I’m mainly a Windows and Android user as I occasionally enjoy VR gaming, which you can’t do on a Mac, and I absolutely enjoy tweaking my smartphone minutely, which you can’t do with an iPhone.
Recently I started using both Windows laptops and a MacBook, Android phones as well as an iPhone, but because I keep hearing about the “Apple ecosystem” and how wonderful it is (or at least how wonderful it is to locked up), I decided to take a full dive into it and see what all the fuss is about.
So I entered Apple’s next-level fanboy mode — featuring a Mac, an iPad, an iPhone, AirPods Max, and an Apple Watch — now decked out in fruit-based tech.
The whole idea of the ecosystem is that those devices, made by the same multi-billion dollar company, should work flawlessly together. Everything should be intuitive and easy for the user. But I have to tell you, I have complaints.
In fact, I’m about to share with you what isn’t working as it should with the Apple ecosystem. Unexpected problems that occurred while just using all those Apple devices together like a normal consumer, not even looking for problems to complain about.
You can’t receive your iPhone notifications on Mac, while Windows has that feature
When I’m working on my laptop, I’d rather not have to look at my phone every time I get app notifications, like an Instagram tag or a Snapchat message. Microsoft cleverly foresaw that such a feature would probably be immensely helpful to the right person, letting them “merge” their beloved smartphone with their PC in some way, so the company introduced Phone Link on Windows 10 and 11. what you might think – your Android phone’s app notifications are sent to your PC and you can even reply to messages and do other cool stuff from the latter. Quite handy to not have to switch between devices!
How come there is no simple and easy built-in solution on Mac to get your iPhone notifications? Apple’s ecosystem should definitely have this feature, and you’ve had it way before Microsoft, given that the iPhone is Apple’s largest and most important product.
Sure, the iPhone doesn’t have the bells and whistles that some Android flagships have, like foldable or dual screens, but it’s reasonable to expect great features linking it to your Mac, right? Well…that’s a big one for me and it’s missing.
The AirPods Max microphone defaults to a low bitrate on Mac… Wait, what? Why?
Without getting too technical, that means the microphone on Apple’s flagship $550 over-ear headphones for some reason sounds very, very bad on a Mac.
I recently wanted to compare how the AirPods Max microphone sounds next to Sony’s XM5s, and my first test was shooting a few videos with both, on my Mac. It’s an Apple M1 MacBook, right? So Apple’s AirPods Max should work perfectly on it because that’s what the ecosystem is all about.
But before I discovered this bitrate problem, there was an even earlier problem to be solved, where the Mac would simply not use the headset’s microphone to record, instead using its own built-in microphone by default. Even if I am obviously connected to a Bluetooth headset and want to use it.
Then this: AirPods Max microphone quality is terrible on a Mac. We are supposedly getting an 8.0 kHz mono signal, although the microphone could sound much better, and this is caused by some codec issues. Codec issues between Apple headphones and an Apple laptop. Ecosystem!
If you want to hear it for yourself, check out our Sony XM5 review video on YouTube, where I also compared them to the AirPods Max. Here’s a link to the microphone portion of that video. Needless to say, the mics of those two sound very different, despite the fact that I recorded everything on a Mac, where you’d think the Apple headphones should sound better.
Strange to think that Apple hasn’t looked into making sure its expensive over-ear headphones would work best on a Mac, at a time when video calls are more prevalent than ever and important to so many of us.
You can’t just use the Apple Watch with an iPad; Only iPhone for some reason
I understand why the Apple Watch cannot be paired with an Android phone – only an iPhone. But if you happen to be an Android phone user, you might assume that if you have an iPad, which is essentially running a slightly modified iOS operating system, you should be able to pair an Apple Watch with it.
Well, it’s not an option. This seems like one of those very Apple-esque unnecessary and anti-consumer restrictions to me, considering it’s hard to imagine having the Watch app on an iPad. But it’s missing, presumably because Apple really wants you to buy an iPhone, and buying an iPad isn’t enough to pair your smartwatch.
I’ve seen people asking for this “feature” for years, but it doesn’t seem like it’s even coming in iPadOS 16 this fall. Your iPad will remain incompatible to sync with your Apple Watch for no reason. Again, this seems like one of those ecosystem things that should… You know, work.
Again, the iPad and iPhone essentially share an operating system and can run the same apps. This doesn’t seem like an ecosystem constraint that makes sense for any reason other than “You should buy an iPhone, because… Buy an iPhone.”
But this is why people love the Apple ecosystem anyway
Unlimited meme potential, I know…
It may seem like it’s all bad, but it really isn’t, those are just some of the annoying things about the Apple ecosystem that I happened to run into and have trouble with.
You’re supposed to use your Apple stuff the way Apple intended, not the way you want it to — and that’s where my problems come from — but when you do, things work pretty well indeed.
I think my favorite thing about the Apple ecosystem is how quickly and easily files are transferred between devices. AirDrop is the name Apple gave to this wireless file transfer system, and moving both files and images between my iPhone, iPad, and Mac is a breeze.
In contrast, using Bluetooth to transfer Android files to Windows is an absolute nightmare that works when it feels like it, slowly, and if you’re hoping the new Windows 11 has fixed all that, it doesn’t.
In addition – the reminders app. Apple’s ecosystem brings your iPhone memories to all your devices, so you never miss an important event or your next planned home workout. Again, since Microsoft most likely didn’t make your smartphone, your phone reminders won’t appear on your Windows laptop.
I think people also really love the Messages app, but I never use it, as most of my communication takes place within other social apps, but I see the value in a built-in, powerful Apple ecosystem messaging app.
Finally, I’d like to mention iCloud, which I’m not really that excited about. It’s not bad, it’s just nothing special as there are also many other cloud services with free options that work just as well. My favorite is Microsoft OneDrive, which I’ve been using since the company bribed me with a free account ten years ago. when I bought a Nokia Lumia. I’m still using that account! And OneDrive, like many cloud services, works everywhere – iPhone, Android, Windows, Mac… So yeah.
In summary, the Apple ecosystem is pretty cool, but can range from uninteresting to downright frustrating at times, at least if you’re slightly different from how Apple expects you to use it.
But is it worth investing thousands of dollars to get into it? Did I get some in-depth, amazing next-level features by using all of the Apple products together? That wouldn’t be for me, dog.
Tell us about your experience with the Apple ecosystem and your thoughts on it! Are you in it now? Do you see value in it that I don’t? Or do you have problems with it that you want to share?