Trojan Horses

“When we sat down … (to work on iOS 7), we understood that people had already become comfortable with touching glass, they didn’t need physical buttons … So there was an incredible liberty in not having to reference the physical world so literally.”

— Sir Jony Ive, interviewed by USA TODAY, regarding the design of iOS7

“Strangely enough, the visual appeal is almost retrofitted to the traditional language of the analog Swiss-made timepiece. It’s a watch that looks like a watch.”

— Sarah Mower for Vogue, regarding the design of Watch

Funny, given all the angst in the past 18 months over skeumorphism, that Apple is casting its newest product line as a watch — even extending to its name.

But, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised — Apple understands that we can’t envision the way that truly new products will alter the fabric of our lives. We need a little push, an excuse.

We’ve seen this play out before. The iPhone 6 I’m about to preorder at midnight is least of all a telephone — though when I purchased my first iPhone in 2007, I thought that’s what I was buying.

App design, too: It’s obvious that Forstall and Ive differ when it comes to software design — but in an oblique way, they have used the same strategy to solve the problem of introduction. Just as the original iPhone’s Notes app wrapped itself in a paper-and-perforation cloak so we would know immediately what do with it, Watch masquerades as a timepiece. Even my generation, for whom time slipped from wrist to pocket at the turn of the milennium, understands the metaphor.

It’s not hard to imagine that Apple’s 2020 release, which will no longer need to explain itself, will be able to embrace its nature unapologetically — respecting its horological heritage, but shedding those trappings which serve merely to instruct.