Souring on the Apple Ecosystem
Along the recent grumbling and the pending cancellation of my Apple Music subscription, a wider topic is how the Apple Ecosystem has become less an asset and more of a liability in the world of Apple. At one time, the bundling of great applications, like Garage Band, iPhoto, iTunes, and iMovie was a huge benefit for those who bought Mac computers. These applications just worked, were plenty useful, and very usable for even tyro computer users. Just compare early versions of iTunes, and the homeless-abortion that is the “Windows Media Player” and you got a pretty clear picture.
Throughout the ’aughts, this was true, especially iPhoto, where when you got your first (or second, or third…) digital camera, you just plugged it in and like magic the iPhotos application would load, import your images, and give you ample opportunties to do minor tweaks, and management of your library.
Likewise, you pop a CD into the drive (membery: member when there were optical drives in computers? My last one was from 2011) it would ask you if you wanted to import it (after querying the Gracenote database and getting the artist and track listings.)
If the bult in applications weren’t powerful enough, Apple had a suite of competitively priced “Pro” applications. Final Cut Pro took a serious run at Avid Media Composer (and had some success in big budget productions), Aperture was a credible competitor to Adobe’s Lightroom photography library management solution (more on this specifically later), Logic Pro was a significant step up in studio control software. You get the picture, Apple knew that a significant segment of the people who bought and upgraded their Mac’s were creative professionals, and they had teams of developers catering to that segment.
Then came the iPhone. Announced in 2007, it quickly became the largest growing segment of the Apple product line. The launch of the app store, and that monstrosity began taking over the Apple universe. Soon Aperture began incorporating some of the “social” and sharing aspects, including this (muy lame) concept of “Photostream”. It was a running tally of photos, taken on your iphone, or imported, laid out in chronicled order. Cool if you are just a “point and shoot” person, but if you are serious, it is really a lousy feature.
Then in 2014, Apple announced that they were abandoning Aperture. It was made compatible with the Mountain Lion and later OS’s (support for application sandboxing), but it is dead.
With the launch of Photos, Aperture is well and truly dead. If you are even semi-serious about photography, you needed to find another solution.
That is but one example. ITunes, after more than a decade of scope creep and cruftiness, Apple finally began streamlining it, but alas, the damage is done, it has become too cumbersome in its mission.
Photos? Forget about it. I guess it is OK, if almost all of your photography comes from your iPhone, but while I do use my iPhone’s camera, it isn’t were I do any serious photography. So your “feed” is full of garbage. Not good for me.
I do like some of the changes. The App store on the Mac works well, and the iBooks app and store are nice, even though I buy a lot more from the Amazon bookstore for my kindle. iCloud integrates well, and finally it doesn’t feel clunky. I still have all my music stored in Apple’s cloud, and that works well for me. And usability and productivity for me, personally, MacOS is head and shoulders above Windows 10, so I am not about to hang up the towel. But I can and will admit that much of what lured me in originally to OS-X is not longer so compelling.
The magic that was Apple and the OS-X has tarnished its shine, but it still remains the best solution for my needs. Is it perfect? No, and it wasn’t even before. The incrementalism of recent updates have hardly been disruptive, and the catering to the iPhone and the related ilk is reducing much of what was once great to the status of “meh”.
That said, it still beats the hell out of Windows 10. The hardware is still solid, and I am still far more productive with OS-X than with Windows. It just works for me. But, I am replacing the built in Apple functionality. Lightroom replaced Aperture. Amazon Music displacing iTunes. The GoPro app for making my simple movies replaced iMovie.