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Why you should be an Apple Fan/Hater: Part 1, the Walled Garden [Gamer by Design]

In the nerd and tech communities, we pretty much argue every day about why Apple is horrible or perfect. The one thing we all agree upon is that, just like politics, Apple is polarizing. Let’s gab about the very high level concepts of the debate.

Walled Garden

A few of the practices of Apple are referred to as the “walled garden.” I like the term ’cause the Secret Garden is one of my favorite musicals (Mandy Patinkin, he’s like butter!). But I digress. What the term means is that a lot of the elements are controlled tightly. For example, to publish an app on an iPhone, you must go through the Apple app approval process. On the contrary, Android has several app stores, and some of them have no strict approval process at all.

In short: No apps (unless you have a hacked phone) run on iPhones unless Apple approves them.

Hater: You are a tech guy and think that the “walled garden,” un-customizable vault of the app store hinders the ability of developers and individuals to write programs, install custom programs, and use the device for other purposes like teathering to laptops (giving a laptop internet through the phones connection) and shopping on other app stores. Also, if you have your music and other content on an Apple device, it can be hard to move it somewhere else, so you kind of become stuck. This is especially true of less tech savvy peeps.

Most of these people have chosen Android for that reason. Android allows your phone to be your phone. If you are a rookie, you can follow the rules and keep it in somewhat factory condition. If you are super tech in nature, you can hack the crap out of it and customize everything, and you aren’t hit with the ban hammer.

Note: This is not how you fix your iPhone...

Lover: If you have an iOS device (and now the Mac is going in this direction), the only apps you can install are screened by the app store. So it’s less likely that you’ll a) get a virus, b) install a totally nonfunctional app, or c) install an app that steals your personal info (not that you can really avoid that these days anyways, but that’s another article all together). As we’ll talk about later, the app is built specifically for a small amount of devices. The other benefit is that, with a centralized app store, it is less complicated to sell games to a large amounts of users.

It’s my OS and I’ll Hoard it if I want to!

In some ways, when it comes to operating systems, Apple is a dictatorship and Windows is a democracy. You can only have (other than a hackintosh) Mac OS on a Mac that Apple makes, and you can only have iOS on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod that Apple makes.

On the other hand, Windows can run on any windows machine made by lots of people. And Android, the largest mobile competitor to iOS, runs on any random device made by lots of people.

Hater: That leaves you a  lot less selection if you want a Mac. Don’t like minimalist, white expensive computers? Well, screw you, cause that’s what you’re gettin’.

Fan: This allows Apple to have much greater control over the quality of the operating system. They know exactly what it’s built to run on, and the computer and the OS are built for each other.

Guess this guy is never gonna switch to android. Just a guess...

Microsoft gets a lot of crap for how buggy their operating systems tend to be on release. But if you think about it, how can they possibly test for every situation on every one of the thousands of computers that run Windows, all of which have varying performance and brands of hardware? By hoarding their OS, Apple gets:

  • Better performance since the OS is optimized for just a few computer types or phones.
  • Specific hardware-related functionality. The OS knows what to expect and can interact better with the computer/phone.
  • Hardware sales: Microsoft sells operating systems. Apple really doesn’t do that. They sell products, which have operating systems. This was one of the things Steve Jobs did right on his return to Apple. He knew what the business was about, and he ended the official clone program.

I used to be a big hater on this subject. But now that we are about 90% of the way done with our game Zig Zag Zombie, I’ve learned to love this as a developer.  Since the iOS only runs on iPads, iPhones, and iPods, an indie developer can actually afford to do a lot of testing and make a polished product, because the amount of devices is so limited. On the other hand, Android runs on thousands of phones, and you can’t guarantee that your game runs well on all of them. The overall effect of iOS is that you can concentrate more on the content rather than device-specific bugs.

The Skinny

yummy fluffy android is good for hugs

So who is right, the hater or the fan?  It really comes down to who you are. As a developer, I think the walled garden really helps us get good games to the masses. iOs and the first iPhone effectively created the modern era of mobile games. Before then (and trust me I worked in those days) you had to deal with a terribly complex marketplace. A lot of mobile games were of notoriously low quality and there wasn’t a good way to get them to the masses.

Some people love Android phones because they want control over everything. But some people love iPhones because they don’t want control. They don’t want to be able to break or crash the phone, install malicious programs, or even cause it to run slowly. It’s really a personality thing, as you can see.

What do you think? Are you a fan or a hater? Hit me up @MattUdvari on twitter.


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Image Credits: GDS-Production, TerryJohnston, laihiu, daveonflickr