Apple’s stock recently hit its $2 trillion market cap. Think about that really carefully. Two trillion dollars. Give or take a few billion dollars, that means that in theory Apple is as valuable as the economy of Sweden. Or, Portugal and Ireland combined, with spare change.
Full disclosure, I am a huge Apple fan. Right now I sit typing away on a Windows laptop, but that’s where my Apple-less world ends. I made notes for this article on my iPhone 11 Pro Max and currently there’s a timer on my Apple Watch counting down the minutes until the washing machine is finished. Tonight I'll watch the football on my Apple TV and I’ll finish editing a video on iMovie. Shortly I’ll put on some music using Apple Music through my Apple AirPods Pro and I can’t wait to watch the new Tom Hanks movie on my iPad Air with my AppleTV+ subscription. All my documents, photographs, music and contacts are backed up on iCloud.
If tomorrow, all of Apple’s products ceased to work, I would be royally screwed. I guess that’s kind of my point with this article.
I recently watched the Steve Jobs biopic on Netflix and what surprised me the most was just how much of a dick he was (according to the film, anyway). By all accounts, he was relentless in his pursuit for perfection, and that’s something Tim Cook and the Apple of today have never let go of. Whether that’s delaying a product launch because of a seemingly faulty part, or producing a mind blowingly smooth and creative virtual developer’s conference in the midst of a pandemic, Apple don’t do half-arsed. I can relate to that.
I am frequently mocked by Android and Windows-loving family and friends. In their eyes, I have an obsession with an overpriced product which traps you in an ecosystem which is very difficult to break free from. But what if I don’t want to break free from it?
I live in a world in which a photograph I take on my phone appears immediately on my watch or iPad, and I can pick up any device at any time and finish a podcast where I left off. Everything is seamless. That ecosystem is what makes my life so easy. People will scream, “but when your life is owned by a company, what happens to your privacy!!??”.
Well, Apple is changing the game. Recently the company announced an overhaul of privacy measures, which will be implemented with the next software update. iOS devices already process your data on your phone, locally, which means your data is never actually processed centrally by Apple nor by a third party, without your permission. With its next update rollout, mobile applications will no longer be able to track your web, purchase, and location data without your explicit consent (which, by the way, will put a whole bunch of app brands out of business).
Ever come across those weirdos who cover their webcams on their laptops with a post-it note because of some pathological and irrational fear that someone could have hacked in and is watching them dance in their living room or in a meeting at work?
Well, on a mobile device the chances of an app using your microphone or camera are much higher, although people don’t seem as bothered. Because of this, Apple have introduced a new privacy feature to allow the user more choice over what they share.
After the software update, an orange or green light will appear in the top part of the phone to alert the user that either the camera or microphone are being used by the app they’re in. Most people will notice Instagram is permanently using the camera when the app is open, essentially to allow for a quicker launch time when you want to snap a pic of your smashed avocado on toast.
As the years go by, step by step, Apple takes more of a presence in our lives. A few years ago, they made computers. Then mobile phones. Then tablets, then watches, then wireless headphones. Then came the services - Apple TV, ApplePay, Apple Music, the list is close to endless.
It might surprise those who are less tech-savvy to read that the actual chips in iPhones are not actually made by the company, they are in fact made by Intel. In a less-than-shocking announcement last month, Apple announced it is bringing production of chips in-house. This all-but completes the circle, and the vast majority of components for Apple products are now made by Apple. This is important, because not only does it provide an opportunity for the company to make their products even more slick and impressive in performance terms, it also gives them a huge competitive advantage. And secrecy. Cloak and dagger, veiled, Silicon Valley secrecy. Delicious.
Today in 2020 there aren’t many people in the world who don’t have a daily interaction with at least one Apple product.
Well, things are about to change to make that even more true.
At their recent developer conference they unveiled a brand new digital car-key product.
In the near future, people will have their car key on their mobile phone just like they have their debit card - in the virtual ‘wallet’. We will unlock and start our cars in the same way we pay for a coffee, and eventually be able to share these car ‘keys’ with friends or family. Got a daughter who’s just passed her test and is insured on your car, but only want her driving during the day and not at night? No problem! With Apple’s new virtual car keys, you can set limitations on who’s using the car at what time, and probably eventually how far they can drive, and so on.
There were loads of other new privacy features and potential new products floating during the WWDC event earlier this year, so if you’re interested you should check it out here.
The way I look at it, Apple makes everything better. Before iPhones, we had phones which just made a phone call. What a terrible alternative. Before the Mac, we had computers with universal file types so that you could seamlessly pick up work on any device and save it as one format, readable by all - who wants that? Jesting aside, Apple knows that it cannot rest on its laurels. Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Huawei - they’re all queuing up to take the crown. So, Apple is expanding its product range and is desperate to retain their status as a technological trendsetter.
How far does this intervention into our every-day lives stretch? What’s next? I wouldn’t dare speculate - I don’t think my imagination is wild enough - but you can basically guarantee whatever it is is already in development in Apple Park, Cupertino.
So, should we be horrified and scared for the future because of Apple’s entanglement in every aspect of our lives? Or, should we be excited for the future, knowing that minus the flying cars and spaceships (for now at least), we have the chance to live the futuristic lives our ancestors imagined for us?
If every element of my life from the fridge to my education, my job and what I wear, were facilitated or somehow manipulated by Apple - I’d be a happy boy. For me, the sooner Apple buys up a load of land in the middle of nowhere, declares itself an independent nation and invites citizenship applications, the better.
Until that day, I’m happy living in my bubble and being called a ‘mindless sheep’ at family gatherings. At least I’m a mindless sheep with the most expensive phone in the room.