Business

09.18.13

Why Is Apple Punishing Me, a Loyal Fanboy, With iOS 7?

Winston Ross should be in Apple-nerd heaven with iOS 7, released Wednesday. But it ... won’t ... download. Defeated, he tries out the new iTunes Radio against old favorite Pandora.

Was it something I said, Apple?

Over the years, I’ve bought your iPod, Mini, Shuffle, iPod Classic, new Shuffle, iPad 2, iPad Mini 3G (I sold the iPad 2), MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iPod Touch, another iPod Touch to replace the one I broke, iPhone 4 (I was poor and could only afford a dumb phone before that), iPhone 4s, and iPhone 5.

Shouldn’t that qualify me for an iOS 7 upgrade the day it comes out? Shouldn’t I get to skip to the head of the line? I’m a fanboy, you guys. I beat up Android users and take their lunch money. I throw people’s Droids in the air.

And this is how you do me? I go to download the latest update to your operating system and get: “There was a problem downloading the software for the iPhone ‘Winston’s iPhone.’ You do not have permission to access the requested resource.”

Permission? What the hell does that even mean? I didn’t say “Please”?

Well, please. PLEASE give me iOS 7. All my friends already have it and have been tweeting about it all day. They’re mocking me on G chat. Texting me screenshots of the pretty flat design. Bragging about how they can access their flashlight and turn off their Wi-Fi with the flick of a finger. I am going nuts here, Apple. Can I please have permission to download iOS 7?

Look, I realize I’m a member of the mainstream media and could have gotten on the ball a long time ago for a sneak peek. But I didn’t want to cut the line. I’ve been doing that my whole life, Apple. I decided this time I should wait my turn.

How about I try downloading it on the phone itself? “Your software is up to date,” the settings inform me. No, it is not up to date, Apple. I do not have iOS 7 on this phone. The icons are still skeuomorphic, and if I have to go one more day with skeuomorphic apps, I am going to burn my house down.

How about I try restarting the phone, Apple, and trying to download the update again? Success! It’s downloading! There’s a progress bar, and it’s moving, and I’m so excited and happy that I break out a bottle of bourbon to celebrate.

An hour later, the progress bar reaches the end of the line, and my heart is racing. Then it hits me like an Oklahoma tornado:

“Software update unavailable.”

Unavailable. Unbelievable. After everything we’ve been through, Apple?

I run back over to the computer and try again. Good news! I have earned “permission” to download iOS 7. I get another progress bar, but it says “Three hours remaining.”

I run back over to the computer and try that route again. Good news! I have apparently earned “permission” to download iOS 7. I get another progress bar, so I down another couple shots of bourbon. But it says “Three hours remaining.” I figure I’ll kill a little time by setting up a Pandora vs. iTunes Radio Smackdown. Apple’s radio service also rolled out Wednesday.

I’m already subscribed to Pandora One, at $3 a month, and iTunes Match, at $20 a year, so the financials are out of the way. What I really want to know is how good Apple’s music algorithm is, and I’m skeptical, because Genius has never done anything but suck.

So here goes:

Lately I’m a big fan of Wild Belle, so I start there, on both. First, iTunes serves up “Keep You,” my favorite. Pandora does “Isles,” also good. But what’s next is what really matters. Do these software programs know what mood I’m in? Can they read my mind?

Pandora skips to Max Sedgley’s “Slowly,” just a fantastic song and a perfect match for Wild Belle; iTunes gives me Portugal. The Man’s “Evil Friends.” Except it’s not actually playing. I’m just getting a blank progress bar. Maybe I don’t have permission to listen to Portugal. The Man on this device, either. I hit skip, and it goes to “Heaven” by the Walkmen. Great track, I’d never heard it, not exactly as reggae-riffic as Wild Belle, though, and I had to fight for it. Point: Pandora.

Let’s try a new artist: Spice 1, first as a test of whether either Apple or Pandora have a diverse-enough collection to include this old-school rapper from the “dirty” Bay Area. The first song from Pandora is “187 Proof,” which immediately blows my mind because I have never heard this song. I thought I knew every Spice 1 lyric by heart, and this was brand thuggin’ new to me. At this point I’m ready to hand the whole trophy to Pandora, but to be fair, I check out iTunes Radio first.

Apple starts with the same song! Impressive, iTunes Radio. Impressive. Point: Apple.

As a typical, distractible American, by this point my mind has wandered to other notable differences between the two streaming music services. Apple gives me the option to turn off explicit content, a useful feature when entertaining children or playing music at work. But I am still listening to the Spice 1 station, I have explicit content clicked “on,” and the next track, the classic “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” is all full of bleeps. Point: Pandora.

Another notable difference, at least in the Web versions of these apps: when I’m in Pandora, the lyrics to the song I’m listening to pop up, so I can follow along. Point: Pandora. When the next Spice 1 station song comes on, Scarface’s “I Seen a Man Die,” I notice the “About Scarface” section, where I learn he broke away from the Geto Boys in 1991 to launch a solo career. I never knew that! Point: Pandora. And there’s a “thumbs down” button, so I can teach the robot not just what I like, but also what I hate. Point: Pandora. But Apple’s layout is, objectively, prettier. Point: Apple.

Oh, and iOS 7? Still three hours away.

For a final test in the smackdown, I choose the far less threatening Breathe Owl Breathe. Both algorithms pick a good first song, but Pandora heads next to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s “Simple Girl,” a natural, folksy, and offbeat follow, while Apple goes with “Lost in My Mind” by the Head and the Heart, a lovely but kind of cheesy song I sheepishly admit to sometimes singing in my car, but which does not quite match the whimsical hipsterism of Breathe Owl Breathe. Point: Pandora.

But wait! What’s this? My iPhone has been updated and is restarting? I get to experience the joy of iOS 7 today after all?

I’ll see you guys later. I have flat apps to play with.