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It's been sweet

Apple is a very popular company, that's well known. Many people are attracted to their design, user experience that Apple curates in an extremely controlled way so that they can ensure each device is exactly as good as they can possibly make it. The end result is a range of computing devices that are quite pleasant and enjoyable to use, with minimal issues, in terms of user experience at least. However this control they yield is a double-edged sword. They certainly like to control some elements of the hardware and software such that things are their way and not how some opinionated users would like it. One easy example of Apple's double-edged sword is the App Store, how you can only get apps on iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch through a single App Store (essentially) or at least only via Apple's approved ways (TestFlight is one other way). This is really not that bad of an issue in my opinion, as much as some other serious restrictions and choices Apple has made for the user.

Flawed Across the Board

iPhone

The iPhone is probably Apple's best product, I struggle to come up with issues with the iPhone, however I have some nit-picks. One is repairability. Now most phones these days are pretty bad in this area, so no major shade on Apple for this. But we can see some emerging trends from Fairphone and Nokia at least, which are consciously designing devices to allow the user to be able to repair and replace parts (such as the battery). Apple are not budging in this area that much, which is a shame. I have seen a teardown video of the latest Google Pixel 8, which even that is heading in a slightly more repairable direction. It has pull-tabs on the battery, making it much easier for a human user to swap out the battery. You still have to heat up the phone to melt the seal and use pry tools to remove the back cover. But it's a small step forward, unlike Apple. I saw a recent video on the new iPhone 15, where someone replaced all parts of an iPhone - cameras, battery, etc. And the end result was numerous notifications saying that parts were not compatible, such as the Face ID camera. Only Apple technicians can replace the Face ID camera. Taking away the ability for the user to repair their own device. Of course, the Lightning port has finally been replaced with USB-C, out of duress. But my iPhone 12 hass a Lightning port. I usually try to charge it with MagSafe most of the time as it's much easier, but wireless charging is not very power-efficient and wastes electrcity. With so many iPhones wirelessly charging, lots of electrcity wasted when they could have charged by cable.

iPad

I am writing this now on my new Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 ChromeTab, which I bought on sale for AU$486 today. iPads are for sure expensive (AU$999 for 64GB iPad Air - with no keyboard). But an issue when purchasing an iPad, is which iPad to get? There are four main models at the time of writing. The iPad 9, iPad 10, iPad Air and iPad Pro. Which iPad is right for you? You might start at the iPad 10, then decide, oh I need 256GB. Then notice that the iPad Air 64GB is the same price. Then choose that, but then remember, oh, I need 256GB, then the Pro 64GB is the same price. The pricing scheme is sneaky, and really makes you think hard, which iPad and how much storage. It's easy to get it wrong, but that's no problem for Apple, as you will just buy another one at some point! I remeber the iPad used to have just one model, the iPad. Then the Mini a little later to compete with the Nexus 7. Now it's almost a gamble, to make sure you get the right one, else you'll pay for it later. Or just overspend, which suits Apple as well. I wish Apple had a 128GB option, the sweet spot for me. Then there's the other big issue with iPads. Lack of desktop-class software. As a software developer for my job and my hobbies, I would really appreciate it if the iPad could let me use programs like PyCharm, VSCode, Arduino, etc. So I can take a really portable machine with me everywhere to work on my projects. I used to do that with my Surface Go and I really enjoyed it, until I outgrew the Go (too slow now). Microsoft have the Surface tablets (Windows x64 and ARM), Google have the ChromeTabs (Linux/Debian ARM) of course. Apple do not have a competing alternative. The iPad will never be a PC replacement until it can run all major PC/macOS apps, which is especially important for software developers like me. It's made all the more ridiculous by the specs they put in the iPads now, like the Apple M2 processor in the iPad Pro. That is a desktop-class chip running big phone apps essentially. I am looking forward to testing this Lenovo ChromeTab out some more, including testing my game written in C and the Allegro framework on it with the Debian subsystem. Just not possible to do that on an iPad.

Macs and Macbooks

Macs are brilliant machines to be productive on. That is un-debatable in my opinion, unless you have certain specific requirements from the other OS's. For me, I am very cross-platform friendly, so I can work on Mac, Linux or Windows. I guess I have grown to enjoy Macs a lot. But, they also have an issue. Just one mainly, which is the lack of upgradeable storage. I bought my MacBook Air M1 (256GB SSD, 16GB RAM) in late 2021 with a zero-interest low-income loan. I could only just afford it, and now I am locked into it. Yes, I am running low on space all the time. I would really like to install some games, or a Windows 11 VM with Parallels, but I just can't with the limited storage. A problem I could quickly and easily solve if the solid state drive was user-replaceable. Just about every other laptop can have the SSD upgraded. Even the Surface Pro tablets have a little M.2 SSD you can swap out yourself now, which is really nice. But all Macs make it virtually impossible to upgrade storage. The only realistic solution (other than sending it off to a special technician to upgrade the NAND chips.. a bit insane) is to buy a whole new MacBook with the specs I want. Not even 2 years after buying the M1 Mac, which in every other respect is a great machine still. Just silly. I hope to buy a Framework 13 laptop soon, rather than buying a new MacBook, and do more of my work on that until I need the old MacBook for work, and just use it just when needed. I will not be buying a new MacBook, instead a Framework 13. The Framework has an upgradeable SSD. And RAM! and Motherboard! So I can hold onto it for many years and just keep upgrading and repairing. A bit like The Ship of Thesues, but in a very cool way.

AirPods and Apple Watch

A section I almost forgot. Yes, they have issues too. The AirPods have very poor repairability. Considering that the tiny batteries don't last too long, these are and will be no doubt generating a lot of landfill. Millions of AirPods are destined to landfill, when they could be spare for a bit longer and have their batteries replaced. Getting at the battery is a destructive process. Then there's the Apple Watch. Man, I have some opinions about smart watches. They are watches, but why do watches now have to have a one-day battery life? I had a Pebble Time Round, which had a 5-7 day battery life, which was a little short but miles better than the Apple Watch. I miss out on the sleep tracking, which it can do, but who's using it when you have to charge it overnight, every night. I will always be on the lookout for an always-on smartwatch with third-party apps and more than 5 day battery life. What is there? At least they are more repairable, if you have steady hands.

Keeping it around

So I've got this new Lenovo Chrometab, which is okay, it has some little disappointing issues, like poor speakers and no fingerprint reader. Also slow sometimes when many apps open. But I am optimistic I can get more out of it than the Surface Go, Lenovo Tab M10 and iPad Mini that I've had before it. But I will be keeping my old Apple devices. Especially the MacBook, which I sometimes need for my self-employment work. And the iPhone and iPad are good to keep for software testing and development (more work). If I decide any of the new Apple replacements just aren't up to scratch, I can always go back to one of the old Apple devices. And who knows, maybe Apple will address the issues above, making me invest back in these devices in a big way. It's good to have options. I would be nervous to sell my iPad or iPhone in case I might need it one day. They are reliable and responsive devices that just work. The alternatives can be sometimes a bit patchy. But the alternatives don't have the issues above that drive me away from Apple devices. They keep me using them.

The Apple Experience, things learned

I certainly have enjoyed using Apple devices, and I am quite glad to have purchased and owned them, notably the iPhone. I have been a very enthusiastic Android fan in the past, and having an iPhone is quite unlike me, but I am glad I've owned and heavily used one, because it's given me a new perspective on smartphone quality. I've had some really bad Android devices, like the Huawei IDEOS and UMI Super. You can look those up but they were garbage phones I wish I had considered other options. The iPhone is certainly a blast of fresh air in comparison. I've had okay Android phones, and decent ones, but the iPhone has been the best phone I've owned and used. There are better Androids out there now though. I've had an the iPad Mini since 2017. I had the iPad Mini 4 128GB, then 5 128GB, then 6 64GB in 2021. Something about the form factor I like, especially when I had a 10" Android and 10" Surface Go, a good companion tablet. But now I more recently have been looking for a bigger tablet with a keyboard. I bought the best keyboard case I could find for the Mini, but it's just unpleasant to use. The shortcuts for some keys are quite annoying due to the cramped space. Not really suitable for anyone who would heavily use the keyboard. This ChromeTab is cheap and effective. But the iPad is vastly more popular for some good reasons. The build quality and design is generally better than the next most popular cheap Android tablets. And, the app support is way better. The iPad apps are all mostly built for iPad (except Instagram and Threads lol). Wheras quite a lot of Android apps are mainly built for phones, and a small percent have tablet support. It's a bit sad, as Android tablets have been a thing for a fair while, what have the app developers been doing? I guess they ship for iPad, iPhone and Android phone then call it a day. The MacBook and macOS experience has been quite good. I have come from a strong Linux background, with a particular affinity for Ubuntu distros. Linux, then Windows Subsystem for Linux after that. Moving to macOS, I was a bit nervous things might not work as well. But in my experience, it has worked fine. Homebrew is very stable and has many packages. Easy to install and use. All of my work and personal projects have moved over from WSL before it and work fine. It is a little different development experience from Ubuntu, but I haven't had any issues. What would we all do without Homebrew? MacPorts? The nice thing about macOS is of course the user interface. For me, a well-designed operating system UI helps me concentrate better. Many Linux distros have a very casual user interface that's a bit of an after-thought. Or has received many patches over time to fix up the UI issues. Whereas macOS is just outright good and doesn't need much patching. They usually just have style updates that keep it modern and sleek. As opposed to fixing design issues on the same theme (hello KDE, Linux Mint). That being said, I can quite happily use Pop OS, Ubuntu and elementary OS to name 3 good looking Linux distros. Which I'll likely be using one of next on my Framework 13. Though macOS is still better and I will miss it. But it won't be gone, just used a bit less, I suspect.

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