If Only Windows, Android Upgrades Were So Reasonable

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-06-11 Print this article Print


FaceTime gets access to cellular networks, so iPad users with LTE or 3G and iPhone users don€™t need to use WiFi to work with FaceTime. And in case you didn€™t think your data usage was high enough already, Siri is getting an upgrade along with its move to the iPad. Siri can now give you sports scores and stats, restaurant reviews (via Yelp) and tell you what€™s showing at the movies. Siri can also launch apps. 

Passbook is something new to iOS 6. It€™s an app that keeps track of everything from boarding passes, rail tickets and your Starbucks card. It will also keep track of hotel reservations, plane reservations and pretty much anything that requires a pass, a ticket or a reservation Even better, it can display the required bar code so you can get to the endless airport security line even sooner and charge your coffee at the airport Starbucks. 

This app is location-sensitive, so when it detects the fact that you€™re at the airport, it will display your boarding pass automatically. Likewise, when you enter a Starbucks, it will display your account information barcode. It€™s not clear what happens when you walk into a Starbucks located at the airport. 

There€™s also a phone app that can remind you to return a phone call or can screen your calls for you. And Facebook is now completely integrated, which may be a feature or a bug, depending on how addicted you are to Facebook. 

What€™s probably the most important thing about both Mountain Lion and iOS 6 is that Apple is making these significant upgrades to their operating systems easily and cheaply available. iOS will be upgraded for free and Siri will come along for free if you have compatible hardware. Mountain Lion is either free (if you buy a new MacBook) or it costs $20.  

This kind of constant improvement at a reasonable price is one of the ways that Apple is growing its market share so steadily. Compare this with Microsoft, where your upgrade to Windows 8 won€™t be anything like free unless you buy a Windows 7 computer starting about now. If you have a slightly older computer, a move to Windows 8 will cost a couple of hundred dollars, perhaps more. Windows Phone 7.5 devices are stuck €“ they won€™t get a Windows 8 upgrade. 

And then compare that upgrade process against whatever it is that Android is doing. That€™s hard to tell, since it seems that every device from every maker has a different upgrade path. This, of course, is much of the reason for the Android fragmentation problem that€™s driving users€“not to mention IT managers€“nuts.  

While it€™s too bad that I won€™t be able to upgrade my 2nd generation iPod (assuming I can find it), Apple at least includes the ability to make the upgrade to a new OS fairly seamless and highly cost effective. Imagine if Microsoft had this policy and made upgrades from, say, Windows XP reasonably priced and also possible. Even on machines with the hardware able to run Windows 7, an upgrade from XP is extremely difficult unless you buy something like LapLink€™s PC Mover, which is reasonably inexpensive and highly effective, but buying PC Mover alone costs more than the upgrade to Mountain Lion. 

Essentially, at today€™s WWDC keynote, Apple demonstrated one thing besides some cool mobile products. It demonstrated why Apple customers are so fanatically loyal.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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