Reading through reviews I find it interesting how too many reviewers try to find that ‘killer feature’ rather than focusing on all the small little niceties that make all the difference to a platform/ecosystem/service and in the case of Apple it isn’t until you’ve left the ecosystem and returned when you realised just how much you miss those features you come to rely on every day. So here are my list of ‘small things that make Apple products great’:
1) The ability to answer calls, make calls and send text messages from my MacBook Pro and iMac via my iPhone – being able to sit on hold, whilst using my computer, responding to text messages as they come through and so on. When I had a quick dip in the Android side I quickly realised just how dependent I am on it on a regular basis until it was gone and then suddenly I’m like “woah, I really do find this feature useful’. I would also put iMessage in that – yes it is a ‘iPhone only feature’ but it is light weight and integrated in with macOS, a no compromise experience when compared to say Allo or WhatsApp that requires stuffing around with scanning QR codes to set up tethering.
2) iCloud gets a lot of crap from Google fanboys but I like how I am not forced to use the web browser to get a first class experience when using iCloud services. Sure, I can use the Apple Mail with Google but it is always a crappy half baked experience and that goes for any client that tries to get their client to work with the butchered IMAP implementation that Google insists on thrusting upon the world because they’re such special snowflakes that the standard IMAP protocol apparently wasn’t good enough for their high falutin needs. Sure, you could always use the CalDAV and CardDAV protocol when interacting with their services but you’ll always find the experience is rather half assed and half baked when compared to the ‘turbo deluxe experience’ you would get if the software written was taking advantage of the Google Contacts and Google Calendaring API where as the implementation of CalDAV and CardDAV is put out there as lip service to open standards but not fully implemented.
In the Google world you’re more or less forced to do everything through the Chrome web browser and quite frankly I don’t want that – I like having local applications sitting on my computer and using the dedicated application I want when completing a task rather than some lowest common denominator web based front end with all the ‘wonderful’ quirks that comes with the territory. Sure, you could use local applications and access the Google services but it’ll always be a second rate experience when compared to access Gmail, Contacts and Calendaring via Chrome. In the iCloud world the cloud becomes transparent where as Google seems to be hell bent on making the cloud the focal point of everything you do, where as the iCloud slips into the background and ‘just works’, Google on the other hand needs to constant remind the end user that they’re at the centre of it all.
3) Having Single UNIX Specification compliance thus opening up the huge array of free and open source software especially in the form of the numerous developer tools such as Clang/LLVM along with projects that bring together curated repositories to install those open source and free software such as Homebrew. To the average user it may not interest them directly but it opens doors to open source applications like Firefox, Chrome, VLC, and numerous other projects that end users rely on. In my situation it would be ffworks which is a front end to the ffmpeg command line which supports numerous video and audio formats – something that an enthusiast that makes videos for Vimeo and YouTube benefits from. One of those things that you indirectly benefit from all because Apple had the hindsight not to be a ‘special snowflake’ and reinvent the wheel in favour of going with the well trodden track.
4) The App Store – people give the Mac App Store a lot of hassle but it is my go to place for applications: MarsEdit, Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo, OmniGroup Outliner not to mention it being the primary distribution point for all of Apple’s own applications and system updates and upgrades as well.