Hey News.com.au, you forgot some details

1,805 people. 1,805 advertising impressions.

1,805 people. 1,805 advertising impressions.

I object tit-for-tat commentary. But in this case when an authoritative and public media source goes and wrongly postulates to its readers with as little context, balanced commentary and backing information it needs to be corrected.

Moreover, a theory behind the consistent tone of articles from this one source could be simply linked to popularity. More visits to an article, more advertising revenue. A theory.


Lets start with the articles video. 

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"New iOS 7 design gets owned by Microsoft [Word]" 

Google definition of the informal term 'owned' is: "utterly defeat or humiliate." In no way is this actually based in reality.

The video has been making the rounds on the internet since its launch on the 20th. Vaclav Krejc demonstrates the ability to replicate iOS 7 look by using Microsoft Word tools. Unfortunately, Vaclav asserts "was iOS 7 created in Microsoft Word?" which rationally is false. It merely replicates the ability to create a copy of iOS 7's look and does not in any way actually demonstrate or prove that iOS 7 could have been created using the program. There is no way that Jony Ive's lead iOS interface team was cranking Microsoft Word. There are many basic things that Microsoft Word can't do that iOS 7 uses in its design, see: superelipse.

 

Moving on to the first of the ten points.

Australian hardware prices
Apple's local hardware pricing is often similar to its US pricing, but not always. Take the Mac Pro announced yesterday. In the US, the machine will cost you $US2999 or $3090 in Australian dollars. In Australia, that same machine will set you back $3999. Even if you add GST to the US figure, there's $600 unaccounted for and a lot of extra money coming out of Australian pockets.

This too perked my interest. Why is the Mac Pro $1,000 dearer? Well there are a few reasons:

  • GST: Add an extra 10%, AU$300, to the base cost.
  • Shipping: "Assembled in the USA" doesn't do favours to those who live in closer proximity to Asia where the parts are originally manufactured. It will have to make a trip from Asia to the US and back to get into Australian buyers hands.

Looking at the Mac Pro; it is not made for common consumers. This is very much a product only for the professional market. It will only be made in small numbers likely with smaller profit margin percentage compared to Apple's other mass market items.

The individual hardware parts, CPU & GPU, will be more expensive retail than the entire Mac Pro. No definitive breakdown costs have been made as yet.

I am interested to see the breakdown of the difference but I do not buy the theory of the over-than-necceary inflation just because 'they can'. 

Singing iTunes' song
Want to buy the same song as an American user? If it's available in the Australian iTunes Store, it will probably cost more Down Under. Katy Perry's song Roar? It'll cost you $2.19 in Australia and $US1.29 in the States. The "Deluxe" version of her album will cost $20.99 in Australia, but just $US14.99 in the States. The songs sound the same.

From the outside this is true. However, here are some truths that need to bare as context:

  • The exchange rate needs to be considered when using the US as a base currency. To counter that there is inherently a buffer on a tier's US cost for exchange rate fluctuation.
  • Content license holders can change the pricing tier for individual countries to match with their other consumable prices. If a CD is distributed in Australia for $20 they will more than likely make the digital version the same price. 
  • Content license holders copyright fees.
  • GST

All of this has been discussed at length in the recent IT pricing inquiry earlier this year. The Australian have an article on this topic from those inquiries.

Different SIM
Want to use a smartphone? You'll need an active Micro SIM card. Except with Apple, of course. Apple introduced the Nano SIM with the iPhone 5, a format no other phone uses. The act forced users to ask their carriers for a new SIM card, and effectively locked users into the brand unless they bought and used an adequate adaptor for other phones. Use that adaptor incorrectly, and you could tear the SIM contacts on your other phone.

This is a non-issue. Carriers issue new SIM cards for free. The hassle associated with which, activation, in my experience takes less than an hour. The claims of users being locked to a carrier are unsubstantiated. Adaptors are used at the risk of the user and not necessary with carriers offering a free fitting replacement. Finally, SIM contacts are a dying feature with online contact syncing services (see: iCloud) but there are easy ways that this can be solved (a carrier store can do it for free, easily).

Why did Apple move to a nano-SIM from a micro-SIM. The SIM card was too big and for Apple to improve its hardware and meet consumer expectations it required the GSM to 'fast track' the release of the nano-SIM. 

Failed connections
Since the invention of the iPod, Apple used a 30-pin connector to connect its devices to others. This 30-pin adaptor spread far and wide, from stereo docks to car radios, and the cables snaked through offices everywhere. Then, last year, Apple swapped this cable for a smaller, Lightning connector, rendering all 30-pin connections cumbersome, at least, and obsolete at worst. The company also initially refused to let other manufacturers make the cable, forcing customers to pay $25 for a spare charging cable.

After over 10 years of service the 30-pin connector was no longer providing what it needed to for future products. Both its cumbersome size, poor usability and inability to fulfil new technology requirements sealed its fate. The Lightning connector was born with many new innovations over its predecessor and alternative connection technology:

  • Non-directional: The user can insert it in any way.
  • Complete digital signal: Over its 8 pins. 30-pin had some analog pins.
  • Authenticated chips: To ensure quality and acceptance of computability standards. To prevent dodgy cables causing damage to a device.

To allow backwards compatibility with fixed 30-pin peripherals there are adaptors available. 

So either have massive gains in usability and future technical capabilities or just stay with the old technology to keep compatibility with a few fixed 30-pin peripherals.

Software updates forever
Unlike other manufacturers, Apple ensures once you upgrade your software, there's no going back. Even if the new software slows your device or gives you motion sickness, you cannot return to the comfort of old iOS software. A Californian man this week launched legal action against Apple for that problem, filing a small claims action that calls the move "corporate thuggery".

Other manufacturers do not generally offer downgrade support for these kinds of devices. During an update there are some processes, like baseband updates, that can not be undone or are severely advised against doing.

Motion effects are optional in iOS 7, has been since the early beta's, and is toggle-able in Settings.  The Californian man's suit against Apple CEO Tim Cook, not Apple, is flawed and will more than likely be dismissed.

Locked into iTunes
Once upon a time, customers who bought iTunes music could only play that music in Apple devices or within the iTunes program. Digital Rights Management software prevented its use elsewhere. While Apple has relaxed the requirement, after several lawsuits, the company will still only let users backup their device to one computer. Want to sync your iPod to a laptop and a desktop computer? Nope. Not allowed.

Apple has made clear more than once that it supports DRM-free content. However, the content license owners demand it. This is not necessarily Apple being 'evil' but something they have to do because of the market they operate in and the players that control it.

Limits on backups and syncing to one machine is a feature, not a bug. As a developer I understand that the inner workings of syncing that has to support many origin machines would be an absolute nightmare that would leak usability hell-holes to the end-user. Its for the best that this is not possible. 

Locked out of your phone
One new feature in Apple's iOS 7 software can help prevent theft … or forever brick your device with no chance of appeal. It's called Activation Lock. If your phone is reported lost using Find My iPhone, users must enter the original Apple ID used to activate the phone. If they cannot remember it, or cannot access it in the case of a second-hand phone, the phone will be forever bricked. Apple support will not help you recover a phone bricked in this way.

Again, feature not a bug. If the user forgets their Apple ID password, the same password used for iTunes and iCloud, then thats not Apples fault. If they forget their password and intentionally activate the device activation lock, when lost, then doubly so their fault. 

Why does this feature exist? To stem the amount of theft and loss of phones.  Something all of us benefit from. Apple not allowing redemption capabilities from an activation locked device is just good practice, no way for stolen devices to be unlocked.

Apple trademarks
Think "start-up" is a common term? Apple doesn't. In August it filed an application in Australia to trademark "start-up" for its exclusive use. The application follows similar filings by Apple in the US and China. And they follow Apple's claim that "app store" should also be its trademark. Oh, and before you say, "there's an app for that", remember that's an Apple trademark too.

This is common business practise, not exclusive to Apple. In most cases the ensuing media coverage is blown out of proportion to reality. The trademark may be slightly broader than it needs to be but its up to the owners digression to follow up any potential infringements. The aim of the trademarking game is to prevent competitors from using words and phrases associated with a property of the owner. Apple will not be issuing infringement notices to people who say "there's an app for that" on the street.

Closed library
Apple launched its iBooks application in 2010. The library-looking app let users download digital tomes to their iDevices and will, with Mavericks, allow the books to be read on Mac screens too. But the company recently lost a battle with the US Department of Justice, with a court finding Apple had artificially kept the price of digital books high by excluding competition. It recommended Apple allow the likes of Kindle, Kobo and Barnes & Noble to sell books within Apple's ecosystem, and was awarded a $US162.25 million settlement. Apple is appealing the decision.

I don't like the potential precedent that this case provides. Apple should be able to control its own store and service the way it intends to. There are basic consumer and competition standards that need to be adhered to. Amazon has the Kindle app for iOS which I use more than iBooks anyway.

Where the common issue lies is with third-party payments. Very early on Apple said that third-party applications could not use their own means of payment system outside of Apples In-App Purchase service. Why? Primarily, end-user protection. Apple don't want third-party apps handling sensitive credit card information from the end-user in an app where it may be improperly handled or misused. The rule is use IAP or handle it as a separate flow away from the application. Amazon does this well with Kindle books and how the purchase flow is handled.

Closed app store
There are benefits to having a closed app store, with apps carefully vetted for security. But Apple can go too far, banning apps for its own purposes. HMV's app was this week booted from Apple's app store for letting users listen to music, Apple previously rejected the Google Now app from its store, inspiring Google to file a lawsuit, and Apple recently banned apps that recommend other Apple apps to users, including popular French-made AppGratis.

All App Store apps are checked to make sure they meet several requirements. First and foremost is safety & security. Unmoderated stores, like Google Play, were plagued with malware and viruses distributed in applications. They since have implemented some moderation features to ensure some level of safety to their end-users.

Apps that are banned from the store are done so only according to a breach of one or more of the requirements. From time to time there are more vocal occurrences of this happening, like AppGratis. The developers are given notice and sometime a chance to discuss the issue with the App Store management before any banning takes place.  All of the rules are clearly outlines and are agreed upon by developers that make iOS Applications, myself included.

 

So hopefully that helps outline some of the context, facts and balance to those ten points. 

As for Apple of committing bastardry. By definition the assertion is false. The bastardry lies with others or upon the false pillars their accusations are based upon.