It… Just… Works…

Screen Shot 2017-09-16 at 09.40.59

I have witnessed a lot of snark and humour at Apple’s expense over the past week since the iPhone X was announced and I wonder where it all comes from at times. I am not wondering because of what is being said exactly, but more because it simply does not matter.

My MacBook works, my iPad Pro works and my iPhone, which gets countless hours of use every day, works. What more do I need and why do I need to be concerned at how the products came to be?

Computing products should be designed to help you do things, to help you manage your life and to help you communicate with others. Anything else is just noise floating around the edges of the real world.

A brand new feature that does not work well is just a time suck that ultimately is a mere novelty that has no positive end purpose. This is why Apple is often very late to the party when it comes to introducing features that are new to Apple, but far from new to the computing world.

Look at Touch ID- it was the first fingerprint sensor that you forgot about within days of using it. Look at the Apple Watch. I may prefer real watches, but the reality is that the Apple Watch is a decent watch which works perfectly well as a time teller which just happens to have a few handy features as a bonus.

I could take this further- look at macOS and iOS as a whole, they (99% of the time) just work and are designed to help you do something useful.

Face ID will likely be the same when we get to use it and it is likely to outperform anything from Google for its ease of use and efficiency. Apple Pay, iCloud Notes, the touch system and so it continues. You may not get tons of customisation, but you will get a system that gives you control over your days without the need to mess around with settings and reliability problems.

There are features that could be better of course (Siri is a good example), but the reality is that Apple produces products that are beneficial to the individual and not just laden with fancy inventions to catch the eye.

Who cares if the features come later than the competition as long as they work in a way that makes them disappear and become a small part of your life? When you add them together you get loyalty, compatibility between person and machine, and the ability to charge more than £1,000 for a phone.

9 thoughts on “It… Just… Works…

  1. It just works. As Apple users, we get so used to that saying that when something doesn’t work, we’re shocked, annoyed, pissed, etc. because our world has been shaken.

    I use Windows 10 in Bootcamp to play games that I can’t get under MacOS. I usually boot into Windows a couple of times a day. At least 2 or 3 times a week, it freezes. Not when it’s booting, but when it’s loading startup applications or the first application I start. I have to reach around the back of my iMac and press the power button to power off and then again to restart. I’m annoyed when this happens, but I know that it happens and after all, it’s Windows. If that was my Mac, I’d be tearing my hair out, and likely reinstalling everything.

    Generally, Apple is very smart regarding feature management. I learned a long time ago when I was in software development, that it’s very difficult to take something away once given, so you’d better make sure it’s right. Apple does a pretty good job of making sure it’s right. Many of the little advances in iOS that people say should have been there from the start, were added once they were sure it was what they wanted.

    Is Apple perfect? Not by a long shot. But then few, if any, things are. And they’re better at what they do than anyone else. At least in my opinion and experience.

  2. Don’t forget, though, the compromises they make in functionality to keep up the sense of design beauty. (Or as Shaun seemed to enjoy me calling it, “designer wankery” – phones so thin, so bezel-less, so few ports, so little battery etc etc…)

    The latest Daring Fireball “The Talk Show” podcast mentioned a great parallel example – the Steve Jobs theater is a marvel of aesthetic design engineering, just breathtaking, and so thoughtful. But they way they lay out the tables in the hands on area– totally not fit for purpose (if that’s what you UK folk say) – just way too small a capacity for the crowds they know they’d have, all trying to take glamour shots of new gear. (It’s not clear to me if it could be fixed by rearranging the tables from single arcs to spokes or something, or if it’s a more structural issue.)

  3. I think the lack of iPhone 8/8+ preorders says it all. Everyone is waiting for the X.
    Operating system and “second camera lens” aside, the X specifications are within a few % of being identical to the Galaxy S8 (screen & form factor particularly), and yet the S8 retails at roughly half the price.

    This both indicates the ability of Apple to command their price, as well as leaves me with the feeling that even if I can afford the X, I should buy the S8 and donate £500 to charity instead…

    1. RIght, but for a lot of us, “Operating system and ‘second camera lens'” are exactly why Apple has us.
      (I’m pretty indifferent to screens, he types on his non-retina Macbook Air)

      I don’t see a realistic scenario soon where it will be worth relearning to use Android, or finding equivalents of a few apps I dig. Time and mental energy are as valuable as money to me.

      The camera lens is the tougher one, justifying the X over the 8 – the SE I’ve found is too small, and I’m assuming the Plus too big, so the X is the only game in town for that Portrait mode stuff. On the one hand it’s a bit gimmicky, and a lot to pay for a gimmick, on the other hand https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/19/review-iphone-8/ really praises what that second lens allows – combined with “Arty’s Photo Story” posted here the other day, and my own nostalgia for when carrying around a canon powershot set me apart a bit, I feel like I could justify a desire to own the best camera I can have on my person at all times.

    2. > Operating system … aside, the X specifications are within a few % of being identical…

      Isn’t this a bit like saying “A Ford Fiesta is basically the same as a Ferrari. I mean, it’s got wheels and doors and goes from A to B just fine.”?

      If you leave aside the bits which actually differentiate the device, the remainder is necessarily the same. In this particular case, there may be a cadre of buyers who do not mind which operating system is on their device — presumably either those who have no investment in apps, or those who already have an investment in apps for both platforms — or some who, for whatever reason, want to move away from Apple, but I’d have thought that there was a considerable number of iPhone buyers who buy it precisely because it has iOS on it.

      More interesting, to my mind, is the “iPhone 8 v iPhone X” situation. I wonder if it is similar to the iPhone 5S versus iPhone 5c situation: if someone could afford the 5S comfortably, I’d have thought that this is they would buy.

      1. Have there been studies/surveys on who buys what based on their perceived level of mobile expertise? Of course I expect that most people continue to buy what they’re familiar with. I’m sure a lof of first time buyers are attracted to price.

        For me, the 8 doesn’t do much more than my 6S. At this point I don’t notice any delays for most of the apps I use. The X, on the other hand, has significant additions. However, not for me at that price. Maybe when I need a new phone.

  4. Yeah, like in days where laptop reviews would treat a Macbook like any PC laptop, head to head, completely ignoring that the OS was going to give you a very different experience.

    FWIW I kind of liked the 5C – that was a very friendly design, more playful and durable than all that serious glass and metal.

    Re: Bob’s idea of first time buyers – yeah. Apple was an easy thing to start with, a transition from iPods, and for a while was the only game in town in terms of doing what smartphones now do.

    1. Just popped over to Rogers, one of the big providers in Canada. An iPhone 8 is $230 on a premium plan. Basically you pay the rest of the phone cost out over 2 years. A Samsung Galaxy S8, a Huawei P10 or P10 Plus, or an LG G6 are all $0 on the same plan. I’m sure that reflects the cost of the phone, but for many consumers, that can make a bug difference. I mean, they all text don’t they? And whatever social network I want? What else do you need really.

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