I don’t think so. Really. I think they’re just as morally questionable as any big tech company, and I think their prices are ridiculous. So why do I keep using them?
Well, let’s go down the list of devices I have. I’d estimate they add up to about $3,700 at time of purchase. Most of them were gifts, and I’m grateful for that. I’m very privileged in this regard. And that’s not even counting the countless dollars have been sucked out of my own wallet, through 30% of my app purchases and subscriptions to iCloud, Apple Music and most recently News+. And there’s even more coming with the admittedly promising Apple Arcade, which I resigned my cash to the moment I saw Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy) and Will Wright (SimCity)’s contributions. My favorite mobile game still is Monument Valley by Ustwo, which is a one-time purchase with gorgeous visuals and sound at a time of overwhelming F2P timesucks. A whole subscription for games like that, playable across all my screens? No brainer.
I think it’s fair to say I couldn’t live without my iPhone. Screen Time says I spend 5 hours a day on it, and I think that’s on the low end. My community is in there. It’s how I manage my day and keep my schedule from driving me insane. Podcasts and over 23GB of music. So I think it’s worth spending extra on. I have a 256GB iPhone XS, with its bone-chilling $1,100 price tag spread across 24 monthly payments.
I’ve used other phones. And I think there are more fantastic Android phones now than ever before. Android, as an OS, is one of the most remarkable works of software this decade. But for me, the fragmentation is just too much. Every OEM has their own skin over the OS, adding gimmicks and unnecessary duplicate apps (Bixby, anyone?). Whenever a new major Android release drops, there’s no guarantee your phone purchased just 9 months will ever get it. The OEM has to test it with their skin, then send it to the carriers for even more customization and non-removable preloaded apps (often including Facebook, yikes). And all these tweaks and apps that have to be written for every possible device means we’re seeing phones with 6, 8, or even 12GB of RAM to keep up!
I once had an LG G3. I liked that phone. Then they pushed an update that changed how it handled Do Not Disturb, and I couldn’t use it as a bedside alarm clock anymore because it buzzed and demanded to be unplugged every 5 minutes. Within a month, I was back to an iPhone 6S.
And that’s not even bringing up iMessage.
On to my laptop, a 2017 MBP 13” with Touch Bar, bought on Black Friday for about $1600 as a gift for college. That’s been my primary computer for the last year or so. The hardware is…OK. I’ve begrudgingly entered the Dongle Life. The trackpad is huge and still the best in the industry (I still refuse to believe Force Touch is anything but black magic). I honestly don’t use the Touch Bar much, I only have it because I needed 4 USB-C ports. I have to avoid eating around the thing on the off chance a single crumb gets in the keyboard and it has to go for several weeks to repair, but other than that, I don’t think the butterfly keys are that bad, actually. I’m typing this on it. They’re not great for gaming, admittedly, but neither is the rest of the hardware. Which leads to my problem with it.
See, I like macOS. I really do. As an aspiring developer, the true Unix toolset is lightyears ahead of any workarounds available for Windows, and it still has more app support than Linux, as much as I love it.
brew install is as second nature to me as picking up a controller. But there’s one area where macOS lacks that really hurts me: game support.
I understand why. Apple hasn’t exactly been cooperative in enabling multiplatform game dev. They deprecated OpenGL, for fuck’s sake. They wanted to push devs toward their own proprietary graphics library Metal. Outside of the big engines like Unity and Unreal, most indie game devs are so harmed by this change to their toolset that they’re considering simply dropping support for the Mac entirely, reinforcing the age-old adage, “Nobody games on Mac”.
These days I’ve resigned to just playing what I can get on my Switch. But I gotta admit, it hurts a little when I see my Discord friends playing Risk of Rain 2 or Overwatch and knowing I can’t join them because of my overpriced coding machine. I don’t have the money or strength to maintain 2 laptops, and I was dumb enough to get a little 256GB SSD, so Boot Camping Windows and installing games on top of that is out of the question.
And then there’s my iPad Pro 10.5”. I bought it with the Pencil after my Kindle broke and I wanted something more suited for reading comics, and with the added bonus of maybe finally learning to draw (spoiler: that hasn’t happened yet). I mainly use it as a reading and Netflix machine, and a very good one at that. Charging the Pencil by plugging it in the bottom is still as goofy as ever, and it’s always dead when I need it (I wish it had a power button). On the bright side, the 120Hz screen is unreal, and the quad speakers, though still tinny, give impressive stereo separation. And it has a headphone jack.
I guess that’s all I have to say about it. It’s an iPad. It gets the job done.
No discussion on lavish tech indulgences would be complete without mentioning AirPods. I have the first gen that I use daily (I haven’t decided if I’ll get the wireless case yet). They’re beat up, covered in wax, and barely hold a charge. The connection chime usually only plays through one ear or the other. But dammit, they work. Bonus: I can hide them completely under my hair.
Finally, I got a Series 3 Apple Watch as a graduation gift. It’s real nice, but it’s beat up too and needs a new band badly, but I don’t want to spend money on one so it’s been in a drawer for the last few months. Sorry Grandma. I just don’t like having notifications inescapable on my wrist. The incessant tap tap tap does bad things to me, mentally.
I want to build a new PC someday. Then I can finally play all those games that defined my summers as a teen once again. I could trick it out with LEDs in trans colors. I could get water cooling. I could have a VR setup. I’m drooling just thinking about it. But I’m also too far in Apple’s clutches when I need to get stuff done. But for now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Apple’s pro apps in particular (Final Cut and Logic) are fantastic. Ulysses, the app I use to compose most of my posts these days, has become an essential part of my workflow, even though I think it’s subscription model is ridiculous and unnecessary.
At the end of the day, regardless of their scandals from their Big Tech status and the indefensibility of their pricing, Apple has done a lot to change the world of computing for better or worse. Even though I think they’ve started to lose their way, their legacy still influences the lives and workflows of millions. If acknowledging that makes me a fangirl, so be it.