I used to be really fat. Then I lost so much weight so quickly that the doctor sent me for tests. At the end of the diet, I went to Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant and ate some bread so divine that it psychoactively transported me to a childhood barbecue in France that I wasn’t even at.
But it didn’t have half the impact on me as the first time I held an iPad, eyes pierced by the warm needle of the future, my hand stroking the Stargate to a choir of coos.
And now? If someone is really stuck what to buy a kid on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, or whenever, I might mutter to them “Well I suppose you could get an iPad”. These days they litter houses, left on with YouTube playing, battery saying 4% underneath a three-week-old ketchup stain.
The thrill is gone
I used to care that there was a new iPhone with new features. Then I didn’t care but still bought the new one anyway. But the last few updates have left me numb; I just don’t care anymore. When people ask if I’m going to get the iPhone 13, they finish the sentence my body language starts. “Nothing new really, is there?”
I have a deep scratch on my Apple Watch. I grimace at it at least five times a day. It makes me hate myself, so I was really rooting for the new model to be just different enough to buy. But it wasn’t.
This is what I have become. A feature scavenger, sniffing around for reasons to buy the new Apple thing. It won’t take much. A new iPhone shape. Different Watch buttons. An iPad with two ports. I crave something that folds, and I don’t even know if I like the idea. But it would be new, and at least I wouldn’t shrug when asked about it.
I’m never going to leave Apple. I don’t care for the rest. I have no feelings for them whatsoever. And at this point I’m so locked in by my own prenup I couldn’t get out even if I wanted to. But this relationship has become boring. Incredibly boring.
Bring the fire, Tim
Give me something new, Mr. Cook. Keep the fire burning. I don’t want barely explicable differences between AirPods. I don’t want to have to compare screen resolution to understand what good is supposed to be now. I don’t want to thumb through iPad variants looking for a standout. I want the good to be obvious again.
Which is to say nothing of the magic. It’s hard to say when this evaporated, but it did, its faint aroma lingering just enough to remind us we no longer have it. And magic, like soul, is a term that escapes precise usefulness. But I would suggest the magic is highest when bravery is most on display, when Apple leaps rather than shuffles.
We are thrilled by daring feats; we want Apple to stride like highwire artist Philippe Petit from the south tower of the present to the north tower of the future. It makes us feel like we are part of something special. Instead, we watch as its elevator stops at every floor.
Can I even take new tech categories seriously until Apple tells me it’s okay? The Oculus Quest is fascinating, and my PS VR headset is filthy with the sweat of relatives who have worn it under duress. But in the pit of my gut lies the belief that I’m making a fool of myself (and my relatives) until Apple ruffles my hair and says “good job, son”.
I have two HomePods but it never felt like Apple moved into my home. Maybe it stayed for a Christmas and left a couple things behind, but it clearly didn’t want to be here. It didn’t offer any help in the kitchen, didn’t change so much as a lightbulb. It just didn’t care.
Let me drive through your metaverse in your electric car, Apple. Augment my reality with your glasses - I'm told they're coming. Don't disappoint. Stop showing me a phone and telling me it’s great. Stop being proud of more iPads. Make me love you again.
And please, please stop being so boring.