They make you feel good, Apple products. The little touches: the rounded corners, the strokeable screens, the satisfying clunk as you fold the Macbook shut – it’s serene. Untroubled. Like being on Valium.
Until, that is, you try to do something Apple doesn’t want you to do. At which point you realise your shiny chum isn’t on your side. It doesn’t even understand sides. Only Apple: always Apple.
Here’s a familiar, mundane scenario: you’ve got an iPhone with loads of music on it. And you’ve got a laptop with a new album on it. You want to put the new album on your phone. But you can’t hook them up and simply drag-and-drop the files like you could with, ooh, almost any other device. Instead, Apple insists you go through iTunes.
Microsoft gets a lot of stick for producing clunky software. But even during the dark days of the animated paperclip, or the infuriating “.docx” Word extension, they never shat out anything as abominable as iTunes – a hideous binary turd that transforms the sparkling world of music and entertainment into a stark, unintuitive spreadsheet.
Plug your old Apple iPhone into your new Apple Macbook for the first time, and because the two machines haven’t been formally introduced, iTunes will babble about “syncing” one with the other. It claims it simply MUST delete everything from the old phone before putting any new stuff on it. Why? It won’t tell you. It’ll just cheerfully ask if you want to proceed, like an upbeat robot butler that can’t understand why you’re crying.
No one uses terms like “sync” in real life. Not even C3PO. If I sync my DVD collection with yours, will I end up with one, two, or no copies of Santa Claus the Movie? It’s like trying to work out the consequences of time travel, but less fun, and with absolutely no chance of being adapted into a successful screenplay.
Apple’s “sync” bullshit is a deception, which pretends to be making your life easier, when it’s actually all about wresting control from you. If you could freely transfer any file you wanted onto your gadget, Apple might conceivably lose out on a few molecules of gold. So rather than risk that, they’ll choose – every single time – to restrict your options, without so much as blinking.