Monday, October 3, 2016

Musings of a Former Apple Guy...

Okay, so if you have known me for any length of time, you know that I have been a big fan of Apple's products and software for many years.  In fact, our family was completely into their eco-system with our phones, computers, Apple TV, watches, and even our wireless router.  For years, Apple has stood above the rest of the companies out there because while the competition's products encountered many issues, Apple's products just worked...  Five years ago, this was the gospel truth. Apple OSX was far and away better than Windows, iOS worked much better than Android, Windows, or Blackberry phone software, and their software such as Pages, Numbers, etc. worked well and yielded stellar results.

Sadly, this is not five years ago.  While the rest of the tech world has made huge improvements in their hardware and software, Apple seems content to putter along at their own pace.  Sure, their sales numbers have been good, but even that is beginning to decline in nearly every sector except in computer sales.  Companies like Google, and even Microsoft have more than caught up with Apple in their software development, and in many ways have overtaken Apple.  Case in point, Apple's latest mobile release (iOS10) seems like a beta-version of software that was rushed to market without the normal testing we have come to expect from Apple.  This actually started to occur with iOS7, with major glitches included in the download that took many further Apple updates to correct.  Instead  of leading with new, usable features, Apple seems to be merely re-packaging features found on other mobile platforms and calling them "revolutionary."  I was not a big fan of Steve Jobs, but I have a feeling that he would be pretty upset with the direction that his company has taken since his death.

I mentioned declining sales earlier, and that really does speak to some of the problems at Apple, IMO.  Why the decline in sales?  Well, honestly I think that it is Apple's absolutely dogged approach to forcing users to use THEIR software, THEIR hardware, and now THEIR accessories.  Don't like the normal messaging app from Apple?  Well, you can use other apps, but none of them have native support.  Sure, there are work-arounds, but why is that necessary?  Don't like iTunes?  Ha ha...  don't even think of trying to use something else on your iPhone... you will not get far.  In fact, up until iOS10, you could not even delete Apple's stock apps from your phone.  You still cannot delete them all.  iMessage is a great idea, unless the people you are trying to message do not use iMessage.  Sure, it will work through your iPhone, but what if you do not have an iPhone?  Again, work-arounds are there, but it should not be that difficult.

Last year, Apple introduced Apple Music.  In doing so, they made a serious push for users to begin using their monthly paid service.  Every time you opened iTunes on your computer or your phone, there it was... front and center.  Getting to your own music became another layer of junk you had to go through.  This year, they decided to do away with the headphone jack on their latest phone.  Now that may not seem like that big of a deal to some, but many people (like myself) own one or more sets of really good wired headphones.  This new phone requires you to keep up with and use an adaptor to use a simple set of headphones.  Is it any coincidence that Apple happens to own Beats Audio?  Don't want to pop for a set of wireless Beats?  Well, how about Apple's $160 wireless ear pods...  Money, money, money...

I also own an iPad Air 2, which is not even 2 years old.  I have never encountered a problem with it until I updated it to iOS10.  Glitches, freezes, and app failures are the new normal there.  I often teach from my iPad.  It is not fun when your notes get frozen and you have to restart the app on the fly.  I'm sure Apple would be happy to help me with the purchase of a new iPad, but that's not happening.

Lastly, the Apple Watch.  It was a cool item at first, but the novelty wore off within a few months.
Really did not do much other than show messages.  Biggest problem was just having to charge one more thing every day.  Going out of town required taking multiple chargers, as Apple refuses to use the micro-USB port that the rest of the industry uses... just one more way that they try to keep you spending money in their camp.

In the past few months, I've replaced my Apple router with a better alternative from another company, sold my Apple Watch, and sold my iPhone 6s Plus.  I recently purchased an Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge), and have been very happy with it.  I was surprised at how user friendly the newest version of Android (dubbed Marshmallow) is.  So many options for customization, and not just in the look of the software, but actually being able to choose which apps work best for you, and delete the ones that do not.  I still have my Mac computers, and will not be replacing them anytime soon.  So far, OSX has been pretty good about keeping things stable and working.

I am not an Apple hater...  But I'm also not what I would call an Apple "enthusiast."  Gone are the days of buying an Apple product because I was confident that it would work better than the competing products on the market.  Those days are gone... but hey, variety and competition is a good thing for the market, right?  :)

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