Sometimes you have to complain: Apple’s iOS ads

iOS is not adware, but Apple's push ads still aren't good.


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A lot of people think The Macalope hates it when people criticize Apple because he lurvs Apple so much. Uh, well, first of all, “lurvs” is not a word. Second, while he may like Apple and would buy a life-sized cardboard cutout of Bob Mansfield in a hot second if someone would just FINALLY MAKE ONE, that’s not the reason.

He just hates it when people make poorly constructed criticism of Apple.

“This Year’s Annual iPhone Production Cuts That Happen Every Year Annually Mean This Time That No One Is Buying iPhones Anymore And Apple Is Doomed.”

“Magical Foldable Smartphones That Will Surely Work Without A Hitch And Never Break Are Where It’s At And Apple Doesn’t Have One So Apple Is Doomed.”

“Jeff Bezos Makes His Own Blender Mayonnaise And Tim Cook Does Not So Apple Is Doomed.”


But just because some people make poorly constructed criticism of Apple does not mean that all criticism of Apple is just stuff flung by so many chimps. Seriously, they spend all this time teaching chimps sign language when what they could really benefit from is a little finishing school, perhaps from a prestigious east coast institution.

Anyway, let’s take a look at today’s criticism of Apple.

Steve Streza says, “The Paywalled Garden: iOS is Adware.”

Despite what you might think from the title, Streza is not a member of the Forbes contributor network and competitive balloon animal popping circuit. (Not making. Popping.) Streza is an iOS developer, among other things, so he’s someone who knows the platform. He tested what the experience was like if you signed in without buying any of Apple’s services. Turns out there is a free Apple Arcade game you don’t have to have an Apple Arcade subscription for—that game is clicking ignore on ads for Apple subscription services.

You still might expect the horny one to flip some tables over this headline. Heck, that’s why he bought all these balsa wood tables from The Balsa Wood Furniture Outlet (off I-95 in Norwalk, Conn.). They’re great for easy flipping. While “adware” might be an exaggeration, particularly if you’re thinking about malicious adware, the textbook definition includes ad-supported software. You could argue that you opt in to the ads when you buy an iOS device and you can turn many of them off if you can find the settings, but is that the experience we’ve come to expect from Apple?

The Macalope wouldn’t say iOS is adware as it’s commonly known, but it does have too many ads. Streza’s more right than he is wrong.

If you’re someone who’s invested in the Apple ecosystem, you wouldn’t notice most of the ads. But that’s the whole point of the ads: to get you to subscribe… but just to Apple’s services.

If you subscribe [to Apple Music] and then cancel, Apple sends invasive push notifications asking you to re-susbscribe. These are on by default without a permission request. This is, of course, against the rules they lay out for other developers.

“Ads for me and not for thee.”—Shakespeare or somebody.

Third parties aren’t allowed to send push ads on iOS. The Macalope would be more pleased if Apple wouldn’t send them, either.

While The Macalope is not a fan of exaggeration, he’s even less a fan of junking up the iOS user experience. And that’s what ads do, even when they’re ads for Apple stuff. The Macalope has railed against Microsoft doing this on Windows so he can’t very well not rail against Apple doing the same.

And there’s a problem with not complaining about it. Often if you don’t complain about bad behaviors, they never get fixed. It took five years of complaining to get Netflix to stop auto-playing previews of shows that we weren’t going to watch, but the complaining system worked eventually.

Better to get started now.

At The Loop, Dave Mark looks at the big picture.

To me, the fault lies in the mechanisms of capitalism, in the self-defeating motivations placed on any publicly traded company.

Well, that is a problem. Ultimately, we can also blame it on the frailty of human desire. We are born into this world weak and full of needs and so we eke out our meager time on this small and insignificant world on the edge of a mundane galaxy in a backwater of the universe.

Still, though. Apple could choose to not do the ads because it would make iOS better and a better user experience sells more devices. Let’s not pretend that’s not an option.

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