You click and the app you want launches.
You swipe and get groceries.
You press and take a selfie.
You don’t even need to be of age do to all of this.
Ah, the beauty of Apple products. They are so undeniably user-friendly.
But are they really as simple as everyone thinks?
In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the first Apple Computer. The computer was part of a counterculture, per Wikipedia, and was used to produce print-outs, letter labels and databases. The original Apple 1 was actually a computer kit where buyers had to assemble everything on their own.
Somewhere along the way, this grassroots feeling was mowed down. These home-brewed computers became factory prefabs. In the transition from garages to manufacturing plants, along with other things, complexity was introduced to the equation. Today, we aren’t brewing anything ourselves and have lost control of the thought to be simple devices.
It asks if we want to update. We blindly click “Yes.” But what exactly is it doing in the background? Do you have any idea? Me neither.
On iTunes, we purchase something that we think is ours until we decide to switch to an Android and then – poof – it’s gone. While this works for some people who want to buy all their products from one company, it doesn’t leave us any room to choose. We are locked into Apple’s eco-system.
Sure the interface is super easy to use. And Apple products always seem to work. I’m actually writing this article on my MacBook (and I’m absolutely in love with my new iPhone). But neither empower me as a user. I don’t have control over my operating system nor my software nor my music or apps.
The fact is we as Apple users are in a closed system and have restricted use of our technology. This keeps us dependent like a breastfeeding child. What we believe to be our experience of technology isn’t really ours. Everything is dictated by the mothership and we can not easily move to another mother.
From this standpoint, Apple and its products are not simple.
For a product to truly be simple, it must empower users. In the case of technology, a simple product must allow us access to the source code so we can use and modify it for any purpose. It must permit us to convert files to other formats so we don’t get locked into proprietary software. Also, it must not have so many patents that others can’t develop something more innovative. And so on. You get the idea.
Sure, these suggestions are not as financially appetizing, especially for a company generating billions of dollars in revenue. But from a standpoint of technology and human consciousness, empowering users can lead us to simplicity and possibly to an Age of Enlightenment.