This article was originally published on Nemoscope, a blog about technology from a teen's perspective.
You're watching a TV show and a commercial comes on with a white background and a shiny tablet in the center of the screen. Magical, it is called. The iPad is one of three devices that runs on iOS, Apple's touch-based operating system, a huge hit in the past few years. I could go on and on about my gripes about iOS and Apple, but here are my top three complaints.
Restrictions. Like Mac OS X, iOS only works on the devices that Apple wants it to work on: the iPod touch, the iPhone, and the iPad, all three of which are overpriced like all of Apple's products. Now, you would suspect that you would be able to customize your new iPad/Pod/Phone for $200-800. While iOS does give a certain amount of leeway to its users regarding their devices, is its customization really up to par?
Just a few years ago, users gained the ability to change their wallpaper and multitask on their iOS devices. Let's hear a round of applause -- it only took Apple three and a half years to let their users change their backgrounds. Seriously? And this may just be me being cynical, but I have a slight suspicion that part of the reason Apple added those features was because the number of people jailbreaking the iPhones, iPods, and new iPads.
Users can also only download apps from Apple's App Store. This is standard for devices/operating systems such as iOS. Android, for example, is limited to the Google Play app store. The Apple app store and Android app store have a similar number of apps, but as of May 2012, the Android store had more free apps than the iOS App store did. However, there are a few differences between Android and Apple. First, hardware: there are dozens of devices that run Android made by an assortment of different brands like Motorola, Samsung, Acer, Archos, HTC, Dell, and so many more. Android devices are more reasonably priced because of competition, however Apple has a monopoly on iOS. They are the only manufacturers legally allowed to use iOS on their products. If I want iOS on a phone, I am limited to one phone from one manufacturer. Android? I have hundreds of options, varying in size, internal specifications and price.
Objective-C and other limitations. The restrictions of iOS don't end with the user. If you want to develop an iPhone app, you are going to need to learn Objective-C unless you want to go through a series of complications buying expensive programs and services. Now, while Objective-C may be, in a sense, a programming language "native" to Apple, iOS developers could have easily let Apple developers write apps in languages that they already know. Java, for instance, is a popular language and it would have been fine for iPhone apps. But no, Apple wants to force everyone who is interested in developing iPhone apps to learn this old language that is all but obsolete these days. One thing is for sure: Objective-C is possibly one of the worst language choices on Apple's part. In fact, blogger Simon Brocklehurst made a list of alternative programming languages. In other words, here is a list of languages ordered from most to least popular with developers that Apple could have used:
3. Visual Basic
Objective-C would have been 38th on the list. There's a language called "Groovy" and one called "Smalltalk." Few have even heard of those. Yet still, the fact is that the programming languages "LabView" and "Erlang" are more popular (or were before iOS's introduction, for that matter) than Objective-C.
The language is not the only limitation when it comes to being an Apple developer. All developers must use Xcode, Apple's one and only IDE. Sorry, but Apple doesn't go for Eclipse, Komodo Edit, or TextMate or other popular IDEs. It's all Xcode. To add insult to injury, Xcode can also only be installed on a Mac. So for all of you who aren't willing to fork over seven hundred or a thousand bucks for a computer you could get much cheaper with Windows, or if you don't feel like buying a new computer to develop for Apple when your current non-Mac works well, or for those with the iBook or even newish Macbook Pros running Leopard: I'm sorry, but that isn't going to cut it.
Compatibility with previous generations of hardware. My cousin bought the iPhone about a year ago, the 8GB 3G released with the 3GS. She's not big on technology, so she didn't mind having a 3G, anything would have looked fine to her after her Motorola Razor. But then, the iPhone 4 was released as well as iOS 4.0. She didn't know any better, and of course her iTunes was begging her to, so she updated. Suddenly, she realized that although she had upgraded to iOS 4.0, she didn't have the ability to customize her wallpaper or multitask.
Absolutely nothing had changed except for that the dock looked slightly different and if she went to "About" in general settings it would way "4.0."
Well, she thought to herself, I didn't lose anything. So she unplugged her iPhone and went about her everyday life, but with iOS 4.0. At first she didn't notice any changes, but about midday, she realized that her iPhone, which she had charged overnight the night before, had 10 percent battery. After calling a friend, it was dead.
She dropped me a line since I was her designated "tech emergency" contact. Perplexed, I Googled her problem and realized that 3G users all over the world were experiencing this issue. For some, it was so bad that their battery life was dropping at one percentage per minute.
But the message was clear: to Apple, the 3G was and is useless. Apple was selling this now-piece of crap literally days before, advertising it as "innovative" and "groundbreaking."
Apple is now on iOS 6. The iPod touch is on its sixth generation, and my third generation touch is officially obsolete. I bought my iPod touch in early 2010. I paid $300 for it and two years later I can no longer update it. I see people walking around with their new shiny iPhones and iPod touches and other iShiny devices, and I just think, "Wait two years, and it'll be considered a worthless piece of iCrap."