How it all works
Apple’s operating systems make your Mac, iPhone, and iPad work together in perfect harmony
lthough it’s something of a cliché to say “It just works” when describing Apple kit, with one or two exceptions it’s absolutely true. Plug an iPhone or iPad into a Mac, for example, and iTunes launches automatically, displays your iOS device, and asks whether you want to sync it.
When intervention is required, Apple usually provides an app to walk you through the process. AirPort Utility is a case in point, making it easy for most people to set up and start using an AirPort Extreme or Time Capsule.
The flip side of this is that for more experienced users, or those who have specific needs, the basic options offered aren’t enough, and some digging is required to find specific settings. In AirPort Utility’s case, the settings, for the most part, are present but they’re not obvious and often are presented under different names to those found in the documentation of other routers.
Steve Jobs’ idea of a ‘digital hub’ from around 2003, with the Mac sat at the centre, has been surpassed by a system in which devices connect to each other in a more random fashion, with no single device as the linchpin.
AYou can, for example, elect to sync your iPhone and iPad with your iMac, and stream content to Apple TV and AirPort Express from your MacBook Pro. But you can just as easily sync your iPad and iPhone with iCloud, and then stream music directly from iTunes in the Cloud to any of your Apple devices.
It’s also important to note that while one piece of Apple kit works beautifully with another, that doesn’t mean you have to buy into the whole ecosystem. With the exception of the Watch, which will require an iPhone, you can connect Apple products to kit made by any of its competitors. So, you can hook up your MacBook Pro to any Wi-Fi router, your iPad to any Bluetooth earphones, and your Mac Pro to any monitor with the appropriate connection. There have been occasions in the past when, due to technical limitations (such as an insistence on using ADB and serial connections) or marketing (limiting the original iPod and iTunes to Mac users), Apple has placed restrictions on what you can use with its devices. But, despite claims to the contrary from some quarters, these days Apple relies on the benefits of making the experience of buying into its system a great one, rather than shoehorning users into it.