3 posts • joined 7 Sep 2011
Apple have lost the plot
As a developer and an end user I think Apple has a number of things fundamentally wrong in its development and release methodology:
1. Releasing sub-alpha quality versions of iOS to developers and calling them beta.
2. Releasing sub-beta versions to end users and pretending they're finished and polished.
3. Having scant regard for binary or source backwards compatibility.
4. Pushing full updates to devices disregarding whether users want them or their data costs.
5. Assuming everybody has a superfast broadband or 4G wireless connection.
6. Being pre-occupied with silly new features nobody is interested in and calling them awesome.
Presumably 1 and 2 are their idea of agile development. 3 causes many developers to have to waste 2 or 3 months every year fiddling with the internals of their apps just to stand still. 4 and 5 shows how out of touch they are with people in the real world with < 4Mbps broadband and 2G telephony only outside their house or office and only under particular weather conditions.
Maybe they need a new head of software engineering, with experience of the world outside of Cupertino.
What about evidence?
It's probably too much to ask, but don't you think use of technology in education should be based on objective evidence, rather than like or dislike of a large US corporation, or religious arguments about open and closed source? For instance, there's a growing body of proof that the iPad is helping to deliver better educational outcomes for children with learning disabilities, like ASD, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. Let's face it: using a conventional computer with its screen, keyboard and mouse has more in common with driving a car than with other everyday activities, and we wouldn't expect these kids to drive cars. I frequently see first-hand how children who don't have the hand-eye co-ordination to use a PC or Mac, or the fine motor control to pick up and move paper cards, can succeed using suitably designed apps on an iPad, and there's data to show their resulting progress in literacy and numeracy.
As for the Apple vs Android debate, I've had enough experience developing for both to know that in many cases what we can do easily on iOS is much harder to accomplish robustly on Android, and that whereas Apple acknowledges bug reports and often fixes the problems, reporting Android bugs and limitations is a rather more fruitless exercise (especially as any fix will never make it on to most existing devices). Android also poses usability issues for the children we work with, because the on screen navigation bar gets poked (accidentally or deliberately) and neither it nor the physical buttons on an Android device can be disabled effectively. Apple's "Guided Access" feature that locks the user into a single app is invaluable and has no Android equivalent.
Autosave without versions - a disaster
On an network where just about all folders are NFS-mounted from a central server to Mac and Linux systems, and shared via Samba to Windows, Apple's implementation of autosave without versioning is a nightmare. If my cat walks over the keyboard while I'm briefly out of the room, Lion has kindly saved gibberish to my documents without my knowledge or permission, and without saving the previous good version. I can't recall ever losing a document because I forgot to explicitly save it, but I make changes to documents that I end up not wanting to save at all on a daily basis, e.g. just to see how changes to a web page might look, or to experiment with a graphical image, only to change my mind.
I can see the advantages of autosave + versioning in a 1-computer consumer environment, but those of us who work in IT, and have to use a mixture of Mac, Windows and Linux systems, what Apple have done with Lion is more than a minor annoyance, and the fact that we can't disable autosave feels like Apple is insulting our intelligence.
With Snow Leopard, we were close to making OS X our main desktop platform, but having tried working with Lion, we are retreating back to Linux and Windows. Sad, because we are big Apple fans, and think iOS is brilliant, especially on the iPad. But a desktop PC for serious use is not just a giant smartphone.
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