Apple’s claim that we are in the post-pc era is a load of garbage. This weekend I had the pleasure of updating our iOS household and it required a lot of tethering a lot of time and thanks to one particular failure quite a bit of frustration.
As anyone who’s purchased an iPad knows to activate even the wifi only device requires a sync with iTunes which of course requires both a computer and a cable. iTunes controls everything. It downloads the updates, confirms your device is authorized and flashes things over … all via the cable. In our house, we sync two iPads and two iPhones on two different computers though we share the same AppleID to ensure we can easly share apps and content.
Things were generally smooth for my devices which sync through my older MacBookPro. The update process on the iPad took a very long time, while the iPhone was processed a bit more quickly. In both cases you have to back-up, acknowledge the update, (though backup first) and the sync and restore … iTunes takes care of this, but it’s quite the process.
My wife syncs against her PPC Mac Mini which is older and slower. Her iPhone updated as expected, but the iPad failed. The failure occurred sometime over night. It had already taken hours for the backup and I just left it running when we went to bed. Unfortunately things did not resolve well … Failure in sync for those who have not lived through this means you have to start fresh. Fresh means nothing on your device. You can of course re-download everything or try to restore. Given how long the initial process ran, I opted for the quicker route … this is where the Post-PC BS really comes into play. There is absolutely no direct way to download everything again from the iPad. You have to hunt for everything all over and download them one at a time … You also really get to appreciate Apple’s design of the App Store which closes out on you for each download.
In contrast, on Android when you sign into your Google Account all your apps, settings and preferences come right down. When I upgraded to the Nexus S from the One, I found even my hidden wifi networks auto-reconnected when I was nearby. When I played with the Xoom recently, my apps did not download immediately (presumable to enable preferences between phone and tablet) but did all nicely line up in the Market ready for a single click to download again.
Apple’s reliance on the computer is certainly friendly for the lower end user, but is incredibly limiting for the more advanced consumer. There’s nothing post-pc about connecting to the pc to do the heavy lifting.