"FAPGATE" Still Looms Over Apple Like A Dark iCloud
Apple, one of America's most cherished and darling enterprises, couldn't possibly have seen this coming. The tech giant's longstanding goodwill and trust amongst consumers and competitors alike, was, in a matter of days, eroded by hundreds of nude hacked photos stolen from some of the nation's most equally beloved sweethearts. Two entities, wholesome in name and appearance, inadvertently offered up a jarring world that was sharply inconsistent with their respective brands-- a paradoxical window rife with inflammatory accusations and finger-pointing that ignored the much weightier surveillance issues (or in this case, "self-surveillance" issues) of the digitized iCloud era. "The Fappening" controversy , a.k.a. "Fapgate", a.k.a. "Celebgate", converted even the most die-hard proponents of the celestial backup system into skeptics, forcing them to reconsider the vast amounts of intimate information they were handing over to a giant, faceless corporate dynasty. The luxury of never losing information became, for better or worse, distorted by the reality that said material could never truly be deleted. If there were ever moments in our virtual lives that we chose to gloss over or forget entirely, we may have given up our right to omit them a very long time ago... And we have Apple, among others, to thank for it.
Earlier this week, Apple's chief exec Tim Cook announced a modernized approach for customers to operate their iPhones without ever taking them out of their pockets. In a tightly packed white tent in Cupertino, CA, both the hotly anticipated iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were overshadowed by the company's forthcoming Apple Watch; a device that could very well become the world's first successful wearable computer. As a mini CPU the watch is capable of sending and receiving text messages, playing music, tracking your daily activity, and recording your heart rate. Cook however wasn't just intent on selling a new "smart watch", but a whole litany of add-on features that would operate in tandem with the device itself. ApplePay for example, would do away with physical credit card transactions by adopting a wireless payment system already found in most Android and Google phones. Since Apple currently has over 800 million credit cards on file through iTunes, this transition could be welcomed as another one of the ubiquitous brand's revolutionary overhauls of an industry in decline. Yet for all of Apple's attempts to generate state-of-the-art machinery with sexier and slimmer contours, the Apple Watch seems a bit outdated as a conceptual intermediary. While it has the potential to reshape peer-to-peer transmissions and social media communication through its radical new interface, there's one throbbing, nascent problem... it's still a fucking watch.
Just as the iPod Classic eliminated CD's and portable cassette players a decade ago, Apple is now taking a page out of their what-not-to-do playbook by resurrecting an appendage deemed irrelevant by the tech world. While the watch industry is still relatively lucrative ($62 billion in revenue last year), Apple has more than enough spending power to buy Timex several times over. Cook isn't just setting his sights on rendering an outdated piece of machinery obligatory-- he's unleashing a flurry of advanced gadgetry and accessories that have the power to strip away users' confidentiality indefinitely. By 2018 there will be a computer present in our every interaction; our pocket, our wrist, our car, our gym... all in concert watching us sleep, drive, talk, and exercise. These invisible sensors will monitor our spending habits, lifestyle choices, behavior patterns, health maintenance, and interactions with friends, family & co-workers via a vast, immeasurable iCloud operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. By gathering and disseminating every infinitesimal minutiae of our recorded information and progress, Apple will eventually know us better than we know ourselves. The company's long term strategy is no longer hell-bent on achieving innovation through groundbreaking performance, but rather tweaking fledgling services already in existence. The Apple Watch and its companion features known as "HomeKit", "HealthKit", "iBeacon" and "Carplay" will finally bridge the company's frontier of universal interconnectedness-- incorporating every probing aspect of technology into our already constrained, compartmentalized world.
The Apple ecosystem is like a swamp, the more we interact with it, the deeper we are drawn into it. - WIRED, Alex Washburn
Without the prudent guiding force of Steve Jobs, Apple is in jeopardy of becoming another corporate centerpiece in Google and Facebook's wiretapped empire. The wide-eyed public has retired their masks and embarked on an audio/visual campaign affirming their daily whereabouts to a nation wrought with interminable F.O.M.O. Institutions praying on consumers' insecurities and self-doubt have never yielded such unmitigated results, and for the handful of girls whose images were unlawfully circulated, Apple became the unwitting harbinger of their nakedness falling into the hands (or desktops) of tens of millions of strangers. By poaching the angelic iCloud, the nefarious "Fapgate" hackers exposed a weakness inherent in the storage system's primary infrastructure. While the cloud is, in itself, a promise from Apple, most promises are inherently flawed because they're created by equally defective human beings. What was gleaned late last August ultimately revealed our enduring hunger for misappropriated intimacy; the cloud may sound soft and placid, omnipresent and amicable... but the calmness and passivity it instills wrongly assumes that it can be identified but never disturbed. As clouds tend to move and disappear with the winds of change, so do we. The age we live in is still unclear, and it'll take some time to decode and simplify, but when the clouds finally do part, we'll be left with absolute clarity. The computer in the sky is our new home, and we're just living in it.