Apple is a very large company now. It does a lot of different things that appeal to a lot of different people. Its pace of change is enormous. However, no one person, not even tech journalists, can engage every technology at every level. There is a way out.
Apple's new campus is so impressive, it's been dubbed a spaceship. Warp speed into the future.
As Apple has explosively grown from a single product company, mainly the Macintosh, to a consumer electronic giant, it has offered a myriad of hardware and software products. Without getting into math, this means that customers who used to be mainstream with legacy technology X become an ever decreasing part of Apple's consumer base. It's just a fact of life. But we can deal with it.
Meanwhile, Apple is under constant pressure to grow, innovate and stem powerful competing forces that seek to copy or leverage from Apple's innovations. This means that a steady flow of new products that fit together into Apple's ecosystem is required. Howver, we aren't necessarily required to engage them at the same rate. Testing and piecemeal adoption of the best is called for.
Complexity and Fragility
Apple tries to make things simpler and easy within this ecosystem. But only simpler—not simple. One example is iCloud that seamlessly syncs, for example, your bookmarks, contacts, calendar, mail, reminders and notes amongst all your devices. It has been known to be buggy and inconsistent, and botched calendars are infuriating. iCloud Keychain ensures that all your devices are linked together in a consistent chain of encryption and trust. However, having all your banking passwords stored in the cloud, even if it's Apple's, does give one pause given the sophistication and persistence of hackers.
However, as we've seen, all this growth in products and services brings wth it a certain amount of fragility. A good example is the recent snafu regarding a lapsed Mac App Store certificate. See: "Who's Minding the Apple App Store?"
Fragility of the system aside, technology infrastructure changes. There was a time when the Internet couldn't support the wide distribution of video of any kind. Nowadays, we're on the precipice of not only 4K UHD video on the Internet but also a persistent, needful logging of customer viewing. "Got a Vizio smart TV? Here's how to stop it from spying on you." One must constantly size up and put new technologies into perspective.
For the sake of marketing, Apple tends to turn on big systems all at once and hope it all works. That doesn't mean customers should engage in wholesale adoption. Big Systems always have big problems, and the grand scale of Apple's latest Big Thing should translate into only what we need and can effectively absorb to some good end.
The Home IT Game
There is only so much time a person can spend on maintaining one's own home internet technologies. When routers act up, Internet and home Wi-Fi ges sour, it can often require hours of trouble shooting and vexing calls to customer support. Anyone who's been faced with upgrading two iPads and four family iPhones to a new OS, backing them up, plus managing an Apple Watch during the purchase of a new iPhone knows what I'm talking about.
And then there's the backup of the family Macs. Apple's Time Machine app is simple and nice, but when it goes bad, it goes horribly bad. Smart users supplement Time Machine with, for example, Carbon Copy Cloner, a backup technology that creates an external disk that's bootable and has a mirror image of every file, user and system, on the internal drive. But that takes time and consistent attention.
My advice here is to have a very considered approach to the adoption of new Apple products and services. As I said in the intro, just because Apple offers a wide range of products and services to its millions of customers doesn't mean that each customer has to engage in everything Apple offers.
Sometimes, I think that when I hear people saying that some Apple product, say, the Apple Watch is an unnecessary toy, they're realling expressing that their tolerance for additional fuss and system management is exhausted. Other times, when I see people jumping into something new from Apple on day one, say, Apple Music, and expecting everything to go perfectly, I am not surprised when they complain bitterly that Apple is too big and too callous to succeed in the future.
Too Well Connected
A tool, not an obsession.
We are a well connected society. Somewhere, at some time, nearly everyone we know is collectively doing everything we know about. The temptation to engage further with them and the technology can be overwhelming. But the very act of technology engagement for the sake of fun or keeping up with the Jones, so to speak, belies the notion of the very human things we also need: family, health, service, and time for real relationships and personal growth. That often means activities that remove us from the technology sphere. Only technology rats win the technology rat race.
I have found that many of my readers seem to be adverse to racing forward with the relentless change by Apple. Just recently, I discovered this: "Apple’s iTunes Is Alienating Its Most Music-Obsessed Users." In that article, the author, Jesse Jarnow, points out that the older technology of Apple's iTunes, collecting, managing, and listenning to purchased music, a Thing that Steve Jobs sold us on so well, is being pushed into the background as that increasingly complex and annoying app serves up Apple's agenda, driven by changing user profiles, technology, and competition. It can be frustrating. Companies that offer a sizable niche a way out, like Swinsian, music player can gain traction here.
Time and time again, I keep coming back to the idea of keeping one's technology life both moving forward, manifestly simple, and in perspective. That means replacing old hardware as it sags under the weight of new operating systems, but also refusing to engage in everything possible that Apple offers.
It's helpful, in my mind, to think about life's goals first. If one has a particular hobby or interest, such as music, wood working, military history, church activities, art, or sports, and then uses the technology at hand to further develop that activity, then the technology serves a higher purpose. This is, after all, one of Apple's enduring themes. The happiest people I've seen are those who are using technology to support a laudable human endeavor. That necessarily means a serious focus on an end result and dispensing with all the secondary technology gizmos.
The purpose of technology is to facilitate higher human goals. That requires precious time.
In the end, Apple delivers technology, hardware, software and services to improve people's lives. That always means focusing on the human side of what we want to achieve, dispensing with diversions and distractions and leveraging what we choose to use effectively. That entails an explicit need to outright ignore many modern tech services. If we don't do that, the pace, snafus and fragility of modern technology can drive us to distraction and despair instead of creativity and contributions.
Teaser image via Shutterstock.