I, much like almost 90% of those my age in the developed world, grew up using Windows. Windows 95 was my introduction into the techno-connected world, as well as the internet, and I loved it. To me, and many others my age, it was so easy to pick up and learn. A series of windows dictated what you did. Each window was a new task, or app, and everything was open to tinkering and tweaking to do EXACTLY as you wanted it to. There were many issues though. I’ll never forget when I took home an old abandon computer when I was in my youth. Someone didn’t need it, so I saw an opportunity to have a computer in my bedroom. A luxury because my family’s computer was in the living room. Well the first thing I wanted to do once the computer was at my house was clean it. It was an old family member’s, so it was full of bloatware, useless apps, semi-viruses, and anti-viruses. I also vaguely remember some type of Y2K program that did nothing but countdown till the time the world ended.
There was a lot to clean, so to make my life easier I decided to just wipe the C drive. And by wipe, I don’t mean uninstall each program. I mean I deleted the C drive. Well after I did that, explorer.exe shut out, the screen went black, and I had to reboot. Upon restarting, blue screen of death. Why? Well because System.32 was in that drive, as well as every driver, and many main components that make windows work. I threw the computer away that night, with a frown on my face knowing I’ll still have to use the family’s computer for the time being.
And that was something about Windows that didn’t click for tons of people. Those who didn’t care to understand how it all worked, those who didn’t care to know what’s what, those people, were at the mercy to this extremely complex operating system. While it was dressed up in a nice package, under the hood was, well….an engine. And if you don’t know what those parts of the engine do, or know what those parts even are, anytime something goes wrong, you can’t fix anything on your own. Unfortunately for them, Windows constantly had issues to fix. Apple on the other hand, was taking a backseat in the 90’s. The take over of Windows in the commercial enterprise market, as well as schools and colleges, hurt Apple’s growth tremendously. Not to mention that it was a different OS that demanded almost just as much time to learn as Windows. So if you were looking for a job, and needed to know how to use a computer, you were going to learn Windows over Macintosh because it dominated that sector. This isn’t to say Apple’s OS was bad. It was fine. Just different.
Fast forward to the new Millennium. One of the most innovative products was released. And it wasn’t made by Microsoft. This was the Apple iPod. This was a small device that held and played your music in which came out right after the huge CD era. What enticed people was the fact that they could download their entire CD library in this device that fits in their pocket. This was when I first started to follow what Apple was doing. Boom, then the iPhone. And now Apple is rapidly gaining traction in the market. While this is going on, they also started building much more beautiful computers, and started to take over huge areas of enterprise and colleges. Steve Jobs knew that products which were beautiful and easy to use would eventually start to take hold. Technology that was ingrained in the human condition, needed to look great and hold some type of “fashion” statement. This was Apple’s, and maybe the tech world’s, greatest understanding. Apple combined with gigantic tech reveals and keynotes, while refining their gorgeous products, and further separating themselves from the “Windows user” allowed them to become one the worlds most expensive stocks to this day.
So this is where I come in. As of today, I’m currently drenched in the Apple ecosystem. I still own a powerful Windows PC, as well as an Android phone. But I also own an iPad, iPhone, iMac, and Macbook Pro. The latter I didn’t obtain until late last year. I was always one that wanted complete control of my operating system and apps. I wanted to be able to dive down into the code of the apps should I need to, and customizing my computing to fit my needs always appealed to me. This is something you can’t do with Apple. They are very much “You use what we give you”, and I was never a fan of this model. So I stuck with the Microsoft environment for most of my life. So what made me start diving into Apple? And am I enjoying this new world?
One thing I could never deny was how gorgeous Apple products were. Just look at the newest Macbooks and iMac’s. I hate to use this word, but they are sexy. There are no seams, they are a dark gunmetal color (Space grey they call it. It’s dumb. Gunmetal is so much more badass), their displays are bright and vibrant, all the physical space they take up is accounted for and put to use, and their phones are copied by almost every major smartphone manufacturer out there. But something that I didn’t know until I started using their products was how well their OS is designed. Their newest OS, Sierra, is a very refined and tight OS, fit with a sleek modern GUI that is a pleasure to look at. When you look at Windows 10, it looks like a Chinese Rip-off of an OS (I will admit that it is getting better, but still far from Apple’s). And this is only with its latest version of Windows. Anything before it was ugly and clunky. The iPhone OS, iOS 10, is the standard for smartphone OS’s and the way the phones design, and its usability, work so seamlessly together shows how much Apple knows what it’s doing. They are the pioneers of the smartphone and their OS displays that to the fullest. Again though, the Android OS is not far behind. It’s just not as tight and refined as Apple’s is, and this is due to lack of experience. Apple’s Chief Designer, Jony Ive, understands that design, usability, and accessibility, go hand in hand, and when one suffers, they all suffer. And right now, they are quite far in the lead.
As I get older, something that gets more and more important is how easy it is to do the things I need to do. As I stated earlier, Windows was great for allowing me to craft the way I compute. Customizing my OS to tailor not only my needs, but personality as well. With Apple, you were stuck with what they gave you and any customization had to be done with any programs you were using. But as time went on and cloud syncing became the norm, this became less and less locked down to the OS. With my latest Macbook, after purchasing I just opened it up, downloaded a few of the programs I need, signed into them, and voila, all my customization and preferences are there and they work across all the other mac devices in the same exact way. Also, with Apple’s strong sense of design, much of the visual customization are already taken care of.
Digging deeper into the code, when I open any program made for Mac, most notably Final Cut, all the preferences are already fine tuned to the hardware. This makes my life so much easier. Gone are the days of me taking a weekend to fine tune my PC to work exactly as I want. There are little tweaks that make things easier as well. One being startup time. My Windows PC goes from a cold boot to load pretty quickly. But when compared to my Macbook, it seems like a decade. Or when I need to connect to Bluetooth, it’s a button away. Or, how about the file system? This was something that really surprised me, and I can’t wait for it to be implemented in iOS 11. But the Mac’s file system is excellent. You have an Apps folder, much like Window’s “Program Files”. But with Mac, the programs sit in there with one icon. Not like on Windows where an Apps folder is filled with important files that dictate how the program works. It’s self contained in a nice design with the way Apple formats it. Now, that might’ve been something I cared about with Windows. But now a days, I just need my program to work and RARELY ever dig into the program files to tinker around. For instance, you want to install a plugin for a program. With Windows, it’s a series of digging through files finding the right folder to drop your download into. With Apple, it’s a button away. Something I would’ve laughed at years ago, I now see the importance.Also with the file system, it works just as you want it to. You have maybe one folder for documents, one for work, one for music, videos, maybe other files, and then one for applications. With Windows by default, you’re greeted with hundreds of different folders all holding different things, and if you’re not careful it can quickly turn into the digital form of a cluttered file cabinet.
Let’s get back to the Cloud. Cloud syncing, to me, is one of the most important aspects of modern computing. I live on the cloud and it surprises me how little many people utilize it. When I first had my iPhone I know I took iCloud for granted. But now that I own almost the entire Apple line, iCloud has been a godsend. Because it’s ingrained into the OS, it’s just so easy and seamless to make sure all the files you need to share amongst devices are there. Now Windows has One Drive, and I use that as well. But I can say that iCloud is much useful and fluid if you have an iPhone and Mac products, compared to One Drive with Android and Windows. Fluidity, as you can see, is becoming very important to me. I just want things to work, work quickly, and work smoothly. It’s not perfect though. Sharing files with others is much quicker and easier with One Drive/Dropbox.
This is the biggest reason I’ve been using my Mac much more than my Window’s PC. It feels like the Mac is made for content creators. The iPad’s new “Pro-Motion” 120hz display is specifically made for the Pencil, which is made for artists. Final Cut renders videos in a quarter of the time it takes Premiere to render. Apple Displays are some of the best in the market, which make them excellent for content production. Apple has THE BEST speakers in their laptops and their mobile devices, which is great for musicians. Pro Tools is the standard in the music industry, a native Mac program. And now with Macbooks adopting an all USB-C standard (something criticized, but I think is extremely progressive), that means much faster and stronger peripherals. With what I do, I need to use all the content creation apps out there. I use Final Cut to edit videos, Pro Tools for music and podcasts that I produce, Photoshop/InDesign for image and website development, the new iPad and Pencil for Illustrator for my art, and Apple has the best text-editing programs out there. It’s a hotbed for artists and content creators and like I said, it’s a huge reason why the majority of my day is on the Macbook.
It’s safe to say that Apple used to make some amazingly powerful “Pro” machines. I’m not sure what happened as of late, but this notion seemed to take a backseat to the rest of the pro’s I listed above. With the case of FCPX and Photoshop, more native Apple apps, I have plenty of power at my fingertips. But it doesn’t come close to the sheer processing power of my Window’s machine. And this is the only reason why my desktop PC remains at my office. There are many instances where you just need that GTX 1080ti, an overclocked 6700k on water, and 16gb of DDR4 ram. And it’s those reasons that I love my PC. If Windows could learn how to integrate design and usability into their products as well as Apple does, while also allowing full customization and powerful hardware (all at a good price), there’s no doubt in my mind I’d sell all my Apple gear and stay with Windows. But right now, this is just not a reality. And inversely, if Apple were to adopt a more “Windows” approach to hardware, allowing a customizable approach to the insides, allowing easy upgrades, and allowing that slight tweaking to get a bit more pure power, I’d sell all my PC gear and live on Mac. From what I’m seeing, Apple seems to be understanding this. I hear a new modular Trashcan Mac, to allow easy upgrades down the line, is in the works. And it looks like Windows understands what it needs to do as well. Windows 10 was a good step and the Surface products are gorgeous. Only time will tell who will combine those ideas the best. But in the meantime, I guess I’ll have to hold on to both for now.
So, to finish the article, my experience with the Apple ecosystem has been great. What’s funny is that I’m actually a bit late to the party. Some would say this is the worst time to move to Apple, and that Windows and Microsoft are actually catching up on all the things that make Apple great. And I hope that they do. But from my personal point of view, I think its better to have two completely different tech giants battling it out. I like to have a device that I can tinker with and dive deep into if I need to, and I like to have a device that’s sleek and streamlined, cutting through all the fat. But right now, it seems like that streamlined experience is more useful to me at the moment.