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App store annoyances

(Popping back in briefly: Nicola will be back again with a new essay on Thursday.)

I have a heavy iOS habit. And (you're not going to be surprised by this) I also have a couple of Android devices. My first real smartphone, back in 2003, was a Palm Treo 600; I switched to the iPhone 3G after Palm jumped down the rabbit hole in 2008. So I have a lot of legacy apps that run on mobile devices, and I thought I'd indulge in a little rant about the most annoying facets of the app store lifestyle.

Let's leave aside the issue of the creeping commoditization of software and the fact that these walled gardens are driving us to rent, rather than own, some of our most intimate moments. Smartphones are the third stage of the personal computer revolution, taking personal computing into the pockets of billions of people who don't even know they're carrying around sophisticated network-connected supercomputers with online access to the sum total of human knowledge (and in turn accessible online to the sum total of human computer criminals).

The fact is, we're increasingly coming to depend on these pocket wonders to keep us in touch with our friends, locate us when we're lost, to do business, to schedule our lives. And it's probably necessary for them to be locked down and centrally provisioned, because most of the folks who own them don't have the faintest clue about network security and, more importantly, don't have the time or energy or brain cells to learn how to defend themselves. This brings us to the app store model for curating software configuration: the Google Play store on Android, the iTunes Store on Apple devices, and various half-assed attempts at building proprietary company stores from Kindle, Nook, Windows Mobile, Samsung, and any other company who think they can hold their users to ransom.

For most mobile apps I use iOS. This is not an accident. Firstly, walled gardens may be prisons, but the bigger they are the less you notice the walls: also, Apple has always had a focus on design aesthetics that the rest of the CE industry has never understood. Simply put, the best iOS apps are pretty, and if I'm going to be interacting with a device from dawn 'til dusk I do not want it to offend my eyes every time I look at it. The flipside is that the Android ecosystem has, until iOS 8 ships, been more flexible: there are things Apple simply won't allow in their store, and if you want them you're going to have to look outside the walls.

But now for my main gripe. I've been using iOS devices since the iPhone 3G (not the 3GS), and I have to say that the App Store has usability flaws that are becoming crippling.

I'm not going to gripe about it being part of iTunes. iTunes has morphed from a CD-ripping and MP3 playing tool in 2000 into Apple's content and media store. But the iTunes app store offers virtually zero library management and curation tools.

Yes, you can view your app purchases by platform (iPhone/iPod Touch, or iPad, or Universal) and you can check for updates. But most of the development effort seems to go into how to sell you new apps, not manage the ones you've got. So my app library is slowly sinking under a pile of ...

* Abandonware. Many apps simply aren't updated. The developer gave up on them (often due to paltry revenue) with the result that they're rotting and no longer work once iOS retires one framework too many.

* Take-overware. Some apps are abandoned because the developer sold out to another company who wanted them for the staff, not the product. Big visible examples of this are QuickOffice (once a stand-alone office suite for phones, it's now being rolled into Google Drive as a bunch of editing tools) and Stanza (once the best ePub ebook reader on iOS; then Amazon bought the company for their ebook development expertise and left the apps to rot). Documents to Go may be joining QuickOffice soon—the developers were bought out by Blackberry, and although it's still occasionally updated the update tempo has slowed right down. In fact, since Apple focussed so intently on building out the iWork suite as a cloud-based cross-platform tool, most of the rival cross-platform office suites have withered on the vine, aside from Microsoft Office (perched lonely like a Microsoftian colonial outpost in the hinterlands of iPad-land, requiring an Office365 subscription to work). There are plenty of text editors, and a couple of fine document processors (Textilus, I'm looking at you) and some day soon Scrivener is promised on iOS. But I'm a bit peeved that over the years products I've spent good money for have been pulled right out from under my fingers and shut down without so much as a by-your-leave.

* Forced upgrade-ware. This is an increasing problem. Time was when software was expensive and came in boxes and you expected a new version every year or three, for which you would pay. Then the app store model cut the feet out from under the expensive boxed software industry. Now, if you want powerful software, it takes a lot of effort to make the stuff. So it's no surprise that some of the better apps in the app store cost rather more than the £0.99 norm—OmniOutliner, for example, is US $29.99. GoodReader, the best PDF reader/annotator I've found for iOS, is $6.99. These apps aren't cheap and maintaining them costs money, and it shows. But because the Apple app store only allows for a one-off purchase, the developers eventually see sales tapering off. So they run on forced obsolescence. Support and upgrades for an old version stops, and a new one comes along that you have to buy afresh—OmniOutliner 2, or GoodReader 4. The trouble is, the old version sticks around as a zombie in your iTunes library: I'm now looking at about three or four versions of Marvin, my ebook reader of choice, three versions of GoodReader and two of OmniOutliner. All of which insist on residing on any Mac I have registered with my Apple ID, sucking up valuable space.

* Get-out-of-my-face-ware: I just saw an app update today, for the Croatia Travel Guide I bought a couple of years ago when I visited Croatia. I am glad it is still being updated but I am less than charmed to be bugged about it, because I will not need it until the next time I visit Croatia, and while Croatia is charming this isn't likely to happen in the next couple of years. There is a lot of stuff like this in my iTunes library—cruft downloaded once out of curiousity and never touched since (many games, for example), or stuff used once but no longer of interest, or stuff purchased and immediately regretted because it didn't do what I needed. Many SF conventions publish their program guides as apps, so I've got about half a dozen bespoke apps for conventions long past gathering dust in my filesystem: then a couple experimented with commercial conference guide packages (which offered free entry-level versions of their software) until those products priced themselves out of the fan-run convention market. And they still keep updating on me.

* Excessively-updated-ware: I still have my old iPhone 3G. It sits on a stand on my bedside table, sans SIM card, as an alarm clock. (I can reach out in the night and hit the button to see what time it is without being kept awake in-between by a glowing display.) It doesn't update to anything more recent than some version of iOS 4. There are apps on it that claim to have updates pending ... but they won't install or run on it.

I have about 33Gb of apps in my iTunes library, on each of the three SSD-based Macs I use and have registered to that account. I estimate that at least 10Gb of these apps are unwanted. Some of these apps are big—games, mostly, clocking in at over 1Gb each. But there are 350 .ipa installer packages, the oldest date to 2008, and a bunch of them are basically trash that I can't delete without the store persistently trying to make me re-download them.

Apple, the iTunes app library is broken from the point of view of anyone who uses it intensively over a period of years. But I think you can probably fix it. Here are some features that I think would make life easier for people like me (of whom I believe there are some millions):

* I want to be able to create my own lists and "playlists" of apps, link them to folders ("all apps in this list go in such-and-such a folder") and tag these for downloading/synching on specific devices ("a folder containing playlist named 'Office apps' goes onto all iPads except iPad 1 but not iPhones or iPod Touches").

* I want to be able to lock some apps to never update, regardless of what the developer thinks. Or to retain a given old version for one specific iOS device that can't update—an iPhone 3G, or an iPad 1, for example. ("This app is needed in an iOS 4 compatible flavour for my old phone, and in the latest available version for every other device.") You don't need to support the old devices: just don't wreck my ability to restore them by trashing the last version of an app to run on them.

* I'd like to be able to tag apps for updating based on priority. Sometimes I'm on the road or on a train or in a hotel with limited wifi, or roaming on 3G data. When that happens, I want to update the apps that are important to me first. For example, security patches for DropBox or Pages are always going to be more important than some random game that can wait until I get home from a business trip. And I want my devices to know this so that I can leave the process of downloading app updates on automatic.

* I want to be able to "un-buy" an app. Not necessarily to be given a refund, but just to delete the waste of money, brains and disk space from my library forever so I'm never bugged to update it again and it doesn't spawn endless useless space-consuming copies across every Mac I own.

* I want to be able to link two apps so that iTunes knows that one of them supersedes the other. That way I wouldn't "un-buy" GoodReader 3, but iTunes would nevertheless stop insisting that I install it or update it, because it would be flagged as superseded-by GoodReader 4.

* Better still, Apple should offer developers the option of in-app purchases for updates. Limit it to no more than once per year, to prevent a forced-upgrade treadmill, and allow users to decline to update—but at least stop spamming our iTunes libraries with never versions of apps that relegate old versions to the state of abandonware.

* I want to be able to create views of my iTunes app library that hide some apps without deleting them from the database. (That "playlist" feature? Give me a special playlist called "hidden". Sort of like the undeleted items in the trash can. I can dive in and rummage for something if I find a pressing need for it, but otherwise it shouldn't clutter up my view of my iOS lifestyle.)

Final note: this is a gripe list for the Apple iTunes app store for iOS. However, you can come up with a near-identical list for the Google Play store. I'm pretty sure a similar but disjoint set of gripes exist for the Windows Mobile app store. It's an inevitable consequence of the app-ification of our lifestyles. App stores were designed for cheap, simple devices. But iPads and big Android tablets and Surface RT tablets aren't simple devices: they're about 80% of a personal computer, and within the next 2-3 years they will, to all intents and purposes, be the curated personal computing platform of choice for most people.

Over to you folks. What do you acutely feel the lack of in these curated app collections?

87 Comments

1:

I seem to be able to "un-buy" an app by going into the iTunes Store, going into "Purchases", going into "Apps", hovering over the offender, and clicking the little "x" in the corner.

This doesn't really un-buy it, but it hides it from the UI as if I'd done so, until you pick some kind of "show me the stuff I've hidden" control I've forgotten the location of.

The same thing works for media. This screwed me once, as I have a habit of hiding any random "featurettes" or recaps that I get, and once when doing that accidentally hid a full episode (of Downton Abbey, as it happens).

The AppleTV UI was utterly confused by me wanting to view something that some service APIs were telling it I already owned and others were telling it I didn't, resulting in me working with Apple's support folks until I had a considerably better understanding of hiding iTunes purchases than most people are ever forced to develop.

2:

(Also: many of the problems existed on game consoles before mobile. My XBox Live purchase history is more of a mess than my Google Play one.)

3:

You are correct that there is a similar set on Google's Play Store, but at least I can 'un-buy' easily.

My current peeve is restoring a device: I have a shiny new tablet, which had a DOA microSD slot. Fixing the slot for some reason involved wiping the memory. Going back to the play store to restore involves (a) clicking one-at-a-time each app to add back (or update from the factory not-quite-current state) and (b) figuring out which apps I actually need on this unit, discounting the carrier-specific apps from my phones over the years, Cyanogen Mod-specific apps from my previous rooted tablet. Being able to see which devices have downloaded each of the apps I've bought would be extremely nice.

The upside: the current model means that unlike Windows software, I don't have to buy for each of my machines: one person, one license.

4:

I have 3 Macs, and sync one to 2 iPhones & 2 iPads. I sync iOS devices to one Mac, and set the other Macs not to automatically download new apps.

When I decide I don't want an app to take up space or updates I move it to the very last page of apps. Periodically I go through all iOS gadgets and the Mac I sync them against, and delete all the pending apps from that page -- across all devices which contain copies. If you delete an app from all devices, you will not get updates or prompts.

5:

If you delete an app from all devices, you will not get updates or prompts.

I have 3 Macs, 2 iPads, and 1 iPhone. I would rather not have to do the same chicken dance six bloody times on six devices just to get rid of some surplus baggage.

6:

I'm just going to rant a bit about pack-in software, or bloatware.

I get the point of bloatware. Companies pay money for Verizon or AT&T, or maybe it's Motorola - I don't know or care exactly where all the money goes - to package in their applications on their shiny new Android phones. So I have ten to twenty preinstalled apps on any Android phone I buy. It's a crap form of advertising but that alone is not terribly offensive.

What infuriates me is when these apps are locked down by the OS so I have to root my phone to get rid of them. First, rooting my phone is technically illegal, or at least in some form of legal limbo in the United States thanks to some inept copyright decisions. It also voids and hope of getting service when my Droid RAZR with the sealed-in battery inevitably breaks down.

Second, rooting is a nifty way to destabilize my phone and leave me bereft of operating system updates for increasingly less benefit as Android opens up more and more features at the dumb user level. I understand and approve of phone hackery but that doesn't mean I want to be forced to do it on my day to day device to get rid of NFL Mobile.

Third, the apps are unused zombieware that take up space and bandwidth on my phone and do nothing else. That's assuming I don't forget and try to uninstall them, which niftily just uninstalls all the updates it may have downloaded to make the app even worse, and then demands that I reinstall the updates until I submit.

Fourth, Amazon has gotten into the act and screw them for doing so. Kindle is my eReader anyway so I wouldn't mind having it installed by default, but when an app update breaks and I can't access any of my books, I want to have the option to uninstall and reinstall the app from scratch like the nice tech support person tells me to, instead of explaining that the app is a pack-in I can't get rid of.

Fourth addendum, when a glitch in Amazon Prime Music causes my phone to slurp down 2GB of data and then die from a heart attack, I want to be able to uninstall that shit entirely. Just saying.

Fifth, I don't want to be stuck with apps that are going to break when I bump my phone up to the next Android version. NFL Mobile, laughably, updated with an entirely new version sitting beside the old one when I moved to Kit Kat, and for a miracle I was able to uninstall the old version without penalty. I assume the rest of the bloatware is even deader than before.

</rant>

7:

Setting an app to never update is something I also saw raised by the National Federation for the Blind. It's certainly possible for the large subset of apps that function off-line.

For everything that contacts a server, the application developer may want to change protocols, ids or whatever for new features in the shiny! new! version - and thus break the old version of the app anyway.

It would be great if the App Store knew about this and could mark apps as "broken, must upgrade or delete". Or "works fine but will leak all your info, if you're sane you will upgrade or delete."

8:

I feel your pain. I for one could happily live without the iOS stock market app. (Why can't junk like that be optional free app store downloads, Apple?)

9:

It is NOT ROCKET SCIENCE to design any protocol your app uses to START THE FREAKING SERVER CONNECTION by saying "Hello, I am device [IP address/Unique ID] running Protocol version Foo". And for the server to gracefully refrain from choking older versions of the client by ramming incompatible new extensions down its throat.

We've been doing this stuff since the 1970s if not earlier. Why is this even a thing?

10:

Charlie, agree with you completely.

Under "unwanted updates", I'd also add those nice, neat, single-purpose apps that seemed benign and useful in the beginning, but six updates later now insist that they _must_ have unlimited access to your contact list, 24/7 network access, and want to run continuously in the background. (Probably the better to download animated spam ads....)

Worse if the original version was burned into the vendor's image, making the whole mess unremovable....

11:
What do you acutely feel the lack of in these curated app collections?

I'd kill for a "revert last update on this app" feature. With the way iOS apps are sandboxed I'd always hoped this one would arrive at some point.

A "delete this off every device" option.

Your "don't update this app" flag.

In-app upgrade pricing (please oh please oh please).

Ability to pass on "sets" of apps to other people — or family/household/small-business management of apps. Emailing around store URLs is fiddly. The iOS deployment management stuff is all aimed at the enterprise — not the small business with half a dozen devices.

12:

Google Play apparently knows that I have (or had) more than one device. But there doesn't seem to be any way to tell it that the one it thinks is called "Unknown device" no longer exists, and apps that were only on it should not appear in "My Apps".
(Firstly I wiped it before passing it in to my son, and secondly he dropped it on our drive without realizing at the time, and it was run over my a car before it was found. Had I known how annoying it would be, I could have installed every app one by one before wiping it. But I didn't.)

13:

In no particular order:

  • The upgrade thing was a major feature of it. It allows security upgrades and feature upgrades to be rolled out for free, and painlessly. If an update is optional, then the support costs -- for apple and for app developers -- increase drastically. Apple wants everyone to be running the same version, as much as possible.
  • As stated, you can delete things from the library. With iTunes, there are two ways of deleting -- from the machine (command-delete), or from the library (delete). It'll ask you for confirmation, which is how I found this out.
  • It is possible for the developer to keep old versions around. This requires some work on their part, and I forget the details, but it popped up on some rumour site aimed at developers a couple of years ago. And I know it works, because I have some apps for iOS that have multiple versions, and the reason for that is the old iPod Touch that can't get its OS upgraded... causing iTunes to keep two versions of a couple of apps around.
  • You can't do as much as you'd like from the Mac because the Mac is dying: iOS devices are now required to be able to work without ever connecting to a computer. So all the focus is on that aspect of it, not on the computer side. This makes me sad.
  • In-app upgrades is hard, due to the DRM and sandboxing. There are some interesting developments with the store, in this sense, however -- a loosening of testing tokens, bundling, a couple of other things. I think that what you are saying you want -- the ability to buy, in app, a cheaper version of the next version -- may be on the way in a couple of releases. But it is a fairly major change to how the setup is now. Remember how long it took for Apple to be able to offer gifted apps? That wasn't due to laziness -- that was due to not thinking of the feature beforehand, and then having to retrofit it in later, without having any down-time or API changes.
  • Linked apps has its own problems, in that developers (internal and external) often don't know how to set things up such that data can be shared between apps. What you really want is for a way for developers to indicate that something is a paid upgrade, which would be the basis for the previous one.
  • One thing I expect to happen is a splintering of the iTunes app -- but I also don't expect that to happen until Windows support is dropped. (By "splintering," I mean a separation. As iBooks was split out, I expect apps to be split out. Possibly videos and songs, a la iOS.)

    I think that's about it for the moment. I reserve the right to add more ;).

    And I shall point some people at this.

    14:

    For me (also three Macs, two iPads and one iPhone) I more my unwanted iOS apps to their own little group on the last page of my phone/pad. This group includes the App Store as I found that I became extremely obsessive if I saw an update was available: MUST HAVE! So with it out of sight, it's out of mind. I plug my phone in to my iMac every morning and update apps and podcasts and sync my phone, our tablets get the update and sync cycle somewhat less.

    I haven't had much of a problem deleting apps from my iMac, generally I download them to my phone first and quickly determine whether or not it's a keeper before I sync it. And I totally agree about the tragedy of losing Stanza, amongst the many things that I think Amazon sucks for, this is pretty high on the list. It's a pity they didn't fork the source for the reader to open source before the deal closed. I'll have to take a look at Marvin.

    15:

    Yeah, you'd almost think that we human beings weren't the real customers here. What could be going on, that they treat us this way??

    Guindon's cartoon, I think, covers the situation:
    http://ethnobiology.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/JoE/5-1/NewsComments.pdf

    The caption is:

    "Cow's gone crazy! She believes they're going to kill and eat everybody but the dog."

    I still haven't found an ebook reader nearly as good as my Clie Th55 (Palm OS 4, with Mobipocket Reader).

    The reader was well supported and almost bug free. Choice of fonts and sizes and layouts, easy upload from plain text using (Mac) PorDiBle, and only two or three jumps to convert most any digital format to text, so if I can see it on the screen I can capture it and read it later on the Clie. Third party tools let me dim it to firefly-brightness for reading late at night.

    Amazon bought Mobipocket Reader a couple of years back and killed it dead dead dead.

    A youngster in the family handed me up her old iPad Touch trying to get me into the new age. Hahahahaha. You can't easily even find applications by OS version to know what will run on the damned thing. Everything will suck at your attention for minutes at a time, before telling you you need a newer OS -- which means buying different hardware.

    Hell, they should just make it possible to remotely disable the old hardware, melt it into sludge in your pocket -- otherwise old farts like me will keep trying to actually USE THE DAMN THING.

    16:

    Free apps that turn out to contain advertising that you can't get rid of, whilst trying to use the app.
    The real pain of trying to get hold of a download of any app that then actually works & downloads to your phone.... - the mere 4 I have on my android device took 5 tries to get the damned things, which has seriously put me off getting any more, no matter how useful they might be.
    How does one get twotter on to one's phone & actually, you know USE it?
    [ I have a twitter account - but only on this machine & even then it feels horribly clunky & I can't work out if I'm supposed to put my sig at the front, end, or not at all ....
    And the "how to" clues don't seem to make any sense, there does not seem to be an heirachical layot - it all so hip I want to throw up. ]

    17:

    Actually, Amazon licensed Mobipocket first -- their file format, with added DRM pointing to Amazon's servers, was the first iteration of the Kindle file format. Then they bought Mobi rather than risk being dependent on an external supplier, and the new AZW3 file format is the successor to .mobi.

    But your point stands.

    18:

    Greg: I don't use the official twitter app -- I use (and paid happily for) Tweetbot, by far the best twitter app I've seen on any platform. (And there are no ads/promoted tweets: Tweetbot filters them out.)

    19:

    Been doing this dance for awhile, starting with an iPod (3rd or 4th generation) that I still use as an internet radio, & an iPhone 3. The Macs I used then are gone now, and I have 2 new ones, plus an iPhone 4 and a 3rd gen iPad. You're so right about what a pain in the ass it all is.

    My biggest problem is that my phone ihas 32 gig of memory and my iPad has 64. So all the apps that I want to keep around for the iPad bloat the phone to the point that every time I do a system upgrade to a new OS version I have to throw stuff away just to have enough room for the upgrade. And at the next sync, it all comes back.

    My other big complaint is that iBooks on Mac and iPad won't sync new books automaticly. This is especially painful because I have a large and growing collection of technical papers that I reference often enough that manual syncing is more than just an irritation.

    20:

    There are a number things that I would like to see in app stores (I do not use IDevices, so I do not know if they support these - Android stores do not as far as I know):
    - A manual. It would be so extremely nice if all functionality of an app was intuitively
    obvious when starting to use an app. In all but the most trivial apps, however, this seldom happens. Much of the functionality of an app is hidden, often in a way that may make sense to some but not to all. It would be nice if the stores could give a link to a manual presenting the functionality of the app.
    - Link to a place where users can interact with each others and with the developer. This makes it a lot easier to separate the trash from the good stuff as you can see what users write and, crucially, discuss about the app. I would prefer this to be something the store owner supplied, rather than the developer.
    - Reviews are associated with a version of the app, so you can see if a given review was based on a two years out of date version or the latest version.
    - Changelog and/or a list of new stuff added by each version. This should be separated so the regular description is not cluttered by this information.

    21:

    SMP/E for iPod/iPad. ISAGN.

    <Runs away laughing>

    22:

    Hey, there's news about "undocumented and hidden features and services in Apple iOS that can be used to bypass the backup encryption on iOS devices and remove large amounts of users’ personal data. Several of these features began as benign services but have evolved in recent years to become powerful tools for acquiring user data."

    https://threatpost.com/researcher-identifies-hidden-data-acquisition-services-in-ios/107335

    Do ya feel sheepish? Well, do ya?
    I do. Baaaaaa ...

    23:

    Er? iBooks on the Mac syncs new books to my iPad, so I'm not sure what you're describing?

    Note that I don't buy books from the iBook Store; I get them, and add them as ePubs. So I don't have books being added from the iPad and getting to the Mac, so perhaps that's what you're describing?

    24:

    Most app shops are one or two people. Maintaining different versions of servers and protocols is beyond their limited ability to support.

    It's not rocket science; it is janitorial, and it's a lot of work.

    Do you work on adding features, so that existing customers feel they got value and new customers feel compelled to buy, or do you spend all your time doing maintenance on the old code (and I include both client and server in that)?

    25:

    Do you sync your iOS devices with iTunes?

    IME it's well worth going iTunes-free. I have each of my devices nominally linked to iTunes on my laptop, but I don't ever sync them, so iTunes is configured to never download apps. If I need an app again on some device, I just go and download it directly on that device.

    (aha you say, but what if the app is removed from the store and I still want it. For all of the abandonware reasons you list, I don't want those apps anymore ;)

    26:

    (and I pay for iTunes Match so I can avoid having to manually sync music to my devices, like some kind of Palaeolithic animal!)

    27:

    App Store on the desktop:

    I own a 2006 Mac Pro.

    Its last supported OS is 10.7 Lion (due to 32-bit EFI compatibility issues).

    Lion does not support my monitor resolution (2560x1440).

    Unless you install Xcode, which comes with an app called Quartz Debug.

    Except you can't install Xcode on Lion.

    Because Apple has removed all the Xcode downloads from its site. If you want to download Xcode, you have to do it through the App Store.

    And the App Store will only let you download the current version of Xcode.

    Which...well, you see where I'm going with this.

    The sheer number of levels of fail at work here is breathtaking -- from being unable to set your friggin' monitor resolution without installing development tools, to requiring a username, password, and credit card number to access a free download, to needlessly breaking compatiblity with legacy systems...

    (Seriously, the entire App Store model feels like somebody took a look at apt-get, decided it was amazing and that all software should be distributed that way, and then explained it to a manager who lacked the technical acumen to understand that dependency resolution is the ENTIRE POINT of apt-get.)

    tl;dr last year I built a new computer and my Mac Pro is currently serving as an overpriced and overpowered backup fileserver.

    28:

    You might want to think about retiring that 2006 Mac Pro. Seriously, if it's the dual processor G4 model, it burns electricity at an insane rate. My wife had one, and when she fired up photoshop the fans would kick in and blow papers halfway across her office. The electricity consumption in a year was about two thirds the retail price of an i7 Mac Mini (which in turn used about 5% of the power, was much smaller, and was actually a faster Mac).

    (If it's an early Intel Mac Pro, then stand down, false alarm -- but it's still a bit of a power hog.)

    29:

    " I'm pretty sure a similar but disjoint set of gripes exist for the Windows Mobile app store."

    Actually, no. I'm a happy WP user who recently upgraded from an older high-end model to a newer cheapie model when the screen broke. If you delete an app (or get a new device connected to the same account) and then go to the store, it tells you that you own the app but will not force you to download it. I never really thought about it until I read your gripe list, but that system really cuts down on at least some of the problems on your list.

    Sure, WP doesn't have as many apps and its media management abilities pale I comparison to IOS, but its light, quick, and doesn't do anything that pisses me off. Plus it looks pretty good while coming with a real built-in file browser.

    30:

    Funnily enough, this isn't just something that happens in the paid software/app ecosystem.

    I love KDE for the same reason you love ios (and KDE), it's oh so pretty, and I can change every last thing to be exactly how I like it and it just makes me happy to look at it sitting there all pretty and custom fitted to me.

    Been a hell of a time getting vsync to work though, so on a lark I decided to check out a few of the 14.04 ubuntu derivatives.

    Unity, don't get me wrong, is VERY slick, there are parts of it that are awesome looking, and I would love to steal bits of it... but the fact that you have to jump through so many stupid hoops to try and get things set up how you like, and the whole time it keeps offering you paid app options, even while you're trying to install a completely unrelated program... and then you can't really get rid of all the stuff included.

    Still, the launcher/search thing kinda oozes style, but I can't get past how stupid it is having twinned taskbars, I can put the launcher on one monitor, but I have to deal with the exact same bar on each one?

    So I tried Mint, has some very pretty versions, even offered a KDE spin, but the .iso was like 1.7 GB! Blah!

    OpenSuse is a different flavor, but the same weird "this is how we do things, and you gotta jump through stupid hoops or jump through our hoop" issues, and it's just annoying ending up with a billion programs available, many of which do the same thing/s, and arguably you can remove them, but you never know what is going to break.

    ...

    tl;dr, ultimately the reasons you gave are what pushed me to go full-nerdmode and try to get Arch working. Would it be ideal for most users?

    No, no way, sure, rooting is seen as some sort of arcane sorcery, the idea of starting out with what is pretty much just a rootkit and trying to download the stuff to get a system working is intimidating.

    It's satisfying as hell though, and gives me a new respect for stuff guys like you went through back before so much of the hard stuff was tucked behind a nice friendly interface for everyone else to play with.

    Me, I'm kinda waiting until I can just stick a linux on a micropc pretending it's a smartphone and have it run the way I want, so until then it's just something I mostly deal with when helping friends/family poke around in their systems.

    I do see the appeal of "it just works" though, the missus loves the holy heck out of her C720, especially since she was using a handmedown Atom powered netbook with whichever distro ran the lightest at the time (Bodhi generally did well there) but she's still getting used to the whole "I don't need a cooling fan or to have it plugged in all the time" aspect on top of the rolling-release updates.

    ...one of these days I'mma put linux on there though.

    31:

    I'm a longstanding regular reader/poster using a pseudonym for IT security reasons.

    None of these platforms and app environments stand up to dedicated hostile action, as a minor regional nation-state demonstrated to me not that long ago...

    What (say) Iran can do to you today, criminal gangs can do or will do next year, and script kiddies will do soon, if the underlying devices and store environments don't do way better on security.

    32:

    I loved KDE 3.5 -- great mature desktop. Then they brought out that whole KDE 4.0 thing, and I did not understand the visual metaphor. I simply couldn't figure out how to make it work at all. I've made a few attempts since then, but: no dock, no visible menus, no file manager. How the hell are you meant to make it do things? Gaaah. I gave up on it.

    33:

    [URL=http://s341.photobucket.com/user/maxarutaru/media/greyarch_zpsb661d929.png.html]Hmmm, I think Dolphin comes with it now.[/URL] But I gotta admit I got into KDE right around 4.3 after having hacked and slashed at various other DE's since I first jumped into the linux pool back in 2010 (well, I tried one of the 8.04 netbook ubuntus I think but blehhhhhhhh) and I am waiting for 5.0 to land in the core arch repo any day now, I did it piecemeal through the AUR but when I tried to kwin_x11 --replace it I couldn't help but notice all the window decorations were missing... which is a little troublesome.

    Still, I do know they added back in the toggle for the menus, and I honestly haven't missed a dock thanks to how stupidly awesome the tab completion is, tap the terminal window on the left there and hit a couple letters/tab/enter, really I've found myself only using dolphin for the previews... they make it a bit easier to uh... surf my uh... video collection... *cough*.

    34:

    The one time I try to let photobucket do the html with the one click/copy thing, that happens... what nonsense. Don't even know how it selected the bbcode version, musta double clicked or something.

    This is what I meant to do.

    35:

    Don't mean to spam, but I just realized I'm geeking out over KDE with one of my favorite authors. The internet is great!

    36:

    It's the first-gen Intel model, with the low-end graphics card. I like it for the quiet -- I recorded a few audiobooks a year and a half or so ago and would like to get back into that (though I'll have to (1) replace my stolen recording equipment and (2) wait until the weather in Tempe, Arizona cools down enough that I can turn off the air conditioning and ceiling fan).

    Appreciate the heads-up, though -- yeah, the G5 was a beast.

    37:

    Re: dead devices

    You can go to the sprocket in top right on the web page, select "settings" and uncheck the device to stop it appearing. Not sure if that stops the apps it had appearing though.

    My major pet peeve is that the user isn't in control of the permissions. The user should ALWAYS be able to disallow particular permissions, and change them, with fake data being presented if the app demands it. If Google won't do it themselves, governments should force them. So many issues could be fixed that way.

    Oh, and I don't have automated updates turned on with any app. I wait a day or two after any update to see if anyone screams in the reviews about something the developer has done, and if so I never update. For certain apps I should be able to say "I'm never going to update this again" - eg like when a media player lost AC3 support.

    38:

    Its last supported OS is 10.7 Lion (due to 32-bit EFI compatibility issues).

    There is/are a hack(s) floating around which allow you to flash the firmware to 64 bit. I can't remember if they require you to replace the CPU or not.

    But the time to figure do this doesn't exist in my life now or likely for another year. Which is I think the main point of Charlie's post. We want a toaster with a button on the side for bagel/toast/whatever and a dial next to it for Charlie, David, Bob, ...

    39:

    You might want to think about retiring that 2006 Mac Pro. Seriously, if it's the dual processor G4 model

    If it's a MacPro (and he says it is later) it is NOT a G4 or G5. Those were PowerMacs. :)

    And just to toss another thing on your iOS device or Mac, MacTracker is a great source of all Apple specs going back a ways and way easier to use that Apple's latest design of their Specs at apple.com .

    40:

    We've been doing this stuff since the 1970s if not earlier. Why is this even a thing?

    Surely you've been programming long enough to know the rule. Every 10 to 15 years the new whiz kids are convinced the old farts got it all wrong so they start over. And repeat all the mistakes that the old farts could tell them about if only they would ask. Rinse, lather, repeat.

    And I suspect the time frame is now approaching 5 years.

    41:

    I think most of your annoyances are due to allowing iCloud to manage your apps... and syncing with iTunes.
    I'm happily maintaining several separate iDevices with a different stable of apps on each... by simply not signing into iCloud on any of them.

    42:

    The issues are exactly the same in Android land. The laudable goal of simplifying a complex system for people who have neither the time nor inclination to master it has become subservient to maximising revenue streams.
    I shot myself in the foot with my last phone upgrade. I wanted 4g and instead of waiting for the next Google phone I went with an HTC One. Now, don't get me wrong, it is a decent phone but there are a number of gripes.
    The Facebook app. It is integrated into the UK. As we all know, this app has totally jumped the shark this year. I can't get rid of it.
    HTC backup. Every time an app updates you get a pop up asking you if you want to turn on HTC backup. You can select no and tell it not to ask again. Except that just doesn't work and you get it. Every. Single. Time. Obviously this would be trivial to fix but it hasn't been because HTC want your data. To mine. To hold hostage etc.
    I won't make this mistake again. Google phones only from now on.

    43:

    This is one of the reasons Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia made me so sad: it permanently turned MeeGo into a niche phone OS. Debian on yer phone, skinned to be usable by even severely tech-challenged people; what's not to like? Apparently the odds it'd outsell Windows phones...

    44:

    I'm using a Windows phone, so this idea of too many apps is foreign to me. :)

    45:

    Arch Linux is not really what is normally meant by "a rootkit".
    I recently got a C720 myself. Haven't put Crouton on it (yet). Not being able to print to a non-Cloud enabled local network printer is my main annoyance with it. I'm working on it.
    For real full nerd mode, a former employer of mine used a (cross-compiled) Hardened Linux From Scratch. I wouldn't recommend that to anyone who doesn't already know they have a good reason to use it.

    46:

    I don't know if things are different in the US (or just with Motorola) but on my Samsung Galaxy S2 running 4.1.2, in the Application Manager I can uninstall all updates for built-in apps (even the Samsung ones) and then disable them.

    Now, if I could find out why there is "insufficient space" to update a 15MB app when the system tells me that there's over 300MB free, I would be happier....

    47:
    My major pet peeve is that the user isn't in control of the permissions. The user should ALWAYS be able to disallow particular permissions, and change them, with fake data being presented if the app demands it. If Google won't do it themselves, governments should force them. So many issues could be fixed that way.

    CyanogenMod has exactly that feature. It's called "Privacy Guard". You can set it to automatically activate with for newly installed apps, with some sort of default restrictions. The advanced settings are a bit buried, but at least they're there, so you can pick exactly what each app should and should not be able to do if you want to.

    Probably the biggest reason to switch to it, really.

    48:

    I just switch off apps in iTunes before syncing when I want to rationalise my apps, but use model is probably a bit simpler.

    I suspect the soon-come complete rewrite of iTunes in the cloud that eddy cue has been hinting at will start to address a lot of this stuff. No need to sync to the mac dear the old "mac as the centre of the media universe" model. Instead it's all in the cloud, backed up to your mac if you wish, instead of always taking up a fifth of your 256gb ssd. Or so I hope anyway.

    Didn't realise my hulking old g5 silver ziggurat was drawing so much juice, though I don't use it often these days - my old core2duo macbook is still doing ok as my daily driver. Though ableton 9 is starting to make it run out of puff...

    49:

    Didn't realise my hulking old g5 silver ziggurat was drawing so much juice, though I don't use it often these days - my old core2duo macbook is still doing ok as my daily driver. Though ableton 9 is starting to make it run out of puff...

    Most likely a used 2010 MacMini or newer will run everything you have on the G5 but much faster. And not heat 1/2 of your house. Which may or may not be an advantage. Unless you have some PPC only Apps.

    I tossed out all my Mac towers for MacMinis about 2 years ago. Much quieter work area and no more dealing with thermal issues. And while I haven't done the analysis I suspect my power bill reduction will pay for much of it over a 3 to 4 year period.

    50:

    I have a different complaint about the Apple App Store. The search facility is very poor. As an example I use an excellent workout logger called Gym Buddy.
    If you search for "Gym Buddy" in the App Store you get lots of other gym apps but not this one. You could easily assume that it had been discontinued.
    However if you Search for 'Gym Buudy App" on Google you will be pointed to the correct location in the App Store.
    I've had many other search failures like this.

    51:

    > insufficent space

    Same here. There are a number of helpful guides out there, but I really need to root my phone so I can look at hidden files. (Previous phone I did that first thing, and installed CyanogenMod, but this one was unlocked and running a recent Android when I got it (and there's no later stable CM for it), so I didn't bother.)
    Or could just uninstall all the stuff I mean to try out sometime but haven't....

    52:

    One thing I have found with recent Andoid (and the FB app is a particular example), is that there seems to be no way to turn it off without practically uninstalling the damn thing. Same applies to skype now too FWIW.

    The problem here is that these apps (and others like them) are continually checking the internet to see if there is an alert for you and so they ruin the battery life unless you put the device in airplane mode. But that workaround means that when you take it out of airplane mode about 5000 apps all decice they need to check for alerts/updates (including Google play) and consumes all the memory, CPU and network bandiwdth of the device for a few minutes.

    I want a setting that says no background checking on a per app basis that I can enable and disable at will. And some kind of sleep mode that says "only check the power button" otherwise stay asleep damnit woudl be good too.

    53:

    Well, I meant literally as in a software kit which enables root access, not the malware term, and the last few times I've rooted an android system it loaded up a console, I'd tap in a command, then it would go jump through the hoops and ask for a reboot, poof, rooted system.

    Installing Arch after doing a bunch of GUI installers is a trip. From "Here, let us hold your hand" to.

    [root@arch~]$ _ *blinks like it's tapping it's foot waiting for me to get on with it*

    pacman -R training-wheels and all that jazz.

    I did actually do the chroot bootstrap at first but like a tard I started it from the destination I wanted to install to, and while it is possible to sort of trapeeze yourself into it like that, I wanted to make use of the install to fix my btrfs experiment. Yes it works fine, but it turns out I wasn't just imagining that it was slower, still not up to the zip of ext4 just yet, but hey.

    54:

    I haven't looked into it lately but I'm not aware of any way of flashing the firmware. Could be one's cropped up since the last time I checked, though.

    You CAN install a Hackintosh bootloader to get around the 32-bit EFI limitation, but then you wind up with a genuine Mac that has all the stability and compatibility issues of a Hackintosh. I tried it for awhile and found it to be considerably less fun than just looking at a 1080p picture on a 1440p monitor.

    55:

    Yup, same thing happened with the HP Mi OS experiment as I recall. Supposedly they're getting ready to do it again, more power to them.

    56:

    Me thinks this does not qualify as a HackInTosh.

    http://forum.netkas.org/index.php?topic=7512.0

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=18411621&postcount=26

    One client has two MacPro1,1 models. Maybe I'll see what happens. Spare computers that can run Mavericks are useful to have around.

    57:

    I do not want to think about the crapware on my iPhone. The 1st 2 years, I added several hundred apps (organized into lots of folders). The last 2 years, maybe 5-10 apps a year added. Still normally use ~ 30.

    My current greatest tech peave is Twitter. Prolly just I have a crap client -- I use browser default, and Twitter app on iPhone/iPad. I want it to work like an RSS reader. Totally a pain when switching between devices. Plus, right now trying to find something I tweeted 1-2 years ago. Tweet stream management == completely nonexistent?

    58:

    My Linux desktop has software, my collection of Palms also had software, but my tablet and phone have apps. I think this semantic difference is actually very important.

    Except for some of the UI and iTunes related grievances rest of the problems is due to apps not being software - best example is keeping older versions.

    The whole appstore ecosystem and approach is designed for 'widget-like-things' for people that don't care (for many reasons, including perfectly valid ones) about anything 'under the hood'. With apps your control is basically down to 'install/uninstall', and the whole point is to make the whole experience streamlined and usable for the downright dumb people (no offence to anyone, I'm probably dumb about some other area than tech too).

    As such I find that appstore-powered phones and tablets are useful but only as gadgets - i.e. they are not a platform for 'long-term personal computing'. They are very convenient extensions to my main desktop (and my private server - this might be getting more popular in the future). They are basically data consumption devices, and limited although useful data input devices (e.g. Evernote).

    If I were to use a tablet as my 'main' computing device then pretty much it would be just a thin client, with only important apps being the browser, SSH and VNC clients. Rest of the apps would be 'cool stickers'.

    59:

    As I said earlier: smartphones and tablets are the third generation of personal computer.

    Gen 1 was everything from the Altair 8800 to the original (MS-DOS, 8088/8086) IBM PC, by way of the Apple II, the CP/M ecosystem, and I'll include early home computers like the Sinclair and Amstrad and BBC Model B in this. Market: single-digit millions. Technical aptitude needed to use one effectively as anything more than a glass typewriter: quite high.

    Gen 2: from the original Macintosh (I class the Lisa as a workstation, albeit for business rather than scientific customers) through the Atari ST, Amiga, and then PCs running Windows. Gen 2 is still with us: your laptop running Ubuntu is a gen 2 personal computer, as is this Macbook Pro or the Windows PC your doctor's receptionist is using to organize bookings. Market: double-digit to low triple digit millions. Technical aptitude needed to use one effectively: considerably lower, but doing anything complex with them ... tricky.

    Gen 3: It's your Android phone or your iPad. The precise moment at which this came into being was Steve Jobs demoing the iPhone (original) in public -- a demo that caused the folks at Blackberry to shake their heads in incomprehension at write it off as an uncommercial joke, it was so far out of their experience. We haven't seen where it's ending yet. Gen 3 personal computing is selling in three to four digit millions of numbers and the market probably equals or exceeds the human population of the entire planet.

    Gen 3 devices have to be locked down and easy to use because they're aimed at people who don't even know what a "computer" is. (It's their magic facebook for doing email and watching movies and playing Angry Birds.)

    This doesn't mean that apps for Gen 3 devices have to be simple -- consider Editorial, for example. And the 80/20 rule applies; 80% of our productive work can be done with 20% of the software features. Tim Cook allegedly does about 80% of his work on the iPad, and I can believe it: dogfooding has a long tradition in the tech industry. So I believe that within another year or two, as the low power CPUs finally reach the performance levels that high power CPUs hit 5-10 years ago, and as app developers have time to gain that critical 5 years of experience on a platform to really know it inside out, these devices will come into their own as full powered business and tech computing devices.

    60:

    >Gen 3 devices have to be locked down and
    >easy to use because they're aimed at people
    >who don't even know what a "computer" is.

    That's because they're mostly push-feed media devices. They're the "set-top box" that 1990s marketers wanted so badly, except it manifested as a "phone" instead of a "TV".

    61:

    That's because they're mostly push-feed media devices. They're the "set-top box" that 1990s marketers wanted so badly, except it manifested as a "phone" instead of a "TV".

    No, they're the smart terminals your corporate IT department asked for.

    And they leak at the edges. My iPad has decent macro-programmable text editors and a couple of IDEs and compilers on it; it also has a kick-ass ssh client and a bundle of word processors and text editors. My Android tablet gives me root and I can run Debian on it (memo to self: do something to fix Xfce's execrable display scaling so that it's at least usable as a GUI).

    The fact that most people only ever use these devices as "set top boxes" doesn't mean that that's all they're good for. Not by a long way.

    I have an idea of where Apple are going with the iPad, and how they'll finally end-of-life OSX -- but it's not going to happen for at least two CPU generations and two OS generations: they need a multicore 64-bit ARM (check) that's able to emulate the i7 instruction set (on the way), and for iOS to acquire self-virtualization (not impossible once they have that CPU) and the ability to run a Core i7 emulation with a virtual OSX guest instance (bingo). The guest OSX will be limited to running apps from the Apple app store -- in other words, already sandboxed and safety-checked, and full-screen ready -- but with a heckofalot more scope than regular iOS apps. And there'll be an "iPad Pro" that looks a lot like a retina display 12" Macbook Air -- keyboard and trackpad built in, along with touch screen. Fold it round one way, it's an iPad. Fold it into laptop shape and it's an iPad with a Mac compatability box, just like Rosetta on the old PowerPC OSX Macs in the early 00's.

    But by the time they get there around 2018, OSX's NeXTStep roots will be 30 years old, so maybe it's not before time ...

    62:

    I give it a 50/50 chance. If you're right most of the people I know using OS X will get to switch to Windows or what ever it turns into. CAD and all of that with 27" displays being standard. I just can't see something in an iPad form driving dual 27" displays with fast graphics chips anytime that soon.

    But I can see your logic and sometimes jump on that trail myself. Then they come out with the current MacPro to confuse the issue.

    And Intel is pushing them down that path by the ending of Moore's law. At least for CPUs with instruction sets as complicated as the Intel x86. Intel CPUs are starting to take a long time to do more than a small speed bump.

    63:

    The end of Moore's law is what will do it. That, and gigabit-plus wifi. The limits to atmospheric networking are on the order of 2Tb/sec, which is plenty for farming out your parallelizable rendering code to GPUs hosted in external display devices -- so, iPad/iPad Pro as a control device, networking wirelessly with smart monitors with built-in GPU farms, is my vision of where we're going. Maybe add storage/NoSQL database farms as well -- possibly based on something like HP's Machine project (all memristors and photonics). In other words, it wouldn't look like our contemporary model of how a PC works at all, but would rely on lots of special-purpose subsystems, networked wirelessly for command/control, with the iPad as the control interface.

    64:

    We've been doing this stuff since the 1970s if not earlier. Why is this even a thing?

    I suspect because most app developers are young, and haven't had to life through much on the way of multiple versions/device obsolescence yet. When you always have the shiniest toys, then you don't understand why someone might want to keep using an old device, or not upgrade their OS*.

    I've watched my nieces grow up as digital natives, and they manage by leaving a trail of unused devices/accounts behind them. I wonder how they'll cope as they enter adulthood and want to keep things for longer.


    *I'm still running iOS6, because the font on iOS7 is too skinny to read easily, and the colour scheme — flat, no drop shadows, no fine black outlines — is too hard for my old eyes to easily distinguish objects.

    65:

    Fascinating, thanks.

    Lord knows when/if I'll actually have time to try it, but I appreciate the link.

    66:

    I stuck with KDE 3.5 for a couple of years after 4 was released. IIRC 4.2 was about the point where I finally found it usable -- which, probably not coincidentally, was about the point where you could turn off all the stupid 4.0 shit and make it work more or less like 3.x. (There are STILL 3.x features that never made it into 4.x -- smooth drag-and-drop menu features -- but nothing mission critical in my experience.)

    I switched to OpenSUSE as my primary OS about two years ago, because all the reviews said it was the one to get if you wanted KDE (and I'd had some weird compatibility issues in Kubuntu). I think its package management is phenomenal, although its repos are of course less exhaustive than Ubuntu's.

    I keep a Debian/XFCE boot as a backup though, and it works great in a pinch.

    Back to the subject of tablets: I'm looking at grabbing a Galaxy Tab S; the biggest downside seems to be that the Exynos chipset is pretty poorly supported and I'll be stuck using Samsung's firmware.

    67:

    Ah hell.

    If you don't like the available apps, write them yerself. We are (were) iron men with wooden pencils, and have wonderful development systems available. They have to be wonderful so ignorant yoofs can pretend to write code.

    Of course you are more interested in writing fiction for humans, instead of fiction for machines, and I have a life these days. If my present wife had to put up with me as a programmer, she would dump me faster than the previous. And I can't drink that much coffee, and smoke that many cigarettes any more.

    You would have to give up perl for objectiveC, and I would have to stop puzzling haskell for java, as much as I hate Larry E.

    If I could run the Windows 16bit debug kernel on a system with vga and monochrome adapters for 2 monitors, one with the debugger, I can tolerate the clunky Android Debug Bridge.

    But do we really hate the apps enough ?

    68:
    You would have to give up perl for objectiveC, and I would have to stop puzzling haskell for java, as much as I hate Larry E.

    It looks like Apple is going for a new development language with roots in Haskell (https://developer.apple.com/swift/blog/), so that might be more to your taste...

    69:

    I have an app that is stored with a name using a different alphabet. iTunes doesn't do a good job of letting me see the full names of apps, some of which have different names in different places.

    If my iDevice gets too full, I can't delete an app to make more space, there isn't enough space to delete it. I have to unsynchronize my music library to free up space and *then* delete the app, before synchronizing the music.

    Smart lists would allow me to set up a list by grandchild. But what I want here is to save application (game) data with whatever app is not currently taking up space on my device.

    I also wish to have owner, guest, & children logons with different access.

    And I would like to allow random songs from a play list filling up all but a set amount of space on my iDevice. The set amount makes it harder to fill it up.

    70:

    In the long term we may see x86 on ARM only, shorter term, I'm expecting consumer Macs to look and act like an iPhone until they're plugged into a dock, than run something close enough to OSX on an external display. Until chipvana arrives, the MacPro will continue to showcase state of the art.

    71:

    I also wish to have owner, guest, & children logons with different access.

    Just isn't going to happen. That would decrease the chance you might buy 2 or more devices instead of just one. Apple really really really wants to define the usage model as personal. Not shared.

    72:

    It isn't going to happen due to decreasing how many devices you might buy; it isn't going to happen because the issue of security, access, accounting, and many other issues gets much more difficult.

    Note that the Apple TV is designed to be shared (you can have it set up to log into multiple iTunes accounts, because the TV is something that in fact multiple people use). It also doesn't have to worry about app ownership, and if it's stolen, you don't have much personal information on it.

    73:

    Apple really really really wants to define the usage model as personal. Not shared.

    Then explain why they patented using the fingerprint sensor on iOS devices to log in different per-person user IDs -- both work/private profiles for one person (to enable BYOD use in the workplace) and different people (to allow home use), each of which would be associated with different views of installed apps and data (so that your work view of Safari wouldn't show the same bookmarks/tabs/browsing history as your home view or your partner's home view or the guest account)?

    Apple want to sell you as many devices as possible, period. This implies making them sufficiently versatile to do the job in hand. Nobody wants to carry around three iPads for different work cases: if Apple tried to ram that down their customers' throats they'd risk losing market share. Their usage model is personal because they're selling personal computing devices, that's all.

    74:

    That seems entirely reasonable, particularly given that, on a Windoze box, it's utterly trivial for me to set up user level accounts as $real_name for work and paws4thot for leisure.

    75:

    Charlie:
    Re: the limits of atmospheric networking. Lest people think that 2Tb/s WiFi is around the corner, some clarification to your claime. ;-) 2T could be achieved with current modulation schemes (by maxing out the number of spatial streams) but that would be the only thing on the air for the local vicinity, and it isn’t going to go very far -- 90 meters max (~100 yards for us Yanks). Certainly the antennae in phones or tablets CANNOT do 2T (and I'd be willing to be they NEVER will) -- and WiFi APs will be maxing out at low Gb/sec speeds for the foreseeable future. Luckily, most transactions of mobile devices can be handled at sub-Mb/sec speeds.

    If you want reliable Terabit throughput, you'll need a fiber optic land line (with a whole bunch of fibers). Right now we're in the early stages of developing the 400 Gigatbit Ethernet. Last I heard, a 400GbE transceiver (the MSA hasn't been codified, yet), will probably require 16 Tx and 16 Rx fibers, each running at 25Gb/s (25 Gig is about the max that we can put on short range fiber right now).

    76:

    All of the OS hooks for multiple users are "in" iOS. Since the core of iOS was taken from OS X. It is the GIU and some of the ways you handle files that most of the difference.

    Now as to how many Apps would not barf all over themselves, well their data, is a horse of an entirely different color.

    77:

    Last I heard, a 400GbE transceiver (the MSA hasn't been codified, yet), will probably require 16 Tx and 16 Rx fibers, each running at 25Gb/s (25 Gig is about the max that we can put on short range fiber right now).

    Not to mention that the ASIC chips used to route traffic between ports of high speed switches are pushing up against some touch limits at gig speeds. 10Gig costs are very high just now. Way more than 1 gig 10 years ago.

    78:

    First: No, they're not, not at all. To give one very important example: the password file is on a read-only root, and cannot be modified.

    Second: Given that it was decided to be single-user, and that the user name was "mobile," and that its home directory was /var/mobile (or, rather, /private/var/mobile), that path is hard-coded in a lot of places. Including where applications are installed.

    Third: None of that addresses the issues I actually mentioned. The OS is not just the kernel; the system is not just a strictly-separated kernel + GUI. The issues of ownership, access, data sharing, data access, and a few dozen other things I cannot recall off the top of my head are issues that would need to be examined in depth, designed, tested like mad, and so forth.

    And as an example of that: one recent announcement by Apple was allowing families to share purchased apps. And this requires a contractual change on behalf of Apple, and requires developers to agree to it.

    None of this is easy. A lot of it is due to decisions made previously, but changing it is not a simple matter of deciding, "Oh, we'll just have multiple users!"

    And yes, I know what I'm talking about.

    79:

    None of this is easy.

    Didn't say it was.

    80:

    Ipad's camera is plenty sharp enough to do homemade ebooks off borrowed copies, the local library had too many waiting for Piketty's text so they couldn't renew it for me. I snapped the last half into memory and am taking my sweet time lingering over it, clear, legible images even better with colors reversed and brightness on full. Much faster and easier than making a pdf with my desktop scanner. I can't be the only one who thought of this, even Thomas Edison had to buy out a British light bulb inventor by the name of Swann. Nice to read Charlie's comment on the old Sinclair, I used mine to make a bubble-sort database good enough for inventory tracking back in '82, now my confidence is boosted to hear this showed a high level of tech savvy. High praise indeed!

    81:

    I can't be the only one who thought of this...

    I'm certain you're not. Remember who took a smartphone to a stolen Bible?

    82:

    Remember who took a smartphone to a stolen Bible?....no, drawing a blank on that one. Was it from one of O.G.H's novels?

    83:

    Apps - Version Hell. I have two iPhone 3G, an iPhone 5, an iPad 1, and an Pad Air. But that is not the worst part. The worst part is Apple's decision to sandbox the data files inside with the Apps. This makes a multi-tool docucentric workflow pretty much impossible.

    And the Application (NOT App!) which is my primary use for all those iThings is Music; not iPod style MP3 playback, rather composition. To those who think the iThings are purely consumption devices, or are into electronic music but don't already know this, take a look at the professional and amazing instruments and processors available now in iOS. And I mean pro, stage-ready, hi quality stuff. Capture through released album tools. And the audio gear manufacturers are taking note. iOS supports Class Compliant and Class II Compliant Audio and MIDI USB interfaces through the Camera Connection Kit (but fail to mention this rather important fact in the CCK documentation).

    All this pretty much exploded in the past 18 months or so. Been an exciting time.

    But don't just look under "Music" in the App store; most of what that shows, of the 38,000 or so, are indeed mere toys, and the 300-400 diamonds get lost in the masses. Go to the Audiobus web site (Audiobus was a key enabler of the explosion) http://audiob.us and look at their list of compatible Apps, and check out their general forum. Search on "iPad Music" on You Tube. Another App developer, of a 48 channel (stereo) workstation App called Auria, carries a list of compatible interfaces on their web site.

    The bad part is: we need to be able to apply multiple tools to a track. No one tool does everything to perfection. But Apple's sandboxing of data means we end up with copies all over the place and no means of keeping track of them or their workflow stages.

    This is yet another SciFi dream become reality. Equivalent also to the Desktop Publishing, then Web Publishing, paradigm changes. Maybe even more so, since this can be done on the bus, in the park, or wherever the inspiration strikes.

    84:

    " Nobody wants to carry around three iPads for different work cases: if Apple tried to ram that down their customers' throats they'd risk losing market share."

    You regularly travel with an iPhone (iOS), an iPad (iOS) and a MacBook Air (OS/X which, as you often tell us, is the basis of iOS). Apple has already persuaded you to carry around three devices, what's even better from their point of view is that they've convinced you to buy three different devices from them. Ka-ching!

    From an earlier comment: "they need a multicore 64-bit ARM (check) that's able to emulate the i7 instruction set"

    No, not really. Apple control the horizontal and the vertical as far as what runs on their hardware. There's no reason a new full-fat Apple OS (it might not be called OS/X) capable of running heavy-hitting code on desktop or even server setups needs to be backwards compatible with the current Intel family of laptop/desktop CPUs. Any emulation by ARM of i7 without several MB of L1 cache and all the other intrinsic hardware trickery like the internal data busses would be as slow as molasses at the South Pole for the OS, never mind programs running under the OS itself. The only way that's fixable would be for ARM to include a Haswell-in-all-but-name on silicon and that's not going to happen.

    85:
    Apple control the horizontal and the vertical as far as what runs on their hardware. There's no reason a new full-fat Apple OS (it might not be called OS/X) capable of running heavy-hitting code on desktop or even server setups needs to be backwards compatible with the current Intel family of laptop/desktop CPUs.

    For the same reasons Apple had backwards compatibility through the last two architecture transitions - from 68K to PPC and from PPC to x86. To run critical applications from third parties who are tardy about releasing new versions that support the new architecture. Adobe for example. Microsoft for another.

    86:

    Apple supported PPC for years after they announced their Think Different switch to Intel chips, indeed they even released new PPC hardware during that time (I can't remember precisely when they stopped releasing OS/X upgrades) for late-model G5-series laptops and desktops. Continuing software support for existing Intel hardware would be more of the same for them if they did decide to shift to ARM for all their new OS/X hardware. Probably not going to happen though.

    ARM systems are optimised for low-power consumption not speed and software emulation of even a Bay Trail Celeron on ARM, never mind an i7-series Haswell or a Xeon is going to limp badly to the point of unusability. The proposed 64-bit multicore ARMs are not going to be significantly faster than the Intel devices they would be replacing, unlike the change from 68k to PPC and the later shift from PPC to Intel silicon which in both cases permitted software emulation of the previous generation of CPUs without too much pain on the part of the user.

    87:

    I think you're overlooking something. Apple has their concerns and we have ours and there isn't a heckuva lot of overlap in the Venn diagram.

    Given that Apple has a walled garden, it's very clear that what their most important issue is the walls, not the garden. It's a common attitude in many businesses. What WE do, so long as it makes US money is important. Managing the ecosystem that supports our success? Well, THEY are not US, so THEY don't matter.

    The end result of a process like this will, of course, bring about Apple's eventual downfall. But right now, "WE are making money and that's all that counts!"

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    This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on July 21, 2014 1:06 PM.

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