With the iPhone 12, Apple has introduced a new line of accessories that use magnetism to quickly attach and charge the phone.
The company has used magnets for years to connect charging adapters and cases. Now they're adding it to more products with the bet that iPhone users will find the lure of magnetic connection irresistible. As a natural phenomenon, magnetism is as old as dirt and yet it still amazes us when we see it in action.
There's another kind of magnetism at work here, too. It's the pull of attraction between Apple's devices and the people who use them. Like many longtime Apple customers, I have felt this attraction since 2008 when I purchased my first iPhone, the 3G.
Around the same time, I began to use an iMac as the family computer, and by the time the iPad came of age, I was fairly well entrenched in the Apple ecosystem.
There's a good reason we are drawn to Apple's gear. It's the same reason they were the first company in history to reach a trillion-dollar valuation. They make high-quality products and charge handsomely for them.
Although Apple founder Steve Jobs set out in 1976 to bring personal computing to the masses, it was the attention to detail and creative innovation he inspired in his design teams that eventually made Apple stand out.
When the company set out to make something — a laptop, a digital music player, a phone — they didn't stop at good, they kept going until they had something great.
Jobs was also a big believer in aesthetics, how things look. Perhaps in response to the boxy, rather plain-looking tech of their competitors, Apple's offerings paired beauty and technological prowess to create works of art, complete with smooth curves, shiny reflective materials, bright, inviting screens, cutting-edge specifications, and intuitive packaging.
I felt the magnetic pull again just the other day when I had an appointment with the Genius Bar to fix my boss's MacBook. Once allowed into my local Apple store, I was ushered past tables of products and asked to sit in front of a massive floor-to-ceiling screen and wait for my genius.
As it happens, they were pretty busy, so I had a good 20 minutes to gaze at the screen and watch various Apple products come and go in larger-than-life size. Electronic gadgets never looked so good! I got intimate with the body of the latest iPad Pro, let the iPhone 12 in all its glory slowly fill my vision, and even experienced the unraveling of Apple's new braided Solo Loop seamless band for the Series 6 Watch, which I would later learn is made up of 16,000 recycled polyester yarn filaments of silicon thread.
No wonder they wanted me up close and personal with it. The blue band rolled along the giant screen like a wave cresting in dark water. The screen is designed to inspire awe and desire, and if I wasn't checking myself in those moments, it would have worked on me like it seemed to be working on those sitting and standing around me.
A similar experience awaits when you look up an Apple device on their website. By the time you reach the bottom of the webpage, purchase options are just a click away.
By now, Apple has perfected its methods of selling us small electronic devices. Taking their cues from human psychology, they make it all about us. They appeal to our innate sense of beauty with impeccable design and manufacturing standards. They home in on our desire for acceptance and family by showing us how we can customize products to our unique tastes and stay connected with the people we care about.
And by making the small look majestic and awe-inspiring, they appeal to our curiosity. In short, we are drawn to Apple's gear, just as two objects are drawn to one another by the properties of magnetism.
To keep the magnetic force in check between Big Tech and us, we must first establish who is boss over our technology. Only we can control how much tech we use and how we use it.
Put in its proper place, technology can provide us with amazing tools to live our lives. It's very easy, though, to quickly end up with too many tech gadgets doing too much of our thinking for us. To live authentically, we must be able to think for ourselves in the digital age. That requires critical thinking, clear priorities, and a commitment to resist both the fear of missing out and the lure of the next new thing.
If you're like me, you probably want almost everything Apple makes. Like that slick Watch of theirs. Though I've come up with some good reasons not to get a smartwatch, I still feel the pull whenever I see an Apple Watch on display. The force is strong, but I continue to resist, happy to wear an analog, wind-up timepiece on my wrist.
If you're reading this, you too are the resistance. Will you join me, for the sake of our shared humanity?
Andrew McDiarmid is a media specialist at the Discovery Institute. He is author of the blog Authentic: Thinking and Thriving in the Digital Age. His writing on technology has appeared in San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, The Herald (UK), BreakPoint, and Technoskeptic Magazine, among others. Read More Here.
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