Tuesday, March 7, 2017

On Apple’s Bad User List

If Apple Inc. maintains a bad user list, then I am sure that I am on it. For the better part of a year, Apple has been forcibly downloading iOS 10 to my iPhone 6+. And for the better part of a year, I’ve been deleting it.

I miss the old days, when a child born on the release date of Windows XP might have used that same version of Windows on his parents’ home computer on the day he started high school. Windows XP was an extreme case, of course; but Microsoft had its hands in that operating system for about fourteen years.

Since the proliferation of smart phones and ubiquitous high-speed Internet connections, tech companies feel compelled to constantly upgrade your operating system, and increasingly do so forcibly. There is no greater offender in this department than Apple, a company about which I have had some very mixed feelings of late.

Getting a new operating system on your home computer (usually with the purchase of new hardware) used to be a big deal: Windows 95 was a life-changing update from Windows 3.1x; and Windows 98 provided many improvements on Windows 95.

Most upgrades to my iPhone’s iOS,by contrast, seem designed to facilitate selling me something: Like music on iTunes or Apple Music. How about a SiriusXM radio subscription? Apple asks me. Or…Could we interest you in an Apple Watch? 

(Well, the last iOS update that I did accept was based around the Apple Watch—a gadget for which I’ve never seen a need.)

Every time I’ve given in and upgraded, my existing Apple hardware has run slower. This has held true on my iPhones, my iMacs, and my MacBooks. I strongly suspect that Apple deliberately overloads legacy hardware with each new operating system, in order to incentivize the purchase of new devices.

(Somewhat ironically, this is how Microsoft made me an Apple convert in 2010. Microsoft's automated antivirus software download crashed two of my PCs in as many months.)

Even with my refusal to upgrade to IOS 10, I am still on the third operating system for an iPhone that I've owned for less than two years. At what point is another operating system one operating system too many?

I’m not a Luddite, mind you: My occasional frustrations aside, I’m as addicted to my iPhone as any seventeen-year-old. I haven't changed a typewriter ribbon since the Soviet Union was a going concern. I now do about half of my book-writing with dictation software. And it’s been almost a decade since I last refused to buy a car that didn't come with a cassette deck installed. 

I’m all for modernity and technology, in other words. But I don’t require a new operating system on my phone with the change of every season. I’m good with one operating system per device, thank you very much, Apple. 

I've emailed the folks at Apple about my concerns. Needless to say, they ignore me. Apple is a company that thrives on top-down control; and I'm a user who likes to do things my own way. I like to upgrade when I decide that it's a good idea, not when the nerds in Cupertino have decided that it's time to goose their revenues a bit.