This is not the time to allow your hair to catch of fire thanks to my article’s headline. Software is too complicated. Even Apple’s software– macOS Sierra, iOS 11 (I’m using it; it’s great), iWhatever. Too complicated.
Don’t misunderstand. If what Apple provides on each of our iDevices is complicated, can you imagine how much worse the rest of the world is with Android, Windows, Linux, et al? I make that assertion because I’ve been using macOS High Sierra and iOS 11 for a few weeks. You will love both, especially iOS 11. Both are too complicated.
Click And Touch
Generally speaking, the technology press criticizes Apple far beyond accuracy. It’s almost a grudge match between writers and Apple product introductions. Apple is always behind the curve except with the customers who line up to buy the latest and greatest.
Why? What Apple delivers is a better customer experience. Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Watch customers buy apps more frequently, therefore use apps more. Yet, I say software– applications, including operating systems– are too complicated?
Perhaps not for you or me, certainly not as much as that more schmuck at the corner of the bar trying to use email on his $200 Android phone, but you understand. Apple’s focus everywhere is on the user experience. Yes, we have hardware specifications. After all, we’re human so we love our bullet points. But those are not part of how we use our devices.
It’s read, point, and click. Or, with mobile devices, it’s read and touch. What makes that so difficult? PCs from the pre-Windows days and before the Mac, were command line only, so you had to learn an arcane navigation method, all keyboard driven, just to get anything done. Today’s iPhone dwarfs those early PCs in capability, and it’s all touch drive. Read and touch and something happens.
The problem here is we’ve added so much capability to these devices that even a simple read and touch methodology has become overly complex. What an iPhone or iPad can do these days should be stunning to us, regardless of technology background or experience. We should bow a bit each day to those who design and build these mobile, hand-held supercomputers. They still fit in our hands. They still require little more than to read something on the screen, and then touch something on the screen to operate, look how complex they have become.
Look at the Settings app. It’s long; longer than long, and some of the settings are daunting to understand for average iFolk, which explains the long tail in the Bell curve. A few of us are in depth on everything macOS and iOS, while a much larger number do more than the basics of email, texting, photography and videography, games, calendar, reminders, Facebook, and Instagram. After that, though, the Bell curve tail grows low and long.
I see the same thing in the Android device world. A small percentage make up the geeks who know and love everything they can do with Android OS. And they do it. But that smug superiority isn’t for the great unwashed masses who use their devices for the very basic of the basics. Email, text, camera, browser, maybe calendar, and social media.
I come from the command line world, added DOS to my experience, then graduated to Mac OS, Windows, Linux, and eventually smartphones, then iPhone and Android, so I’m familiar with many of the details and differences. That’s not the case with the average point and click or read and touch computer user. They aim for the basics because it takes time and effort to learn all the complexities of modern devices.
My Mac? Let me just count what’s on my Dock.
Siri, App Store, Safari, Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Reminders, Preview, Maps, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Messages, Facetime, iMovie, Photos, iTunes, Garageband, Final Cut Pro X, Logic Pro X, ScreenFlow, System Preferences, MAMP, BetterZip, BBEdit, Transmit, Snippets Lab, Coda, Notability, Carbon Copy Cloner, SuperDuper!, Airmail, Fireworks, Photoshop, Lightroom, Firefox, Opera, Chrome, 1Password, TWiT, TweetDeck, Network Utility, SpamSieve, Little Snitch, Due, 2Do, Fantastical, Last Pass. Then, folder shortcuts for Applications, Utilities, Downloads, Desktop, and Documents.
That’s a lot of applications but I suspect you have many of the same. The average Mac user does not.
I did a quick check on my iPhone and it has exactly 500 applications (I test many apps), along with thousands of songs, videos, and photos. And it still has 90GB of storage left. Many of those applications are complicated to use and come with arcane settings. If I can’t figure it out in a few minutes I delete it.
Yes, software on Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, and Apple TV is too complicated and Apple is right to slow walk newer hardware features to make them easier to use. Remember passwords on iPhones? It was mandatory. Look how simple Touch ID is to use. Face ID promises to be easier. Yet, I keep running into iPhone and iPad users who still just enter a simple 1-2-3-4 password to unlock their devices.
Why? They say, “It’s too complicated to set it up.” I can only imagine what it’s like for the rest of the PC and smartphone world.