Apple Taught Me To Have Higher Standards
When Apple released M1 almost two years ago, I was blown away by the incredible performance that they managed to squeeze out of an insanely efficient chip. Beyond that, the way they’ve managed to make the transition to M1 relatively seamless with technologies like Rosetta has proven to me that they’re more than capable of delivering “Apple Magic™️”
During the past couple of years, I’ve switched back and forth between Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems and related hardware. I’ve also switched between Android and iOS a few times as well. I’ve now had a total of three M1 MacBook Air laptops, and something I experienced was that every time I made the move to a Mac, I was shocked at the sheer amount of features it had, as well as the unreasonably long battery life I got even when I was absolutely battering the machine. Every time I switched away, I briefly enjoyed the bliss of “something new”, which was followed quickly by a hollow dissatisfaction with the missing features I had grown to love.
At one point I made the decision to completely move my desktop/workstation to a Mac Mini, then converting my existing desktop to a headless openSUSE Tumbleweed server which now functions as a host for my Time Machine backups. That server still runs just the same today, because that Mac Mini has remained my primary desktop computer ever since. This offered me some stability when it came to switching platforms, as I was able to use and test a Mac anytime I wanted without changing what I used as a laptop driver. It also pulled me further and further into Apple’s ecosystem as I experienced the joys of my iPhone and Mac sharing tasks and features between them. Leaving my AirPods in my ears and having them automatically switch between the two depending on what I was doing was a total game changer.
In the midst of all of this, I made several attempts to move to more “open” software, as well as use more privacy-respecting services like DuckDuckGo, ProtonMail, ProtonVPN, etc. I spent a decent amount of time with my location services completely disabled, and having most apps completely disabled in the background until I was actively using them. I used Firefox over Chrome, and really gave it the old college try. As a whole, I’d describe my experience as… charmlessly tolerable.
That’s not to knock any particular project, as I understand the need for them and respect what they do. At the same time I recognize how far behind they all are in regards to offering meaningful quality-of-life features that I’ve come to expect. I’m not of the mindset that I should lower my standards and expectations to follow someone else’s moral compass, either. I’m not a hardline open source ambassador, but rather just someone that appreciates what it can do, and appreciates when great software happens to be open source. It’s not a requirement for me, and likely won’t ever be.
I bought my first MacBook Air with the 8 core CPU and 8 core GPU over the 7 core GPU just recently, and performance has been nothing but stellar. It handles absolutely everything I could need it to, while being incredibly lightweight and well-built. There’s nothing else comparable to it on the market in terms of build quality, with the exception of the Surface Laptop. And now that it’s joining my home with a HomePod, my iPhone, Mac Mini, my AirPods, and considering that all but two of my friends are using iPhones as well, I’m realizing just how little sense it makes for me to use anything else. I’m realizing how thoughtfully designed each of these devices are, and how much I should be expecting of my computing experience, and how little I was able to expect from my time on Windows (and Android, for that matter).
While I love to root for the little guy as well, I’m learning that so much of what I loved on Linux can already be done on macOS, and it can usually be done better (sorry, folks). While there are definitely quirks with macOS such as its subpar window management, utilities like Rectangle quickly fix that while adding tons of additional features that bring it even further beyond the features I’d expect from amazing environments like GNOME. Access to Homebrew means I have all of the handy utilities I would use on Linux like optipng, ffmpeg, neofetch, etc. I can even use Nix packages on macOS, which further reduces any need i could have to be running an entire Linux OS. More and more, I’m realizing that everything I wanted in Linux was just bringing me closer and closer to what I want, and what already exists in
So what now? Do I hate Linux? Absolutely not! I love it, still. I have massive amounts of respect for Fedora Silverblue and elementary OS in particular. elementary OS is responsible for reviving my passion in Linux and making it a serious contender for me in terms of my personal computing. Fedora Silverblue for showing me everything that I should be expecting from Linux, especially in regards to the immutable root filesystem, containerized Toolboxes, and utilizing modern software formats like Flatpak. In fact, I now expect nothing less, and personally refuse to use a distribution that can’t match those features. We’ve had more than enough time for distributions to step up and make smart choices, so I won’t be sympathetic towards projects that don’t make the effort.
I’m now happily working from my MacBook Air, getting calls and texts right on-screen without needing to stop what I’m doing and pick up my phone. I’m streaming my music to whatever device I want in the house without relying on the jankiness of Bluetooth and suffering its issues with range and quality. I’m leaving my charger at home for multiple days at a time because I have a device that was designed to just not suck from the very start. Something I wish I could do with literally any other device, but there just isn’t anything even remotely comparable. Apple has just completely wiped the floor with everything else, and runs circles around them all.
I understand the frustration some experience when they feel compelled to get more than one Apple device just to fully utilize them, but that’s exactly why it all works so well. Because they integrate amazing features into more than just one device. Everything should work well together, and I just don’t understand why that’s such a novel concept for manufacturers or users. Users like us should be demanding more, not just settling for being behind the curve. It’s not lock-in, just integration. And until other offerings can actually provide something comparable, there’s zero validity in trying to paint Apple as some evil lock-in megacorp when the reality of the situation is that people are just mad that they’re actually good at what every other company just fails over and over again at. That being said, to be totally clear and fair, this isn’t me saying that users shouldn’t like what they use, or that they should feel bad about it… But that it’s completely reasonable for us to be expecting more, because Apple has made it obvious over and over again that it’s absolutely possible to be expecting more.
Don’t settle for less.