June 9th, 2009 #link
Yesterday, was no exception. Apple announced a go-faster version of the iPhone, with a moniker reminiscent of a 1970s Citroen car, the 3GS and a minor software upgrade.
The new hardware featured a camera that was almost as good as standard issue for other phones in Europe and Japan.
The new software added a few do-dads, such as a remote bleeper and software erase that only works if you sign up to the Apple software service that gives you things like an inferior version of Gmail.
New apps were showcased, such as the very promising looking Tom Tom application and unpromising looking Tom Tom kit that hinted it would cost almost as much as a standalone GPS device, thus defeating the point.
But the big deal was the addition of tethering, allowing you to use the iPone as a 3G modem. Something that many 3G phones already do.
No matter that 3G tethering presumably costs money via the providers Apple listed, the problem was that it wouldn't work at all in the US, via the sole carrier, ATT.
Although Apple could be playing passive aggressive, deliberately directing flack at ATT, this is not just an ATT problem.
Apple is no longer the little guy offering a better alternative to Microsoft. Increasingly Apple's closed platform is becoming an irritating hassle, rather than a price that is worth paying for well designed and integrated products from hardware to software.
Here are some of the unnecessary irritations and bad design that Apple's closed approach creates:
1. You cannot easily store your music on an external device without needless messing around with iTunes restrictions.
2. You cannot go abroad with your iPhone and slip a new SIM card in without a huge pain in the ass.
3. You cannot take advantage of many new iPhone or OS features without subscribing to a service that offers inferior versions of free online services like Gmail, that will always be better because of the resources allocated to them.
4. You cannot replace the battery in an iPod, iPhone or (now) MacBook without a screwdriver.
Apple products are beautifully designed where most gadgets are useless toys, and the OS is peerless but there is a creeping sensation of needless and irritating lock in.