Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The not-so-Evil Empire

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  • Gareth Ward,

    It wasn't long before various applications on his iPad stopped working and soon, when the operating system had an update, it stopped working all together. Brian couldn't get the updates because he hadn't agreed to the terms and conditions.

    This struck me as the one interesting point in the article yesterday (I completely failed to see how anything in it stacked up to an "Evil Empire" charge) - and re-read the article a couple of times to get what he meant. I assume this guy has refused to update iOS because of Apple's new terms (fair enough) and therefore has gotten to a point where app upgrades mean the app fails because it won't run on an out-of-date version of the OS.
    So in effect, if you don't like the changes Apple makes to it's terms, you plausibly lose the ability to update current and/or purchase new applications. That strikes me as a) not an Apple thing, more a general OS thing and b) painful but generally fair. You buy the device to run as it currently is - you choose, or not, to advance that and "purchase" additional functionality under future terms.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    whilst all the above may be well and true... for me the crux of the entire story is how stupidly complex and long the T&Cs are - which isn't a uniquely apple thing but its is a very valid gripe

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 537 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Gareth Ward,

    I assume this guy has refused to update iOS because of Apple’s new terms (fair enough) and therefore has gotten to a point where app upgrades mean the app fails because it won’t run on an out-of-date version of the OS.

    Ah. I was puzzled too, but I suspect you're right.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Speaking from the "hordes of haters" to the "arse licky lovers" - do you not think that the hoops and loops Apple put their users are just a tiny bit ridiculous? I am stunned at how you consider these normal.

    And then of course, there is this form of "evil".

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/07/ban-on-galaxy-tab-10-1-sale-upheld-on-htc-android-phone-import-denied/

    From which I can only conclude that Apple have stopped innovating.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I've never given Apple my credit card number. I run my iTunes account using giftcards, and that's worked perfectly well for downloading apps and music and movies and whatever I want. And my technically challenged father has manaed to run his iPad perfectly satisfactorily without giving Apple his credit card number.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    ...the 90's called...and they don't know how to leave a message.
    ..sorry XKCD http://xkcd.com/1072/

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Griffin,

    totally agree - the article conflicted greatly with my experience of using the iPad for managing subscriptions. I subscribe to the New Yorker, Wired and Backstory in the iTunes library, to Rolling Stone and until recently Popular Mechanic via Zinio and get access to hundreds of newspapers via Press Display through their dedicated app.

    The main reason I've increasingly moved to Apple across desktop and tablet (though not laptop or phone yet) is the ease with which you can manage subscriptions to publications and apps. Zinio emails me when a subscription is about to expire and I get an email to inform me of every purchase I make from the App Store, so I think the level of notification is appropriate.

    Apple's terms and conditions do need scrutiny because the vast majority of users don't read them and click "I agree" and its collection of location-based info was akin to Facebook's Beacon fiasco. But the experience is far superior to anything else on the market and so far i haven't been ripped off, misled or disappointed about my subscription experience.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Don Christie,

    Speaking from the “hordes of haters” to the “arse licky lovers” – do you not think that the hoops and loops Apple put their users are just a tiny bit ridiculous? I am stunned at how you consider these normal.

    Oh, behave. I'm not being an "arse-licky lover", I just think the claims are demonstrably wrong. And Apple's devices and the services attached to them do generally just work.

    And then of course, there is this form of “evil”.

    Everyone's fighting the patent wars, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward, in reply to Don Christie,

    Speaking from the "hordes of haters" to the "arse licky lovers" - do you not think that the hoops and loops Apple put their users are just a tiny bit ridiculous? I am stunned at how you consider these normal.

    Could you expand on that? I don't see the hoop and loops of Apple as noticeably more hoopy or loopy than those of Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc? But I'm not one to pay significant attention to T&Cs, relying instead on the internet hivemind to alert me when anything is particularly unusual...

    And then of course, there is this form of "evil".
    http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/07/ban-on-galaxy-tab-10-1-sale-upheld-on-htc-android-phone-import-denied/
    From which I can only conclude that Apple have stopped innovating.

    Or you could conclude that HTC/Android (whole thing seems to be a proxy war against Google) ripped off the design work Apple did in both hardware and software. Personally I hate this level of litigation too, but I have to admit that smartphone development has been particularly innovative post iPhone - everyone just did exactly the same thing. There's a great image floating about of all the various form factors of phone up to 2007 (Nokia alone always had such a weird range of phones), then all the identical forms post.
    I may have been suckered but I do believe this litigation at least partly reflect's Job's intense hate of the copying Google and their hardware partners did rather than a purely commercial blocking play.

    /arse licky loving

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Peter Griffin,

    until recently Popular Mechanic via Zinio

    I'm not such a fan of Zinio, on the basis of my experience with a subscription to Harper's. The pages were just flat PDFs and it took a lot of zooming and fiddling around to make the type readable. Couldn't complain about the price, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Russell, you describe Apple critics as "hordes of haters". I'm simply returning the favour.

    "Everyone's fighting the patent wars, though."

    Not in the way Apple is and that also doesn't excuse their odiousness on that front.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Don Christie,

    Russell, you describe Apple critics as “hordes of haters”. I’m simply returning the favour.

    I was referring to some of the commenters under Chris's column. I don't think it's an inaccurate description.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Gareth Ward,

    Could you expand on that? I don’t see the hoop and loops of Apple as noticeably more hoopy or loopy than those of Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc?

    One day, perhaps, Google will find a way to let my Google Apps profile work with Google+. That would be good.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Gareth, so progress has to stop just because Apple says it should? That's pretty borked. Consider this:

    ""we borrowed bits and pieces of our design from previous versions, a long-standing software tradition"

    http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2011/05/paul-allen-201105

    And Steve Jobs made very similar comments about great artists stealing.

    In the end it is consumers like us that are being prevented purchasing devices of our choice...but that has always been Apple's way, you get to choose, so long as you choose Apple.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Ackroyd,

    If I want to update an app on an iPad will the update proceed even if it's not able to run on the installed iOS?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 159 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward, in reply to Don Christie,

    Gareth, so progress has to stop just because Apple says it should?

    Huh? The whole point of that suite of lawsuits is that HTC/Google et al are making NO progress and just rehashing the form factor and design of Apple's initial progress in 2007. That they haven't borrowed bits n pieces to create something new, they've just copied an entire design.

    There's a bunch of different patent claims in play - I know the Samsung tablet one was for "slavish copy of design" (I'd say a touchscreen tablet has a natural design but unsure how identical to the iPad it was), while the HTC one seems to be that Apple has been given a hugely wide patent for touchscreen usage that seems way too wide to be granted.

    Completely agree that you don't want litigation to block commercial practice, and you don't want patents granted so widely that someone ends up owning a vrey natural feature or design, but I really don't think you can claim Apple is holding back waves of progress - it's holding back others from doing the same thing it's doing...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Don Christie,

    In the end it is consumers like us that are being prevented purchasing devices of our choice…but that has always been Apple’s way, you get to choose, so long as you choose Apple.

    Lord forbid anyone should have to defend everything Jobs said: he was eminently capable of being both wrong and an arsehole. I don't like the current patent wars either.

    But that wasn't what my post or the original column were about.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tom Ackroyd,

    If I want to update an app on an iPad will the update proceed even if it’s not able to run on the installed iOS?

    It would be a bit surprising, given that any installation on MacOS will check for OS compatibility first. But I dunno: maybe.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Here's a case where I do think Apple has behaved badly -- selling an extra year of AppleCare warranty without making it clear to customers that Italian consumer law already requires a standard two-year warranty. They've rightly been slapped.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    And now I look like I'm defending the Apple patent war - so will make it a little clearer: I get the background to Apple's claims (they feel there isn't progress and innovation from others, just copying of a successful idea) but they are arguing too widely on what constitutes their IP and the effect is they're holding back others from making their own variations on natural design themes. That limits incremental innovation.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Meyer, in reply to Tom Ackroyd,

    No, if you're updating on the device itself, it will explain that a newer version is required. If you're updating the apps in iTunes, then the newer version will be downloaded (iTunes doesn't try and predict/track what versions of all the devices that syncs with it are using), but the new version of the app won't sync to the device (there will be a warning explaining why the app cannot be synced).

    The only way that an existing app can stop working because of failing to update is if it uses an external system (e.g. third-party service or the servers belonging to the developer) - which is common - and there's a change that isn't backwards compatible, requiring the new version of the app to work. (And possibly the new version of the app requires a newer version of the OS than the old one).

    Given that updates are free and do not require a CC, this hardly seems unfair.

    Ahuroa • Since Jul 2012 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Pollock, in reply to Tom Ackroyd,

    f I want to update an app on an iPad will the update proceed even if it's not able to run on the installed iOS?

    I installed Angry Birds Space on my four year old iPod Touch. It installed but wouldn't run because the graphics chip in the iPod wasn't good enough.

    And:

    One day, perhaps, Google will find a way to let my Google Apps profile work with Google+. That would be good.

    For the last year or two that I lived in Pittsburgh I couldn't get Chrome to log in to any Google services except for gmail. It was most annoying for Maps, because I would have to enter my home address every time I wanted to know what time the bus was leaving. As soon as I moved back to NZ everything worked fine.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    The story in the Herald was weird and seemed to contain a lot of conflicts, but there is an interesting point and one that troubles me about the Apple's i-devices and to a lesser extent many other smartphones and tablets...

    I buy a product but the use of that product is heavily limited by my acceptance of further limitations and licenses that are either not disclosed at the time or purchase or change outright after the fact.

    The iPad is entirely useless when first purchased (or at least mine was) without iTunes. So immediately to even use the device I have to install that software and accept any terms it requires. To continue using the product in the way it's intended I also have to continue accepting any changes in those terms that Apple chooses to make.

    In this case Brian has found a condition in the terms he doesn't wish to agree to and as a result the usability of the product the bought and owns outright is seriously compromised. Maybe not to the extent the article applies, but certainly in some ways.

    I can't really think of many other parallels outside of consumer technology (and not even that many within it) where these sorts of situations exist. While it's fairly benign currently I really don't like the direction it's heading. We already see with media that we don't really 'own' the products we buy any more.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Curran,

    All apps are evil. No matter who you download them through. They are designed to send personal information home so that the relevant companies can target you with advertising. All apps can access you phone/text messages and send them back to the mother ship.

    I don't get this attitude. As in I don't understand it. As best as I can tell it assumes that anyone/any company knowing anything about you is inherently evil. Which is just ...
    Sure, be careful about what information you share, but sharing nothing?

    Since May 2011 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

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