Apple hedging on good enough

I’m a big fan of Apple products. Their hardware is always well designed and well made. I like using them, I like they way they work, how they feel in my hand.

I am not a fan of most Apple software.

The operating systems are good enough, but not groundbreaking. I don’t want all the baffling options and lack of consistency I see with Android – I had an Android phone for a year or so, it never felt “nice” to use – and whilst it sounds like Windows is getting back to being usable, I like the Apple hardware too much to move (maybe the new Microsoft lap/tablet/top thing will sway me?), and most Linux variants I’ve seen and used are not user-friendly.

Apple keeps moving iOS and OSX forward but ultimately they do what they need to do and don’t get in the way too much, which is all I need.

Apple applications on the other hand are, almost across the board, not great and everywhere I look there are better alternatives.

I may give the Photos app a stay of absence here, as it suits my needs but I know most people look to other solutions here.

I use Safari as my browser, but beyond that I hardly use any of the Apple applications on either operating system.

On iOS I use Cloudmagic and not Mail, Todoist rather than reminders, Fantastical over Calendar, Spotify over Music, Overcast for podcasts, Dropbox for files, Evernote for notes, and Dark Sky for weather.

In fact just about anywhere I can, I’ve swapped out Apple apps for 3rd party ones, and I’m not alone. Apple proudly talks of the over 1 billion app downloads made through the App Store on iOS alone, but how many of you have a folder on your iPhone that holds unused, and undeleteable, Apple apps?

But hey, it’s all about choice I guess, right?

Except it isn’t, or at least it won’t be. Look at how Android is starting to tie together the information your phone knows about you to produce ‘Now’ cards, and because it can get access to your email, your calendar, the websites you browse, it has more data with which to be helpful.

Apple is heading the same way, and it all makes sense. For a tiny computer in my pocket, the more useful it can be, the more likely I am to invest in it and, at some point in the future, our smartphones need to be smarter, they need to push the information I need to me when I need it, not wait for me to open an app.

So, the fact that I’m NOT using the apps that Apple offer becomes more than just a preference, it’s a limitation.

I’m not sure how I get past that. Part of me hopes, and possibly presumes, that the weight of consumer need will push Apple to open things a little more, allow better integration at the system level to the various apps I use. When I ask Siri to play my “Radio G” playlist, it should know I mean in Spotify, not Apple Music.

Alas, I fear that day won’t ever arrive. Apple has been very protective of its ecosystem, and whilst it is slowly adding more and more capability to the apps that it does offer, at some point I have to decide to make do with ‘good enough’ or leave the ecosystem to get what I want from my technology.

The next couple of years are gonna be interesting.

One Comment

  1. Ian Dick said:

    I’m in much the same place. Their lockdown around Siri is frustrating as is not being able to switch the default app’s on iOS. One ray of hope – talk of opening an API for dev’s to use speech searching on upcoming Apple TV. I was pretty convinced it would be locked to big media suppliers only but Tim Cook interview suggests otherwise. Proof will be in the pudding as we are still waiting for that open sourcing of iMessage.

    October 12, 2015

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