By Dan Moren
December 31, 2017 6:18 PM PT
The Back Page: Apple knows best
Or: Other things Apple is saving you from
Our worst suspicions have been confirmed: our old iPhones do get slower with age. As we have recently discovered, Apple has—in its infinite-looped wisdom—decided to make a tradeoff: reduce our phones’ performance to prevent our battery life from dying.
Sure, it sounds nefarious. I can understand that. We might be tempted to think that Apple put in place this performance throttling to push people, in a purely capitalistic move, into buying a new phone.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In truth, Apple’s just looking out for you. The company wants your phone to last longer because it wants you to live your best life. If that occasionally means it takes you a little bit longer to check out that latest Instagram post from your friend vacationing in the Maldives while you shiver inside your drafty New England apartment, well, you’re welcome.
Really, there are plenty of places where your phone is actually just watching your back. You ever notice how your cellphone signal seems to die when you’re trying to put an order in for the local pizza place? Or how Siri seems to deliberately misunderstand you when you tell it to call your ex after a night of hard drinking? Or when Apple Maps can’t seem to find the local movie theater when you’re on your way to see the latest Kevin James movie?
Apple is here to save you from your very worst enemy: yourself.
If anybody knows how we should live our lives, what things we should prioritize, it’s obviously a giant technology company. I mean, these people sell millions of phones every quarter, and manage to deliver them around the world in an efficient manner that would make old Saint Nick jealous. What have you done lately? Managed to go to the gym once or twice this week? Called your mom on her birthday? That’s table stakes, friend.
Think of all of this as the opposite of Apple’s Proactive Intelligence features—you know, the ones that try to anticipate what you’re going to type or look up before you even finish entering it. But instead these are more…Preemptive Intelligence features: preventing you from doing those things that are only going to lead to more suffering down the road.
So why doesn’t Apple just tell you, instead of doing it all under the cover of darkness? Consider it the company’s own version of the Prime Directive: You can’t reveal yourself to the very people you are trying to help, as by doing so you are potentially influencing their own choice.
No, much like machine-learning, this is all about building habits. By encouraging you to pursue positive ones and steering you away from detrimental ones, you can live your life in a better, more fulfilling way. Haven’t you ever wanted to be one of those smiling, suspiciously photogenic people in Apple’s promotional pictures? Perhaps enjoying a rugged outdoory experience like hiking, surfing, or scuba diving? Planning a picnic with your adorable children and your incredibly diverse group of attractive friends? Or even just standing in a field somewhere while somebody snaps the perfectly-lit picture of you? How do you think those people got where they are? It definitely wasn’t by just taking life into their own hands, that’s for sure.
So, as we reach the end of 2017 and you start making your plans and promises for the year ahead, just remember that Apple has only your best interests at heart. And maybe instead of trying to figure out why your phone isn’t doing what you tell it to, maybe just start listening to what your phone is telling you to do. Because, after all, your life is inestimably better now than before you had your smartphone, right?
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @email@example.com or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]