Reflecting on Apple

After taking some time to ponder the announcements made at the recent Apple event, and after spending some time reading the various analyses from others, a few things really jump out at me that I think warrant examining closer.First and foremost, the move to a 64-bit architecture and operating system may seem like nothing more than an attempt to be able to say "hey, we've got something no one else has" and capitalize on such a statement from a purely marketing standpoint. If we were discussing another company, I might even be inclined to agree. Here's the problem with such a statement, though: Apple has never used such a tactic before, and always looks at what adopting any technology will bring to the customer experience.Note, if you can't accept that simple understanding behind the way Apple operates, you might want to stop reading now.So, what possibilities could a 64-bit architecture bring to a mobile device? Efficiency and performance are obvious possibilities, as are pure power and capabilities, but in this case I think the move hints at some really interesting possibilities. (It's worth interjecting here that there is an excellent analysis of some of those possibilities with regards to other product lines here, which I noticed courtesy of Gruber at Daring Fireball.) One possibility is the implementation of enhanced/increased multitasking capabilities as a result of increased throughput throughout the system. Another is the potential for refinements in power usage and efficiency (think along the lines of using multiple threads to achieve a process in a shorter time, which lowers the power drain of a system by returning to idle quicker). Honestly, this isn't an area I'm well-versed in, but I can certainly see the potential.Another thought that sticks out to me regarding the performance improvements of the A7 and the move to a 64-bit OS lies in conjunction with the fingerprint sensor. Utilizing any strong encryption scheme requires some overhead, especially when considering that the need for seamless and snappy response are of paramount importance to an end user. This could easily be the groundwork necessary for re-imagining security on a mobile device. Imagine using the Touch ID sensor to access iCloud keychain (when released) data, and instead of having to remember or enter a security code the fingerprint takes care of verification? Or if access to Touch ID by third parties is allowed, and you no longer have to sign in to your banking/financial applications? Running on a system designed to leverage the performance gains of a 64-bit system certainly seems like a precursor to a smooth transition to seamless interaction in such a manner.And then there's the interesting idea that increased security might finally allow the virtualization of debit and credit cards in Passbook. Imagine if the entire Operating System could be run in an encrypted environment, which would only be possible (when considering the necessity of smooth and snappy operation from the customer experience point of view) with the power and performance possibilities a 64-bit system could bring to the table. This could prove to be the way to finally change the way people access financial resources, much like the oft-touted NFC chip promised but couldn't deliver.Naturally this is all speculation, but the key takeaway is this: if you don't understand that Apple only adopts technology when there's a reason behind the decision that's aimed at what it means for customers, then you haven't been paying attention to history. Sure, there are plenty of devices with different feature sets, and you should always choose the device whose features match what you want out of it, but to look at Apple's iPhone business as faltering or running out of steam is to look only at the current picture and not think about the foundation it suddenly created.

Why You Shouldn't Listen To Person X

I've written, to some extent, about this topic already, but it is tough not to come back to it in light of so many people clamoring to have their opinion heard and judged "correct" by the masses. The concept is simple:

[W]e’re beyond choosing by number. Choose an OS/Hardware combination that appeals to you based on the experience provided.

Anyone, henceforth labeled "Person X," who is a "fan" or "evangelist" of any company or technology will only see the good about their preference, and will view any opposition as negative (feel free to go look up the psychology behind it, as it is quite fascinating. Here's a link to get you started - Why Changing Somebody’s Mind, or Yours, is Hard to Do.). For our purposes, the above statement will serve well as a basis for understanding the rest of this post.</p.

Apple

Apple is a bit of a unique case for this discussion, because it is the only company that controls the hardware and software for their entire product line-up. This is, in no small part, a large reason for both the negative viewpoint and the positive viewpoint possible in any discussion involving the company and its products.

Google

Google is often looked upon as the antithesis to Apple's approach, choosing to work with hardware vendors to bring its operating system to the masses instead of direct control and release of products. Of note is the collaboration between Google and Samsung to provide a curated hardware/software solution that is, perhaps, the closest we've seen to a complete "Google" solution.

Microsoft

Microsoft is an interesting blend of two approaches. Initially, Microsoft only supplied software and worked with vendors to supply hardware. Recently, with the Surface specifically, Microsoft has started working on a simultaneous approach of providing software for those manufacturers who want to build hardware for their operating system, while also pursuing the path of developing their own hardware/software solution. In many ways, Microsoft and Google still share the same approach.

Note: The above summaries are brief and not necessarily completely accurate across all product lines. This is aimed to provide a general starting point for the discussion that follows.</p.

Person X

We all know one (or maybe a few dozen) person that constantly reminds us of how great a particular product is, or of how a particular product can do something "better" than the way implemented in the competing product(s). We tend to smile and focus on something else while they rant, eventually realizing we have to say something to reassure them that their position is understood and valid if we want them to finally move on to another topic. Typically, however, this person really doesn't care about whether their "solution" is actually better for what you are trying to do, they only want to get you to look at their solution as the only one that makes sense.

Before I elaborate further, I'm going to reiterate the one piece that you need to remember throughout all of these scenarios/discussion:

[W]e’re beyond choosing by number. Choose an OS/Hardware combination that appeals to you based on the experience provided.

Personal Notes

Anyone who knows me knows that I prefer the Apple/iOS platform, both for my home computer and for my mobile devices. Most do not realize I also have a Windows PC, a Linux notebook, and work with Linux and Windows workstations and servers at work. I've used a handful of Android devices (specifically the Motorola Atrix, the Samsung Galaxy SII, the Samsung Galaxy SIII, and the HTC One X+), and I have no hands-on experience with Windows Phone 7/8.

When I originally set out to determine which platform worked for me, it was while I worked for a small computer repair shop in Columbus, Georgia. I was a die-hard Windows user, and nothing could convince me to even look at what could be done on any other platform. When my laptop of the time died, I was suckered into purchasing an Apple PowerBook (G4, running OS 9.2). I loved the aesthetic design and attention to detail, so I finally decided to give in. After receiving the laptop I was disappointed, primarily because I could not do anything without fighting the operating system (I was trying to approach it as though it was Windows, which I was used to). After getting frustrated and shelving the unit for six months, I finally decided to give it an open-minded, objective shot.

Fast forward a bit, and the Mac became my preferred platform for everything other than computer gaming. Cell phones were still just phones, and the big feature on a phone of the day was a color screen, I started looking a little closer at Linux as an option for the home, but I never really made any progress. It made more sense to just have my Mac and a Windows PC as a backup/gaming machine.

Fast forward a while later and I picked up a brand new Blackberry on the Nextel network (this was the big silver one with the Java-based OS, I can't remember the model number). I really liked the ability to get email on the go, as I was an IT Manager for a regional institution at that time, and while it worked it was, truly, a horrid experience most of the time. We're going to gloss over this portion, and jump ahead again to 2007.

When the iPhone launched I was instantly interested. Here was a device that was nice and slim (the Blackberry was far too cumbersome not to wear it in a holster), and seemed far more pleasing to use for my needs. Within a month, I bought one.

Since then I have grown to appreciate looking at solutions for their worth, and seeing if a platform or device compliments my workflow, just alters it, or hinders it. For me, the Mac/iOS combination is the best feature set, most seamless experience, and all around most pleasing to use. I like aspects of the other platforms that I've looked at, and I believe the Android OS has come a long way from when it was first introduced. What irritates me is when someone proclaims a device better for something that isn't actually true, or isn't something that matters to me.

Do yourself a favor, evaluate what works for you and make a choice based on that, not on "Person X" trying to sway you with their opinions.