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Ranking the features of the £1,149 iPhone X from “why” to “sweet lord why”

The exisistential dread is 900x more powerful! 

A couple of years ago, a man called Aesop wrote a few stories about animals that teach us a lot about life (think CBBC – but profound). In one of them, a dog is chilling out carrying a bone happy as can be, until he clocks another dog with another bone and feels a little mugged off. He pounces to grab the other dog’s bone but – alack! He falls into some water. The other dog was in fact his reflection in the river, and now the damn dog has lost both of his bones.

The moral of the story is, be happy with your bone – and also, learn about reflections. This fable is important today because Apple have just launched their latest bones, the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus, and the iPhone X. The latter retails for £1,149 for 256GB which is funny, because life is meaningless. Although it’s undeniably a good phone (the cameras! the speakers! the overwhelming urge to keep spending in order to find happiness in a capitalist society that values possessions over personality!) there's a few reasons why you shouldn’t drop your old iBone just yet.

So here are some of the iPhone X’s new features, ranked from “why” to “why though”.

Wireless charging

Remember that cable splitter you bought so that you could charge your iPhone 7 and listen to music at the same time? Throw it in the river! You will now be able to charge your iPhone X wirelessly, meaning you will also be able to fork out hard-earned cash for an Apple AirPower charger. It will most likely charge your phone more slowly and it will be harder to use your phone while it charges, but at least you can swap being tangled up in wires for being tangled up in sweet, suffocating existential dread.

Portrait Lighting mode

In all honesty, selfies are good. Resist the urge to leave a Facebook comment saying they’re not.

The lil black notch on the top of your screen

The iPhone X has edge-to-edge display (cool!) which is somewhat hindered by an ident at the top of the screen that will cut into your videos and pictures (super not cool!). This isn’t the end of the world but it’s also not exactly what you expect for 1,149 of your shiny 12-sided future coins.

The invisible home button

The home button has gone. You’re paying more money for fewer features. It’s the phone of the future.  Yvan eht nioj (Google it).

Augmented reality

Pokemon Go is so over. It’s so over that I couldn’t be bothered to Google “e with an accent” and copy and paste it into the word Pokemon. The point is, we’ve already reached the peak of augmented reality – it’s Pikachu. Apple tried to show off this new feature with an AR dinosaur playing basketball, which will definitely be fun for 10 seconds. Then anyone with sense will be back to using Portrait Lighting mode to take fire selfies.

Face ID

Apple’s biggest change actively failed when they tried to demonstrate it on stage yesterday, and it has already faced scathing criticism from privacy campaigners. Face ID replaces the fingerprint scanner as a way to unlock your phone, with a butt-ton of sensors allowing the iPhone X to scan your face and open it for you and only you (or the police, who can force you to unlock it).

This new feature already raises a lot of questions. What happens if you’re wearing a safety mask at work or religious garb when out and about? What about when people want to check their phone while driving and have to take their eyes of the road (yes, people shouldn’t check their phones when driving, but you know they do and will)? Top this off with the potential for third parties to use the sensors to check your eyes really are on their adverts, and you have a dystopian plot device that you’re actually paying to control you.

But even if none of the above causes any problems (Apple are pretty smart, we’ll give ‘em that) – why do we even want Face ID in the first place? It isn’t the cutting edge in phone security and it’s annoying for users. To use Apple Pay, people will now have to scan their face – making waiting for that phone-tapper at the underground barriers all the more painful.

Animoji

In short, Animoji allows you to animate emoji in time with your facial movements. You used to send the turd – now you can become the turd. It’s a metaphor. We think. 

All images via Getty

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.

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The science and technology committee debacle shows how we're failing women in tech

It would be funny if it wasn’t so depressing.

Five days after Theresa May announced, in her first Prime Minister’s Questions after the summer recess, that she was "particularly keen to address the stereotype about women in engineering", an all-male parliamentary science and technology committee was announced. You would laugh if it wasn’t all so depressing.

It was only later, after a fierce backlash against the selection, that Conservative MP Vicky Ford was also appointed to the committee. I don’t need to say that having only one female voice represents more than an oversight: it’s simply unacceptable. And as if to rub salt into the wound, at the time of writing, Ford has still not been added to the committee list on parliament's website.

To the credit of Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP who was elected chair of the committee in July, he said that he didn't "see how we can proceed without women". "It sends out a dreadful message at a time when we need to convince far more girls to pursue Stem [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] subjects," he added. But as many people have pointed out already, it’s the parties who nominate members, and that’s partly why this scenario is worrying. The nominations are a representation of those who represent us.

Government policy has so far completely failed to tap into the huge pool of talented women we have in this country – and there are still not enough women in parliament overall.

Women cannot be considered an afterthought, and in the case of the science and technology committee they have quite clearly been treated as such. While Ford will be a loud and clear voice on the committee, one person alone can’t address the major failings of government policy in improving conditions for women in science and technology.

Study after study has shown why it is essential for the UK economy that women participate in the labour force. And in Stem, where there is undeniably a strong anti-female bias and yet a high demand for people with specialist skills, it is even more pressing.

According to data from the Women’s Engineering Society, 16 per cent of UK Stem undergraduates are female. That statistic illustrates two things. First, that there is clearly a huge problem that begins early in the lives of British women, and that this leads to woefully low female representation on Stem university courses. Secondly, unless our society dramatically changes the way it thinks about women and Stem, and thereby encourages girls to pursue these subjects and careers, we have no hope of addressing the massive shortage in graduates with technical skills.

It’s quite ironic that the Commons science and technology committee recently published a report stating that the digital skills gap was costing the UK economy £63bn a year in lost GDP.

Read more: Why does the science and technology committee have no women – and a climate sceptic?

Female representation in Stem industries wasn’t addressed at all in the government’s Brexit position paper on science, nor was it dealt with in any real depth in the digital strategy paper released in April. In fact, in the 16-page Brexit position paper, the words "women", "female" and "diversity" did not appear once. And now, with the appointment of the nearly all-male committee, it isn't hard to see why.

Many social issues still affect women, not only in Stem industries but in the workplace more broadly. From the difficulties facing mothers returning to work after having children, to the systemic pay inequality that women face across most sectors, it is clear that there is still a vast amount of work to be done by this government.

The committee does not represent the scientific community in the UK, and is fundamentally lacking in the diversity of thought and experience necessary to effectively scrutinise government policy. It leads you to wonder which century we’re living in. Quite simply, this represents a total failure of democracy.

Pip Wilson is a tech entrepreneur, angel investor and CEO of amicable