Apple has finally done it, according to Apple. After years of valiant struggle and terrible defeat—years that saw the beloved techtalitarian super-corporation self-effacingly release embarrassing and ultimately inefficient devices like the chubby iPhone 3G, the lethargic iPhone 4S, and the iPhone 5C, widely considered the Octopussy of iPhones by people whose only cultural reference is James Bond movies— Apple has finally created the perfect phone, if Apple doesn’t say so itself.
At a press conference on Tuesday in Cupertino—widely considered the Thunderball of towns in Santa Clara County by people who can recognize the moderate but pivotal discrepancies that differentiate towns in Santa Clara County — Apple announced the arrival of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, while also implicitly announcing the anxiety you’ll feel when you walk into an Apple Store totally intending to just purchase the iPhone 6, and then some freshfaced young Apple Store employee with their whole life ahead of them tells you that the iPhone 6 Plus is .8 inches larger than the iPhone 6, and then you try to figure out how much less cool Sleepy Hollow will look if it’s .8 inches smaller.
These phones are, in the official words of Apple, “the best phones ever made.” And by way of demonstrating just how great the greatest phones ever are, Apple brought onstage a man who appeared to be the handsy TA from your freshman Creative Writing course, and for several pregnant moments we watched him play a game that appears to be the long awaited mash-up of World of Warcraft and Pikmin.
What makes the best phones ever so great? They are larger. They have 185 percent more pixels than the 5S, and I’m sure I’m not the only man who’s looking at my iPhone 5S today with a mixture of shame and resentment. (Look how much Javier-Bardem-in-No-Country-For-Old-Men-Plus-A-Scarf is enjoying World of Warkmin! Imagine trying to play that game on my practically pixel-free iPhone 5S! Better to carve out mine own eyes!)
Apple’s messaging has gotten less subtle in the last few years, and by less subtle, I mean this:
You could argue that the focus on “Big Big Bigness” as a defining aesthetic belies a general sense of mission drift on the part of the iPhone, which once upon a time was a consistently revolutionary device and is now just another smartphone in a market filled with smartphones that your annoying friends swear are just as good if not better than the iPhone.
And it doesn’t help matters that, in the post-Steve Jobs era, Apple presentations tend to default to relentless Number Orgies— 50 percent faster graphics performance! A billion more transistors!— while occasionally demonstrating the radical new radicalness of the new product using examples that seem to imply that Apple’s ideal user is a wealthy middle-aged dandy who enjoys taking slow-motion pictures of the California Monarch Butterfly and counting how many steps they climb when they sightsee castles in the Scottish Highlands.
This is also when you notice that the Apple uniform has devolved from the formfitting this-man-means-business turtleneck to ill-fitting long-sleeved collared shirt atop jeans just faded enough for your dad to look cool in a board meeting. But then again, loving Apple means pretending that U2 have never been better than they are right now, which is also something someone’s dad somewhere thinks.
(Buried in the announcement about the new iPhones was the boldest statement of the day. “iPhone replaced the point-and-shoot camera,” said Apple. “Next up: The Video Camera.” I’m guessing that this statement refers, initially, to “the video camera” as a thing that your parents used to film your tenth birthday party, but when you consider that most/practically every movie made in the modern age is technically made on a video camera, could Apple’s ultimate endgame be complete dominance of the film industry? You have to remember: Silicon Valley is just a Hollywood where everyone is good at everything besides whatever it takes to produce anything artistically meaningful.)
Apple took a break from trumpeting the great big big greatness of the iPhone 6’s to describe how they are going to launch all-out war on the concept of a wallet. The new Apple Pay system allows you to wave the best phone ever in front of a device that immediately transfers money from you to McDonald’s or Disneyland or Whole Foods or whatever other major conglomerate is selling you something you probably don’t really need.
“The cashier doesn’t see your name!” declared Apple, meaning we can now include “ability to engage in small talk with a cashier” as an attribute of characters in a movie the future will make about our present. Additionally, because Apple has now made the wallet obsolete, the mere fact that you have an actual wallet with actual cash money and an actual credit card right now makes you a total hipster, you hipster.
At that point, Apple brought out the big guns. The best phone ever isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? The best watch ever. (That’s a reference to The Social Network, where Justin Timberlake played a real-life Silicon Valley impresario as a parody of American-nightmare excess; Justin Timberlake has now created a raft of new Apple advertisements with Jimmy Fallon; on Jimmy Fallon’s first Tonight Show, the musical guest was U2; U2 announced their new album’s release at Tuesday’s Apple event; you cannot stop the Machine, but if you’re lucky, you can fear it.)
“We set out to make the best watch in the world,” said Apple, and so they have. The watch—or “wrist-thing,” as it’s known to any children who have come of age during the time period when devices like the iPhone removed any need for a watch—is a precise timepiece that is accurate to within plus or minus 50 milliseconds.
It can detect your pulse rate. It can play music by Echosmith and Coldplay and other bands white people love. It can show you exactly where you are in the world; it can show you exactly where you are in the universe; there are some theories that, if you look closely enough, the iWatch can reveal your future, but only to the extent that your future involves buying things without the need for a wallet. Want to know when the next new moon is? F— YES I WANNA KNOW WHEN THE NEXT NEW MOON IS MOTHERF—–R!!!!!!
By way of demonstrating just how cool the iWatch is, Apple featured several gorgeously art-directed photos of dewily attractive human beings engaging in tender make-out seshes…
…and moody backwards chair-sitting in the middle of a busy street…
…and even some sunset jogging in a world where the moon is shaped like an apple logo:
The Apple iWatch will retail for $349 when it arrives in early 2015. It requires an iPhone to do anything at all, and even assuming you buy the cheapest possible iPhone like a total sucker, that might sound like a pretty steep price for a watch.
But how much should you pay for the greatest watch ever made? Especially when you can use the watch as a viewfinder for your iPhone camera, or as a walkie-talkie, or a whole host of other attributes that will probably seem much less cool like six months later when the touchscreen doesn’t seem to be working as well as the touchscreen should work, but what’s the point in complaining about touchscreens, remember when your great-great-grandparents were alive and they had to work fifteen hours a day in the slaughter-mill just so they could afford to feed your great-grandparents food-flavored dirt?
At the end of the presentation, Tim Cook brought U2 onstage. “They have more Grammy awards than any single band in history,” he said, inadvertently revealing that he has probably never seen The Simpsons. U2 performed a song about the environment or whatever, and then Tim Cook said: “Wasn’t that the most incredible single you’ve ever heard?” (Somewhere, a deaf man who regained his hearing yesterday answered: “Yes, by default!”) By way of thanking Apple, Bono told Tim Cook: “We’re the blood in your machines, oh Zen Master of hard and software.”
Which sounds like the chorus for a new U2 song, and also a pretty fair summation of the relationship between Apple and the human race.