Apple Is Pushing Developers Out Of Its Ecosystem

07 Nov 2012

As a kid, I always had fond feelings for Apple Computer. My second computer, an Apple iie, was the first computer I started teaching myself to program on and it really sparked an interest in software for me that I still have to this day. I had this computer from about age 4 or 5 until I was around 10, when I got my first hand-me-down PC from my dad, a 286. I stayed on the PC platform until the mid-2000's.

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In 2006, I ditched Windows for Ubuntu, and even before that, left MS Office for Open Office. I was generally happy with Ubuntu, but always grimaced at the thought of having to upgrade versions, try to get it to work with two monitors, use Flash based websites, etc. I made a job change in early 2007 where I had the opportunity to work on a MacBook Pro, and opted for one and didn't look back.

When the first iPhone came out, I'd also recently made the switch to OS X at home and at work and was definitely drinking the Apple Kool-Aid. I couldn't upgrade to the 2G when it came out because it was very expensive, and also I was under contract already with a Samsung Blackjack. By the time I was out of contract, the iPhone 3G was available and I purchased on. I was completely ecstatic about the 3G iPhone-- there simply wasn't anything like it on the market at the time.

Over the years since then I've been a light Apple fan. Generally I know what is good and bad about them, but have yet to go completely fanboi about them. I have switched all of our home computers over to Apple and refuse to work anywhere that I can't use OS X or Linux, but I've had a cautious eye towards them.

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Fast forward to the late Summer of 2012, I've owned several iPhones by then, and my phone at the time was an iPhone 4G. The iPhone 5 had not quite been released, but I was looking to switch to Verizon because AT&T's coverage and service pretty much sucks in the Denver area, and I also wanted to migrate my wife and I from independent plans to a family plan. I still actively teased friends with Android phones as having iPhone knock-offs, and still generally liked my phone. However some poor moves that Apple made really start to think about getting out of the iPhone and Apple ecosystem.

Apple Releases the Retina MacBook Pro

Not only does the new MacBook Pro not have a user replaceable battery, you also cannot upgrade the hard drive or memory yourself. THIS WAS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE TO ME When I buy a new computer or laptop, I usually get something sort of the middle of the road in storage and memory, and then upgrade it later on down the line when the computer starts to age and feel sluggish. I also like to replace hard drives every couple of years just to prevent data loss.

I'm actually still a bit pissed about this-- I have no idea what my next hardware/OS platform is going to be when its time to upgrade my laptop again, but right now I really do not want a sealed-up MacBook Pro.

Apple Sues Samsung

I don't think this is something I need to elaborate on. I don't fully agree with either side; all I know is that the patent absurdity needs to stop!

The Mac App Store Jail

With the advent of the Mac App Store, Apple is slowly locking down its operating system. Sure, you can currently install whatever you want outside the App Store, but how long until OS X is locked down like the iPhone and will not allow you to install anything beyond their jailed programs? What if I make a negative blog entry about them just like this one, and they decide to retaliate by disabling all of the software on my machine and deleting my iTunes account?

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iTunes Still Totally Sucks

As of this writing, iTunes was originally developed 11 years ago, is currently on version 10.7, and its still horrible. You are essentially forced to use iTunes if you want to have an iPhone or a media collection on the Mac. I know a new version of iTunes is around the corner, but it remains to be seen that it will be the cure-all for the various woes encountered in iTunes, including:

  • Terrible UI
  • Database is backed by XML
  • Very Sluggish
  • You need a large library of 3rd party hacks to make it usable which of course, all cost money
  • No open API's
  • Terrible to use with a collection above say 10,000 songs
  • General lack of control over things like how files get renamed

iCloud

I think iCloud is one of the biggest dangers inside the Apple bubble right now for the average developer. iCloud has similar problems as other fully integrated cloud solutions such as a 3rd party being the gatekeeper to all of your data, but it gets even worse with iCloud. As far as I can tell, the only API available to iCloud is for storage. There is no programmatic access to contacts, calendar items, or anything else in the future that iCloud will provide. At least if you are using Google you do have access to all of their cloud services by open API's.

All of these Apple missteps and more have added-up for me and I've decided I need to start formulating a plan to leave the Apple ecosystem. I have only scratched the surface as to if Linux will again be a viable option for me, but that is definitely worth another future blog post. Perhaps I've already started a migration-- I recently sold my iPhone and switched to the Samsung Galaxy S III.

There are a few other minor points to add such as the gcc debacle with XCode 4.2, but all in all, Apple is driving away the very crowd who made them popular again-- developers. I don't intend this to be a troll post, more along the lines of a stern warning to Apple and other developers who have gone way too deep into being Apple fanbois. The biggest problem is I don't know how to tell Apple we're unhappy given their closed nature, and frankly I'm not sure they care.