Dear Apple, please can I have something simple?

Commentary: On the eve of WWDC, will Apple present something that will make our lives easier? Or does it expect us to learn ever more complicated technology?

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Apple Holds Event To Announce New Products

See how simple that staging looks? I'd like that sort of simple.

Stephen Lam / Getty Images

We're lazy, but we're also a little tired.

We don't want to make too much effort, largely because we don't have too much time.

Here we are in a 24/7 heaven, where everyone seems to know where we are. Sadly, this includes our bosses.

We're bombarded with notifications, messages, emojis and demands. It's not so much that we fear missing out. It's that we fear disappearing into the tangled tentacles of a technological nightmare.

The promise of technology is that it's supposed to make everything easier. It's a lie, of course. The real aim of too many modern technologies is to suck you into them and keep you inside them as often and for as long as possible.

Which leads me to Apple. On Monday, the company has its World Wide Developers Conference where, the hopeful say, it might even excite with new hardware. Some hardware. Any hardware.

The best Apple hardware looks simple (and beautiful) when you look at it. It feels simple (and beautiful) when you open it. And it operates in a simple (and beautiful) way that's intuitive.

Or, at least, it used to.

As the New York Times reports, users have begun to reject the complications involved in understanding – or even finding – certain apps on their Apple gadgets.

Apple has tried hard, for example, to push stickers. It's even resorted to suggesting you should assault strangers with them.

I've not, however, seen them being universally adopted.

It takes effort to find them. It takes even more effort to believe that these somehow enhance an already crowded life, where several screens simultaneously vie for our attention and the noise is silent but deafening.

In Apple's case, it isn't just stickers. It's 3-D Touch and it's even the Apple watch, which has always looked infernally fiddly to me. None of these has enjoyed instant adoption.

Indeed, the Times says that the fact that users aren't gravitating to an ever-greater variety of recondite apps discourages developers from creating new ones.

I confess to being one of those who has postponed upgrading both my iPhone and my MacBook Air, as I see neither additional beauty nor simplicity in the latest versions. I see nothing that's going to make me breathe and enjoy, rather than do homework in order to make it function at all. 

Worse, I don't see software that I immediately leap upon because, oh, yes, now that's something I desperately need to create a little air in my life. 

Instead, I find myself trying to use fewer apps and fewer software elements to get through the day.

Once, the main difference between Apple and all its competitors was that the latter focused on stuffing more and more features inside their gadgets, while Apple presented the sort of clean design and effortless use that you wish you had everywhere else in your life. This embraced both hardware and software.

The competitors have caught up a little in simplicity. Meanwhile, recent Apple events seem to have focused on new ways in which you can use your gadgets, rather than new ways in which you can make your life a little easier. Apple used to be about delighting, not complicating.

It may be that there's no way back. Our lives will become a constant battle between too much stimulus, too many demands, and too little peace and pause.

It may be that we've already been sucked too far into a technological abyss in order to see the daylight beyond. We just have to deal with it.

As physical computers begin to get smaller and even disappear – ultimately to reside inside our own heads – perhaps tech companies are preparing the way for fascinating and terribly clever pieces of software that will ultimately become second-nature to us, as they trigger our brains without the middleman of a gadget.

For now, however, I'd just like to see Apple present something that I can look at, admire, instantly understand and instinctively use because it creates time and space.

I'd prefer it to be hardware. I'd settle for software.

It's been a while, you see.