Tuesday Talk ~ Apple is crazy, stupid, brilliant, game-changing …


The opinions about Apple have always covered the range from ‘it’s extremely terrible’ to ‘Apple is insanely great’. Back in the Mac-only days, people either hated Apple because they used PCs, or loved Apple because they used Apple. Usually the PC users had no experience of Apple at all, and simply scoffed at what they considered an expensive, outsider machine. It was, to be fair, both of those things – and the first criticism still applies, although value for money is assured – but now that Apple is so massive, so ubiquitous, so wealthy, the criticisms have remained strong but they have shifted focus. Now people criticise Apple for not introducing a game-changing next new thing every few months.

For a long time, once the iPhone was introduced, people would echo what developers were saying: that Apple was a closed shop, an exclusive ecosystem, a walled garden. That’s because Apple never made iOS open to developers in the way Google’s Android was. This meant that while iOS was more secure, the updates were controlled rather than open slather. The user experience was consistent, which of course is great for users. And apps had to fit Apple’s development and user interface guidelines. All these favoured the users, for obvious reasons (consistent experience, security, stability) but some developers chafed. And that’s why there’s such a confusion of Android systems out there now. Will an app work with your Android system? Who knows. Will your app work with your particular device? Who knows.
And for these reasons, the developer criticism has subsided.

Partly, perhaps, Apple’s refocused emphasis on its developer community (via WWDC) has been responsible for a happier Apple development climate. They feel loved again. Swift, aApple’s faster, easier coding system, really helped too.
But I remember when the Windows Phone was introduced to New Zealand. I talked to developers who had experienced Microsoft engineers being assigned to them one-to-one to help them with their progress. This was very, very far from what Apple developers, at least in New Zealand, were used to. Apple basically gives you the tools, makes resources available and off you go. Good luck! But that, of course, has been a very successful policy – the app developer community is vast, the apps available bountiful. And Swift Playgrounds, once it comes out for iPad, is an ingenious way to bring this approach to kids. (And me.) Meanwhile, Microsoft’s late entry into the smartphone market was a huge, embarrassing flop.

This year, Apple will no doubt release an iPhone 7, hopefully (and it looks increasingly likely) a new MacBook Pro, and maybe a new, second version of the Watch. These will probably be incrementally, rather than fundamentally, better than the models they replace. They will greatly please Apple users.
They will greatly displease the haters, who want entirely new products they can then scoff at.
It’s all par for the course, really.