Big Pic­ture Mode

Nathan Brown up­grades his iPhone, and in­stantly yg re­grets it

EDGE - - CONTENTS - NATHAN BROWN Nathan Brown is Edge’s deputy editor. His next col­umn re­quires the E285 OS and comes with Netscape Nav­i­ga­tor

My phone con­tract’s up in a few months. I can tell be­cause this £400 de­vice, which is not even two years old, is dy­ing. Apps freeze up, the touch­screen stops re­spond­ing, and while bat­tery life’s never been great, that last bit be­tween 20 and one per cent van­ishes in min­utes. This has hap­pened with ev­ery iOS de­vice I’ve ever owned, and when­ever it does I pic­ture Tim Cook in a brightly lit cor­ner of­fice, cack­ling and flick­ing a kill­switch be­fore turn­ing back to a pur­chase or­der from the Bath branch of Car­phone Ware­house. Or per­haps it’s the ghost of Steve Jobs, Ap­ple’s for­mer CEO spend­ing the after­life flit­ting over the air from iPhone to iPhone, freez­ing Face­book and drain­ing that fi­nal 20 per cent of bat­tery to power his jump to the next about-to-be-ob­so­lete sucker. Re­ally, it’s my fault. I should never have up­dated to iOS 8.

I held out as long as I could. I learnt long ago that Ap­ple’s new op­er­at­ing sys­tems are de­signed to make its new de­vices sing and its older ones wheeze. But the lure of Ap­ple Mu­sic was too strong. I went for it. And then I re­mem­bered the thing I al­ways for­get: it’s not the post-up­grade process that’s painful, it’s up­dat­ing the thing in the first place.

Be­cause the bulk of my iPhone’s 16GB of stor­age is out-of-fo­cus scream­ing-baby photos that I can’t quite bring my­self to delete, I don’t have the 3GB or so Ap­ple claims it needs free to per­form the up­date. That means I have to up­date through iTunes, which I’m told is ser­vice­able on a Mac but which I know is dis­gust­ing on Win­dows. Be­cause I never use it, it prompts me for an up­date – you know, that lit­tle popup where Ap­ple op­ti­misti­cally sug­gests that you might, in the year 2015, like to in­stall Quick­Time. I de­cline, and plug in my phone. It’s not com­pat­i­ble with this ver­sion of iTunes. I up­date, remembering just in time to untick the Quick­Time in­stall. Just 20 min­utes later, the 80MB down­load and in­stall are com­plete. I plug in my phone, re­alise I haven’t backed it up in a while and that my iCloud stor­age is full of baby photos, and de­cide that I should prob­a­bly do a man­ual one. I back up through iTunes. Then man­u­ally back up the photos just in case. Fi­nally, an hour or so later, it’s time to up­date.

Of course it fails. There’s no ex­pla­na­tion of what hap­pened or why, just a mat­ter-of­fact mes­sage ex­plain­ing that ev­ery­thing is fucked, we need to re­store fac­tory set­tings, you’re go­ing to lose ev­ery­thing and this, Nathan, is what you get for say­ing no to Quick­Time. Words to that ef­fect, any­way. We re­set, we up­date, we re­store the backup we made, down­load all the apps the backup some­how missed (ev­ery last one of them), and then, an en­tire evening later, we have a phone that seems al­most iden­ti­cal but runs like shit. Ap­ple Mu­sic’s great, at least.

Amaz­ingly, this still isn’t my worst Ap­ple up­date ex­pe­ri­ence. That hon­our goes to the time I tried to set up a new iPod on my wife’s age­ing iBook. It needed a new ver­sion of iTunes, which in turn needed a new OS that had al­ready been su­per­seded and the lap­top didn’t have enough RAM to run any­way – some­thing I didn’t find out un­til I’d man­aged to source an in­stal­la­tion disc at con­sid­er­able ex­pense. I hooked the iPod up to an eightyear-old Win­dows lap­top run­ning Win­dows XP and it worked first time.

I’m sure that by now some of you are won­der­ing why I don’t switch to An­droid. Or Win­dows Pho– No, let’s be hon­est, no one’s think­ing that. The thing is, I don’t want to. I love my phone, and my iPad, and my wife loves hers, and our fam­ily is so locked into the Ap­ple ecosys­tem – years of app pur­chases, mu­sic down­loads, and now Ap­ple Mu­sic playlists – that switch­ing now would be an ex­pen­sive, in­con­ve­nient thing to do. It only gets more ex­pen­sive and in­con­ve­nient the longer I stay. Is this re­ally the way to re­ward loy­alty? To put me through this ev­ery few years un­til I be­grudg­ingly ac­cept that this £400 de­vice is about to give up the ghost?

If you told me a cou­ple of years ago that Mi­crosoft had the beat­ing of Ap­ple, I’d have laughed you out of the room. But the Win­dows 10 up­grade was free, mean­ing­ful and pain­less, and back­wards com­pat­i­bil­ity on Xbox One is pre­cisely the sort of thing we need more of – a re­ward, rather than a pun­ish­ment, for loy­alty. It sug­gests a com­pany that val­ues its cus­tomers, rather than see­ing them as a coin-filled piñata to be whacked about a bit ev­ery cou­ple of years, a tur­tle-necked ex­ec­u­tive cack­ling as the fi­nal few cop­pers drib­ble out, throw­ing a Quick­Time disc on your shat­tered re­mains.

Switch­ing only gets more ex­pen­sive and in­con­ve­nient the longer I stay. Is this re­ally the way to re­ward loy­alty?

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