Why I fell out of love with Apple

Apple is soon to join the elite club of Companies To Which Casey Will Not Give Money. It’s quite the prestigious club and includes ExxonMobile, Microsoft, and Whataburger among others — all of them for different reasons.1

Apple’s primary sin is their active efforts to restrict interoperability and force everyone to play in their sandbox — a tactic they’ve picked up from Microsoft — and I don’t like their sandbox.

iMessage, for instance, works seamlessly if you use Apple’s products (iOS or their OS X app) but is a mass of confusion if you’re not using it (like the oddball text messages I receive from friends who all have iMessage). They could have used an open standard like XMPP to develop it so others could integrate with it, but they didn’t.

I’m sure the tight integration of iCloud with iOS and OS X is great if you want to use Apple’s cloud, but they sure don’t make it easy to use someone else’s. And the push to distribute programs via the OS X App Store is nothing but a blatant money grab and offers nothing to developers except less money in their pockets. And all app stores offer are the illusion of security but give only censorship — and there’s no other way to install iOS apps except through Apple’s gates. I expect it’s only a matter of time before they make it more and more challenging to install apps on OS X outside of the App Store.

Their efforts to move OS X closer to iOS (something Microsoft is copying) is a move in exactly the wrong direction for me. I don’t want my desktop to be a mobile device or vice versa. They have different purposes and usage patterns and their interfaces should reflect that. I don’t want my address book to look like a book (hello Microsoft Bob) or my email client to resemble the iPad’s client.

Few of these things are new – Apple has been trucking down this road for years – but I don’t have to give them more money in encouragement. The 3GS was my first iPhone purchase2 and it’ll probably be my last. Ditto my MacBook Pro.

So I’ll stay on my 3GS for as long as it holds out with hopes that Google will come out with a well-integrated Android phone thanks to their purchase of Motorola. And I’ll be staying with Snow Leopard on my MacBook Pro, probably indefinitely. And if that gets too long in the tooth, at least the hardware will support Linux.

1 ExxonMobile because Mobile offered domestic partner benefits and Exxon rescinded them after the acquisition. Never buy ExxonMobile gas. Microsoft because of their Embrace, extend, and extinguish operation against open source, standards, and interoperability. And for unleashing Microsoft Bob upon the world. Whataburger has its very own blog post.

2 Technically I’ve only purchased an iPhone 3G for me. The 3GS was Benjamin’s phone that I got as a hand-me-down. It’s a long story involving multiple screen replacements and 2 phone upgrades. Don’t ask.

Mobile news apps and pay-for-news model

About a year ago I installed the AP Mobile iPhone app and was using it quite extensively to access news. Then they “upgraded” the app with new “features” and it now takes at least 30 seconds, sometimes 1 minute or more, to load the app and the initial news page. That’s just insane and a non-starter (pun intended) for me.

I tried out Bloomberg too but their news is even more market-centric than the WSJ and didn’t fill my news need adequately.

I then switched over the the WSJ application. These guys have the mobile news viewing experience down to an art. Sure it still has an ad and is still market-news heavy, but the app loads very quickly and the interface is intuitive (the navigation bar disappears when you start scrolling the article freeing up the entire screen, sans ad, for the text). Unfortunately in January the WSJ is going to start charging $2/week to access their mobile news apps. $2/week? Are you kidding me? I’d pay for $2/month or maybe even $4/month but $8/month is not worth it. Apparently I’m not alone in this view.

I realize that journalists need to get paid, but I think the WSJ is pricing themselves out of the mobile market. Granted, perhaps I’m not their target audience and they’ll do just fine. January I’ll either go back to AP Mobile, Bloomberg, or just go straight to some still-free news websites.

Adding both primary and secondary Google calendars to the iPhone

One of the nice new features of the iPhone 3.0 software was the ability to add internet calendars (called CalDAV or iCal calendars) to the built-in Calendar app. B and I did this for several of our calendars many months ago and I promptly forgot how to do it when I needed that knowledge again this morning. To prevent me from having to relearn it all again next time, here it is.

Adding your default (technically called ‘primary’) Google calendar to your iPhone is very simple:

  1. Go into Settings
  2. Select Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  3. Select Add Account…
  4. Select Other
  5. Select Add CalDAV Account
  6. Enter the following information:
    • Server: http://www.google.com
    • User Name: [your Google username]
    • Password: [your Google password]
    • Description: [what you want to call the calendar]
  7. Click Next

You’re done – events from the calendar should now show up under the Calendar application.

Adding a Google Calendar that isn’t your default calendar is more challenging and requires some extra steps.

On your computer:

  1. Open Google Calendars and identify which calendar you want to add to your iPhone.
  2. Open up the Calendar Settings for the desired calendar.
  3. Look down the page to the Calendar Address section. On the right side of that line you’ll see a Calendar ID, such as:
  4. Copy this and send yourself an email, to an address that you can check on the iPhone, with the calendar ID in it (unless you want to type all of that in by hand).

On your iPhone:

  1. Read the email you sent to yourself and copy the calendar ID string
  2. Go into Settings
  3. Select Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  4. Select Add Account…
  5. Select Other
  6. Select Add CalDAV Account
  7. Enter the following information:
    • Server: http://www.google.com
    • User Name: [your Google username]
    • Password: [your Google password]
    • Description: [what you want to call the calendar]
  8. Click Next
  9. Select the calendar you just created to view/edit it.
  10. Select Advanced Settings
  11. Edit the Account URL:
    1. Remove everything after the “dav/” part of the URL (note: keep the dav/ part!).
    2. Paste the calendar ID you copied from your email — this can be oddly tricky but is doable.
    3. After the calendar ID, append the string “/user”.
  12. Your URL will look something like this:
  13. Go back to the main Settings screen using the back buttons at the top of the screen.

You should now be able to go into your Calendar and see the events on your newly added calendar.