About six months ago a friend of mine left the agency we were working at to go freelance. He said that he was going to be buying a MacBook Pro as his development machine. That planted a seed in my mind about the possibility of switching myself. After all, here was an architect whom I greatly respected and he was talking enthusiastically about a platform I’d up until then mocked and ridiculed. He said that whenever he’d go to conferences he’d see a lot of developers on MacBooks, so there was definitely something there to consider.
When I joined Yahoo! this past month, and was given the option of having a Mac or a PC, I opted for a Mac. Sweet mother of mercy, was I ever in the wrong camp! For the past 20 years I was an avid PC user, having started way back in the days of DOS and then from Windows 3.1 all the way up to Vista. Yet it took only about two days of using OSX on a MacBook Pro to completely blow me away. It wasn’t so much the sleek look of the product that did it, though it did sweeten the deal. No, what did it for me was the realization of what a well-rounded product I was working with. From the power of the FreeBSD based OS to the incredible amount of attention to detail given to the user interface, I knew I’d found something truly unique. I finally understood what the source of all the Mac Zealotry and fanboyism was.
A few things that stood out to me right away were the completely unassuming trackpad that allows you to do so much with so little. Like the two-finger scroll, the three-finger navigation & the two-finger tap which brings up the context menu; it’s so useful yet so elegantly implemented. Then there’s the backlit keyboard that detects the room’s ambient light level and lights up the keys when needed. Compared to my old ThinkPad’s manually activated ThinkLight, it was like trading in a Lada for a Porsche. Finally, and this is something I can’t stop marveling at because it’s so simple, but the fact that I no longer need to contort my hand in order to hit Ctrl+ keys and can instead hit Cmd+ with my thumb makes life so much less painful; and it’s so much more natural!
The bottom line with Apple is this: though they are seen as a tyrannically run company, it’s actually an advantage. There’s definitely something to be said for controlling the design of both hardware and software–particularly when you’re good at it, which Apple is. In the end, it allows for a much more well-rounded product. What’s more, Apple did something smart when they switched to a FreeBSD based operating system; they outsourced what they weren’t necessarily strong at, and played up their strength: an eye for aesthetics & usability. As a result, their product is a unique blend of the power of FreeBSD and the beauty of Apple’s design Kung Fu.
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