Apple’s Walled Prison

I endure it because they make great software. I endure it because I have become dependent on their ecosystem. I endure it because there’s money in developing software for their platform.

But I am ever so close to just saying “Forget it” and moving on.

Apple’s simplistic DRM solutions for iPhone reduce the utility of the device by about 90%. They don’t even seem to consider what happens when you have 2 or 3 people in a family, all with separate iPhones all synced to the same computer. They don’t seem to care about people who have a desktop and a laptop computer and need to be able to copy files and apps to their phone from either of these devices.

Just a glimpse of my life with Apple’s walled prison last night. I was developing some sample Apps using CodeNameOne, NetBeans and Xcode. I have the full dev environment on my laptop, but my iPhone happens to be paired with my Desktop. When it comes time to “test” out my app on MY phone, I need to first register my phone with Apple as a development device, then set up and install a provisioning profile onto the phone. This part was about an hour of mucking around that I would like to have back.

Then it comes to copying my test app to my phone. Of course, I can’t do that from my laptop. I need to kick my wife off the desktop computer so that I can first copy the app to the desktop computer. From there I should be able to copy the app to my phone with no problems, right? Well not so fast. Apple is a firm believer in Murphy’s law, and a simple “copy” just wouldn’t cut it.

First attempt it tells me that my phone is not authorized for the apps on this computer, so i would need to erase my entire phone to continue. I discovered that iTunes was signed into the iTunes store under my wife’s account – which was the source of the problem.

After logging out of the iTunes store and logging back in with my account, I make another attempt. At this point it stopped pushing me to erase my entire phone, but it seemed to be complaining that several apps were not authorized for this computer. E.g. My Gmail app and my Netflix app. I guess I installed them straight from the App store. It prompted me to authorize them, at which point I entered my iTunes username and password. It took the password and then informed me that the apps still weren’t authorized. 4 or 5 times around this circle, I finally decided to just go with the “Don’t Authorize” button. After all, my goal here is to simply copy ONE test app that I had written onto my iPhone.

After opting to “not authorize” my apps I was informed that I would be required to delete the apps. At this point I just wanted to proceed so I said “fine, delete them!”.

After that I was able to copy my test app onto the phone and it ran quite nicely.

So at the end of the day, my test app written with CodenameOne runs great, and the number of installed apps on my phone has been reduced by 25%. No gmail, No netflix…. I guess I’ll just have to install them again and go through this dance once more.

This is not an isolated incident. Just the most recent in my lifetime of troubled interaction with my iDevices. In the past I have given up on such difficult tasks as
1. Copying a video from my computer to my iPad.
2. Copying a song from my computer to my iPhone
3. Copying a PDF from my computer to my iPad.

Up until now, I had solved the problem by just reducing the number of things that I do with these devices. I was down to just checking email. But since the Apple gods have deemed my unauthorized to use my Gmail app, I guess I won’t be doing that either.

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