Ok folks, time for another post paying my homage to the church of Apple. Although this one is going to take a slightly different stance, which will surprise many of you.

So, the Apple machine has given a sneak preview of this years release of OS X: Mountain Lion. And I’m pretty pissed off about it, if I’m honest.

Notice first, the removal of ‘Mac’ my previous statement. This, spells trouble.

I foresaw this coming a while ago, and how I have no idea. This version of OS X is paving the way for something which I have been dreading: the amalgamation of Mac OS and iOS into one platform.

Don’t get me wrong, I do rather enjoy my iPhone. And despite being a BlackBerry supremacist until just over a year ago, I would never go out and buy anything else. Partly due to the fact I enjoy the user experience, but also because I now have Apple so deeply engrained in my day-to-day life, changing my smartphone would only hinder my productivity.

I say productivity, I really refer to the transmission of pointless emails, Facebook Mobile Uploads via Instagram and the incessant Tweeting I seem to do on a daily basis.

The Mac community first saw this realisation of the unification of the two platforms starting a year ago, with the release of Mac OS X Lion. Lion brought in a few features of iOS, but left most of the customary Mac OS user experience unharmed. As with most major software upgrades, the customary obseletion of hardware took place; any Mac out there not running a Dual-Core Intel processor was deemed unfit to cope with the upgrade, and were therefore prevented from following the company on its iOS coordinated world take-over attempts.

We’ve seen this happen before. Snow Leopard was another of their interim updates, released a year after Leopard and designed to do one thing: exterminate!

I had to purchase a copy of it to re-build my previous MacBook after the hard disk died, and I grudged the £25 for it as I couldn’t locate the Leopard disk I’d paid nearly £100 to do the job.

There were no real differences with Snow Leopard, and it irked me in the same way Mountain Lion does. The three tent-pole features of it were built-in support for MS Exchange 2007, 64-bit architecture and some kind of ‘core animation’ thing. That, and apparently the installation process was shortened.

I thought that last feature was a lie. It wasn’t however, the repair of my machine to get it back up and running at least, only took around half an hour. The upgrade of my machine from Tiger to Leopard only several months before this took well over an hour!

It very soon became, and remains, my favourite release of Mac OS. It was without a doubt, the most robust release of the operating system to date, and further concreted my belief that the Mac platform really provides the most simple and intuitive user experience of any desktop PC OS on the market today. An argument you are hard put to counter when I’m in the room anyway…

It did one thing however, that I didn’t like. Snow Leopard may have been 64-bit, but it was also Intel only, and marked the end of the reign of the Power PC Mac rendering my parents old white beast upstairs frozen in time in the process. Not that I think it would have been capable of running anything else anyway, it seems to struggle getting itself switched on, never mind actually doing anything semi-productive.

So, along came Lion a year later, and the Mac App store. It turned out to be the fastest adopted Operating System release the world has ever seen, over taking Windows 7 within its first fortnight! However, I watched the unveiling Keynote, I read all the stuff on the website when it first appeared, and I wasn’t convinced. Here was Launchpad, an iOS style way of locating all the apps on your machine; and a place to watch them as they were downloaded and installed to your machine from the Mac App store. It facilitated organisation of your Apps into iOS style folders, but had no correlation between how you organised them in Launchpad to how they were organised in your Applications folder under the Finder.

Full screen Apps, something which Windows users are accustomed to (thanks to a lost patent battle with Apple in the 90’s, when Jobs returned as CEO I believe) ported over from the iPad. Until then, an application could go full screen if you positioned and sized the window appropriately, but there was no short way of doing so. I didn’t really worry about this, I like the way the windows on a Mac float around without carrying unnecessary clutter with them, owed to the fact that the menu bar remains firmly anchored across the top of the screen.

Along with this, to allow easier movement between Apps, was mission control; an evolution on the Exposé feature from Mac OS X. This groups all open windows together by application and zooms out so you can see everything from a glance. Handy when dragging or copying stuff from one application to another, or moving quickly from one full-screen app to another, as they’re displayed across the top of the screen. I quite like this feature, and it’s accessible (as are most things) from a simple movement across the trackpad of my laptop with four fingers.

Then there’s system wide auto-save and document versions…this is an absolute GOD SEND! No longer do I need to remember to save documents as I work on them, meaning my Thesis is safe from system crashes (this almost never happens), loss of power or anything else. I can also, in reverse-chronological order, flick through documents as I work on them, tracking changes and replacing sections with old/new content as I write it. A blessing when working on a thesis…it’s a shame it doesn’t work with these though.

There were a lot of other new features in OS X Lion (some 250+ the website tells me), and they have integrated themselves into the way that I work with my laptop in a very subtle fashion. It may the a buggy release, but I can’t go back to Snow Leopard, especially now that I’ve got an iCloud account – it just won’t work! I will never get used to the Auto-c0rrect thing they implemented though…last thing I want is to send an email to a prospective employer and find, minutes later, that my computer has changed a vital work and altered the entire meaning of the email. It’s done it to me on numerous occasions with these entries I write, and it irritates me like you wouldn’t believe.

Ok, now we get to the grain of sand that’s wrinkling my skin, so to speak…

I was a devout iPhone hater, following the release of the 3GS. To tell you the truth, it irked me more that I couldn’t afford the price of the handset and go onto a suitable tariff that would allow me to use a £400 phone in a way that I was using my BlackBerry; I just couldn’t justify it, and wouldn’t have a social life that would require paying such a premium. So despite being a huge fan of the original phone, it soon became a large bone of contention in my life and prompted me to advocate BlackBerry’s to anyone who would listen.

To my eyes, Apple had really lost track of where they were going with it, following the release of the App store. It was revolutionary, and regardless of my love of Apple I am compelled to discuss the effect the iPhone has imposed on the mobile communications infrastructure in the UK.

The iPhone became all about Apps. Fact. All the adverts advocated it as the best App experience around (at the time) coupled with its ‘high speed 3G networking’ and easy to use, fully automated installation process.

Don’t get me started on that one. I have no idea why they didn’t put 3G hardware in the original iPhone, other than to encourage adoption of the hardware only to improve it just months later. Another factor of the iPhone that irritated me.

I do laugh at Apple for this one. The original iPhone, and the three handsets which followed it, were tied to one of the worst cellular providers in the US: AT&T. A 5 year exclusivity deal was signed with the provider in an attempt to boost the number of subscribers they had. Elsewhere, Apple only permitted the handset to be provided by one company so they could control the pricing of the tariffs, amongst other things.

Yes, the iPhone stopped being a Smartphone and became a hub of e-commerce, sparking the current trend in mobile app development and the global shift in the way that consumers are using and accessing the internet. In the process, pushing the loading on cellular networks beyond the realms of their capability and this imposing monthly limits on each person in an attempt to raise funds to implement a 4G network in their prospective country ahead of schedule!

When they finally decided to make the phone a ‘multi-tasking’ device, they finally sold it to me. I did find myself being tempted by the iPhone 4 when it was launched, despite the ‘Antennagate’ problem (which they’ve never fully rectified). To the point where, when my latest BlackBerry turned out to be such an epic fail, I went out and bought one. Almost rendering myself bankrupt in the process, and something I still maintain was totally worth it at the time!

iOS is great, and I won’t argue that with anyone. As far as a touch-screen interface goes, it did re-define a market which would have never taken off otherwise. You have to agree with this, even if you won’t prop up my ego by doing it out loud, but touch screen devices pre-iPhone were SHITE! Remember the LG Cookie? Appalling…

There was no device out there which worked when users actually attempted to use their fingers on the screen. Certainly not efficiently and accurately. I would never be able to type as fast as I do on my iPhone on something running Windows phone 6 anyway. Arsed using a stylus also!

I don’t know why I’m so averse to this idea of integrating the two. It does seem like the logical method, especially when the tablet market is taken into consideration. We are now past the age of the PC, and many are now referring to the current phase of the technological market as the tablet era. I’m not overly keen on replacing my laptop with a tablet PC full time. My iPad is great for sitting on Facebook when I’m in front of the TV. It’s compact, you don’t have to wait for it to boot, and it does everything you would need it to do, but I can’t take it to lectures every day or work on my coursework on it efficiently. That may be down to personal reasons, related to the way that I work, I don’t know. All I do know, however, is that I’ve tried, and I either get frustrated trying to type at high speed on it or cramp from trying to force myself to do it. It’s an ideal intermediary device, but a PC replacement? Nae chance.

Microsoft are going down the same line as Apple, and we’ll see it with their release of Windows 8 next year – I believe. As usual, they’ve applied their ‘Microsoft see, Microsoft do’ attitude of software development to it, and have gone a step too far. Their idea of merged Tablet and Desktop machine OS is a single release of the same thing; something my English teacher would have referred to as ‘shoe-horning’ or trying to get the same solution to fit multiple problems.

Face it Microsoft, it’s not going to work. Sorry. Windows Phone might be a success (starting to be anyway) but it’s not going to give you the market penetration you were looking for with Windows 7.

Apple are being sly with it, introducing elements of iOS in an incremental fashion with each release of Mac OS. This next releases major move being the removal of Mac from the operating system.

I believe we are now seeing the death of the Mac as we know it. When the original was launched, I read somewhere that Jobs had two visualisations on flip-charts for the design team. He stated that today, they were going to start designing this:

The original Macintosh

On the other side of it, a flat panel model was apparently depicted, in a crude sketch he had done. He told the team this is what they were going to end up with. I presume he meant this:

The flat panel all in one...iMac

But when I think about it? I really think he saw this:
At the launch of the iPad, Jobs explained how Apple had became a mobile device company. This was owed to the popularity of the iPod, iPhone and it’s MacBook line. He stated that many had asked why Apple had never released a Netbook, to compete with other manufacturers and penetrate the cheaper laptop market. His response was that these devices were slow, incapable of doing much and just generally irritated him. Then he unveiled the original iPad, Apple’s (far more successful that it’s counterpart) attempt at the Netbook.

It has became a global phenomenon. Even their retail expert, the guy responsible for the Apple store retail concept, said no one had foreseen the popularity of the iPad. This was in a very heartwarming video which was shown minutes before the iPad 2 was unveiled.

I really hope that we’re not about to lose the Mac altogether. It is the reason I am the die-hard Apple whore I am today; but I think the removal of Mac from OS X has proved that we’re about to.

I also hope Tim Cook knows what he’s doing. I have to say this has left a dark cloud hanging over the impending release of the iPad 3 for me. I think we’ll see the new model for the first time next week, along with iOS 5.1. Rumours are already flying regarding shortages of the iPad 2, in particular the more expensive 3G models, which in previous instances has only proved to be a sign of an impending product release. Of course no one really knows, and I’ve been asked by various people several times already when Apple are expected to release the iPhone 5.

They don’t tell us folks. It just appears. But it won’t be until the 4S has had a good run, so don’t expect it before September!

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before now, however, and make a few predictions:

  • The MacBook Pro is always the first in line for a refresh, and this usually happens early in the year, around February. I can see this happening in March, following the release of the iPad. But the only way we will see it is through coverage on Tech Blogs (I might do my own review, although I won’t be given one by Apple to play with) or by looking on the website itself. We could see a complete design overhaul, as rumours speculating MacBook Air-esque machines were doing the rounds earlier this year.
  • OS X Mountain Lion, following the termination of the Mobile Me service on June 30th. Lion was released on July 20th last year, so I imagine Mountain Lion will be around then also.
  • The iPhone 5, no sooner than December. There are lots of rumours regarding what this phone will feature. NFC, higher resolution camera and the standard sort of stuff. I imagine iOS 6 will accompany it, as the iPad only gets an incremental release of the current iOS version, which is why we can expect to see iOS 5.1 around March time.
  • The usual refreshes of the other notebook and desktop machines, although I think this year we may see a MacBook Air which runs on the ARM processors which are used to power iOS devices. There have been many rumours that Apple wants to go back to making it’s own chips for their Computers, and if the iOS integration with the desktop OS experience we’re seeing is anything to go by, I think this is a certainty. This will be a good thing however, as it irritates me that I’m basically working on a PC right now, despite the fact it’s a hell of a lot better looking than anything else out there!

These are simply predictions which I am making, based on stuff I’ve read online. They are not gospel, and as much as I’d like it, I do not have a direct connection with the inner workings with Apple – although I’d f*cking love it if I did! They may be entirely wrong, if so cool. They might be right, in that case awesome. But half the fun of being an Apple customer is playing along with their mind games and trying to guess their next move. If Iraq was Apple, we’d would never have found Saddam… Or Osama. Or any other evil dictator/terrorist we happen to be looking for at the moment. I guess that says a lot about the company I will undoubtedly dedicate the rest of my life to following…

Now I end, with a simple request: Tim, the iPad 3 is a big product release, and it’s predecessor was the last unveiling Steve ever got to do or see. Don’t mess it up by pawning the responsibility of it’s launch onto your subordinates, and then attempt to convey some form of excitement about it. It didn’t work last time, and it certainly won’t wash a second. Don’t piss us off, because you’re playing with a very delicate balance. Apple is only now beginning to form the customer base it deserves thanks to Bill Gates brainwashing the rest of the planet. Don’t undo all the work Jobs did, please.

Lewis
x

And in the style of Jenna Marbles: Please follow my blog, I put out new entries whenever I feel like it/have time/want to avoid my thesis… Thanks.

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