Thinner, lighter, gone.

Although I purchased last year’s iPad Air and was perfectly content with it, I found myself in an Apple Store yesterday, purchasing the iPad Air 2. Part of it was that I wanted an excuse to use Apple Pay, and groceries weren’t exciting enough. But the other part was that after I held the updated device, I couldn’t leave without it.

When it was announced last week, the incremental changes in weight and size seemed almost negligible to me as I read about them. We’re talking grams and millimeters. Tiny, insignificant adjustments to the body of the device. How different could it possibly be?

Put the two devices side by side, and it becomes glaringly apparent. Not to mention the ridiculous internals this new model has. Plenty of people have voiced opinions along the lines of “I’d rather have a little more battery than a thinner device, why is Apple so obsessed with this?” and it got me thinking about exactly what that means. Clearly Apple feels that current battery life is reasonable and is willing to make other changes to the physical nature of the device to optimize in other dimensions. But why? Why the relentless march to thinner and lighter?

I think it’s because Apple doesn’t want us to notice that we’re holding chunks of metal and glass. We should think about these devices as extensions of ourselves and the closer the company can come to making them nearly weightless (in relative terms), the better. In the same way that you get dressed in the morning and feel your clothes but quickly adjust and your body stops sending those input signals, your devices should follow similar paths. If Apple can create a device that is so comfortable to use that it’s forgotten as it’s held because it’s so unimaginably thin and light–while still maintaining the performance users come to generally expect without decrement–it’s going to do it.

Eventually battery technology and wireless radios will advance to the point that our concerns about charging will be obviated. In the meantime, Apple will create devices that continue to advance the technical bottom line while somewhat disappearing in terms of our nerve endings’ perceptions. And while two days ago I couldn’t have cared less, holding the Air 2 now, I realize how quietly significant that goal is.

Notes on the iPhone 6 Plus.

It’s been a little over a week since I got my 6 Plus. Having used it extensively and even traveled with it this weekend (I’ll miss you, Çingleton), I think my feelings on it have coalesced enough to put them together. A few people had mentioned being curious to hear my feedback on the device, so here are some brief notes, by no means a full review. For that, check out this exhaustive post by Rene Ritchie.

It’s big.
Yes, it really is. Oddly large at first, but you become accustomed to the size quickly. I have what I would consider small hands for a guy, and although it’s definitely not a one-handed device, I feel pretty comfortable with daily use by now. And it happened faster than I would have anticipated.

It’s slippery.
That powdered metal finish is gorgeous, but man, I feel like I’m holding a bar of wet soap sometimes. I started with this case and while I did like its ultra low profile, I moved to the Apple Silicone Case in black. I prefer the soft grip it provides, and although it’s a little bulkier, it really does feel great in your hand. I have traditionally preferred my phones caseless for many years, but given the size of the 6 Plus, adding a little more bulk doesn’t seem to be bothering me too much.

That screen.
Maybe I’m getting old, maybe I don’t care anymore, maybe it’s all in your head: you can’t (realistically, in everyday use) find fault with this screen. Crunch the numbers, worry about the math all you want, read every article on downsampled pixels, it just doesn’t matter. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

It’s sort of an iPad, but it sort of isn’t.
I don’t use my iPad Air all that much these days, and most of what I use it for (books, video, games) can be done really nicely on the 6 Plus. That said, every time I pull the Air out from the small wooden rack I keep next to our couch, it reminds me just how nice it really is to have that bright, wide display. I plan to use the 6 Plus for most of those everyday tasks, but there’s still a nice slot for the Air as well. iPad mini? Its days may be numbered, but that’s up to how you use it.

I’m really enjoying the 6 Plus. I think it’s a really cool new device that builds on the notion of an iPhone without fully encroaching on iPad territory. I’m looking forward to seeing how developers use the extra space it affords and I hope to see more interesting software take advantage of its unique form factor.

10:33 pm: Oh! I almost forgot! The battery is otherworldly. I mean, seriously, like alien-technology long. Maybe the best feature.