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The Strange Relationship Between Apple And Its Fans


The launch of the iPhone 7 and the reaction of commentators, users and bloggers got me thinking, just what is it about the relationship between Apple and its fans? You'll often hear the term iSheep bandied about anywhere that iPhone users are being derided (and Apple fans are just as negative about Fandroids to be fair) and much as I believe that your choice of smartphone doesn't define you as a person, some of the things that Apple fans say, write and do makes it very hard to defend them from this sort of attack.

Think about screen size. Apple consistently pushed the message that a screen should only be as big as the stretch of your hand, to allow it to be used in one hand and to make it more pocketable and portable. Apple blogs, fansites and fans commenting on the wider internet pushed this message religiously. Android phones were too big, unwieldy and impossible to use one-handed. It became a dogma.

And then Apple released the iPhone 6, the message changed and so did the dogma, without a hint of irony, reflection or reproachment. It was a 'four legs good, two legs better' moment and George Orwell would have been proud.

Suddenly a bigger screen was the best thing ever and all concerns about one handed usage and portability were forgotten. Conveniently brushed under the table was the fact that the iPhone 6 had the worst ratio of screen size to device size on the market. Apple said it was good and the chorusline echoed the new message.

So skipping over the Apple Watch, Apple Music and the iCloud, we come to the iPhone 7. Chief Apple cheerleader John Gruber published an attack on The Verge's review of the new iPhone, primarily because of its criticism of the missing headphone jack and the AirPods.

Yes Nilay Patel, the review's author, does mention the headphone jack on more than one occasion, but given Apple's self-indulgence on the subject at the phone's launch and the high profile its removal has had, that's really quite understandable.

It is in his criticism of the review that Gruber betrays his blinkered outlook on technology. Responding to Patel's comment on the W1 pairing chip Gruber writes "it’s not like Android or Windows or any other platform makes standard Bluetooth pairing as effortless as pairing with AirPods". Clearly a man who has never heard of NFC outside of the context of Apple Pay. Headphones that pair with a quick tap have been available for four years now...

Another high-profile Apple blogger, Ben Brooks (a man who thinks using two iPads is better than owning one laptop), who "can’t wait to use AirPods just as I can’t wait to use the faux bokeh mode on the 7 plus. It all looks like a step towards the future". Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but Bluetooth headphones have been around forever. Software and multi camera Bokeh affects likewise. Is Brooks so tied to the Apple party line that he hasn't even investigated alternative technologies from other manufacturers?

As someone who seeks out the innovative and new irrespective of platform, this kind of slavish toeing to the party line is incomprehensible to me. It is entirely possible to be a fan of iOS and still question Apple's decisions and designs. To point out what other platforms do better, where other technologies improve user experience and what Apple should be doing differently.

Anything less is entirely sheep-like behaviour.

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