On Monday, March 25th 2019, Apple held their annual service announcement. This year everybody’s favorite fruit unveiled a handful of new offerings, including a premium news subscription called Apple News+, a new game subscription dubbed Apple Arcade, and even – wait for it – a credit card. Yes, you read that correctly. The classic stereotype of iPhone users is feeling superior to everyone in the world using an Android phone. And now those users will have a shiny piece of laser-etched titanium in their wallets to prove it.
All of this sounds…cool, right? Nothing life-changing, but nice to have, eh? That was the tone of the audience until Apple’s final announcement.
The lights went out. The giant screen at the center of The Steve Jobs Theater began to come alive. And the audience was greeted by the face of Steven Spielberg to unveil Apple’s new streaming service for original content, Apple TV+.
Along with Spielberg, Apple has enlisted some of the most talented names in Hollywood, including Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, JJ Abrams, Sara Bareilles, Kumail Nanjiani, and even the cast of Sesame Street. But the list goes on, all building to a thunderous conclusion when the one and only Oprah graced the stage to announce her own partnership with the streaming service. The content Apple previewed certainly looks like it will put up one hell of a fight with the likes of Netflix and Prime Video. But what caught my attention most was not the lineup of shows or stars that will be coming our way this Fall.
It was Apple’s juxtaposition of technology and art.
Our digital lives are becoming more advanced every day, and technology that may have been revolutionary only a year ago is most likely outdated today. Technology is developing at a ferocity that was unimaginable only a century ago, providing new ways to stay in-touch and connected like something out of a sci-fi epic. All of this being accomplished by simply tapping away at the little piece of glass, steel, and silicon in your pocket.
Apple’s big message behind their decision to produce original content is that they are dedicated to connecting audiences through the best stories the world has to offer. That was echoed by every A-Lister brought on stage. Now, this move obviously has a financial incentive for the company as well, with Apple looking to overwhelm yet another market. But Apple rose to global dominance by committing to one simple principle: Connect people, no matter the distance, through something as simple as the cell phone in your pocket. Now they hope to connect us all through the power of story.
I have always believed that everyone in your life is there for a reason and that you can learn from each person you cross paths with. I also believe that everyone has a unique perspective and voice, and deserves to be heard. So having one of the largest technology companies in recorded human history preach the power of connecting with other people through storytelling is a very welcome surprise. Apple emphasized a commitment to sharing honest accounts of the human experience. And that’s something that we desperately need more of.
For as far as we have come thanks to advancements in technology, the art of storytelling was the original way to bring people together. No Snapstreaks or memes required. One day I hope to be a writer and a filmmaker; Two story-driven paths. But most importantly, I hope that people will read and watch what I have to say, allowing my message to connect with as many people in the audience as possible. Just as I hope readers find a connection with every blog I write or every photograph that I post on this website.
But sometimes it can feel as if you are truly going at it all by yourself. However, during Apple’s presentation, Steven Spielberg reminded us that no on ever tells a story alone. There are inherent truths and feelings that everybody on this planet knows, regardless of race, religion, or geography. He reminds us that storytelling is a universal language all its own.
As of now, there is no artificial intelligence that can mimic human emotion or recall memories from its past, either joyous or painful. There is no software that ‘feels’ and there is no community of computers dedicated to discussing the complicated complexities of life on a soulful level. As for now, that job still falls to us humans. And that is a glorious thing.
Because for as intertwined as our digital lives may be, for the countless resources that are available to anyone with a basic internet connection, for all of the laser-etched titanium credit cards in our wallets, and for the instant gratification that comes with ‘following’ someone (or when they ‘follow’ you back,) there will never be a device more instrumental in connecting humans with other humans than something as simple as a story.
It’s the one thing that brings us all together as part of something greater than our individual selves, and it can be found in the pages of your favorite book or the frames of your favorite film. There is art in technology; There is also technology in art. But as for now, the power of story remains solely in the minds and voices of every person on this planet. Technology is going to continue advancing further and faster than we ever thought possible, beckoning us into stages of modern life that we can’t even imagine yet. But due to the power that comes with connecting to other people regardless of language or location – and thanks to the art of storytelling – the future is entirely human.