I recently was donated an “obsolete” iPhone 3GS, which had been behaving erratically occasionally, and its owner upgraded to a later model. I don’t “do” Apple, for a number of reasons, but took the phone to tinker with, and perhaps learn something.
I don’t buy Apple products, essentially because I don’t like the company’s attitude. I don’t like the way that everything is locked down and restricted; and I don’t like the way that consumers, software developers, and even mobile carriers are relentlessly exploited for cash. (Let’s all shed a tear for the poor mobile phone companies.)
I realize that most of the consumer victims of Apple are perfectly happy with their purchases. They believe the higher prices are because they’re buying “quality” and when they’re jumping through hoops to do things the Apple way, they don’t actually know that there is any other way.
Take iTunes, for example. There’s no fundamental need for you to have a special software application to buy stuff off the internet. A web browser is fine. But using the same software application to manage your phone for backups and updates and to buy media from an online store and to play stuff on your PC and to download apps is just MENTAL. No software developer would have come up that concept, except in this case where the objective was to lock your iPhone to one store and one account.
As you probably know, there is a process to break an iPhone free from Apple’s monopoly store, “jailbreaking”, which makes use of flaws in the system. Every time Apple plugs a hole, the hackers find another one, and so it goes.
In my case, with a phone several years old, there was a well-established range of jailbreaking options and many a tutorial on the net. I chose a polished hacking utility called “redsn0w”, which subverts Apple’s firmware update to install jailbroken system software and an independent app store, Cydia (named after Cydia pomonella, a “worm” or larva often found in Apples). I’m a long-term user of Debian Linux, and was amused to see that Cydia uses a version of Debian APT to install packages.
From Cydia, I got a utility (“ultrasn0w”) to unlock the phone from its mobile carrier as well. Mobile companies lock phones to ensure that they get the contract and call revenue, but I’m sure that Orange got their money’s worth from that phone long ago.
Let me finish with another Apple story. I did once buy one of their products, a USB keyboard. I was fed up with the poor quality of PC keyboards, with their cheap, rub-off legends, and the Apple one was better-made, and looked stylish. So stylish, in fact, that you couldn’t actually type on it, since the keys had the feel and travel of those on a 1980s calculator. But here’s the Apple bit: it came with a USB extension cable (in case the built-in cable wasn’t long enough). But the two USB connectors to join the cables were made with a non-standard “key” and notch, to make sure that you couldn’t use the free extension cable with any other bit of USB equipment. Now that’s just plain nasty.