The Apple Approach
Those who know me well, actually….those who know me at all, know that I am a hardcore Apple fan. As of writing this post, I own an iPhone 4, “new” iPad, MacBook Air and Apple TV, and an iMac on the way. I would like to give my thoughts on the way Apple products traditionally work, and hopefully enlighten those who laugh at us ‘fanbois’.
I’d like to acknowledge that there are degrees of fanboi-ism. Some people own one or two Apple products, enjoy them, but don’t care enough beyond that. Others own every Apple product that has ever existed and will irrationally defend them to death. I like to think I sit somewhere in the middle – I generally agree with Apples product decisions and enjoy the products they offer compared to competitors, but I do remain objective when assessing a new product or update that they release.
Now to my point – Apple focuses on the user experience, and only the user experience, something that eludes many Apple nay-sayers. Of course, in order to achieve a smooth, useable user experience, other factors come into play such as specifications, but these are not the focus. Tell me – which is more desirable, PC 1 which has 1 million gigaflops, or PC 2 with 1.2 million gigaflops? Does your decision change if I tell you that PC 1 actually loads quicker, has a smoother interface and is more stable? What I am trying to say is that specifications only tell part of the story and are only directly comparable when running the same software. In Apples case, I don’t think comparing specifications to a Windows PC is going to paint you a picture of which computer is better (to a point).
This is also, and probably even more so, true in the mobile world. I am yet to come across an Android phone that can match the perceived speed of the iPhone 4S (or even the 4), even though said Android phones may beat the iPhone in every way on paper. I am not only talking about the operating system, but also games and apps that are featured on both platforms.
We have a very opinionated team at work when it comes to mobile platforms, with many swearing allegiance with either Apple or Android. The Android crowd are always throwing specs at me as proof and justification as to why their new phone is superior to the iPhone. On the other hand, it is rare to find an iPhone owner saying anything other than “it works really well and is so easy”. Why should I care about an arbitrary number on a piece of paper compared to the experience that I am getting using the device I have spent good money on? Is it simply to brag?
Moving away from hardware and user experience talk now, I’d like to focus on the often discussed closed eco-system of Apple. Whether it is music, video or apps, all content must be download through Apple in order to be played on our new iDevice. This is something I don’t necessarily agree with – though I do actually like the way apples various stores operate, I do believe having the choice would be a good thing. With that said, I find it vastly superior to the Android marketplace (or play as it is now called). I do own an android device – a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, and find the Android marketplace absolutely full of crap. There is no quality control whatsoever, so many apps either have problems or don’t work at all. This is a big disappointment, especially considering Android has far less apps than the Apple App Store in the first place.
And lastly, my biggest issue with Android – fragmentation. When all products on a platform are created by a single company, there is a single point of support and development. This means that Apples products are just about guaranteed to play any app you can find in the app store without issue. Android faces many issues with app support, simply because there are just so many different phones to support. There are technical limitations to some phones that mean some apps will run slow or not at all, and there is also display issues due to the vast amount of screen sizes and display resolutions that must be supported by the developer. On top of this, many Android phones run custom versions of Android or have driver incompatibilities which cause even more issues when trying to develop or run apps on android devices. Apples closed system approach is definitely favourable when it comes to apps.
I haven’t covered every aspect of the war between Apple and it’s competitors here, but I would love for people to post their options in the comments and I will include them within my post.
Disclaimer – I did not make this post to point out flaws with Android or other platforms, I actually think Android does many things well too. I simply wanted to focus on the strengths of Apple, how it compares with Android and hopefully change some minds about us one eyed Apple fans.