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The worst things about iPad OS

Last September, after 22 years using only FOSS except for driver firmware and video games, I got an iPad. Here are the three worst things about its OS. (The sustainability issue of the difficult-to-repair hardware is a topic for another day.)

Why I got this? A combination of a few things:

  1. I got frog boiled by Nintendo. Some NES and GB roms are harmless but I soon enough found myself in the boiling pot of Switch eshop and crappy OS. The iPad isn’t a far leap from that.
  2. I got sick of the dead-end, open-washed, un-upgradeable world of Android. I had an Android tablet with better specs than the PineTab but with an obsoleted OS. (Also Samsung uses a material I am obviously allergic to. Maybe something in the plastic…?)
  3. Jitsi. I need to use it and it’s too heavy for the DevTerms and Frameworks and Cyberdecks of the world.
  4. I had a pretty bad interaction with a FOSS advocate online, who (unclear why) gave me a very hurtful rant after I mentioned I’ve been on FOSS for two decades. It kinda made me lose heart. I still love the licenses. It’ll take me a while to get on board with the community.

I hate laptops. Desktops were fine when I could be up but since I’ve been stuck in bed for a while, tablets seemed pretty good.

Notifications

This is the number one bad thing.

Unix has had biff since 1980 but on this thing I can’t get a reliable mail notification unless I register every message with Apple? I can’t even. This is the number one cause of stress with this thing. I can relax and focus on my work if I know that I’ll get notified if the world blows up, leading me to keep check-check-checking and stress-stress-stressing.

Sideloading

Android sucks but at least it has F-droid, a repo of somewhat crappy but trustworthy software. Centrally compiled through cryptographically verified source code (Debian has a similar setup). On iOS, it feels like everyone in the App Store is out to scam you. I still haven’t found a good PDF viewer or text and it’s been six months. This is only the second worst thing because I have a friend who’s a dev who can complete things for me.

In this category, I’ll also put how frustrating it is that some first party apps are “first class”. On Android, you can change the launcher. Here, I can’t even put in a better notes or reminders app because no other notes app could have lock screen editing, and other reminder apps can’t have this degree of Siri integration.

Closed source

I would’ve thought that this would’ve been the worst thing but I underestimated how constantly stressful not having notifications or a trustworthy app repo would be. Still, it’s not great. I’ve ran into so many crashing bugs and annoyances that I can’t fix. For example, I’m writing the first draft of this essay in the Notes app using the pen and the “swipe to type” mini on screen keyboard. There’s a neat feature system wide in iOS where you can use the pen to make edit marks to easily insert or remove space between words or scribble out unwanted text. But the one place it doesn’t work is where I’d want it the most: in Notes!

Speaking of the swipe-to-type keyboard, it has a very frustrating bug. It uses a bigram-based autocorrect where it sometimes changes a word based on the following word, and when it gets this wrong and you delete it, it doesn’t let you rewrite the original, correct word. The idea seems to be that if you deleted a word, you must mean something else, and will keep giving you new suggestions for similar gestures, but it doesn’t understand that the wits I deleted wasn’t the original take (which was correct) but instead the one autocorrect mistakenly changed it to, post hoc.

Some good things / “Uses this”

I haven’t bought in to the iMessage, Apple Mail ecosystem. Spend most of my time in blink and Delta Chat and notes and reminders.

I also miss a really good painting program. CSP is good for line art, but if I could get Krita or MyPaint but with this pen and screen… wow ♥