Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Apple Your Rights Online

iPad Is a "Huge Step Backward" 1634

An anonymous reader writes "FSF's John Sullivan launches the Defective by Design campaign and petition to rain on Steve's parade, barely minutes out of the starting gate. 'This is a huge step backward in the history of computing,' said FSF's Holmes Wilson, 'If the first personal computers required permission from the manufacturer for each new program or new feature, the history of computing would be as dismally totalitarian as the milieu in Apple's famous Super Bowl ad.' The iPad has DRM writ large: you can only install what Apple says you may, and 'computing' goes consumer mainstream — no more twiddling, just sit back, spend your money, and watch the show — while we allow you to." What is clear is that the rise of the App Store removes control of the computer from the user. It makes me wonder what the next generation of OS X will look like.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

iPad Is a "Huge Step Backward"

Comments Filter:
  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:34AM (#30933742) Homepage

    If you want what the FSF purports to want in the iPad and iPhone, its only $99/year more to be a certified developer, and that allows you to upload your own code onto up to a hundred selected devices. The process to become a developer is pretty painless (I did it for my own iPod touch, simply to have the potential to do some hacking down the road).

    Similar abilities exist for companies to upload their own selection of apps to corporate devices, for $250/year.

    Apple really isn't limiting the freedom to tinker for those who actually WANT to tinker, instead they realize that for most users , having an approved-code-only model is something the users actually wants: it means they have confidence in the system.

    How many people will happily grab tons of random free apps off the app-store? Would they have the same attitude if they didn't have apple saying "we've at least done a cursory check of this to make sure these free random apps won't *BLEEP* you up the rear"

  • by CrazyBusError ( 530694 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:35AM (#30933774) Homepage
    I hate to break this to you, but the 1984 ad was aimed at IBM, not Microsoft. Microsoft were small-fry at the time, in comparison.
  • Re:Dear FSF (Score:4, Informative)

    by drummerboybac ( 1003077 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:48AM (#30934052)

    they have, jailbreak your phone install what apps you want from wher you want.


  • Re:Dear FSF (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:53AM (#30934166)

    But this 'worthwhile organisation (sic)'

    English, motherfucker, can you read it? Write (sic) one more time. I dare ya!

    Writing "organisation" with an "S" is as correct as with a "Z". It's just a preference.

  • Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by Old97 ( 1341297 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:55AM (#30934212)

    You can install any application you want on an iPod Touch, iPhone and presumably the iPad as well. If you own or manage the device you have 2 options. You can either get the development environment and install applications directly to each device or you can set up a server (intended for but not restricted to enterprises) that manages all the devices in your control. You can install and remove any application, backup and restore data and setting, etc. What you cannot do without jail breaking the device is violate certain restrictions on using some OS APIs or distribute applications to devices you do not directly manage. You can distribute applications to others without jail broken phones who either have a developer set up or enterprise server. You can distribute pretty much anything to people with jail broken devices.

    As far as I know, Apple doesn’t arrest, prosecute or sue people who jailbreak their devices. They just don’t support them. Fair enough. If you use unsupported APIs on any OS or application you’ll generally find that you won’t get vendor support or cooperation doing that. No one can stand behind a product that is not being used as it was intended. As a customer, your reasonable expectations about a product and its support are those expressed by the vendor. They don’t include anything that the vendor expressly does not support. They don’t include whatever you can dream up.

  • Re:Dear FSF (Score:3, Informative)

    by tyrione ( 134248 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:58AM (#30934260) Homepage

    Microsoft would KILL to do this. Honestly, they would literally go out and kill puppies, kittens and baby seals all day long if it would allow them to control everything you install.

    If apple get's away with it, you know they will follow in their footsteps.

    We'd love to kill this fallacious analogy. Microsoft owns the content on the XBox. Microsoft's OS owns 3rd party PC OEMs. Apple doesn't. Get it?

  • by lwsimon ( 724555 ) <> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:10PM (#30934522) Homepage Journal

    I also noted that the 3G version is visually different from the WiFi version --- there is a dark accent on the top of the tablet, on the back.

    That couldn't *possibly* be so everyone around you will instantly know if you cheaped out and got the wifi-only version, now would it?

  • OS X is ok (Score:3, Informative)

    by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:18PM (#30934682)

    OS X, based on Darwin, isn't what I would call locked down. At least not any more than Windows. We've converted random homemade apps to work on Mac (by a professor's request, not because is was cost effective in any way). The iPhone without jailbreak is pretty much how you said: very good at doing what Apple wants it to do. But Apple hasn't clamped down on Jailbreak either.

    The iPad is very niche. It'll probably also be jailbroken (likely with the same hack that jb's iPhones) but before that I wouldn't think of it as a computer. It's pretty much meant as a distribution device, not as a production device (you read from it, you don't write). If you accept that it's not a gaming/Cray/design machine, only something you use for leisure on the couch, then it'll be easier for you to ignore.

  • Re:Dear FSF (Score:2, Informative)

    by thittesd0375 ( 1111917 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:21PM (#30934732)
    How did USB for input devices work out for you? If the iMac hadn't adopted usb as the primary connection for peripherals we'd still be stuck with the PC's multitude of incompatible interfaces. And Firewire... At the time that USB 1.1 was popular, it was inadequate for doing serious data transfer. I still use my Firewire 800 connection for any data I need to have quick access to and my USB 2.0 ports for data that is archived or not speed sensitive.
  • by daid303 ( 843777 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:26PM (#30934818)

    [quote]The process to become a developer is pretty painless (I did it for my own iPod touch, simply to have the potential to do some hacking down the road).[/quote]After 3 weeks of mailing with support I gave up. They never got my account working. Painless is not requiring any registration/payment, and supplying the documentation and development software for nothing.

    And I only wanted to look at the iPhone api, just to see if the platform would be worth developing for. But this experience told me enough.

  • by M. Baranczak ( 726671 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:30PM (#30934902)

    MacOS is not locked down. I can install any software I want, and most open-source Unix programs compile and run without any modifications or hacking. The developer tools are available at no cost, and there are no restrictions on who can write and distribute apps to users. Also, you can run almost any modern OS on Apple hardware (I've installed XP, Solaris and several flavors of Linux on Macs).

    None of the above is true of the Apple mobile line, which is why I stay away from it.

  • by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:31PM (#30934950)
    My horse is really pissed at you now. And, she bites.
  • Re:Dear FSF (Score:3, Informative)

    by ckaminski ( 82854 ) <slashdot-nospam@ ... m minus physicis> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:32PM (#30934958) Homepage
    Frankly, this idea of safety is a red herring.

    How much malware EVER existed for Windows CE and Palm OS? Almost ZERO.

    And look how big those software ecostructures were. Not 4000 useful apps and 130,000 games like the iphone, but the Palm OS had 30,000+ applications over it's lifespan, it and was constrained by not having WiFi for years, and a poor CPU driving it.

    Safety was never an issue. It's about getting a piece of every $ made on their platform, that's it. Instead of big up-front licensing costs, they spread it out over every deployment.
  • by yumyum ( 168683 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:36PM (#30935062)

    This whole "just don't buy it" thing is getting ridiculous...Don't dare try to influence any of the actions of a corporation

    I'm pretty sure that not buying a product is a strong and clear signal to a corporation that their product sucks. If the corporation is smart, it will listen to the signal and try something else.

  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:42PM (#30935192) Homepage

    The kind of "freedom" that is the hallmark of Richard Stallman, GNU and EFF is very simple -if you have programming skills you are free. Otherwise, you are, well, unfit.

    The basic problem is that the "open" computing platform has pretty much failed the consumer. No matter what security features are implemented in software, consumers will circumvent them to obtain what they believe they want: free software, porn, money, etc. The end result is a compromised computer that is no longer completely under the control of the user. And such computers can have a very negative impact on all users everywhere.

    The average consumer has no way to utilise the sort of programming freedom that Stallman would like to see people have. They need a checked-out, validated, "App Store" where both useful and useless things can be downloaded and will never, ever compromise their computer. And if an application is found to be bad after it is released it can be "recalled". Period. If we had this today for Windows there would be no spam epidemic, no malware and little or no phishing. Instead what we have is an environment where the Internet is not safe for users with no special knowledge.

    We are certainly going to see less and less "freedom" for users in the name of keeping out the bad stuff. Users, not programmers, do not need freedom but they absolutely need safe computing. We aren't going to teach that. With great freedom comes great responsibility and the spammers, thieves and scammers don't seem to be properly exercising responsibility.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:47PM (#30935334)

    It's called a ModBook: []

  • I'm evaluating phones now - I'm the owner of a 64G Touch 3G, am wielding a Pre+ on a 30-day trial and have used a number of Android phones.

    Apple Pros:
        navigating launcher is fast, quick, easy to use. One button. Consistent behavior in metaphors (delete, back, forward).
        Bright, large screen.
        Arguably accurate/responsive touch screen.
        Incredible on-screen keyboard and editor.
        Videos, integration with iTunes.
        Most applications (productivity) seem well thought out and designed.
        Software ecosystem.

    Apple Cons:

        Harder for me to write software for (as a non-dev, I don't care, or can move to Webapps).
        Large phone.
        Tied to AT&T.
        Not expandable (sd card)

    Pre Pros:

        Small, comfortable size.
        Wifi Hotspot

    Pre Cons:

        $10/m for access to VZ Navigator GPS
        $30/m for Wifi hotspot. For $30 more I can get a separate MiFi, and be able to browse and talk at the same time.
        Launcher is SLOOOOOW.
        Keyboard editing is more difficult - it's harder to arbitrarily edit text in a paragraph.
        Browser is nowhere near the ease of use of the Touch.
        Screen is smaller.
        Screen digitizer is not very accurate.
        Synergy: synergy is about contact and communication integration. It should allow me to email a facebook user from the contact app. As it is, it just shows me contact data that exists in each source, it doesn't utilize native communication tools. It also only supports LinkedIn and Facebook. After 6 months (since the Sprint release) I'd have expected that they'd have added Facebook or Twitter.
        Tied to Verizon.
        Software ecosystem is an unknown at this time. It's growing, but I'm not at all sure about marketshare and uptake.
        Not expandable (sd card)

    Droid Pros:

        Software ecosystem
        Powerful interfaces to communications (SMS/Email)
        Decent size for a phone
        Bright display

    Droid cons:

        midsize display
        Launcher is slow - navigating is noticably slower than the Touch.
        Digitizer is less accurate.
        Expandable with memory cards.
        Interface is not standardized (this is arguably not a con).
        My big fingers can't use the top row of the slider keyboard comfortably.

    <rant>Why can't we have one communications standard (GMS/CDMA) in this country?</rant>

    I'm pretty sure my Pre+ is going back to the store. It's cute, it's nice, but it's not my hoped-for Treo replacement. The Touch with it's onscreen keyboard is arguably better as a PDA than the Pre+ is with it's REAL keyboard. And I never thought I'd say that - I was vehemently against getting the iPhone or the Blackberry Storm for just this reason - I thought I couldn't live without a physical keyboard (I've had Treo's since the 600, and a Kyocera 6035 before that, and an original Pilot and a Visor before that). So before I ditch Verizon and go to the iPhone, I'm going to give the Blackberry Storm 2 a try.
  • Re:Dear FSF (Score:4, Informative)

    by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:55PM (#30935532)

    mDNS for local networks (Apple's implementation of zeroconf, which is open source and available for all major platforms)

    USB on the iMac - it was the first, and soon became ubiquitous when it became just how useful a standard low data rate port could be.

    standardising the dock connector on the iPod and forward: even if it is proprietary, it is standard and unchanging so third party vendors can make peripherals that use the socket, and there is a published method on how to use the various features of it (Tom Tom's dock with GPS and other gubbins, for example). Yes, you have to pay royalties to build something that uses the 30 pin connector, at least at the moment. You had to for firewire too, but that cost is now gone.

    Firewire, yes, which you mentioned. The DV connection on pretty much every home camcorder onwards (at least the MiniDV revolution onwards).

    mp3 was not Apple's doing - it was already the default format due to the way computer-based personal music arose, so not supporting it would have been a deathblow for the iPod before it had even begun. The iTMS (after a shaky start with m4p at the behest of the music industry, and ditched as soon as possible) now sells standard AAC files, playable by anything that supports AAC playback.

    Incidentally I'm not sure what devices they sell that lock you into using other proprietary (Apple) products - the iPod/iPhone require iTunes, yes, but it is free and you don't need a Mac - you can use the Windows version. You are not forced to use the app store or the iTunes Music Store - the phone plays mp3 and AAC files from other sources. If you want apps, you are stuck (without jailbreak) bun in that case, the iPhone is not for you: buy a Nexus One.

    I suppose the new Cinema display (the 24" one) that uses a MiniDisplay port requires a Mac with the same port to use, but there are third party adaptors that will allow you to use it with a DVI port. The 24" CD is really an accessory to the MacBook Pro though - if you wanted a 24" display and you didn't have a MacBook you would really not be choosing wisely.

    The iMac I am using right now has a copy of XP on it for some old Windows only games, and I'm actually using a Microsoft mouse, a generic firewire external HD (with Time Machine - no need for a Time Capsule from the Apple store), two generic USB memory sticks, a generic USB hub. My 15" Powerbook dual boots Ubuntu and Leopard. I also exchanged the internal SATA hard drive in my iMac for a bigger one that I bought from an equivalent of newegg. The internal drive on the PB is big enough, but I have done several swaps of hard drives and optical drives in other Mac laptops and just use generic parts. The only properly proprietary internal part is the logic board - much the same as a PC laptop. It would be nice to upgrade the GPU in the iMac, but it is one of the compromises I made when selecting the very convenient form factor.

    I don't feel especially "locked" in to anything, but perhaps I just don't tend to clash with situations where I feel that I am being hampered rather than just going on as normal. If you find that you do, then Apple probably isn't for you. It's not different to buying a hammer to change a plug. I know to some geeks, when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail, but right too for the job and all that.

  • Re:Misses the point (Score:3, Informative)

    by ciderVisor ( 1318765 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:57PM (#30935558)

    It only plays video from the apple store

    Not true. You can upload any video file through the iTunes app, so long as it's in the right format for the iPod. It doesn't have to be purchased through the iTunes Music Store.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:08PM (#30935816) Homepage

    What's more, it was pretty well known that Steve Jobs tried to argue against putting DRM in iTunes in the first place. It was only after it became clear that record labels wouldn't allow online sales without DRM that he caved. IIRC the iPod used to allow more free copying from the iPod to the computer, too (you could just browse the directory structure and pull the mp3s out) until the record companies started threatening to sue under the claim that the iPod was a device constructed to aid in piracy, or something along those lines.

  • by twidarkling ( 1537077 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:42PM (#30936508)

    The "sealed engine" is the computer in the system. If a manufacturer decides to encrypt that, or use specialized error codes, and only give the key to "authorized dealers," all of a sudden any non-authorized mechanic is in for a world of additional difficulty. As for doing it at home? Good luck getting the interface at all. It'll be a damned sight more expensive yet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2010 @01:55PM (#30936788)

    Have you tried adjusting the timing on anything newer than 1998?

    Didn't think so. There's your answer ITG: where once anyone could preform routine maintenance on their automobile if they so chose they no longer have that choice thanks to a host of computer-controlled systems with proprietary formats and tools required to access them.

    GP is 100% correct.

  • by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:10PM (#30937098) Homepage

    Apple has created a device that follows a design philosophy started with their first generation iPod: giving our customers control over their own device is bad. Orwellian control is the only way to ensure we get our cut. We're rich, bitch!

    Fixed that for you.

  • Re:Misses the point (Score:2, Informative)

    by c4t3y3 ( 1571639 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:15PM (#30937216)

    It's an eReader with a bright ass screen that will strain your eyes.

    Did you know that some programmers spend at least 8 hours daily reading on a LCD? What strains your eyes is an inadequate contrast between ambient light and your device. LCD is usable, e-ink is better because not having light of its own, it's always adjusted to the environment.

    It surfs the internet the way Apple says you should (no flash, IE: no Hulu, etc).

    Adobe can shove... well, let's just say that Flash on OS X is slow, insecure, and Adobe won't fix it [].

    It plays limited games so it's not going to dominate the handheld market.

    They want you to buy in the AppStore. So far it's doing great.

    I just don't get what niche this thing is supposed to fill. Is it a crippled laptop or a huge iPod?

    iPad: Browsing, email, photos, video, music, games, ebooks.
    Watch the Keynote [].

  • by vanyel ( 28049 ) * on Thursday January 28, 2010 @02:52PM (#30938234) Journal

    Not everyone wants to fiddle with every little setting in an OS. I would say a majority just want to pick up the device and the device works.

    They don't have to, even on OSX --- you can just fire it up and use it. But you can put the tools *you* want on it, if you want, and not just the ones Apple approves of. If that ever changes, one would hope it would be a big boost for Linux.

    But all too many no longer seem to value freedom, and it's causing all of us to lose it (and in far more important ways than in just the use of a toy computer).

  • by BronsCon ( 927697 ) <> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @03:14PM (#30938800) Journal

    Some people would prefer a device that "just works" AND allows then to fiddle with every little setting.

    Ubuntu does that quite nicely for me; every system I've installed it on in the last 2 years has just worked, but I've been able to tweak the hell out of it if I wanted to.

    Win7 seems to be a step in that direction, as well. It's been great on my little netbook.

  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @03:34PM (#30939222)

    they could just as well give you a pair of booster cables and hope you don't short them across your nuts... power is power.

    Um, no, no it's not. If you'd like to test that theory, go climb the nearest electrical tower and plug your hairdryer into the wires. I take no responsibility for the result.

    Less dramatic demonstration: plug your lead-acid car battery directly into an AC wall socket. Hilarity ensues. The phrase "the goggles do nothing!" is bound to come up.

    I don't know if you noticed, but 9 volt batteries tend to be shaped differently than the AAA - type. No, this was not an aesthetic choice, or an attempt to ensure vendor lock-in - there are very real, rather good reasons for doing it that way.

  • by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @03:44PM (#30939454) Homepage

    And bitching at me for voicing my opinion is just as silly. ;-)

    Oh, and for the record, I was VERY interested in this thing until I learned it would be locked down, maximum security prison style. Even with the hardware limitations (no expandable options, no card reader, no flash support, no multitasking) I still would have bought one in a heartbeat if it were based around a full-featured OS instead of a ported version of what the iPhone runs.

  • No. (Score:4, Informative)

    by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @04:23PM (#30940204) Homepage

    Or custom GPS solutions that only work with vendor-supplied DVD's, but are convenient for the customer to obtain and use?

    No, because in these cars, you're still free to buy and use a Tomtom or a Parrot if you don't like the manufacturer's.

    With iPhone/iPod/iPad you can *only* go to the AppStore. Jail-breaking is not considered a legitimate end-user procedure. And Apple-approved applications are also technically limited (no multi-tasking). (On the ground that most users don't need it. Completely ignoring users which want to have a background web-radio music player or alerts for IM)

    Back in you GPS example, it's like if the DCMA made it illegal to own a GPS-holder to use whatever brand GPS device you want. Instead you are forced to use only the GPS device from your car manufacturer which is special purpose-built to fit your Dashboard. And for some stupid reason it can only show cities whose name doesn't start with a Z. (On the ground that most users are in the USA where this letter is rare. Completely ignoring users living in Eastern Europe, for example).

    As opposed to the Palm Pre, for example, which although has an App Market, let you also use apps ("cards") from other sources. Gaining root access is a normal operation which is enabled on all device (not only "special developer" ones) letting advanced users make weird uses of their phones if they want. And multi-tasking is not only normal, but the "Plus" generation of Palm phones even comes with extra memory to enable more simultaneous "cards".

  • Re:Dear FSF (Score:3, Informative)

    by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @04:26PM (#30940268) Homepage Journal

    To my surprise, one of the most important functions I wanted in a book reader was not there -- I could not import my own documents.

    You can't []? That's news to me. Just last week I downloaded a text file ("Leiningen Versus The Ants"), used Calibre [] (GPL) to convert it to epub, launched Calibre's built-in webserver, opened Stanza [] on my iPod, pressed the "Get Books" button, looked under "Computers Sharing Books", and downloaded the file.

  • by psergiu ( 67614 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @04:56PM (#30940944)

    My EU car - a Renault brand - has a plastic cover over the engine with seals. I could rip the seals and look inside, but my 4-year warranty will be gone.
    So i won't.

  • by sl149q ( 1537343 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @05:02PM (#30941048)

    You need to pay $99/year before you can load and run programs into your own iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad for a testing using a provisioning profile... or distribute free applications via iTunes.

    You can download the SDK and run it on your Mac (Snow Leopard only). And do a lot of testing with the virtual iPhone/iPad simulator for free.

    I personally don't see $99/year as a serious impediment. Some people do.

3500 Calories = 1 Food Pound