[PC Tips and Tricks] Confessions of a Windows/Android Boy

by Matt de Neef  |  IndeterminateDesigns Team

The decades old fight.
I'll be the first to admit it. I've got mixed feelings about that glorious fruit that has so many people entranced. they take a bit and oh boy, they're hooked! Apple Inc. is a brand that both creates products that people don't just need in their daily lives, but also convinces them to buy into an entire lifestyle of metal, unibody glass, polished smoothness, and general luxury. Such is the impression you get when you step inside an official Apple retailer, and see the shiny MacBooks, iMacs and plethora of iDevices on the shelves. People just can't drop this tech, and I've got to give it to them: you can't blame them can you? iDevices just make you feel cool, even if you look like a total idiot. It makes you feel as if you've joined a sophisticated realm of those who are that 'step above' the common man. In a way, that's almost true, because Apple devices don't come cheap. In fact, your wallet just hurts walking into an iStore. Why are they this way? The answer of that question depends which side of the fence you might find yourself on.

I have long been, and still am, an Android/Windows guy. I've never owned a single piece of Apple hardware in my life. "How can you judge?!" I hear you shouting, but hold your horses, I'll explain myself in a moment. If you've browsed the Net for any period of time, you'll have noticed something: hate-fests always seem to start between these two parties, Apple vs Microsoft, or Apple vs Google [Android]. And for good reason. Let me break everything down here for a minute from the way I see things (admittedly with some bias).

Apple Lifestyle--Apple Price
As I mentioned before, buying Apple isn't buying devices alone. When you buy an iPhone, you're buying a smartphone, but you're also buying the "I am an Apple owner" image. This is all well and good but where I'm standing, I see Android products with similar performance, similar features, and similar build quality, sans Apple logo, retailing for much less than iDevices. And that's the issue: for those with a budget, Apple just doesn't cut it, it's too much money for a glowing fruit on the back of your device!

"Please contact an Apple Genius"
With other products, if you have tech know-how, you're not constrained by customer service necessarily. If something trivial decides to kick the bucket on your HP laptop, say, like maybe the power button goes janky, piece of cake: screws off, replacement McGyver moment, and you've got a working laptop again. Own a MacBook? Ah yes, you'll need to contact an Apple Genius, trek to your local iStore, and wait a few weeks while Apple techs fix your worn hinge or button. And don't even talk about the bill!

Android phones are the same: hardware and software modding almost comes out-of-the-box. For example: want to install an App that doesn't come from Google Play? No biggie, just change the "Unknown Apps" setting, and you're good to go. Now if you had an iPhone of any size or description, you'd need to "jailbreak" the device, in the process losing your warranty and risking making your phone a paperweight, JUST to install Apps not from the Store. Sigh.

Upgrade Bunnies
This sums it up quite well!
Perhaps it's just me, but please explain the point of camping out on the street for three days prior to the launch of the new iPhone/iPad/iWhatever? If you get one a month later, what's the deal? Why MUST you have the latest and greatest Apple phone/tablet/laptop regardless of its astronomical launch price? "Because I can" seems to be the attitude for most, but that's my point: when you buy Apple, more often than not you're turned into a rabid upgrade bunny: must update, must buy, must have. That's good for Apple, but not you! (your wallet or your sanity, for that matter.)

Um...don't do that!
And so it continues...
You know when you buy something, it's yours, like you can do what you want with it? Apple seems to disagree. When you're in MS Windows, or Android, you can fairly easily modify system files and performance-altering settings without jumping through many hoops. Mac OSX, not so much. You have to select the parent folder, re-assign yourself permissions to edit, thrice, then do the same with child folders. Same with iOS. There's stuff the OS just won't let you do. I don't have an issue with this per-se, because it stops the n00bs and beginners among us from fouling something up. What I think the issue is here, is that when you do need to mod stuff, its too complicated and frustrating to achieve. I own it, I know what to do, let me do it!

Fruits are healthy
Despite my misgivings about Apple, and despite sounding like a raging fanboy, let's hold up a moment here. The truth is, Apple makes excellent quality devices, that's a fact. They look good and feel good. (and for the most part go good.) They're perfectly suited to graphics artists, video producers and expert photographers. But here's the thing. Compare iOS to Android for a minute. Sure, Android looks nicer, iOS stole most of its new features from Android, and Android is eminently tweakable, but the fact is, iOS is smooth, and, because there are only like 2 types of device running it (iPad & iPhone) and each only contains several older spec models, there's little to no fragmentation when iOS gets updates. Folks with the iPhone 4 and 4S are still getting iOS updates, and quickly after it's announced as well. Android suffers MASSIVE fragmentation, most devices still run versions of the OS made in 2010. And when (or if) updates do come, they're not as buttery smooth as iOS.

I've been working on Windows since I was young, from Windows 95 til Windows 8 today. I know the Microsoft OS pretty well. This is partly because it's what I started with, and partly because I eventually got lazy to attempt to learn a new OS on top of Windows and several Linux distros. Being in tech leads me to a problem though: how can I bias against Apple's Mac OS or in fact help my mates who ask ("Dude you're an IT guy, how do you not know?") if I haven't tested the software and don't know how it works?

Virtualising Mac OS X was the answer, and despite some initial and recurring issues in getting OS X to work, I've now got a useable copy of Mountain Lion to experiment on, and I must say...it's not bad. Really. I'd honestly recommend anyone try the steps in the link above [post to our  forum if you need help] if you're interested in what the fruit has to offer. I'll post back later on to weigh in on my OS X experience.

So what was all of the above about? I'm not sure myself. What I can say is, there is absolutely no merit in being a fanboy. Appreciate all brands for their merits, and at least try something out before raining on their parade.

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