POSTS FOR 2012

In response to ”DEAR APPLE: I'm Leaving You”

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A recent editorial on Business Insider layer out a number of reasons why the author, Ed Conway, was “leaving Apple”. This is my response.

Self-Indulgent Weiner

In his editorial, Ed Conway wrote:

Dear Tim,

There’s no easy way to put this so I’ll just come right out with it. I’m leaving you. It’s been great (mostly) but it’s over.

I figured the least I could do is to explain my decision in full – I like to think it might help protect you from nasty break-ups like this in the future.

I can’t help but think of the “self-indulgent weiner” line delivered by Nicholas Cage as Memphis Raines in the movie Gone in Sixty Seconds.

Ed, you’re going to complain in an effort to get page views. You’re trolling the Apple/anti-Apple crowds to get attention. That, sir, makes you a whore.

Long-time Apple user

I’ve been with you, with Apple I mean, for 13 years now – ever since 1999. Perhaps you’ve forgotten: I was a spotty teenager; I bought one of your cute little translucent iBooks. Slowly but surely I painted most parts of my technological life a bright shade of Apple. Let’s see: I’ve owned two iMacs, a number of iBooks, countless Macbooks (I’ve currently got two on the go, for some unknown reason), an iPhone for almost five years, an iPad since the very beginning; iPods, iPod touches, iPod nanos – I’ve had ‘em all. I even invested in an Apple TV and, wait for it, a G4 Power Mac Cube (yes, that was me!).

So, you’ve been an Apple user for a long time. That’s awesome. It’s made your life better, hasn’t it?

I’ll admit I became dependent on you – clingy, even. When I went to the States a couple of years back I shelled out hundreds of dollars to ensure I wouldn’t be without an iPhone – even though I was back at college and wasn’t exactly rolling in it. And like so many of those who fall in love with you, soon enough I found myself working part-time as your best PR spokesman: I spent hours persuading all my friends to buy your stuff. I even wrote a blog about what made Apple such a dynamic, innovative and successful company.

Blog post. You wrote a blog post, you idiot. A “blog” is a collection of posts, not a single one. You don’t “write a blog”, you “write a blog post”.

But that’s neither here nor there. It simply gives me a baseline of your intelligence so that I know whether I can gear my language and logic up or down. Clearly, it’s down.

The hype

Like millions of others, I really believed the hype.

Yes, because Apple’s success has been built on hype, and hype alone. (If you believe this, then I have some ocean-front property in Arizona to sell you.)

Apple builds some of the fastest, thinnest and lightest computers with incredibly high build quality. The ones with some of the best displays (in terms of resolution (2880x1800), pixel density (326ppi) and color accuracy), best resale value, and have the highest consumer rating. They’re #1 in U.S. unit share for notebooks (Mac) (née laptops), and #1 in worldwide unit share for tablets (iPads).

The’ve created not one, but two of the most user-friendly consumer operating systems on the market. They redefined not only one, not even two, but three separate industries. And all of their devices work seamlessly together to create a really fantastic experience.

But no, it’s just hype.

More uninformed stupidity

I never thought I would utter these words, but here goes: I’m leaving you. I have already traded in my iPhone for a Samsung.

A Samsung. One whole Samsung. *facepalm*

Now, I know you don’t like lists (at least I presume that’s why you avoided including a task application in Mac OS and iOS for so many years) but it’s only right that I run through the issues:

There has been a task manager in Mac OS (classic) as far back as System 1.0, AFAICT. Mac OS X has had a task manager since back in the NeXTStep days (1990’s). iOS didn’t support multitasking until iOS 4 (2010), and even then has chosen not to allow rampant or unchecked multitasking for user experience and battery life reasons. Every single detail about your last paragraph was 100% incorrect.

iOS 6

Yes, I know I’m hardly the first to mention this – but that doesn’t make it any less valid as a complaint. It is truly, truly awful. I’m usually ready to forgive one or two niggles in a new iteration of operating system. After all, they’re usually outweighed by the improvements. In this case, I honestly can’t think of a single new feature that in any way enhances the phone. Every change you’ve made is negative.

There are zero features of iOS 6 that are positive? So then you must think that every single one of these features is a bad thing.

  • User must confirm access to Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Photos and Location Data when an app requests them.

  • It’s easy to keep contact information up-to-date with Facebook integration.

  • Asynchronous Game Center integration which allows for fantastic games like Letterpress to exist.

  • Built-in turn-by-turn navigation. 3D flyover views in Maps.

  • Siri has been improved, supports more types of information, and is available on more devices.

  • Facebook and Twitter notifications at the OS-level.

  • Shared photo streams (accessible to everyone, not just Facebook users).

  • The immensely-useful Passbook allows me to start keeping track of gift cards, tickets and other things without having to keep them in my wallet.

  • FaceTime conversations over cellular (3G, 4G and LTE).

  • Faster JavaScript, and improved CSS 3 and HTML 5 support in Safari.

  • The ability to decline calls (regardless of which view you’re in) then send the caller a message instead if you can’t talk right now.

  • Do Not Disturb settings for all of those overnight notifications, texts and drunken phone calls.

  • Automatic syncing of tabs between Safari on Mac/iPhone/iPad over iCloud.

  • Further-improved accessibility settings for people who need them.

The maps application is utterly horrendous; you must have known this is among the most commonly-used of all functional parts of a smartphone and that to change it quite so substantially would be seriously disruptive.

The new Apple-powered (instead of Google-powered) Maps app has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. Maps load faster (thanks to vector-based rendering), I get turn-by-turn directions with voiceover for free (this used to cost $50 for a third-party app), and the 3D “flyover” view has allowed me to discover a bunch of cool things in downtown Seattle that I never knew existed.

The only “loss” I experienced was transit maps. This forced me to discover a number of transit mapping applications that are way better than what I used to use Google Maps in iOS for. Two apps that I use frequently are OneBusAway and Lumatic City Maps. In a pinch, I can use Google Transit Maps in Safari.

Take iTunes Match. In the previous iOS I could download any individual song in my iTunes Match library, so I could listen to it overseas without data or when in the Tube. Now your dreadful new operating system will only let me download whole albums […]

This is partially false. I use iTunes Match all the time. Yes, they’ve removed the one-by-one icons for downloading individual songs. This is a little disappointing, but not super disappointing. I often use playlists (including Smart Playlists) in iTunes, so it’s pretty easy for me to add a song that I want to a playlist, then sync down that playlist.

[…] and then won’t let me delete them afterwards, so my iPhone gets clogged up with stuff before arbitrarily deleting precious chunks of data when it reaches capacity.

Not true, but deleting songs is more complicated as you need to turn off iTunes Match, then manually delete individual songs one-by-one from the list view.

This argument is less moronic than the others… so far.

As do I find the fact that you now seem to have decided to allow the iOS to decide unilaterally to use the telephone network rather than wifi when it so chooses.

What? I have no idea what you’re talking about here.

Given how badly you screwed up with the whole secret GPS-tracking of iPhone users, I’d have thought you realised we don’t like it when you behave creepily like this. It’s seriously not cool, but then more on that later.

Oh, you mean how the complete opposite of your statement is the truth?

All the new, exciting apps you’ve brought in are, I’m afraid to say, rubbish.

Let’s take a look.

Podcasts: dismal and buggy.

Yes, Podcasts 1.0 was a terrible app. But we’re no longer talking about iOS 6.

Facebook integration: should have been there years ago.

Apple gave you what you wanted, and now you’re complaining.

Passbook: erm – seriously?

One of my favorite additions, actually. I use it frequently.

Siri’s improvements are lost on me because, like most users, the only time I’ve engaged with Siri is to see how many swear words he/she/it understands (answer: a surprising number).

I’ll now have to take back my not-so-moronic statement about you that I made earlier.

Finally, for some reason iOS also seems to have broken the tilt-scrolling in Instapaper, which I resent because, well, I just use that app a lot.

So do I. And it works. Or were you using the iOS 6 Beta which was in, you know, beta status?

You’ve lost it

This is going to sound awful, but I can’t think of any big product you’ve re-imagined well since the iPad, and that was almost three years ago.

Stupidity should be painful. It seems as though Ed believes that if things don’t change radically from one iteration to the next, then they suck. Dude, take your Ritalin and calm your ADHD-ass the **** down.

iCloud? Not as good as dropbox, and actually more confusing. FaceTime? Slick, but still pales in comparison with Skype. iMessages? Mostly annoying, particularly when it sends messages twice. Siri? See the previous point. Safari? Not as good as Chrome or Firefox. Safari’s Reader function? Not as good as Instapaper. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Apple has been doing this for a while, so I’m surprised that Ed — a 13-year Apple veteran — hasn’t been paying attention.

Apple does not try to replace existing apps and functionality. Rather, it seeks to chase them up the bean pole. In other words, Apple comes in to the entry level of the market (informing some people that such a market exists in the first place), and challenges the incumbents to provide mid- and advanced-level features for people who want more.

  • iCloud: Handles your fundamental syncing tasks across devices with zero effort.

  • FaceTime: Always-on. Just tap the contact info of a friend or family member with a Mac, iPhone or iPad, and the call begins. No signing up. No ads. Simple.

  • iMessages: I can send and receive messages to other Mac/iPhone/iPad users from my Mac/iPhone/iPad. Messages sync across all devices so I never have to wonder where they went.

  • Siri: Fantastic. Easy to send text messages to people via voice while I’m driving. Easy to look up turn-by-turn directions. Easy to find a list of nearby Thai restaurants, with user-submitted reviews, ratings and price information.

  • Safari: Safari is incredibly fast on Mac and iOS. It’s become my preferred browser over both Chrome and Firefox because of this.

  • Safari’s Reader function: Most people don’t realize that you can read websites with all of the ads and crap stripped out of them. Instapaper led the charge, but Pocket is also coming along. Safari Reader is an entry-level feature.

Plus, my Mac simply doesn’t work that well any more. The contacts on my iPhone don’t seem to sync very well with my laptop. Aperture is extraordinarily slow and buggy, Pages and Numbers are a bit of a nonsense. It just feels like you don’t make the best software anymore. And it doesn’t fit together as seamlessly as in the past.

SOMETHING IS WRONG! FIX IT! MAKE IT WORK!

I don’t have any of the technical problems Ed’s talking about (e.g., contact syncing). I like Pages, but I prefer to write in Markdown using iA Writer. I have no need for Numbers. Since all of Ed’s assertions are unqualified and he fails to explain anything, it’s clear that he’s just ranting about things he doesn’t (or hasn’t taken the time to) understand.

You’re not cool anymore

Again, this is probably a body blow, but it’s also true. It’s not merely that I now have to put up with your products being used by my mother. The fact is that Apple used to be edgy; it used to be associated with the counterculture; it used to be rebellious. I liked that. I liked the fact that you were uncompromising. […]

Yes, and Apple also almost went bankrupt in 1996. They were rebels without a clue. Now they’re wildly successful because they chose not to follow in the footsteps of other companies… and you’re mad?

When you introduced the iMac you ditched the serial ports and insisted everyone had to make do with USB ports, despite the fact there was approximately one printer in the world which worked with USB. You were the first to ditch disc drives and DVD drives. I’m not alone but I liked the way you refused to put Flash on your devices. Plus I liked the fact that unlike Google and pretty much every other big company you and your fellow execs would never go to navel-gazing networking conferences like the World Economic Forum in Davos. There was something cool about that attitude.

None… (reading…) yep, none of those things have changed.

These days, you’re all too ready to compromise. Do you want to know the beginning of the end of our relationship? It was when you decided to include an SD slot in your MacBooks. Why? I can’t imagine the Apple of old ever doing this; there is no inherent reason why you need one in your laptop, save to compromise. And in compromising, you’ve become too complex.

User research showed that lots and lots of people were using SD cards in their cameras and other devices, so Apple added an SD card reader into their laptops. Apple did what made things simpler for users.

I remember the first iMac: it was the first computer you didn’t really need an instruction manual for. When iOS came out I found myself having to download the manual and wade through its 156 pages (156, FFS Tim!) to find out what you’d done with the settings I used to use. That’s the first time I’ve ever had to use an Apple instruction manual.

You swipe. You tap. If you want to check out the settings, you tap on “Settings”. It’s really not complex. Both my son and my daughter (elementary school age) were able to pick up my iPhone (and later my iPad) and begin using them immediately with zero instruction.

What does that say about you, Ed?

Apple used to be about purity, which in turn made its products simpler and more reliable; somewhere along the way, this got lost. Or rather, Apple under Steve Jobs used to be about purity: when he wasn’t at the helm in the 90s, it also made the kind of compromises I’m talking about here.

By “compromise”, Ed means “gave customers what they were asking for”.

You’re screwing us

No: the final straw was when you decided to replace the dock on the bottom of all your iPhones and iPads with the new “lightening dock”. I’ve heard your explanations: that it’ll allow your devices to be thinner, that it’s a faster connector and all that. I don’t buy it. The main reason you did this is the main reason you seem to be bringing your products out in ever shorter product cycles: planned obsolescence.

*facepalm*

You’re aware that the more frequently something is out-of-date, the more often we’ll have to buy more Apple stuff. Now, I was willing to put up with that when it felt as if there was genuinely progress between iterations, when there was a shred of aspiration about it, but by the time you unveiled the lightening connector I wasn’t so sure. All it means is that I have to throw out all the devices I’ve bought over the past years which plug into my iPhone: adaptors, radios, speakers and so on. It’s a really low-down thing to do – particularly since the lightening connector is patently not that much faster than the existing dock.

Firstly, it’s spelled lightning.

Secondly, I haven’t thrown out a single device I’ve purchased since 2003 when the 30-pin dock was introduced. This is mainly because I’m not a moron who goes around throwing things out. But it’s also because you can spend $29 on a converter.

My chargers are all USB chargers, so I was able to plug the new USB-based Lightning connector in where my old USB-based 30-pin connector was. Yes, I’ve invested a grand total of about $60 buying multiple USB-to-Lightning cables so that I have one for my car, my office, and my home, but considering how many years it’s been since I had to buy a cable, I’m not that stressed about it.

Lastly, Apple has said that Lightning will be the standard for “at least the next 10 years” (as per Phil Schiller). With all of Apple’s new Macs supporting USB 3.0, I’d wager a very healthy sum of money on Lightning supporting USB 3.0 speeds. It also allows the devices to become even thinner and lighter over time. This is A Good Thing™.

Anyway, I guess you could say it was a Eureka moment. Finally, I realised that you’ve been working your way here for years: the fact that you give up supporting old Macs far quicker than before; that you won’t let us download and delete our own music from your cloud. You realise there isn’t much money long-term in being a pure manufacturer. You want to turn yourself into a quasi-service, where we constantly need to buy or subscribe to one of your products. I see the point – it’s economic genius. The problem is that it’s not inspiring in the slightest; and the products are no longer wowing us enough to detract from the venality of it. And I’m just tired and, worse, bored of it.

Again, 100% of this statement is complete fiction.

Thus far, iOS devices (with the notable exception of the first-generation iPad) have received the latest OS updates for 3+ years. This is in stark contrast to Android-based devices which are lucky to see a single update ever.

Macs tend to be supported with the latest updates for 5–6+ years. The latest OS X release, Mountain Lion, supports 2007-era and newer Macs. Considering that the earliest possible Macs that they could support are the first Intel-based Macs (released in 2006), this is pretty darn good.

I don’t need you any more

I was between iPhones and I filled the lonely miserable gap with an HTC Android phone. And while I tried to ignore it at the time, the fact is, it was actually pretty good. Yes, there were niggles and a few annoyances, but we got along surprisingly well. And I’ll get on pretty well with it again, because the fact is, Tim: I’m leaving you for an Android. I can get everything I need from a phone from them as well.

Oh, you’re only looking for a phone? Well hey, knock yourself out.

Last year, I wrote about why Apple’s ecosystem is unmatched and how Android still has a long way to go. If you just want a phone that does some smartphone-like stuff, Android is just fine.

My email, my messages, maps that work, my contacts (they’re stored with Google anyway and that integrates far better into an Android phone); Evernote, Instapaper, Whatsapp, my tube timetables and bus times. I’ll probably ditch iTunes Match in favour of Amazon Cloud Player or Google Drive, and, frankly, good riddance after the way you’ve treated us mobile users of the service. I’ll miss some of the apps, I’m sure – Reeder to name just one. I’ll miss the hundreds of text messages sitting on my iPhone. I’ll miss… Actually, I can’t think of anything else right now.

If you’re invested in the Google platform for your contacts, calendars and email, then the Google mobile OS might be a good fit for you. I used Google for contacts and calendars for 4 years and have used Google for email since I got into the Gmail beta in May 2004. But I’ll tell you: Moving my contacts and calendars to iCloud has been a very positive experience. Not only does contact syncing over iCloud work better, but sharing calendars with other people allows for notifications about changes for all people involved. I couldn’t get this with Google Calendar.

I’ve used Amazon Cloud Player on Android 4.0.4 (CyanogenMod 9) and iOS, and quite frankly, it sucks. It crashes often, it doesn’t use my album artwork, and it only supports the popular-but-inefficient MP3 audio codec. It also doesn’t integrate with iTunes on my Mac. DoubleTwist is tolerable, but the integration isn’t as good there either.

Google Music still requires you to upload all of your music. I have hundreds of gigabytes, so that simply isn’t going to happen.

I’ll hang onto my iPad for the time being. I’ll certainly keep the Macbook Air – I’m not quite ready to return to Windows yet.

Might not buy a Mac, but not ready to go back to Windows? Where else is there to go? Desktop Linux?

Don’t take it personally. Well, do, if it helps inspire you to make better and bolder products. This need not be forever. You can still win me back: but you’ll need to do something special again, like you did in the good old days. Reinvent the TV, like you reinvented the phone. Revolutionise finance. Overhaul the home entirely. Think Different – as your predecessor Steve Jobs used to say. Perhaps the problem is you’re not the same person any more. You’re not Steve. Perhaps.

Reinventing TV takes time. You can’t just take an ancient, out-of-touch industry and change it overnight. Apple took 10 years to build out a successful media platform and top-notch mobile devices.

It’s nice that you want Apple do revolutionize everything, but understand that Apple is a business and they need to have the right motivation and opportunity before they can tackle a new market.

And by mentioning Steve, your ignorance is showing. Moron.

Either way, I’m tired of settling for mediocrity from you these days.

Some of the best made, best selling products of all time. Blockbuster, record-breaking sales around the world. But because Apple is continuing to hone their skills and continually improve their products over time, they’ve become mediocre.

Again, go find your Ritalin and settle your ADHD-ass the **** down.

Conclusion

So, Ed, let me get this straight.

  • You like your MacBook Air and you don’t want to go back to Windows.
  • You like your iPad (that presumably has iOS 6, and you didn’t mention how anemic the Android tablet market/experience is).
  • You’re frustrated that the tech bloggers complained loudly about Maps and iCloud, even though both work really well.
  • You complain about Apple not supporting their devices, then say you’re going to move to Android.
  • You want Apple to reinvent everything, ever. But they haven’t, so they suck.
  • You want Apple to introduce radical changes to their devices, but complain loudly when they change their mapping provider or introduce a new dock connector.

You, sir, are clearly the king of the morons. Congratulations.

Ryan Parman

Ryan Parman is an experienced software engineer, open source evangelist, and passionate user advocate currently living in Seattle. He is the creator of and , and worked on DevOps and Security at . He is now bringing learning into the digital age as an Engineering Lead and Site Reliability Engineer at . Ryan's aptly-named blog, , is where he writes about ideas longer than .