Primary OS and unfair comparisons

Tech Life

In The Primary OS Ben Brooks once again extols the virtues of going iOS-only. And I, once again, reiterate my stance on the matter: if it works for you, if adapting your workflows to it is manageable and not burdensome, go for it and more power to you. But I really believe it’s not necessary to put the other OS, the Mac, in a bad light just to reinforce how great a decision you made in leaving it behind.

With regard to Brooks’ specific article I’m liking to, I notice an unfair comparison between a neglected Mac with the first beta of Mac OS Sierra installed on it, and an iOS system that is up-to-date and used all the time every day.

I can manage everything from my iPad, but sometimes it’s just faster with my MacBook, so I grabbed that after a few minutes troubleshooting on my iPad Pro. But I failed to type my password twice, Terminal then crashed out on me. Then Safari froze. Then I had to just give up on the Mac and restart it. It could be macOS Sierra which is on the Mac, or it could be that I never use my Mac and so the system was in a state of “oh shit, anyone remember how do this stuff?”

Or it can be both things, and more. Failing to type your password is hardly the Mac’s fault. The Terminal crashing and Safari freezing really sounds like a typical issue with beta software (Terminal never crashed on me in 15 years of using Mac OS X, and the last time Safari froze on my Mac was under Mavericks — and it was one website’s fault). So yes, you can’t expect a neglected machine running a beta version of Mac OS to be instantly ready when an emergency occurs.

I lost 30 minutes to just managing my Mac that morning.

It’s okay. Once I lost about 45 minutes in iOS just trying to figure out a way to edit a bunch of RTF files I had put in the cloud. It also cost me some money, as I purchased apps that seemed to do the job but weren’t satisfactorily up to the task.

Yet my iPad was just there, did it’s [sic] job and stayed the hell out of my way, and never once demanded I do housekeeping on it. The apps update in the background. The devices backs up each night automatically. It’s just always ready to go. That’s simply not the case with my Mac.

Technically, certain ‘housekeeping’ can be disregarded on the Mac if you’re in a hurry or there’s an emergency. There’s no need to follow an app’s prompt to update to the latest version. The one currently installed is likely to do its job all the same. Update requests can be dismissed. Clearing up Notification Centre can be postponed, since it’s out of the way by default. And apps can update in the background on the Mac too — at least those purchased in the Mac App Store. Using Time Machine, the Mac can be backed up every hour. Using services like CrashPlan or BackBlaze you can schedule backups at night. Sure, in the catastrophic case you have to restore from a remote backup, since Macs have bigger storage, the process is going to be long and tedious. But restoring a 128 GB iOS device from an iCloud backup isn’t exactly lightning fast either.

My Mac is always ready to go. When I wake it from sleep I can resume work exactly where I left it in more than one application. Everything’s there, in the apps and documents I left open before grabbing the Mac to continue my work elsewhere.

My primary OS is Mac OS X, and for my work and the way I work, I don’t expect to leave the Mac anytime soon. But I certainly enjoy doing lighter, simpler tasks on iOS as well, and I’ve been using my iPad every day since I purchased it four years ago. I’ve been trying to use both Mac OS X and iOS in synergy and take advantage of the best of both worlds, because I think they’re quite complementary. However, by choosing the Mac as my primary system, I’m not implying iOS is a shitty environment, nor do I feel the need to draw certain comparisons which, to be honest, appear to be a little contrived and unfair.



Related: The Mac is just as compelling

The Author

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!