Despite savage beheadings, disturbing political revelations, and the advent of "Talk Like a Pirate Day," Apple's release of a new phone and mobile operating system, iOS8, has dominated the Internet like nothing since the naming of Pope Francis. WTF is going on?
From my latest column for Time:
In the new world of technology über alles, the operating system is the god of the machine. If it functions well, all is smooth sailing in our lives and we can be pretend to be wizards and witches from storybooks, able to traverse time and space and make miracles happen. We can arrive on time via uncongested routes and we can bank from the coffee shop and invest while riding the subway. We can set the home alarm long after we've left for work, track the kids' homework, and use a flight delay as a way to catch up with our friends, lovers, and co-workers.
As we voluntarily become cyborgs and wire ourselves up and express ourselves instantaneously through an ever-growing array of social media, we need a perfect operating system that allows us to multi-task with ever-greater flexibility and ever-greater ease across computers, phones, tablets, and more. Who has time to reboot any of our peripheral devices? Indeed, what machines even count as peripheral anymore? They are all central to us, and more so with each passing day.
In its heart of hearts, Apple knows just how high the stakes are. No company, even one as worshiped by its fans as Apple, is ever more than a couple of flops away from being cast into furnace of hell. Its previous mobile operating system, iOS7, was a disappointment, if not an epic fail like Windows 8 or Vista, to name two of Microsoft's ill-conceived and executed OSes. iOS8 must be better, smoother, faster, or else even true believers may revolt and slay their god (alas, the early reviews for iOS8 are not heartening).