apple  ipad

Buying Into a Philosophy

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

What if Apple built Windows?

Out there question, I know, but stick with me on this one. If Apple made Windows, would you like it more than you like it day? The features would be the same, and maybe it would work more smoothly with Apple’s iCloud services, but in every other way it would be the Windows 10 you know and love today. Would you like it more? Would you critique it more? Would ask why you need to buy into the Windows philosophy to use it over macOS?

“I feel like I need to buy into a philosophy when using an iPad,” is a statement I’ve seen permeate the Apple blogosphere recently, and you know what, I totally agree. Choosing the iPad means buying into the philosophies of the iPad’s software.

But so does using a Mac. So does using Windows. If you switched to a Windows machine today, you’d have a million things about the system that you would disagree with and would drive you mad. You wouldn’t have the apps you know and love. You could do what you typically do, but not always in the same way. There will even be things you simply can’t do, too.

How about if you gave up your iPhone and went to Android today? All of the same things apply: your apps won’t always be there, your muscle memory won’t be there, you’ll feel less productive, and you’ll of course think it’s worse.

You choose the Mac if you believe in beautiful UIs and maybe even UNIX in general. You use Windows for choice in hardware and maximum flexibility. You choose Android because you value customization, being able to side-load apps, and options to buy the best phone of each year, no matter the manufacturer.

Buying into a philosophy isn’t something unique to the iPad, it’s fundamental in how we pick our software platforms across the board.

What’s my philosophy for a computer? I want something that’s flexible, allows me to do amazing work, and that runs the best damn software that lets me achieve those things. Of course I landed on the iPad! If I valued terminal access, software development, and 30 years of muscle memory, then sure, I’d prefer the Mac.

I think that choosing to use the iPad as your computer requires you to have a different philosophy than a Mac user. I’d also say the 2% of computer users who chose a Mac for decades in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s also had a different philosophy that meant they could only use the Mac.

This all makes me wonder if the fact that Apple makes both macOS and iPadOS makes people feel like they need to like both of them equally. We don’t get think pieces every couple weeks about how “Android requires you to buy into a philosophy” or that “Windows can’t do all the things I do on my Mac,” because of course they don’t.

The Mac community, one that I’ve been in and enjoyed for…25(!) years at this community is built on buying into the Mac’s philosophy. The iPad has tons of things wrong with it from a software perspective, but to dwell on those constantly omits the things that are genuinely great about it (number of iPad users have rage-uninstalled Zoom or Dropbox for shady install tactics…zero). I also know that there are fewer people out there doing “real work” on an iPad vs a Mac, but you would think long time Mac fans would have a little more excitement for a smaller platform that thinks differently about what a computer can be.