How Apple Plugs Itself Into Our Lives

Nick Carr is uncomfortable with QuickType – a “predictive type” feature being rolled out with iOS 8:

It seems more than a little weird that Apple’s developers would get excited about an algorithm that will converse with your spouse on your behalf, channeling the “laid back” tone you deploy for conjugal chitchat. The programmers seem to assume that romantic partners are desperate to trade intimacy for efficiency. I suppose the next step is to get Frederick Winslow Taylor to stand beside the marriage bed with a stopwatch and a clipboard. “Three caresses would have been sufficient, ma’am.”

In The Glass Cage, I argue that we’ve embraced a wrong-headed and ultimately destructive approach to automating human activities, and in Apple’s let-the-software-do-the-talking feature we see a particularly disquieting manifestation of the reigning design ethic. Technical qualities are given precedence over human qualities, and human qualities come to be seen as dispensable.

Looking on the bright side of Apple’s announcements, Jonathan Cohn imagines that the Apple Watch could “make medical care more efficient and let us all stay a lot healthier”:

One of the biggest problems with health care today is the lack of ongoing, continuous care, particularly for people with chronic conditions. It means that doctors, nurses, and the rest of health care system spend a lot of time treating people with serious, sometimes urgent problems, rather than keeping them healthy in the first place.

Mobile devices that monitor and then transmit vital signs can help fix that, so that patients and their medical professionals would know when problems were starting.

Julia Belluz is skeptical of such claims:

This gadget and the new software will certainly make analyzing data easier, and it may even be more precise than other wearable technologies. But the claims to an Apple-shaped health revolution deserve some scrutiny: the evidence on existing wearables suggests that — like all other silver-bullet solutions for health — they haven’t yet figured out how to make habit change stick.

Neil Irwin, meanwhile, casts doubt on Apple’s new mobile payments service:

The core challenge Apple faces is that buying things with a credit card isn’t nearly as onerous a process as they make it out to be.

Drum is on the same page:

There really are issues with credit cards as payment devices. They’re fairly easily stolen and they’re pretty insecure. Still, these things are relative. As long as you use a credit card instead of a debit card, you’re not responsible for most losses, and various forms of modern technology have made credit cards much more secure than in the past. And as Irwin points out, they’re pretty easy to use. It’s just possible that the Steve Jobs reality distortion field could have convinced everyone otherwise, but I’m not sure Tim Cook is up to the task.

Leonid Bershidsky also deflates Apple Pay a bit:

The company’s partners, banks and credit-card companies, played along with Apple’s hype, because they support every player that puts effort into popularizing a technology whose use they are struggling to expand. Essentially, however, Apple is just a middleman and will have a role only so long as existing payments industry players need help spurring consumers to adopt contactless payment.

And Cass Sunstein raises a potential drawback to Apple’s mobile payments:

When payment becomes easier, and when people don’t see the money they’re handing over, they tend to spend a lot more. And as payment becomes more automatic, people become less sensitive to what they’re losing. Apple Pay users might find that their thinner phones are making their bank accounts thinner as well.

A little social science: People who use credit cards tend to give bigger tips at restaurants and spend more at department stores. They are also more likely to forget, or to underestimate, the amounts of their recent purchases.

Earlier Dish on this week’s Apple news here.