Wednesday, 23 October 2013

OSX Mavericks: free, because it's not worth paying for

Apple's reality distortion field often engendered a wry smile, even from hardened Apple fans. You knew they were stretching the truth horribly, but you forgave them because you knew that on most other dimensions they were surpassing your expectations.

The trouble with hyperbole is that it can tip from ballsy to bravado very quickly. Leading edge may become bleeding edge. Cool dude abruptly becomes 'bit of a dick'. So when I read a headline that
Apple Just Ended the Era of Paid Operating Systems my instincts prickled. Is it really a whole new OS? Or is it like Windows 8.1, which has some pretty drastic changes over Windows 8, but Microsoft decided to release as an update, for free?

Having duly upgraded installed the new OS X Mavericks, I could see little visible difference. No whizzy intro sequence like OSX of old. Hardly a 'new' OS, then. More an upgrade, which is fine unless you're spending a few $mill on pitching it as a new OS, with all the hyperbole trimmings.

So what has changed?

There were just a couple of extra icons added, without my permission, to my dock. Maps and iBooks: neither of which I use, or have interest in using.  I live in Barbados, which Apple Maps, until recently, rendered as a triangular blob.  It's slightly better now, but I still live in a field, according to Maps, so can't get directions to anywhere. So I'll stick to Google Maps/Earth, and forego the 'amazing' integration with Calendar, until I move to Cupertino, where I'm sure it works.

I live in the middle of a field, apparently.
As for iBooks, I think Apple's foray into books is faintly reminiscent of Microsoft's foray into music: Zune vs iTunes? Pah. iBooks vs Kindle? Good luck, iBooks, you will need it. Try supporting a couple of non-Apple devices for a start.

Almost all the other new Mavericks items are furniture re-arrangement:-

  • Finder: Tags? Already had them, they're just more prominent. Tabs? Long overdue - 3rd party Finder replacement apps have had them for years. Still not as good as Windows Explorer, I'm afraid.
  • Safari: reading list and bookmarks on a sidebar? So what? And a Sharing sidebar? Because it's too much effort to open Twitter in another tab?
  • Multiple displays: is different to Airplay.. because you have the menu bar on each screen? Jaw dropping.
  • iCloud keychain: so we're syncing my keychain to my iCloud account. That's just like syncing my bookmarks only with more encryption, right?
  • Notifications: like my phone. So my mac is now almost as good as my iPhone? (But is it as good as my Android phone notifications? Or Google Now?)

Apple have always been confident in their dictatorial stance, eg. "you don't need removable storage or spare batteries in your phone". And after some initial whinging you usually come round to their way of thinking, which grows into an admiration that perhaps they know your tech needs better than you do yourself.  I had that with Apple from 2001 to 2011.

With this latest 'new' OS I think they're starting to look like a dick.  Have the balls to spare us the hyperbole for when it really matters, Apple.