General Computer vs Appliance

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by Cloudane, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. Cloudane, Jun 4, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014

    Cloudane macrumors 68000


    Aug 6, 2007
    Sweet Apple Acres
    I have been batting for two "sides". Those two sides are completely and utterly opposed to each other, and tend come with a view that either you're on one side or you're on the other (or are a would be traitor or a coward). I've been sat on that fence for a long time now, and recently having been tempted by Apple again I've been trying to figure out whether I'm just a massive hypocrite who can't simply decide on a principle and stand by it, or if there's something to it.

    The sides of course fundamentally, are iOS and Android. They're more Apple and Open Source, sometimes OS X and Linux, but the most distilled form of the battle seems to come from iOS and Android.

    I'm not sure it's healthy to call yourself bad things, so I've been leaning towards the "something more to it" side and figuring that out.

    Many would drag out the cynicism and say "oh you're just a victim of the marketing you mindless sheep" or "it's because you're trying to justify a purchase because they're so expensive" but I don't think it's either of those things. I do have a brain and weigh things out, and my tastes in non-Apple stuff have been equally expensive in most cases. (Though the ultimate blend of all this is that I use a Hackintosh as my desktop).

    And then something hit me, I think it's the difference between a computer and an appliance, and wanting both. This includes in the pocket too.

    Sometimes I want a computer. So I want full control over it, what I install on it, what I do with it. I'm willing to sacrifice tight knit integration, consistency and predictability for flexibility and control, and that's fine. I try and fight for that side a bit, and make sure computers stay computers.

    And yet other days I just want to get on and do things. I don't want to tinker with how my phone works or how my laptop works; I want it to just get out of the way and work, so I can communicate with my friends and whatever else, and am willing to sacrifice freedom to mess with it and choice of 1000 different text editors to "one that is good enough, hopefully nice to use overall, and lets me type text"

    In other words, sometimes I want an appliance in my pocket, or on my lap. In those phases, I want an Apple product.

    Those who want computers tend to see the use of appliances as a betrayal, and I think that's why they hate people like myself (and many others in these parts) when I'm in "being in favour of Apple" mode. It's seen as a world of "one or the other" and why wouldn't it be - it's not usually practical or cost effective to carry two phones around all the time or have two personal computing devices in the same place. So you're then "That Traitor" who is "Part of the Problem" and ruining all that is holy about computing.

    But I'm not sure the two really need to be mutually exclusive in the industry as a whole - I think there will always be plentiful people who want one or the other. It's a pain for people like me who change their minds depending on whether they want to tinker or want to just chat and create/consume content, but I don't think there's any need for the "you use x and therefore you're Part of the Problem(TM) and you suck" mindset on either side of the fence.

    iOS8 and OS X Yosemite are looking FANTASTIC. I don't really mean by looks (sorry to blow "oh you just love form over function" out of the water, but frankly I think the current 2D design bandwagon BLOWS - if it wasn't for the semi transparency in the apple cart I'd swear we were all back in 1987, but it is what it is) but in function. Countless times I've thought "if only I could hand this off to the tablet, if only Apple or someone would invent that". And you kind of can with printable things (Google Cloud Print, to tablet) but that's only 10% of the problem. Bravo to Apple for finally nailing that -- I think it'll be extremely valuable, if it works.

    Yes, if I go back down that route, I'll be back to an appliance, and back to not having full control over it. But as long as I have a Droid and a Linux box for when I'm feeling all geeky, or out in a tent with a friend with no signal who wants to bluetooth me an MP3 (iPhone says no..) - is that really so bad?

    Just thought I'd ramble, and see what happens.
  2. gotluck, Jun 4, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014

    gotluck macrumors 603


    Dec 8, 2011
    East Central Florida
    I echo many of your sentiments though I sit on the computer side of the camp :)

    I fear that one day all computers will be appliances and we will have no control over the system, eventually leading to the censorship of the internet, things can only be done one specific way, forced to use certain vendors, no third party or self service repairs etc...

    IMO these practices are good for vendors and profits but not users.

    I dont understand why people on the appliance side of the camp can't just ignore the 'computer' features and be happy. Lord knows everyone on android doesn't utilize the computer features.

    If apple were to allow iFile in the app store it's not like all the sudden iOS would be too complex for the masses.

    Nice post OP!
  3. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2014
    The vast differences in user control over computers vs smartphones/tablets are the product of their evolution IMHO.

    The personal computer as we know it today was born out of a culture where tinkering was critical to getting systems running properly. Computing evolved over the 70's, 80's and 90's mainly due to people who rolled up their sleeves and hacked stuff to get it to work. These were people who were at home using DOS and Unix command lines. The early adopters here fully expected control over their system. As the operating systems started to become easier to use, more and more people were drawn to them, but they were still based on those earlier roots. That's why you can still get a command prompt in Windows 8 and a terminal in OS X. Computers never fully lost that sense and expectation of total access to the system.

    Mobile operating systems didn't appear as we know them until quite recently. They were designed specifically for the mass market from the ground up. There was no evolution from primitive computing systems and thus no foundation of user control to build upon. Even in Android, which is more open than Apple and Blackberry operating systems, Google and the carrier still have tremendous control over the device.

    If the laptop was suddenly designed today, it would be like a smartphone or tablet in that you would have much less control over what it does and everything would be very tightly integrated. The mass market has lost the expectation of control that the early adopters of computing technology instilled.

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