Today is Apple’s Yay! New Product Day!
As a long-time fan of Apple, writing this on an Apple computer, I am strongly indifferent about today’s reveals.
I was lukewarm last time too. Maybe I want an iPad Pro, maybe I’ll want a smaller version to be announced today (rumour goes), but I probably can’t afford either, so I’ll make do with what I have.
What I’m really excited about is Apple’s stalwart defence of universal security in its systems, refusing to simply hand over the keys to the kingdom for the sake of a single device.
There are many who argue with me on this point, and fine. It is a complex argument. As I see it the implications of Apple breaking its own encryption extend beyond U.S. borders, and I believe Apple is doing the right thing. But that’s not what I’m writing about today.
I bring it up because, as a company willing to stand up to the U.S. government on principle, Apple has failed to find the moral imperative to address the Lithium Ion battery problem.
I believe Apple has had the opportunity to do so when reviewing the batteries for its thinner, lightweight devices. I believe Apple’s failure to do is a missed opportunity to once again leap ahead of the pack with true world-altering innovation.
We’ve Seen this Film Before
This weekend, we had another mobile phone fire onboard, this time on an Alaska Airlines flight. A passenger was watching a film on her smartphone on a flight bound for Hawaii when flames suddenly leapt from her screen.
In this case, the device catching fire happened to be one of the new iPhone 6 models. Perhaps that’s why this incident got more press than many other similar incidents.
Tech Has to Solve This Because Aviation Can’t
From the beginning, I have argued that this is an issue that goes beyond the scope of aviation to solve. In this case, aviation can only cope.
Our dependency on Lithium battery power sources for electronic devices poses a threat to aviation in many ways, but it is up to tech to drive change.
As tech has failed to do so, the last recourse for aviation, I believe, is to force tech to action by making Lithium batteries extremely inconvenient to transport.
But that seems unlikely. Beyond political issues in the way, an absolute ban could prove more problematic to aviation, IATA has pointed out, and could simply lead to dangerous shipper non-compliance.
So we’re left with this happening in-flight:
The Alaska Air spokesman told ABC News, “The fire was quickly extinguished by our flight attendants, who are trained for situations like these.”
Crew trained to deal with these problems, special equipment designed to handle these issues, new policies and procedures, and still an ongoing risk of fire onboard.
Apple is not the only manufacturer using Lithium power sources. But it could be the first to support safer alternatives.
If Apple were to do that, I would really get excited about today’s announcement or the next.
I might even find a way to stretch my budget to replace all my devices with new safer, more responsible, and sustainable ones.
Otherwise, today’s reveal of new smaller/lighter/shinier/multicoloured blah, blah, blah..meh.