Why I’m never going back to Apple ever again and Why this is about more than just a few inconveniences

The day I officially quit Apple for good.

So we all probably know a lot of die hard Apple fans, in fact maybe you are one. I’ve always been irritated by die hard Apple fans for admittedly petty reasons. Personally, I think Apple’s greatest endeavor has been their marketing campaign that enables the kind of loyal users they now have. What bugs me is the way Apple people think Apple creates every cool feature they use – sorry, but that’s just not the case. When Siri came out Apple people went on and on about how awesome it was. All I could think was, “Yea, Google voice search is already available on Android phones.”  Samsung developed the “pinch to zoom” feature in 2003, prior to the first iPhone release. Samsung also developed the “card view” “swipe to see” interfaces prior to Apple. Samsung and HTC had widgets built-in long before Apple integrated a control center. Android exceeds at file sharing between devices via NFC, again, prior to Apple. And via Google, Android users have long enjoyed the ability to back up contacts, images, files, etc. before Apple introduced the iCloud. The list goes on and on. So I’ve always been a bit irritated by Apple groupies who want to tell me how cool it is…but I admit, these are petty reasons not to like a company or product.

Everything Apple “borrowed” (err, stole) – click to enlarge.

But in 2012 I decided to switch to the iPhone4s just to give it a try, to fairly assess whether I liked it better than Android or not. It had its perks, primarily a smooth operating system that rarely crashed or lagged (something Android was still figuring out). But the iPhone’s one-size-fits-all model wasn’t for me. After 2 years with it I really missed the customization of Android. I also found myself constantly downloading Google apps onto the iOS because I preferred their interfaces, synchronizations, features, etc. (and let’s not even get me started with the Apple maps fiasco that got me lost for an entire summer!).

So, last week I switched back to Android in the form of the Samsung S5. I’m loving the new phone, it it so much more customizable, Swype is the greatest, the camera is amazing with really cool features, airview is so convenient, NFC is great, Isis wallet is wonderful, the widgets make everything right where I need it without opening up apps, it’s got a beautiful screen, it works seamlessly, all around it’s great. So what’s the problem….? Well, I CAN’T RECEIVE iMESSAGES!
I found it very suspicious that I hadn’t heard from some of my closest friends all week. After 7 days I had my husband text them only to discover they were communicating with me but I wasn’t receiving their texts. I still have no idea who else may have contacted me in the past 10 days that I’ve ignored. I had noted the silence from close friends, but beyond that, I have no idea…I’m sorry (if it’s you, I’m sorry! Please email me or send me a text not an iMessage).
After doing some research I discovered this has been a known problem on iPhones since at least January 2012! For more than  two years Apple has KNOWN that Android users cannot receive iMessages after switching phones. They are calling it a “bug”. Are you kidding me?!?! This is not a “bug” this is a deliberate design feature and it ought to be illegal! The impetus is on Android users to fix the problem and Apple has taken no steps to correct this design. The simple “fix” is to disable iMessages on my iPhone. Well, problem is my iPhone is kaput. It won’t even turn on, so I’m unable to do this. I did some research and another fix involves unregistering my Apple account. Ok, so let’s do that. I clicked on every link provided by the forums and Apple support and there is no unregister link. Look, see for yourself:
If you search for deactivate, it only suggests deactivating certain features, all of which involve doing it via the device itself. Furthermore, their website now lets you know that changing your password or removing your phone number won’t actually fix the problem (a common suggestion on the help forums).
They require you contact tech support and require a serial number in order to set up a chat. I don’t have a freakin’ serial number because your stupid phone refuses to turn itself on! I’m going crazy here!!!! Now I’m on a freakin’ hunt to find a damn serial number JUST SO I CAN EVEN GET A HOLD OF TECH SUPPORT! I tried calling – guess what? I have to have a serial number. Are you kidding me?!?! I’ve literally spent 30+ minutes trying to solve a problem THEY created and now I can’t even get support because I don’t have a serial number because the phone won’t turn on or connect to the network. In what world does this make sense?!?!
So let’s get this straight…Apple developed a closed proprietary messaging system that is incompatible with all other systems (this is the same reason your friends on older Android phones can’t reply to group messages, it’s not their fault, it’s Apple’s). I chose to leave Apple for a different system, but I am literally locked into that system until I deliberately opt-out of it. If I don’t have access to the device anymore, then I have to call Tech Support for help, but in order to do so I have to provide a serial number I can’t access. I am now left with no other options than to drive to an Apple store and hope for some magical fix to a problem Apple created! So far, here is what Apple employees have suggested to others in my situation, “Some customers have been told the solution to their problem is to ditch their new phone and just buy another iPhone. Others have been told to change their phone numbers.” Are you freakin’ kidding me?!?! This is NOT a solution! You created this problem, now FIX IT!  Meanwhile, I’ve inadvertently ignored countless messages in the past 10 days because I was unaware this was even a problem.
During all my research to fix this “bug” (deliberate design flaw), I discovered that Apple is being sued over this issue. My first thought was, “Heck yea, sue the pants off that arrogant company!” My second thought was, “I hope they’ve hired a good lawyer who truly respects and understands why this is about so much more than iMessages and Android.” Yes, this is all incredibly irritating and possibly detrimental to people’s personal affairs and business communications (hopefully just a really irritable situation for me without dire consequences). But it’s more than that…and ultimately the reason I’m forever leaving Apple products.
The internet was built upon a system of values that respected open access networks. The internet works and is what it is today because systems were not closed off, all devices were allowed to connect to it, ideas, systems, code could be shared, adapted, and used. Those values have continued to be preserved in order to make the net better, faster, more adaptable etc. Apple has decided it doesn’t want to play by those rules, nevermind that it is what it is today because it built its system based on open access software and values. Fine, you want to create a closed proprietary system, whatever. But when I opt-out of your system, I should have EVERY RIGHT to have continued uninturrupted access to my messages and contacts regardless of what system they are using. I should not have to jump through countless hoops to get my communication back on an open network that transmits messages outside of your closed system. I’ve never even understood the benefit of iMessages – it was just a way for Apple to further close off their system, and for what…? So you don’t pay text message rates…yea, you could already do that through Google message apps and countless other messaging apps. Sigh…

I’m obviously not a legal scholar, but I feel like this case has some legal precedents. Back in 1913 via the Kingsbury Commitment the federal government (what would become the FCC) allowed AT&T to become a regulated monopoly but with a few stipulations. One was that they required AT&T to connect with all other phone networks, regardless of providers. Prior to this stipulation AT&T customers could not connect to customers on other networks. This would be the equivalent of AT&T cell customers not being able to call or receive calls from Sprint customers. Or in today’s terms, Gmail users not being able to communicate with Yahoo users. Or…or…or…Android customers not being able to communicate with iOS users!?!? So prior to 1913 businesses quite literally had to have and pay for multiple phone services in order to connect with everyone. This is ludicrous right? Yea, in a rare moment of clarity the federal government thought so as well. They deemed that communication was a basic right and that all customers ought to be able to connect and communicate with all other customers (or rather all citizens should be able to connect to all other citizens) regardless of who their service provider was. Huh? Yea, that makes a lot of sense.

Again, this is the basic premise of the internet – any legal device is allowed to connect to the network and connect with any other device on the network, period. Although this too is being threatened by ISPs and other corporations attempting to regulate who can access what and when and for how much and how fast – this is why network neutrality is so important. Net neutrality is the premise that service providers and content providers cannot interfere with customers’ communication and connections. We should all access what we want equitably and connect to each other without corporate interests manipulating communication connections. Novel idea huh? Can you imagine your phone provider regulating the quality of your call based on whom your talking to? No? Well your internet provider shouldn’t be able to…and NEITHER SHOULD THE MAKER OF YOUR PHONE!

Apple has created a closed off network and that is incompatible with other devices and networks – in and of itself I already have a problem with this. But now they are not releasing customers from that system even after they leave. They are holding us captive and placing all responsibility and impetus on us to figure out a solution to a problem they created. And that, my friends, is the final straw for me. This has caused such a headache for me, one that I still haven’t been able to resolve. I’m loving my new phone, but the switch has been anything but seamless thanks to Apple’s corporate attempt at creating closed off systems that disadvantage everyone but them. So I’m leaving based on experience and principle.

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