Last Wednesday, Apple made their annual September announcement, which I found to be overall quite … disappointing. As an avid Apple fan, those who know me best may be shocked to hear this, but it is true. And I assure you, I am not alone. Technology analysts became concerned when Apple’s iPhone sales began to decline fiscal quarter after quarter. Some of those who were optimistic that this announcement would bring great new innovative features and technologies to the forefront were also disappointed. The trouble is that our phones are so great now and expectations are growing faster than these companies can develop new technologies. Could it be that our phones have reached their feature-bloated capacity? Perhaps so, at least for now.
In addition to adding barely any new features to their iPhone, they removed a core: the headphone jack. Now users will need to purchase brand new “Lightning” compatible earphones or purchase brand new wireless ones. Or they can carry around the included adapter to use their old ones. This change was supposed to be on the premise of innovation and simplicity but all it seems to be doing is provoking outrage and adding complexity.
The funniest thing about all of this is that Apple seems to think that they are doing everyone a favour by getting rid of this 100-year-old piece of technology. It’s possible that it has been around this long because it is universal and useful. The thing that irks me the most, however, is the price tag of their new wireless AirPods, at $219. These things are pretty tiny and, if you lose one or it falls out of your ear into a sewer drain while walking down the street, there goes your hard earned dollars as well.
Apple also announced a newly re-engineered Apple Watch, which is water resistant up to 50 metres. That means that you can be swimming at a depth of 45 metres and still receive a message. But it raises the question: are we getting too connected to our technology? Are we too frustrated with life’s simple things like a headphone cord that we need to get rid of them?
My grandma tells me stories about her childhood in the country. They had a single radio in their house and they only turned it on to listen to certain music programs and the news because it ran on a huge battery that had to be replaced periodically. The mere thought of carrying around a “Walkman” that could fit in your hand was an incredible technological advance. How far can we go? Where is the line between a feature and an unnecessary “improvement?” Does abolishing headphone cables remove an inconvenient tether or push users towards an unnecessary change?
My parents tell me stories about the time before people had cellphones. When you went out to run some errands or for lunch with a friend, there was no way to get a hold of you, no distractions. Today, we live in a time when buzzing phones, notifications to attend to and a continuous “link” to the world’s information network is the norm. If you are out for a walk you get instantly notified on your wrist whenever someone “likes” a photo of you or asks you a question. Our lives are constantly disturbed in a way that, for many of us, is the only way we have ever known.
While I do find my iPhone to be helpful at times, with navigation and the ability to download a newly released album in minutes, I admit that I have a fascination with a less connected world in which people would have to think about things because they couldn’t just ask Google. It would be a world in which people would actually talk to each other to find out news about them because they wouldn’t be able to scroll through an app that seems to have no bottom. I task you with this: “forget” your phone one day and experience a whole new world.
There is nothing more “wireless” than that.
– Brendan Chalifour, Entertainment Editor
Image from CNET