For humans, life is complicated. All of us have personal relationships, jobs and careers, activities, entertainment and information to view and gather, and all of that takes time and needs to be managed.
As something of a professional geek I’m well aware of all that modern technology can do for us. I choose Apple as a platform, not because it can do the most, but because what it does is sufficient for me. Why is everything Apple too complicated?
The Long Tail
One reason many iPhone, iPad, or Mac users profess for their platform selection of choice is how easy every device works together, how straightforward and useful the applications are, and how little they have to worry about privacy and security.
Like Windows and Android, though, an elongated Bell Curve applies to Apple’s customers. Some of us nearly every feature and function we can find from power applications and terminal on the Mac, to multiple cameras and notification apps on the iPhone, to consuming news and entertainment in mass quantities from iPad.
That’s some of us. Not all of us. Not even most of us. As I survey family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and observe the great unwashed masses of Android, Windows, macOS, iOS users and compare what I see of their usage with my own and that of a few others (mostly co-workers and those I know in the tech industry) is that most do not take advantage of all the options available on any platform.
Think about this. If Apple’s platforms are too complicated for the masses to engage and use to the full, then how much more difficult is it for Windows and Android device users? From what I can see, all technology gadget platforms, including Apple’s macOS and iOS specifically, seem to be divided into two basic groups of customers.
First, the so-called geekerati, members of the technorati politburo who know all things tech, take stands one against the other, and seem to relish digging deep into each device in an effort to know it all, use it all, or at least, be aware of it all. Every feature, every function, almost everything.
Some write about it, some just use what they know, others lord it over those who are less devoted to the complications that lie below the surface of basic usage.
Second, the great masses of gadget users; Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, or whatever else is out there gets used, but not to the degree each complicated device can provide. I know of Mac users who do not know how to navigate the Finder or add utilities to the Menubar and seldom– sometimes never– download a third party application.
Likewise, I have family members and friends who don’t bother with alerts or notifications (they don’t want to be bothered) but use the iPhone’s camera and Messages app, have heard about FaceTime, and seldom bother to open and add an event to Calendar.
Sorry, but it’s not much different on the Android side of the fence. In an effort to outdo Apple, Google has bolted on a metric butt-load of features that seldom make it into the mainstream. Worse, of the million or two applications available on the various app stores, the average user doesn’t seem to know how to make them work; they try a few, keep a few, and discard or ignore the rest.
Apple is absolutely correct to add features that enhance usability– 3D Touch is a good example as it’s a wonderful functionality on iPhone only– but the company fails to teach or display the good ones to customers. I have a few friends, many family members, and some co-workers with iPhones who don’t know about 3D Touch, or how to focus on an object using the Camera app, or realize that notifications from Reminders, Calendar, and Mail can be controlled.
Everything Apple is too complicated for the masses and yet the situation is far worse for those toting around Android devices or stuck at work with Windows PCs.
Apple Stores are filled with friendly faces willing to show just about anyone how an Apple device works and that separates the company from the competition. Let’s hope that advancements in artificial intelligence– Siri is a good example–can help us use our devices more to their potential which should help us achieve more toward our potential as residents of planet earth.