November, 2019 #
I’ve always liked Apple as a company, and have always been a fan of its products. Since I first had an iBook G4 fourteen years ago I have almost exclusively used their computers, and for twelve years exclusively their phones and music players. Their hardware is a significant part of my daily life: I interface more hours (often, many more hours) with Apple devices every week than with any single human person.
I like the simplicity, aesthetic and warmth of Apple’s products. They’re (not always, but as a rule) well-designed, with a balance between form and function (I will put a big asterisk here due to the 2015 MacBook Pro), and a forward-thinking industrial design that still looks good twenty years down the road.
Over the years, I have received my share of shit for my Apple fanboyism. There’s a certain weird shame in it sometimes, a feeling of overindulgence in yourself, of pretention. I remember hiding my first iPad when my friends came into my room so they wouldn’t know I bought one.
As the years passed and money became a bit more available I lost the sense of shame a bit and began to wear the epithet a little more proudly. What do I care, the older I get, what people think of the hardware I use, and its social status, so long as it’s comfortable and performant and durable. But that doesn’t mean I’m completely comfortable with all the company’s decisions, or always optimistic about its future.
People talk alot about Apple products pulling you into their “walled garden”. It’s nice inside: things work together nicely in the ecosystem, there’s lots of well-designed synergy between hardware and software. But when you try and leave the garden you will find a large wall keeping you in: anyone who has tried to access Music from a non-Apple device, or tried to pair their AirPods with an Android phone, will understand the analogy. As someone who appreciates openness and portability between platforms, I am not entirely at ease with this transaction (paying for comfort and ease-of-use with lack of portability).
But the hardware! Apple hardware has no real equal on the market today in my opinion. Even with their recent flaws, MacBooks (in particular the new Air) are the highest quality laptop and the newest machine, just released, looks to be one of the fastest consumer laptops ever made. Sometimes I find myself wishing I had the need for the new “second generation cheese grater” Mac Pro.
The phones are vastly superior in design and ease-of-use, speed and camera quality than competitors. Your iPhone, certainly my iPhone (though it’s something I’d like to try and change in the new year) is probably the device you use most every day of your life. You use it to take every photograph you take, all your conversations with friends and family happen through it, every piece of information about the outside world you receive through it. Ignoring for a moment the rising and frankly scary addiction we all have to these slabs of glass and metal and electromagnetic radiation, why wouldn’t you want the thing you use more than any other things to be the best it can be?
Although their computers have been a little disappointing recently, two new Apple products from this decade have really surprised me with their old-school Apple brilliance: the Apple Watch, which was first released in 2015 and is currently in its fifth generation, and the AirPods, which were released in 2017. The Watch started out pretty uncomfortably: a little under-powered, a little chunky, a little light on features. But it slowly evolved into something really great: an indispensible and beloved part of my day. The fact that I can go on a run without my phone, and without a single cable, by connecting the AirPods to the watch with Bluetooth, stream music over 4G, and remain contactable by phone and text, is an absolute miracle and I feel truly grateful every time I step out the door rigged up like that.
So what are Apple going to do next? A lot of industry analysts reckon they’re going to build a car, though that project has been heavily rumoured to be scrapped in the last year or so. Others think they will make a more aggressive play into wearables: there are persistent rumours about Apple Glasses, slated to be released potentially in the next year or two, as long as the company keeps surprising me like they have in the last decade. Hoping one day to get enough balls to buy Apple shares (I’ve never felt comfortable with the risk of buying shares. Something I’m very aware I need to get over).