The ‘Apple’ Project
I have been known to be a rather passionate opponent of Apple’s product range, my overall hate for iPhones was never kept secret, nor should it have been. In hindsight, there were a number of reasons which, together, formed an argument that I relied on for years. However, time passes by and things change and so must we, so recently I have found myself revisiting some of my ‘stagnant’ opinions for a refreshing review and possible upgrade.
Why the opposition?
Well, from the very first iPhone to the latest iPad I could never be convinced on how a closed system such as the iOS can be utilised by any reasonable power user; I always wanted the most functionality for my money and the iOS devices simply could not deliver it to the lever that Android set. I appreciated the beautiful design, stability, and overall great performance of the Apple’s mobile and tablet range, but iOS was a great let down for me. (The lack of customisability and UI tweaks felt very limiting and meant that I could never justify the device as worthy of my approval.)
The OSX (now MacOS) came about with a slightly different story. It was fascinating to observe an OS built on the base of Linux that was developed so well, and while still lacking advanced customisation features of Linux, it was far more flexible in that area than Windows. For a long time, the hardware was sub-par for the prices that Apple demanded for its products, which was discouraging to say the least. The MacBook stood for stability, utility, aesthetics, and friendliness — qualities which I paid little attention to in the past and thus Windows and Linux ruled the land in my world.
A kick in the night
Since I bought my main PC, I had little reason to use my laptop when I was at home, instead, it had become a ‘field’ device which I can grab and work on wherever the tube takes me. One night I have decided to enable the latest experimental builds from the Developer Preview portal for Windows and left the machine to do its thing. As always, I was disappointed with the things that Microsoft has managed to bake into the latest update. Soon, I wanted to go back. As is traditional, Windows broke my Windows… Completely obliterating the bootloader, and soon I was stranded.
Two potential solutions came to mind; reinstall the bootloader or try Ubuntu.
In minutes, Ubuntu was running on my XPS13, but after a short period of testing I grew frustrated and wiped it off the drive only to reinstall Windows. (Emotional decisions were made, mostly powered by lack of sleep).
This experience made me think; I need a Linux-like base system with the interoperability and compatibility of the Windows environment. With this criterion, and the state of the OSes right now, logic pointed towards MacOS. It would appear that, despite my general dislike of the company and products, I would be forced to investigate the possibility at the very least.
The Excursion to Oxford Street
Over the next few days, I have drafted a number of points that had to be clarified to start making informed decisions about the potential OS switch. With time and research, it seemed that the MacOS would serve as a decent substitute for my Windows laptop despite the slightly discouraging learning curve. (Years of muscle memory would have to be rewritten).
I planned a visit to the Apple Store in Oxford Street, determined to try all the variants of the platform now more interested in the hardware rather than the OS itself.
I was rather disappointed to find the keyboard on the new MacBook Pro to have such a low profile and a rather unusual size and layout of keys. I type a lot and the ‘flat’ feel of that keyboard made typing a little uncomfortable — there was little tactile feedback that the key has been pressed and it would seem that my hands would have to adjust to its spacious layout. The new touch bar, while an interesting gadget with a lot of potential, felt a little strange to use because of the switch between typing and tapping, but I assume that it would come in more useful once I’d get used to the experience. I think the biggest disappointment though was the fact that the iconic Apple logo did not glow. One of the most memorable things about MacBooks was no longer there. I walked into the store expecting to be persuaded even further, but left it only discouraged and full of doubt.
The Official Statement
I thought it would be worth summarising the entire experience and concluding it with an official statement.
I no longer hate Apple and its products.
I still stand by my opinion that the iPhone and iOS, in general, lacks a number of functions that I deem fundamental to any smartphone, I understand that there are people that do not care for such things and simply want the phone to work and do it well. Most certainly, the iPhone does just that.
With regards to the MacBooks, I accept the MacOS as a good OS with a superbly designed desktop experience. The OS maintains consistency throughout the entire user experience, all the applications follow the same design pattern and integrate seamlessly with the OS itself — something that Windows can most certainly only hope to achieve someday. (I am not even going to mention Linux here).
Controlling the hardware has its merits
One of the selling points of Apple’s MacOS is its control of the hardware which gives it an unparalleled advantage over Windows since Apple can fine tune its OS in the most precise ways to squeeze out more battery life and optimise the use of RAM and CPU time.
It is a shame, however, that this control limits the specs and often results in sub-par specifications for stupendously high prices.
Purpose driven solutions
For a long time, I thought that a personal computer must provide versatility and customisation, allowing its user to do whatever they want. However, it seems that this idea is rather outdated in the modern personalised world. People buy Apple products not because they want to have a laptop that can do everything but because they want a laptop that just works so they do not have to worry about a million different driver updates and software patches (I’m looking at you, Windows).
A simple, yet powerful, a platform that works for its users
If you want full customisability then go with Linux, if you want full compatibility with almost every piece of software and malware out there, then Windows is your choice. If you want intuitive and carefully thought out user interactions and interface elements, then MacOS is your friend. (Again, it just works).
Wake up Sheeple
Apple enthusiasts are often accused of being part of a herd, blindly following a giant company and spending thousands on new products every year. While it is difficult to deny the cult of sheeple for any major tech company, I’d like to think that customers are making far more informed decisions. (Even if this is just a beautiful lie).
If you are buying a product such as a MacBook simply because you just want a MacBook for the sake of the brand, then I’d argue that you are making a mistake. There is little value in brand loyalty. Countless times I have been asked for advice when it came to choosing new tech and countless times I have heard the same “but X is good, I heard they don’t break that often”.
I think it is time to realise that it no longer is about the company, it is all about the hardware inside. Today, it could be the latest XPS that has the best specs, tomorrow it could be the new MacBook Pro — the same applies to smartphones. What does it matter if Lenovo assembles your laptop if the motherboard is made by Asus, the chip by Intel, the hard drive by Samsung, and the screen by yet another unknown company?
The same stands for the smartphone market. You should buy the phone for the specifications and OS rather than just because it is made by this or that company.
In summary, I used to be a great opponent of Apple and its products. I used to hate the system and hardware that it was running on, however, those opinions have been left behind. While I still hold a general disposition to iOS and some of the philosophies adopted by the company, I now see why individuals may choose those products. I think that MacOS has great potential, its Linux-like layout is very friendly and familiar, not to mention the gorgeous UI so meticulously designed to provide a uniform experience.
Will I get one? I’m not sure, only time will tell.