Over the years, I’ve owned several Apple products starting with the Apple II. But I’m not an Apple fanboy. I believe in using the right tool for the job. Later, I needed to run CP/M so I bought a Franklin and have since had a number of Windows PCs. In 2004 I decided that the iPod was the right music player for me and I eventually had three of them over the years.
My first smartphone was the original Droid and when I bought my first tablet I went with the Motorola XOOM, both Android devices. But when I was ready for a new tablet I got an iPad 3 and I later bought an iPad Air. I’ve been pretty happy with both iPads (with some misgivings; see below)—until yesterday.
Trouble in Apple Paradise
Yesterday I tried to make a purchase in the Apple App Store but my credit card was declined. I checked the card on my account and it was a current card with lots of credit available. But my wife & I have the Apple family plan which is a nice feature that allows families to share purchases. So, I checked her account. But the card on her account was fine, too.
I’ll spare you the details but I tried about 15 times with three different credit cards from three different banks and I kept getting declined. I checked the banking websites and there was no reason for this so I started a chat session with Apple. Apple claimed that the banks were declining the purchase. But when I contacted Bank of America the customer support person said, no, they hadn’t declined any purchases.
Again, I won’t bore you with the details but I spent about 2 hours on chat & phone support with Bank of America and Apple today. Eventually, I had to do a factory reset on my iPad and restore it from a backup. Then, I was finally able to make the purchase without being declined.
But How Many Copies Did I Purchase?
During one of the tech support calls the Apple representative had me purchase the app upgrade on my wife’s iPad since it has the family “Organizer’s” ID associated with it. That purchase worked. Later, after restoring my iPad from backup I was finally able to complete the purchase process on my iPad as well. But wait, why a purchase? Why not just a download since it was already purchased through my wife’s family plan account?
I went to apple.com to see how many copies were purchased. My wife’s account said none. My account said none. So, what’s the real answer? 0? 1? 2?
Simplicity that’s Not So Simple
Although there’s an undeniable elegance to Apple products there’s also a frustrating complexity to their touted simplicity and ease of use. Some things which ought to be drop-dead simple are either not simple or not possible.
Here’s a case in point. When I was nearing the end of my first chat session with Apple support this morning I looked for a Send Transcript button on the chat window. Most support chat windows offer a feature like this which allows you to have a copy of the chat session sent to your email. Not Apple. When I asked the tech support person she said yes, she could email me a transcript after I ended the chat session. Why does it have to be so hard? Why can’t there be a simple Send Transcript button? One click. That would be simple. Not searching, coming up empty and having to ask.
Another case in point. I saved a complete backup to my PC followed shortly by a complete restore. But I got an error message during the restore.
So, my first question is why incomplete? If I did a complete backup with no errors why couldn’t it restore the same apps, photos, etc.? And my second question is what’s missing? No clue. I guess I’ll find out later when I try to access them.
My Devices, My Data, My Choices, OK?
Another example of Apple’s lack of simplicity its habit of hiding important information from you. Before I could do a factory reset I had to back up my iPad. When the backup was done I asked the tech support person if I could see my backup in my Windows folder. I had thought to back up the backup just in case of a drive failure or a shortage of space on my Windows boot drive. But the answer was no, I’m not allowed to see my backup of my iPad.
I find I’m constantly frustrated by this sort of inability to use and control my Apple devices. Like the inability to simply drag and drop audio files using Windows Explorer. No, you have to use iTunes where, again things which seem like they should be simple are often not so simple. And, if they’re not simple to me, a software engineer with decades of experience, I don’t know who they’re simple for.
One Foot in Each Camp
Since getting my first iPad some years ago I’ve had one foot in the Apple camp and the other foot in the Android camp. I’ve had a series of Android smartphones and have always been happy with them. One of the things I like about Android is its openness. I can copy files to & from them using Windows Explorer. I can buy things in the Google Play Store without the restrictions of iOS. Have you tried to buy a Kindle book from the iOS Kindle app? You can’t do it.
I’m fed up with Apple’s walled garden and their training wheels approach to software design. I’ll soon be replacing my Samsung Galaxy S5 with the new S7. And when I’m ready for a new tablet I’m pretty sure it will be an Android.