Monday, 12 August 2013

Top 5: Things I like about Apple

Image: Android Invasion
Apple have gone through a rough time lately. Ever since Steve Jobs passed away, the company has been criticised, ridiculed and mocked from almost every direction. I should know, I've been a very vocal critic of Apple since I switched to Android. But can you blame me? Apple have made it so easy to criticise them. iOS7 while a welcome change for all current iOS users, is nothing more than a theme and icon change (which is something Android users can do on their own), with some added functionality that has been present on other platforms for a long time. Their iOS line of devices has gone from setting market trends to following them. The iPhone 5 was given a 4" screen to compete with the larger Android flagships which people loved, the iPad Mini was released after seeing how successful smaller Android tablets can be, and we might see a mid-ranged iPhone 5c this year to compete with the army of affordable Android smartphones. Apple are no longer leading the market, and even their own board of directors know it. So I thought I'd give Apple a break this one time. Instead of reminding you why people hate Apple, or why I personally changed sides, I'm going to tell you 5 things I actually like about Apple.

5. Straightforward advertising
Take a look at this commercial for the iPhone...

...and this one for the iPad.

Now watch this commercial for the Lumia 920...

...and the Microsoft Surface.

Did you notice any differences between the different styles of advertising? Apple have always been about showmanship. Something I believe was instilled into the company by Jobs. They may not have the "best" products in the market, but they sure believe they do, and they do a good job of making consumers think they do too. When Apple market a product, they really market the product. They show what the device can do, and how consumers will be able to benefit from owning it. What did you learn about the 920 after watching the ad? Or the Surface? The Microsoft commercials did nothing to highlight the features of the products. The Lumia ad showed how everyone had either a Galaxy or a an iPhone, and only two waiters had a Lumia. Why did they have a Lumia? I don't know. Nothing was shown in the commercial. And the surface ad was merely a musical. Apple know how to promote their products well, that's something I can appreciate.

4. Software and hardware optimisation
The spec war is something almost exclusive to Android devices. Android OEMs try to outdo each other by manufacturing devices with increasingly higher specs. Faster processors, more RAM, higher resolution screens and so on. When it comes to iOS devices however, we're looking at the complete opposite. The last three generations of iPhones all have the same 326 ppi display (albeit a slightly larger one on the iPhone 5), they still use dual-core processors while Android flagships are powered by quad-core chips, the iPhone 4 and 4s only had 512MB of RAM while the iPhone 5 has 1GB, when 2GB is the standard for Android flagships, and they each housed batteries about 1400 mAh in size when Android flagships usually get batteries between 2500-3000 mAh. So iPhones (and iPads) are not the most powerful devices in the market, no one can debate that. But iOS is optimised to run on these specs, which makes the experience of using an iOS device almost flawless. iOS is designed specifically for the iPhone and iPad. Android being open-sourced, must be modified by each OEM to work on their respective devices, and these skins of Android may not be optimised or powerful enough to run the hardware, which is where the occasional lag comes from. The Galaxy S4, despite being one of the most powerful devices currently in the market still suffers from lag because TouchWiz is not optimised as well as it should be. iOS devices may not have the most powerful specs, but they don't need to.

3. Fast updates
Apple are really proud of their
iOS distribution. Image: Geek
Fragmentation. One of the most commonly used terms by Apple fans to dismiss Android. While fragmentation was a serious problem in the past, it isn't any more. As Google started pushing important updates via the Google Play Services app, which is installed on practically every Android device regardless of Android version, the importance of OS updates has slowly declined. Nevertheless, the number of Android devices running the latest version of Android is always a minority. Hundreds of different devices, made by various OEMs, with different skins on each device makes pushing the latest version of Android a logistical nightmare. Nexus devices (and GPE devices) are the only ones that get updates immediately after they are made available. iOS may suffer from feature fragmentation, but version fragmentation isn't a problem. iOS updates are promptly pushed out to all supported devices as soon as they are available, with no interference from any third parties. This is one major advantage of a closed ecosystem like iOS, as it grants Apple full control of system updates. Consumers can be assured of prompt updates from Apple, even if they won't get every new feature in the latest version of iOS.

2. Quality control
Apple are known to produce good quality products. Sure you get the occasional manufacturing defect from time to time, but overall Apple's products are of a high calibre. While Android devices are only just beginning to receive recognition for premium design, Apple products have always been lauded for their elegant and beautiful designs. This again, is probably due to Steve Jobs' influence at the company. Vic Gundotra, Google's SVP of Engineering once recalled how Jobs' called him up on a Sunday to discuss the shade of yellow on the iOS Google icon, and how this attention to detail earned his respect. This attention to detail is the reason why we shouldn't be so quick to bubble-wrap our phones with protective cases. Apple's products are well designed and that's something I'm reminded of every time I pick up an iPhone. 

1. Strong brand recognition
As a result of the quality control Apple put behind their products, they have established an extremely strong brand over the years. As much as I despise saying this, but many people still hold Apple products as the gold standard in mobile technology and computing. This may not be the case now as Android devices and even Windows Phone devices are gaining more market share, but Apple have history on their side. When the iPhone and iPad were introduced, and the iPod prior, they were the best products in the market. Everything else was just poor copies of iOS devices. Apple earned their spot on the top of the mountain. People associate Apple with great products - even without owning any - and this kind of brand awareness is difficult to come by. Samsung may be the king of Android, but Samsung users are much more likely to jump to other OEMs than Apple users are at jumping to Android. I don't know how to explain it really, but no matter how poorly Apple perform in sales compared to their own high standards, no matter how low their stocks drop and how much their market share diminishes, people will always take note of what Apple does.
Only a strong brand can cause this much excitement. Image: Engadget
I did my best. Those are some things I actually like about Apple. I may have squeezed in a few thinly veiled jabs at Apple in the process, but I am an Android guy after all. Apple deserve some recognition for what they have done in the industry, and although I will probably never go back to iOS in the foreseeable future, there are some things I admit that I like about the company. Now here's your challenge as an Android user; what do you like about Apple?