Let’s talk about computers or more precisely, what are they and how do they fit into our lives?
Our iMac is the main computer in our household. It’s where my wife and I go to get something done quickly and it has a screen size that we can see without glasses. If you look at it, it looks like a computer, albeit in a sleek, Apple-centric design.
The keyboard and the mouse are wireless, because wires went out of fashion right around the turn of the century. The printer also connects wirelessly as do our streaming devices for the televisions. This main computer is the brain behind our computerized household.
I like the keyboard that goes with this computer because it fits a pair of human hands, so this is where I do most, if not all of my writing. I also like that I can display two pages of text on the screen and still read it.
This desktop computer is also where I do photo editing, and as archaic as it sounds, just about every word I’ve written in the past few years and every photo I’ve taken in the past five are stored on the hard drive. Some of these things may or may not be stored in the cloud, since the concept of automatic cloud storage makes as much sense to me as how the Internet works. I’m typing this essay (as I do all of them) on Microsoft Word for Mac because publishers and editors don’t speak Pages (an Apple program) but my iCloud account doesn’t speak Microsoft. iCloud accounts only accept Apple stuff, so most of my cloud is empty. I’d have to get Microsoft cloud storage to store anything I write and Apple cloud storage for everything else. It’s still cloudy to me why one cloud can’t hold everything.
I also have an iPad as well as an iPhone. The iPad is the portable computer in the house, used for newspaper reading, Facebook updates, research, some writing and editing and general Googling, bit it needs to be within range of the WiFi to use the Internet. The iPhone does all of that anywhere on the globe. I will freely admit that I feel naked without my phone in my pocket, and to drive that point home, I have woken up many times in the middle of the night because of a phantom vibration on my thigh that I thought was an alert. When I realize that it’s not my phone, I probably have that same quizzical look on my face that the dog has when he smells his own fart and wonders what it is.
I like that all these devices are integrated and easy to use. Pictures go back and forth seamlessly, as do reminders, appointments, e-mails and just about everything else. I love it. Android and Windows people get porky about us Apple people and our affection for all things Apple, but I think there is room on this planet for everybody. I have no interest in learning how to write code or being on a first name basis with Microsoft tech support for my devices. My experience is that Apple products not only work well but that they work for a very long time. They are the Honda Accord of tech gear, designed for people such as myself who like things dependable and simple.
Today, as this is being written, is a big day in the Apple universe because they just announced three new products—a new, bigger iPhone, a new, even bigger iPhone and an Apple Watch. These items have simply been announced, not presented for sale. You couldn’t buy one if you wanted to right now and nobody really knows when you will be able to do this, but between now and then, I expect tech geeks who crave new gadgets will be drowning in their own drool.
The watch—dubbed the Apple Watch—looks slick and will start around $350.00 for a basic version. For people who want to get a little fancy, it also comes in dressier versions all the way up to 18K gold. This version is for people who like to throw out a gold watch every two years when the technology becomes obsolete.
The face of the watch can be set to suit your fashion whims or needs, but it can also look like a regular watch. Additionally, it can tell your heartbeat, display text messages and search contacts so one can make phone calls from your wrist, just like Dick Tracy did back in the 1940s. The catch is that you need to be electronically tethered to your iPhone for any of this to work.
In typical Apple fashion, they have ad copy in place that could make cork sound as if a Nobel Prize winner from Stockholm invented it. Here’s one example: The band on one of the watches is made from “high-performance fluoroelastomer.” Really, Apple? It’s synthetic rubber. I’m even embarrassed by that one, but my favorite slice of arsy-varsy hyperbolic horsepoop has to be the description of this optional band:
“A small French tannery established in 1803 produces the supple Granada leather for this elegant band. The smooth top-grain leather is lightly milled and tumbled to attain a refined texture. What looks like a solid buckle is actually a two-piece magnetic closure that’s delightfully simple to secure. We also added an inner layer of material for strength and stretch resistance. It’s the same material NASA used to create the parachute strings for the Mars Rover.”
Dear Apple—knock it off. This is why people hate us.
I personally view the Apple Watch as a fun gimmick. Yes it’s cool, but it’s technology, not jewelry. Let me put it another way. I have a watch that is almost twenty years old, one that is ten years old and a couple that are over thirty years old. They will all outlast me. A tech watch has the shelf life of a banana, so it will last right up until the next big thing rolls around which, if the clock feature is accurate, should be in six to twelve months. In spite of my feelings and questions about battery life and screen glare, this will be a gigantic success for Apple. Buy some stock now.
The new larger and even LARGER versions of the iPhone find me looking at my one-year old 5S as a tiny child’s version. As anyone with any smartphone already knows, it’s not really a phone. Being a phone is just above being a bottle opener on the list of what these things can do. These are pocket computers that make telephone calls. We Google on them and we check the weather, e-mail, stocks, newspapers, newsfeeds, Facebook and Twitter. We can also take decent snapshots, play games, listen to music, watch videos and movies and so many other things that a slightly larger screen that still fits in a pocket would be nice. My freakishly long thumbs practically swallow the screen I have now. I would need an extra knuckle joint to even attempt to type with both thumbs, so I welcome the new, larger screens and once my current contract runs out, I’ll get in line for one.
Apple makes a big deal out these announcements and people salivate and applaud and get all worked up over what’s coming out next and that’s OK. It’s because of this excitement that innovation keeps rolling forward, which is what it’s supposed to do, but I don’t think that I’m there yet with the watch. It’s a toy, albeit a very nice, well-designed and highly functional toy, but it’s still a doodad that’s aimed squarely at people who don’t wear a conventional wristwatch, not at people who do.
Then again, I remember when I didn’t think I needed a phone that takes pictures, surfs the Internet and reminds me of appointments, so maybe I shouldn’t get too smug about a watch that will listen to me if I talk to it, and if I’m being honest—it does look sharp with the Milanese Loop stainless steel bracelet. Make it thinner and smaller so that it fits under a man’s shirt cuff and lose the codependency on the iPhone and maybe, just maybe, it might be useful as a fun, weekend alternative to a conventional watch—but as hard as I try, I just can’t picture myself ever wearing one.