you just haven't followed the news.

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