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Apple

I got my first Apple product when I was 13 and have owned a number of them since: three iPods, two iPhones and a MacBook Air. I definitely wouldn’t call myself an Apple fangirl, but there are a number of things I like about their products, alongside other things that I don’t appreciate so much.

To start with what I like: generally, Apple products have great design. To me, the old iPod clickwheel is iconic. I now own an MBA, and I love the touchpad and how slender and lightweight it is (although I think the “only has two ports and you’ll generally use one of them for power” thing is grubby, and the butterfly keyboard in models before mine was clearly a misstep). I prefer their phones to Android ones. Their operating systems (macOS and iOS) look great, have some nice QOL features, and generally integrate in neat ways. It’s so nice to be able to reply to text messages from my computer, or sync photos instantly through iCloud. I also like the look of their new M1 processor, although it’ll be a while before I can justify an upgrade 🙂

I also appreciate that Apple is standing up to other tech corps like Facebook with more privacy-protecting measures (like disallowing apps from tracking your activity unless you explicitly opt-in), although obviously I know Apple isn’t doing this out of the goodness of its own heart. Apple generally makes money off hardware that’s priced at a premium compared to its competitors; by “protecting privacy” they can add a further point of differentiation, improve their brand image, and don’t sabotage themselves because they don’t make much (if any) money off violating users' privacy in the first place. But it’s still good that they’re making these pro-privacy moves, regardless of their impure motives.

What I dislike about Apple most of all is how uninterested they are in making their products interoperable or compatible with non-Apple stuff. Windows, for all its flaws, is much less of a walled garden. You can’t easily run macOS on a non-Apple device (there are “Hackintoshes”, but they take some skill and effort to set up and keep running over time). You also can’t easily run Linux on a modern MacBook (even before M1). I genuinely think my dream device would dual-boot Linux and macOS so I can have the benefits of both, but Apple has pretty much ruled out both routes to making that happen (for now). In times gone by, too, there was no iTunes for Linux, and Apple purposely made it very difficult to develop any other programs to manage an iPod from Linux (for some models, I don’t think the encryption was ever reverse-engineered). Back in 2017 or so (whenever I tried this) I found that their web apps didn’t even work in Linux – somehow they broke keyboard shortcuts. Doesn’t it take a certain level of malice to go out of your way to break keyboard shortcuts?

Then there’s the nickel-and-diming. I spent nearly $1,500 on my MBA, but I had to pay $40 or something for a hub with more ports (even a single USB-A port). I spent over $1,200 for an iPhone 12 mini, but I had to pay extra to get a charging cable for it (at least if I wanted to plug it into a wall charger, and not just the MBA). Considering the premium pricetag of their products, this just feels petty.

Overall, I like and make extensive use out of multiple Apple products, but the company is just another company under capitalism and not worth anyone’s idolisation. (Obviously, I haven’t even gone into ethical issues that affect tech manufacturing more broadly, like mineral mining or the poor treatment of factory workers.) I’ll buy their products so long as they’re the best fit for my needs, wants and budget.


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