These days some of the software produced for Macs seems to lack the very Mac-ness that makes a Mac a Mac – the attention to detail, the delight of discovery. Some would argue that Apple itself is as guilty as anyone here – although the cursor for the iPad suggest they still get it mostly right. The article today by Brent Simmons highlights some common problems. I have left reviews on the Mac’s App Store along the lines of – nice idea but it is a pity it is not a Mac app. To their credit some developers have taken steps to rectify the problems when they are pointed out – If I close a window it does not mean I want to quit the app. Etc. Etc.
Can it really have been 30 years ago today that the world was introduced to the Macintosh?
Before the presentation the 27 year old Steve Jobs was shaking with fear and anticipation; “I’m scared shitless” he uttered and then stepped on stage and changed the world – a feat he would repeat several times.
Today, when all computers work like the Macintosh it is hard to imagine what was so special about windows, menus, scrolling text, graphics, speech synthesis etc. all chugging along on an 8 MHz Motorola 68000 processor and 128 Kb of RAM. The wonderful Cathode can take your modern Mac back to those wonderful pre-Mac days…
Jobs and Steve Wozniak had defined what a personal computer would be like and how it would work. IBM dominated the world of computing and were venturing into the fledgling personal micro computer market (micro computers as opposed to the mainframe and mini computers widely used at the time). The Apple II dominated the personal computer market of the day; introducing the world to the Spreadsheet and providing work for a small company called Microsoft..
The Apple II would continue to sell well despite the appearance of the Mac. The personal computer belonged to the individual and would empower them in their daily lives; liberating them from the corporate controlled IBM computers operated in the basement by boffins. That was the Big Brother that the Mac was designed to destroy….
Jobs saw the personal computer as something you could pick up and carry – the Apple II was a wedge shape so you could tuck it under your arm and the Mac had a built in carrying handle. The IBM personal computer models fail this basic requirement…
Just one year later Jobs will be sacked not to return to the then nearly bankrupt Apple in 1997.
Some may have missed the historical significance of the picture of [wikipop]Steve Jobs[/wikipop] (allegedly) on a bicycle with Apple wheels created by Mike Joos for his bike series.
In the early 1980s [wikipop]Macintosh[/wikipop] was just a code name for the then unreleased new computer from Apple. It was thought that Bicycle would make a good name for the computer. A contemporary Apple advertisement had explained how humans were not as fast runners as many other species, but a human on a bicycle beat them all. Personal computers were “bicycles for the mind.”
Fortunately the team developing the Mac did not like the Bicycle moniker and just kept calling it the Macintosh and so that is what it became.
With the arrival of Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) the App Store has seen a flurry of one star reviews…some of the more lucid ones consider all changes a personal affront and complain that they break the industry standards…
Alas the opportunity for such one star rants has not existed for very long so we need to fill in the blanks from the past…
I have just purchased [wikipop search=”Macintosh 128K”]the new Macintosh computer[/wikipop]. Where are the arrow keys and control key? How am I supposed mark out and edit a block of text? These Control key combinations are an industry standard…
I have just purchased the new [wikipop search=”iMac G3″]iMac[/wikipop]. Where is the [wikipop]floppy disk[/wikipop] drive? What use are these new fangled [wikipop]USB[/wikipop] ports? Will anyone ever develop any
peripherals for them? Why can’t we have industry standard [wikipop]SCSI[/wikipop] and [wikipop]Serial ports[/wikipop]?
Etc. Etc. You get the idea.
Just over a week ago we installed Lion on our modest iMac (2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 3GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT 128MB) and the MacBook (2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 320M 256MB). Apart from the lack of AirDrop on the iMac all seems as expected. No slow downs or crashes as some one star reviewers have seen. Even the 2TB Western Digital external drive continues to chug away. Natural scrolling seems natural although the addition of a trackpad is probably a good idea… Which seems to be the point some people are failing to get. [wikipop]Steve Jobs[/wikipop] likes to quote the ice hockey player [wikipop]Wayne Gretzky[/wikipop] â€œI skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has beenâ€. Watch a young child using an iPad
and it is pretty clear (never mind the sales figures: iPads=9.2 Macs=3.95 Millions in the last 3 months) just where the puck is heading. Of course some people may prefer marking out and editing blocks of text with some obscure control key combinations.. so perhaps this process started with the first Mac which failed to provide such keys to force programmers to think in the new graphical way rather than continue with what they already knew. Today’s children will grow up finding the idea of dragging a mouse around on a desk to manipulate something on the screen as equally silly and archaic even if it was once an industry standard…
Interesting email from Apple offering huge discounts on Adobe software…
..but wait. That is not my usual email address. The web site looks like an Apple site apart from the poor [wikipop]typeface[/wikipop] choice.
The About Us page masterfully utilises the English language to convince anyone that might be thinking that this was not a real Apple page.
Mac users have come to expect a certain standard and consistency from their software. OK we can tolerate the non-standard interface once in a while but some things are just assumed. Until today’s launch of the Mac App store. What we have are a lot of ports from the iPad/iPhone school of app development with no consideration for, or perhaps even an understanding of, how such apps will be used and be expected to work on a Mac. Sadly these are supposed to have been vetted by Apple before being allowed into the store. With no demo/trial versions available from the store you do not know what you are getting until you already have it. So please can we have apps that…
…ask if you want to save your unsaved work when you Quit them?
…have an Edit menu and an Undo?
…comply with click and drag norms instead of leaping back several decades with a click, move and click again interface? These probably worked fine with a couple of fingers on a touch screen but not so good on a Mac – even with a Magic Track Pad.
…accept images dragged into them rather than having to Open them from the File menu?
…give us a clue what we are supposed to do? There is a Help menu on the Mac. I posted instructions for PinBall HD this afternoon… A couple of hours later it had been well used…
It also seems a bit hit and miss which apps are marked as installed. Those you acquire through the App Store are but those from other sources are not; yet some of my Apple apps are marked as installed Aperture, Garageband etc. although not from the App Store while others are not iWorks etc. If we are going for seamless updating surely all installed applications should be noted and updated as and when.
It seems software purchased directly from Apple through an Apple account is recognised as installed by the App Store; if purchased elsewhere it is not recognised.