9 December 2015

Apple, Stop Insulting Your Customers.

I would like to think of myself as quite a calm, level-headed and non-confrontational person but every so often I feel the need to have a rant. Today, Apple is the victim of my (probably insignificant) diatribe. I'm sure I'm going to annoy and alienate a number of Apple owners, but bear with me as I detail a number of their decisions in 2015 which have left me believing that Apple doesn't hold its loyal customers in high regards, certainly when it comes to intelligence and common sense.

Let me start by prefacing that I own a Macbook Air which was not a gift given to me but paid for out of my own wallet (I have used this particular device for over three years now). Prior to the Air, I owned another Macbook model for two years and have used an iPhone for a year so please refrain from slapping me with the 'Apple hater' label. At least for now.

The idea for this rant materialised last week when I came across a story regarding the apparent design for the iPhone 7. However, this story (which I will mention shortly) coupled with a few other questionable decisions by Apple this year meant that these negative feelings had already been simmering for quite some time.

A head(phone) less music service

Excuse my crude edit - I was annoyed.

Last week, rumours started percolating that the next iPhone (7) would not feature a 3.5mm headphone jack, apparently for the sake of shaving another micron of a millimetre off the iPhone's design. Yes, that same jack that has adorned beatboxes and radios and amps and computers and phones for the past few decades. Now I understand this is a rumour but since the death of Steve Jobs, Apple hasn't exactly been Fort Knox recently when it comes to keeping information secure so there's a more than 50% chance that this rumour turns out true.

For a company which created iTunes, one of the major providers of digital music content and one which formed its own radio station and streaming service earlier this year, this move is incredibly bizarre. Nearly everyone owns headphones. And nearly all of those headphone owners own standard, wired headphones with that 3.5mm jack at the end. Yes, bluetooth headphones are gaining in popularity but their market share is still minuscule compared to their wired brethren. 

Why would Apple choose to annoy and frustrate the millions of owners of standard headphones for the sake of 0.x of a millimetre? Because they can and they will. All for the sake of their dream and ambition. 

Screw common sense and practicality, let's get rid of this useless headphone jack so that we can make the iPhone even thinner and claim back the title of 'world's thinnest smartphone'. 

If Apple were to do this, they would be antagonising a significant number of people and they would know it. That's the thing that grates me: the fact that they would be completely aware. Because they feel it is the right thing to do (in their eyes), they'll do it, regardless of what other people think.

Take your pencil Apple and...

My first example was a rumour so I can understand if you're still feeling ambivalent. This example is very much a case of reality and, 'We're Apple, we can get away with this because people will still buy it'. Apple recently released a stylus, dubbed the 'Apple Pencil' to go with its newest tablet the iPad Pro. I won't go into the fact that this optional extra costs £80 or that Steve Jobs so famously derided Apple's competitors by exclaiming, 'Who wants a stylus?' Instead, I want to show you this:


This is a picture of the Apple Pencil charging from the iPad Pro. Yes. That is how the Pencil charges. I would like to meet the people who thought it would be okay for their consumers to charge their £80/$100 accessory via this precarious position. Meet them and just ask, 'Really?'

I wonder if they did this on purpose knowing that some unfortunate (and perhaps slightly clumsy) soul would accidentally snap off the Pencil whilst charging it and thus have to splash out for a new one (or opt in for AppleCare to begin with knowing this would likely happen). Maybe I'm being a tad cynical but for a company to have the cheek to release a device with such design ineptitude is moronic and arrogant.

Someone of Apple's stature, with a reputation and lineage in careful and thoughtful design, you would expect something better. Obviously not, and if you thought that charging solution was bad, wait until you see the next one...

Nothing magical about this mouse

What were you thinking? (Photo courtesy of www.geek.com)

The new Apple Magic Mouse 2 charges upside down. Upside down. I'll give you a few moments to let that sink in. So, if you're working away on your iMac and then the battery on your magic mouse runs out, then you might as well get up and make yourself a cup of tea/go on Instagram/nap because you won't be doing anything for a while. You and your productivity are rendered useless because someone within the Apple design team obviously favoured design over function. They could have put the charging port on the front or the back which would still have allowed the user to use the mouse whilst it was charging. Nope.

Wilfred, why haven't I got your science report on bees wax?
Sorry Miss, my mouse died.

I can't believe this passed Tim Cook's seal of approval. Well actually I can. What I can't believe is how those within the upper echelons of management at Apple felt that this was a perfectly acceptable and normal way to charge your new £65 wireless mouse.

One port to rule them all... or maybe not

One USB Type-C port. Yes, that is all you've got.

Apple released their new 12" Macbook this year and it's a very impressive specimen boasting a retina display and full-sized keyboard and force touch trackpad in an incredibly thin and light design.

And one port: USB Type-C.

One port to be used for external storage, card readers, external monitors, bluetooth peripherals and charging. Right...

So if you needed to access some important files on a USB Type-A drive (standard USB format) and charge your Macbook at the same time, you can't. It doesn't have any standard USB port so you couldn't access those files anyway but even if you could, you'd be taking up the port which is also used for charging.

Apple did foreshadow that such problems would occur and have released an official USB Type-C Multiport Adaptor, which offers a USB Type-C (to replace the one the adaptor is using), HDMI and USB Type-A port...for £65.

I'm sure you would be able to find a cheaper alternative elsewhere but that's not the point. Again, Apple is sacrificing practicality and common sense for a few millimetres, eschewing standard domains in a world that is not yet ready for complete reliance on cloud storage, or one which has not yet fully figured out wireless charging in laptops or the ability to send a video signal wirelessly...

I applaud Apple for embracing new technology in the form of USB Type-C and the faster charging and data speeds that it brings, I really do. Someone always has to be the pioneer and the first one to implement it before it becomes standard but it's not necessary and acceptable to have just one port on a device which starts at £1049, just so you can make it a bit lighter and a bit thinner. If you're going to embrace USB Type-C, great, just stick a couple of standard USB ports on there as well to make it somewhat more practicable. But only putting one port on it, no, that's not acceptable.

And then they released this...

Apple started selling this 'beauty' on Tuesday (8th December) for £80/$100. No smartphone manufacturer has ever released a first-party battery case (or a case this hideous for that matter). Such a product only highlights that Apple are aware of how poor the battery on the 6/6s is and they're now bringing public attention to their mistake of not putting a bigger battery in it in the first place.

This tweet from MKBHD succinctly sums up this stupidity:

Apple make some excellent devices across their range and I really mean that. A lovely, seamless blend of beauty and capability marry together to create devices that work, and work well. But lately, they've started to throw common sense out of the window all for the sake of their own inane vision and skewed principles to the detriment of their loyal customers.

And they are loyal, and that's the problem. Apple is aware they have a rather rabid fanbase (some would go so far as to call it a cult following of sorts amongst some of their consumers) so it knows it can get away with ridiculous design choices like the ones showcased above because they'll still sell to those millions of diehard fans. And until people start standing up to them and saying, 'No, stop messing us around,' it looks like Apple will keep up its preposterous ways.

I admire Apple from a technological standpoint. I do not admire their attitude.


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