New gear

I’ve just started my new job at Jayway in Malmö, fun times! Changing jobs these days doesn’t only mean new colleagues, new tasks, and a new office, it also means new gadgets. Computer-wise I’ve now gone from a 13″ MacBook Air to a 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch bar, and on the phone side I’ve replaced my iPhone 6 with an iPhone 7.

Getting a new phone or a new computer back in the days meant weeks of copying files and setting up everything just right. Nowadays that process has been reduced to almost nothing. When I got my first Mac in 2001, I quickly realised two things: Mac applications usually have very few settings compared to Windows ones, and the default values for the few settings there are are usually the right ones for me. Baffling! In the beginning I sort of missed tweaking and adjusting every little detail, but throughout the years I’ve come to appreciate the fact that everything is just right, and that it just works right out of the box. Same thing with the hardware, tinkering and upgrading used to be fun, now I just want a polished experience. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older, I don’t know.

The other big reason for the shorter and more convenient upgrade process these days is of course that so much is online or in the cloud, wherever that is. Most files and services I need are outside my computer in one way or the other. On the iPhone, the iCloud backup completely changed the experience of getting a new phone. Backup old phone, restore on new phone, and boom – everything looks exactly the same as before. The same apps, with their settings intact, sit in the same places over the same background image. For better or for worse, this more or less masks the fact that it’s a new phone altogether. This seamlessness, the fact that they’re working tools (especially the computer), and maybe because somebody else is paying for them, also reduces the excitement of getting new gear dramatically. I enjoy the evolutionary improvements on both the computer and the phone, but the most important thing is that they provide me with the functions I need.

Being an Apple fanboy user also makes picking new gear really straightforward. There’s usually just one good option for what you want, so choosing a new phone or computer is mostly about picking a color. This might sound very limited and boring, but I have to say I love it! I’ve often heard Android users debating with themselves over what phone to get. One model has a good camera, another one has reasonable battery life, and a third one looks good. It ends up being a compromise, and compromises are usually lose-lose scenarios. Of course it’s good that there’s competition in the market and so on, but as long as Apple keep delivering what I want (or make me think I want what they’re delivering), I’m happy to stay in their bubble.

I’m also in the middle of getting a new car, and it dawned on me how similar the experience has been. My current car is a 2010 BMW 325i xDrive with automatic gearbox and quite a lot of nice options. Before that I had two Volvos, and before that two Saabs. I liked the Volvos, but BMW has a more Apple-esque attention to detail that I really appreciate. The user interfaces, both physical and digital, are pretty clean and logical most of the time, and their design is strict and classy. Straight and gently curved lines, no unnecessary circles or other goofy details. Almost everything works the way I expect it to. Very few things feel backwards or wrong.

We’ve test driven a BMW 520d xDrive with automatic gearbox and a lot of nice nice options, and it’s like the Apple upgrade journey all over again. Most of the settings have the right default values, everything looks similar and is located mostly in the same place as in my current car, just more modern and up to date. Again, I enjoy the evolutionary upgrades, but it takes away a lot of the excitement, and I’m definitely a person who can get excited over cars. When building a new car, there are of course an almost endless number of choices to make, but since I have a budget to stick to, they quickly become fewer. The special offers from the dealership are almost the only choice, and then it’s suddenly very similar to the Apple situation. Pick a color, and you’re done.

I do miss the excitement a little bit, but I have to say that going from having gadgets as a hobby to just appreciate the functions and possibilities they offer is very comfortable. And perhaps comfort is what it’s all about.

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