Apple’s iPhone’s has been openly copying Android for some time now. From pull down notifications to widgets, swipe keyboards, low power mode, and much more. So why is Apple being unnecessarily diffident about allowing USB drive connectivity?
The push to upgrade I know Apple makes obscene profits by upgrading users to 64GB and higher phones. But that’s a piddly gain compared to loss of selling 10 million less iPhones (in the first three months of 2016 as compared to the first quarter of 2015). Apple needs to sell iPhones now, not worry about selling more expensive ones.
Making life difficult Several of my friends admire my iPhone and can afford it. But they don’t buy an iPhone solely because of its inability to connect to USB drives.
Take this post for instance. I’m travelling this week, and needed an image to insert in this post. I realised too late that my image collection was on my tiny 16Gb USB drive that I habitually pack while traveling. The image folder is too big to be on my iPad or iPhone all the time.
OTG to the rescue Luckily I had my Android with me. So I opened this post on the Android, connected my USB pendrive using the OTG (on-the-go) adaptor, accessed the image folder, and inserted the image. But not everyone wanders around with an iPad, iPhone and an Android.
User unfriendly The other major factor is time and complexity. It took me less than a minute to do the entire process on the Android. Doing the same on an iPad is more complex. You can’t access the image directly, or drag and drop the image folder from the USB drive onto the phone. To an ordinary layman used to casually plugging in a USB drive into his computer, an iPhone is unnecessarily complicated. No way, he’s going to buy one.
The Case for Safety Apple had a security angle to avoiding the USB drive. But I don’t think this argument is valid any longer. My Apple Macs have always had USB drives. But I have never had a virus cause me any problems, though I admit I have always had an antivirus installed.
Finding Solutions, not Problems iPhones have much more interaction with the outside world than my Macs ever had. But that’s not an insurmountable problem. My Android uses an antivirus app to scan every file on a USB before accessing it.
Besides if Microsoft can build in Windows Defender into all Windows computers, I’m sure Apple with all its huge resources can build in its own antivirus system to effectively scan any USB drive plugged into an iPhone. Sure, it will mean slower access to the USB, but users won’t mind if they know it’s for their security.
A bridge that has been crossed Also security may no longer be a relevant issue as companies like Sandisk are already making USB drives that connect to iPhones. But those drives are expensive and have proprietary apps which goes against Apple’s philosophy of keeping things simple.
Piracy goes out of fashion Apple had one other major issue with USB drives which was easy illegal sharing of music, movies, etc. Again, I’m not sure how relevant that is anymore. Music prices have dropped, streaming has gone mainstream, with apps like Spotify and Apple Music itself. Netflix has done the same for movies. As for the diehard pirate, the AppStore has innumerable apps that can play movies and music stored in them. If they have the skill to pirate songs and musics, they are savvy enough to use these apps.
Backing the right horse With Androids rapidly catching up with iPhones, Apple cannot afford to give Androids an unnecessary edge by sticking to their ‘no USB’ stance. Staying ahead in the cell phone market is all about choosing the right horses to back. And the USB drive bogey is a dead horse that Apple should no longer be flogging it.