Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Is Apple Becoming Dell? Transparency and the Exile of the Pro User

Yesterday, I finally disabled the transparency effect in Yosemite. After looking at something I was working on and trying to understand where the blue color cast was coming from, I finally realized it was coming from a blue area in the window below it. I've written in the past about how terrible the transparency effect is, but until it begins to negatively affect your work, it's easy to forget how insidiously frustrating it really is. It's really a complete departure from the days when we spent time and money to ensure that our displays were calibrated and our color previews were precise.

But this is the Apple we have now -- the Apple that's more focused on consumers and fashion than on the professional users who were lifeblood of their customer base back when there weren't smart phones and the rest of the world revolved around Redmond. We were loyal because the platform was ours. It was uniquely suited for the demands of type, design, video and images. As the web world grew, OSX was well matched with its Unix core.

But there is another thread inside of Apple, tugging on its designs and strategies; the drive to simplify. At times, simplify equates to streamlining complex processes, like using the GUI to move a file from one directory to another. Other times, simplified can best be described by the pre-OSX feature they tried to implement at one time, "The Launcher", a one click button to launch an application because -- I don't know, maybe double-clicking on the application was too complicated for some people. It was a stupid idea back then, but somewhere in the halls of Apple, there are still fans. iOS basically runs a Launcher interface, and Launchpad is now baked into OSX. And for pro users like you and me, it gets the same amount of use that the original Launcher did -- none. 

When they radically simplified FinalCut Pro, Apple faced a tremendous outcry from the professional video editing community. Some of that outcry resonated -- they added extensions to return a few features -- but if you look across the broader Apple software landscape, you'll see an overall weeding out of technical and control, instead being replaced by the idiot light or nothing at all. Remember the activity monitor in Safari? Gone.

So what does the Apple roadmap have in store for us? Who knows. I cannot help but expect the day when we're forced to have a giant clock running in the background because somebody has decided that OSX should mirror the functionality of the Apple Watch. Could they just give us an OSX pro version that doesn't include all of this crap?

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