No good deed goes unpunished: The Apple blame game


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WWDC is long over but The Macalope has still not dug out from under the backlog of BLAZZLEFROZZLE that erupted in the wake of Apple’s keynote.

Writing for The New York Times, Farhad Manjoo said after WWDC “Apple Shuns the Tech Industry’s Apology Tour.”

Reasonable people could probably come up with a list of things for Apple to apologize for. Maybe your MacBook Pro keyboard is a lemon, maybe you’re having a hard time picking out a good Mac to buy because the company doesn’t make Macs as often as they used to. Whatever your very reasonable complaint is, you won’t find it in this piece.

There has been a theme at the tech industry’s big conferences this year: Facebook and other tech giants keep telling us that they’ve learned from their mistakes and are going to be a lot more thoughtful about the far-out stuff they plan on doing in the future.

Apple has been cool to this narrative…

Facebook’s mistakes are fairly well-documented. What exactly are Apple’s “mistakes”? Caring more about privacy than anyone else certainly isn’t one of them.

Manjoo pulls a sleight of hand so coolly in constructing this narrative you’d think he was starting a YouTube channel for aspiring magicians. Privacy and so-called “technology addiction” are separate issues. Apple is hands-down the best in the industry at the former, while Facebook is among the worst. Trying to draw a parallel between the two at the top of your story by using the umbrella term “tech backlash” strains the bounds of credulity.

As for being complicit in “technology addiction,” the counts against Apple are having invented the iPhone and then having the gall to improve it and having invented the App Store. In response to peoples’ concerns, Apple introduced a number of features designed to give users more control over their interactions with their phones. So… that would be good, right?

It would be, except it’s time to play that game no one wants to play: “Can You Smell The Big But?!”

But at its event here, Apple’s support for what’s being called “digital well-being” often awkwardly butted up against Apple’s larger goal: to make the digital world so awesome, you can’t resist it.

Pundits are literally expecting Apple to stop enhancing the iPhone. That is where we are. The Macalope may have missed it, but he doesn’t remember that coming up when Google’s I/O conference took place.

Apple wants to stand apart from the techlash with its emphasis on privacy and its oft-stated distaste for the excesses of the internet ad industry.

“Techlash” is not a thing! You just made that up! People are upset about companies not giving a damn about their privacy and they’re upset that they can’t bring themselves to put their phones down for five minutes. These are entirely separate issues. And Apple absolutely stands head and shoulders above the rest on privacy.

Apple benefits from our obsession with social software; people buy its powerful phones to use Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

They also buy them to take photos, send email, and actually make the occasional phone call. When will Apple listen to the cries of customers and stop making these multipurpose devices we want?!

It weirdly must be noted that not every interaction with a smartphone is evil, despite a boom in the field of being a technology scold (witness Wired calling Rene Ritchie, who was taking a picture at the time as part of his job, a “phone-absorbed attendee at WWDC”). Also, not every interaction with Facebook happens on an iPhone or even a smartphone. And yet somehow it most often comes up only in reference to the iPhone. Indeed, Manjoo believes that solving this is all on Apple.

Apple will give you the world. What you do with it is your own problem.

Other than Apple helping by introducing a whole bunch of features to help you better manage your technology world, yes. Oh, and being better at privacy than anyone else. Other than all the things it has done to fight this amalgam of disparate issues being lumped into one, it has done literally nothing.

For shame, Apple. For shame.

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