EFF: ‘Apple’s devices are like beautiful crystal prisons’

EFF: ‘Apple’s devices are like beautiful crystal prisons’
“Apple's recent products, especially their mobile iOS devices, are like beautiful crystal prisons, with a wide range of restrictions imposed by the OS, the hardware, and Apple's contracts with carriers as well as contracts with developers. Only users who can hack or "jailbreak" their devices can escape these limitations.”

That’s the harsh verdict coming straight from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), but it’s hard to call if untrue. The EFF is another place calling for more openness from Apple, after co-found Steve Wozniak wished for Cupertino to apply more open standards and be more like the Apple Computers he started with Steve Jobs.

The EFF’s statement actually mentions Woz’s position and supports it, and that’s a huge endorsement, that will make this call better heard.

On the other side of the isle, though, are Apple defenders arguing that its walled garden is what keeps the company successful and nearly 80% of the industry’s profits. You can take the App Store as an example of the controversy. Pro-Apple sources defend the curated model saying it leads to more quality apps and a generally safer and more refined experience, while for others it restricts their freedom and doesn’t allow their apps to get published. Also, there’s Apple’s 30% share that seems too much to many.

The EFF takes a clear stand on that issue, vouching for lifting some of the restrictions in Apple’s App Store.

“Apple changed the way we think about mobile computing with the iPhone, but they have also lead the charge in creating restrictive computers and restrictive marketplaces for software,” the EFF said. “You may have purchased an iPad, but unless you’ve exploited a vulnerability in iOS to jailbreak it, there are many things you cannot install on it. The App Store has thousands of apps to choose from, but your choices are limited to apps that both Apple has approved, and which can function without ‘root’ or ‘administrator’ privileges.”

Bottomline is that it all boils down to freedom. The Electronic Frontier Foundation rightly notes that denying the freedom to change the system or the freedom to leave is a major hurdle stopping Apple from perfecting its system. Hit the source below for EFF’s detailed explanation of the freedom and openness problem at Apple, and don’t hesitate to hit us back with your stand on the issue in the comments below.



1. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Defensive whining by iFans in 3...2...1... (Disclaimer: if you're willing to live with the Apple ecosystem, bully for you. However, don't expect the rest of us to be willing to as well.) P.S. Bulls**t statements about the imaginary consequences of having a more open app market will carry their own consequences. Beware.

19. JeffdaBeat unregistered

I'm sorry, but it's not about what's right and wrong...it's about what works for you. I'd be all with EFF on this if Apple was the only choice...or if Apple's model was the one that everyone was following. But it comes down to simply what your preference is. Thankfully, Android is there if the Apple model doesn't work for someone. But Apple's model does work for a lot of people and there is nothing wrong with that. But here's the thing...although you have your iOS defenders/enthusiasts, I don't think there is one of us that will say you HAVE to use iOS. I do get annoyed by people who say iOS is the end all be all...on both sides. But I can't agree with this one because it's trying to say that Apple is wrong...and when it comes to anything that is subjective...there is no right and wrong...only what works for you.

21. ilia1986 unregistered

Thing is - Apple's model IS the one that everybody is following. There may be no right or wrong - but there is good and bad.

23. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Hey Jeff, nice to see you commenting more frequently. :) If you pay attention to the EFF, their critique of Apple is not surprising in the least. I get that "what works for you" is the rule that should define your smartphone choice, and I don't begrudge those who are willing to live with iOS's restrictions in order for the (in my viewpoint) very few advantages those restrictions offer. I was just predicting the normal snarky bullcrap that comes from people like you-know-who and you-know-what which usually takes the form of ill informed potshots at Android or blind defense and claims that the OS isn't restricted or something.

31. JeffdaBeat unregistered

Oh, I usually ignore the prediction of snarky comments. Usually the prediction is what brings on the comments themselves. But the critique bothers me a bit. Not because it isn't valid, but because I do believe there is a market for what Apple is doing. I've been a computer nerd since I was in the 5th grade back in 1995. That's around the time the internet was becoming commercially available. But for the next decade, the internet was usually limited to nerds. People who knew how to use the internet and not get caught up in viruses or worms (for the most part). Nowadays, EVERYONE is on the internet, including a large portion that has no freakin clue how to protect themselves. People who are far too trusting. People who are willing to give their bank account number to an African Prince. I've said this before, but the reason I like iOS is because it does what I want. I don't have to worry about malware or even do work to prevent it. Do I think my apps are boring? No. The only Cydia apps I use are 3G Unrestrictor and PDAnet for tethering because my carrier sucks. Other than that, my iPhone works. I don't care to customize it because overcustomization slows any phone down. Now, for the general public...especially those who are fond of African Princes...it protects them. Sure, they could learn how to use their technology safely...but a lot of them just don't want to. I'm 27, but when I worked for AT&T, the majority of the people I saw were people who spent half of their lives (if not more) not needing technology. Half of them had no clue how to add their email. iOS works for them. It doesn't make them bad people or even stupid people. You can't judge the intelligence of a fish by how fast it can run. My point is, Apple has a place in our tech world. For people like me who are big tech nerds...I want awesome apps and iOS has them. I could care less what the OS itself does. But more importantly, it gives non-tech savvy folks a gadget or a computer that they can worry a lot less about. They can use it and be done with it. I can't think of another company that does that specifically. Is it a crystal prison...sure it is. Is it protecting people who don't have the knowledge to protect themselves, heck yeah it is. Is that a bad thing? No. It's just a different kind of ecosystem. But to say that one right and the other is wrong or that one is bad while the other is good just isn't fair in my opinion...especially if you're fulfilling a niche that hasn't been fulfilled in the smartphone world.

35. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Look Jeff, I get what you're saying, but with Android those dangers of malware you're discussing aren't really the big issue the naysayers claim it is. You don't have to "actively work" to avoid malware/viruses on the system, because, especially if you stick to Android Market (which most people do anyway) you just won't encounter them unless you delve into the darkest corners of it. And really, who is going to have that time?

39. JeffdaBeat unregistered

It's not just that...it's also the ease of use. How if you go from one iPhone to another, there isn't a huge learning curve between the two. It's not just one thing that makes iOS work for a large amount of people.

42. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Android isn't really hard to use either. Early iterations were harder, admittedly, but it's gotten much better. In fact, when it comes to more advanced features, I find Android easier to use than iOS. I'm not saying that iOS isn't easier in some respects, especially for a first time user (I actually think WP7 is even easier, but whatevs) but this myth that Android is somehow this big clanking machine or some kind of insane instrument control panel that no one without training can pick up is just that, a myth.

59. DigitalBoy05

Posts: 278; Member since: Jun 04, 2011

Android has definitely gotten more user friendly especially with ICS. I now feel like I have a clean and functional OS that rivals the aesthetics of iOS while being just as reliable. They way I have my phone customized is by not having app shortcuts but rather widgets as they provide a quick glance to literally everything I would need my phone to do. Tap the button for the app drawer and wallah my phone looks even more like iOS with its grid of apps.

65. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Sniggs and Jeff, Personally i agree with you in both of your own areas. I agree with sniggly as Android isn't that hard to use, and that malware isn't a bad problem. I myself have downloaded hundreds of apps and never encountered this malware. Its all about checking networking&permissions.

48. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Thats probably the best iOS arguement I've seen in a while. Kudos, Jeff. If only your ilk could be half as intelligent or well written. Just for discussion purposes: Just about all of that you have written can be applied to Android as far as the "it just works", "awesome apps", "does what I need" and "non tech savy folks can use it without worry or hassle". But it does all of that with user freedom. Android now is not like android 1.5 was. Gingerbread was a great OS, and ICS is really where its at. It has all the great beginners tools and even has hints that pop up as you do things for the first time, to help guide you through the OS. For basic users, its uber easy. For advanced users it has the free open roads to do as you wish. Its fast, its stable, it has 500k+ apps, it gets better battey life than iphone, and comes in a wider variety of shapes and sizes. It really is a user choice between the 2. Back to the article though, I think part of the bit that was missed is that Apple's super controlled ecosystem really prevents people from leaving once your in. People dont want to "give up" on the apps they paid for to go to a new OS, nor do they want to "waist their money" by having to buy all new connection equipment, ect ect. Thats also part of the reason things are so expensive. "But I paid 40 bux for that case, i dont wanna just throw it away!!". Its a mind set exploit. Its a shiny but super sticky web that is near impossible for many users to get away from. I think that was the point of the crystal prison more than the OS itself. Once your in the box, your stuck in the box. Of course, that's great for Apple's bottom line and the entire point of why Apple does it, so its a catch 22.

70. ph00ny

Posts: 2052; Member since: May 26, 2011

Part about investing into one ecosystem and not "wanting" to give up applies to android devices too. As for the article, I would partially agree with EFF on the Crystal prison part. Despite what everyone says about android, it has its own quirks and restrictions due to manufacturers/carriers etc. Difference between iOS devices and Android devices in reference to the crystal prison is the fact that one has a door with a lock and one has a door with a latch In terms of Malware issues in comparison to Internet, do you really want a censored web? Malware issue isn't bad at all as long as common sense is used (ie, user ratings, download number, user comments, etc). Some of the apps that are getting rejected or removed from the appstore aren't purely due to the safety of the users but rather it's not what Apple wants in order to maintain its revenue stream Also having used both iOS devices and Android devices (every version since eclaire), i would say they're on par in terms of ease of use. In fact i find the lack of direct menu access within apps on iOS more cumbersome.

79. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

such is true ph00ny. But there is much much less of a tie in with android than there is with iOS. Many of the paid iOS apps are availible for free on Android. Also just about every android device uses universal chargers and such. The only real custom pieces for "most" devices come from cases and screen protectors, but you have to change them if you upgrade to any other device, regardless of ecosystem. So where apple sinks very deep hooks into for paid apps and custom equipment, Android doesn't sink nearly as deep. Of course, the free part does work for android more than some may realize, since people dont want to have to "pay" for apps that they already have for free. Thats the main reason my wife refuses to try WP7, though I think it would suit her well. "why would I pay for angry birds and all the other apps i already have for free?"

93. Stuntman

Posts: 843; Member since: Aug 01, 2011

I find that Apple's super controlled ecosystem limits its interoperability with non-Apple devices. I understand that by limiting Apple devices to work well only with other Apple devices, you have fewer issues. Interoperability opens up a lot of potential issues because of the great many permutations of device sets out there. Apple's tightly controlled ecosystem minimises device compatability issues with devices within the ecosystem. Outside of it, you are pretty much on your own. To realise the benefits of the Apple ecosystem, you really have to invest heavily into it. If all of your devices are Apple, things work really well. If you have a mix, then you won't realise all of the benefits. The same can be applied to any other ecosystem. However, I do find that the Android and Symbian devices that I use can interoperate better with other devices than Apple devices can. Getting things in and out of the "crystal prison" can be a pain sometimes.

73. Non_Sequitur

Posts: 1111; Member since: Mar 16, 2012

Wow. So much more intelligence than taco50. I get now what you're saying. People that just need a phone that does exactly what they need and no more get the iPhone. People that want more customization and the horsepower to support it get an Android. If you don't want the Terminator in your hand (or don't care enough to want it), then the iPhone is for you. If everyone could just understand this, it could put an end to the bickering. There are a couple things that I disagree with you about as well. First, you don't really have to "work" to keep malware off of your Android. It's not that hard, tbh. Second, I honestly can't name any major application in the App Store that I need that Google Play Apps doesn't have or have an alternative to. Bottom line, thanks for the most intelligent, well thought out iOS argument that I've ever come across. Respect +1.

110. ilia1986 unregistered

Jeff You are treating people generally as idiots who are only capable of using that which lies directly on the surface. While that may be true for some - it is completely false for many many many others. Take cars. You can customize cars. But it takes a huge amount of effort and knowledge. You gotta take the entire car apart, understand how everything works and is put together, and then try to upgrade the engine, change the steering wheel or something like that. Only true professionals can do that. But software is different!! It has unlimited potential by design! If you want to customize an Android phone - you don't have to take the phone apart - you don't have to understand how the 3G antennae works, or how the kernel handles the CPU. You just gotta download different launchers, apps, themes, widgets, whatnot. It's the same as using your phone on the regular basis. You can just do a whole lot more with Android. And that is why Android is much more capable than iOS will ever be.

24. frydaexiii

Posts: 1476; Member since: Dec 01, 2011

See, we need more logical iFans like this guy.

33. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

then why do I get attack for defending my preference in OS?.. then..

40. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Because you have a propensity for showing arrogance and making dumbass remarks.

44. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

so fandroids say dumb comments all the time.. jeff comemnts have been right on point. and he still gets thumb down but blind fandroids that thumbdown anything that is not praising android

46. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Yeah, and you know what? I don't support fandroids who make dumbass remarks. In fact, if it's dumbass enough I'll thumb it down, and if it's REALLY bad I'll even call them a dumbass. Jeff is a reasonable guy, and if you'll notice he's not being attacked like taco is.

49. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

he will not fall into you guys game which is different.. me and taco are different just like you are a blind troll and a closet Apple fan boy.... which you wont admit. I am sure..

51. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

You know what I said about dumbass remarks like, two seconds ago? Yeah, you just made another one. Closet Apple fan boy? You really have no clue.

55. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

I agree with Gallito. You and remix have iPhone envy and are closet Apple fans.

68. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Lol, what's there to envy on the iPhone? I mean really.

77. Non_Sequitur

Posts: 1111; Member since: Mar 16, 2012

This is what Sniggly was JUST talking about. Hey, there's something in your skull. It may be small, but at least try to use it. Don't just make stupid remarks and give mindless insults. Well, it's too late now. You already have a big, red "DUMBASS" stamp on your forehead like gallitoking and nothing you say or do can change it at this point.

57. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 2011

aren't you in every Apple article and probably care more than me... that makes you a closet Apple fan boy.. clue?... I do have a clue it was Colonel mustard in the observatory with a knife...

75. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Nah, in the grand scheme of things I don't lie awake at night thinking about what Apple does or how Android does. I'm here because it's fun.

60. DigitalBoy05

Posts: 278; Member since: Jun 04, 2011

This is why sniggly calls you a dumbass. dont take others opinions so personally. its just a operating system.

114. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

you say dumb ass things bout ANDROID. like how we copy and this phone looks like the iPhone but it doesnt. i can go on and on bout u gallitoking. you're a ingorant iFAN

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