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Why I don’t have an iPhone (or iPad)

By Heshy Friedman

People are surprised when they see I don’t have an iPhone. Or an iPad. How can a web developer bent on the latest technology and gadgets not have a brand new iPhone 5 or iPad Mini? Don’t get me wrong: I do think these devices are well designed, slick, and very intuitive. However, my issue with Apple is their closed approach. I believe that most developers also feel this way. We like open-source environments with full access and control, and hate being stifled. That is why developers including myself prefer Android phones and tablets.

Let’s get into specifics. First of all, I want to plug my device into my computer – or any computer – and have full access to all my files on there. I don’t want to be restricted to using iTunes to access my audio files, or having to bypass the rules with SharePod. I want to plug in my device with a standard Micro USB cord to any computer, and then all my files on the device become available without restrictions.

This one really bothers me. Why don’t the Apple devices have an SD card reader? Micro SD is a standard for almost all phones today, and allows upgradable storage and easy transfer of files. Apple intentionally does not want you to easily upgrade your memory – they want you to pay extra for a device that holds more.  Additionally, batteries cannot be removed and swapped in the iPhones and iPads, and I really don’t understand the reasoning behind this. Why not give the ability put in a spare battery when it is needed? Especially when they can make money selling these extra batteries to customers?

Next, why does Apple intentionally cripple Flash on their devices? Indeed Flash is on the decline, and less sites continue to use it. However, many older sites are still using Flash, many video players are encoded in a Flash player, and many banners are still in Flash (not that I mind if the banners are blocked). Though all their devices have the technical capacity to play Flash animations, Apple has intentionally crippled it due to a feud with Adobe. If I don’t like Flash I can choose to turn it off on my own. But don’t force it away from me.

Many of us recall the recent fallout of Apple with Google Maps. Apple management decided to no longer provide the best mapping software on its devices, due to their long-standing rivalry with Google. Instead, they forced their sub-par Apple Maps program on their users without an option to choose. If Apple decides something, that is they way it is going to be, even if you don’t like it. This highlights a broader problem: when Apple intensifies their struggle with their rival Google, the Apple user is the one who loses.

One thing that the Apple products do have going for them is their accessories. No phone or tablet has any many accessories as the iPhone and iPad. However, the lack of variety when compared to Android phones and tablets makes up for this. There are so many different Android phones and tablets, in all different sizes, specs, and prices. This allows one to choose a product that best suits their needs, as opposed to being stuck with the very limited options provided by iPhones and iPads (basically color and GB space, and now a new iPod Mini).

A recent issue iPhone users are experiencing with the new iPhone 5 is the new “Lightning” port. The problem is that many people already have accessories such as speakers and car adapters designed and fitted for their older port, and these suddenly don’t work since they no longer fit in. Granted an adapter is available (which, by the way costs an additional $29 – a whopping cost for a simple adapter that costs pennies to make), but many accessories still do not fit in. Again, Apple made a bad decision here to switch to another proprietary port rather than taking the opportunity to make their new devices compatible with a universal USB port.

Now that I stated my position, I do want to give credit to Apple for being the innovators. After all, Apple introduced the GUI computer interface, finger-swiped phones, and today’s tablets. Their research and development is top-notch, and they come out as leaders of great innovations. They make a robust and solid product that just grabs attention and appeal. Their only problem is that their competitors catch up pretty soon after, and finish the job of making a more open and comprehensive product.

The bottom line is that despite Apple’s innovations, the new Android phones and tablets are really putting solid competition to the Apple products. And now with Microsoft entering into the tablet market, and introducing their new Windows 8 phones, this will be adding a whole new dimension to the pie. While Apple lovers will always remain committed to the products of the company they love, the openness of Android and Windows platforms will steadily dominate. These products are coming with more bells and whistles, while retaining the same sleek and innovative features as the Apple products. Devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy product line are being dubbed as iPhone and iPad killers, and for good reason. They provide the same sleekness as the iPhone and the iPad, but have many more features and a much more open platform.

 

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