This advert could be the tipping point for the awful iPad

The new advert features musical instruments, paints and toys being crushed, while the iPad emerges intact
The new advert features musical instruments, paints and toys being crushed, while the latest iPad emerges intact - YouTube Apple

It’s uniting actors and artists, musicians and writers, with Hugh Grant describing it as “the destruction of the human experience, courtesy of Silicon Valley”. I’m talking about the advert for the new iPad Pro, heralded by Apple as “the most powerful iPad ever [which] is also the thinnest”.

And this delicate little genius of computer engineering, in that advert, emerges from a giant crushing machine that has just obliterated every decent thing you can think of: paint and cameras, musical instruments – a trumpet, a piano, a guitar – lamps, sculpture, record players, all sorts of toys, a metronome and books. And somewhere, someone (actually, make that: in various offices and in meeting rooms a very great number of people) seemed to think that this advert was somehow a good – even a great – idea.

The iPad escapes the crush because it can count time; can offer a canvas for artists, instruments for musicians; is a torch, a camera, a photo album, a music machine, a game, and a toy. But it’s also the most terrible electronic device ever invented. And I was surprised by the advert because, firstly, I thought they were already obsolete. For me the iPhone is essential – along with all its glorious accessories from train ticket purchasing and banking to communicating and frivolity. And then I have a Mac, my personal computer upon which I write.

And the iPad sits somewhere, miserably, pointlessly, in between. Which is where it should remain, bereft between two stools, then forgotten.

For child management, the iPad should be the last resort, that weapon to silence an annoying infant, for long car journey management or plane peace. It is brought out reluctantly – for it is a slippery slope, a habit that is hard to break that stops a child from looking around them at the real world. I remember the depressing site of seeing a child being wheeled through an airport, its gaze firmly on the iPad. I saw it again being pushed through the aircraft I was on and then lifted and put in a nearby seat. It watched the device as we took off then as we cruised at high altitude. Then after it fell asleep, the iPad was carefully removed from its lap. A few hours later, the child stirred and its parents quickly retrieved the device. Then, as the little one opened its eyes, there was the iPad, on and ready to ease the toddler back to consciousness. The child never looked up from the device. I thought: what hideous cruelty inflicted upon the child, and then wondered why they seemed to want to raise a moron.

For that is what these things make us: morons. And Apple wishes to celebrate it. That most beautiful of inventions, the guitar, which in the hands of a great player is caressed into life to create the most stirring of sounds is, think Apple, somehow replaceable by a rectangle of metal with a screen and some buttons. And you can make similar arguments for a piano, for paint, for toys.

How can it actually be acceptable for a company to attempt to argue that it is better for a human – a child indeed – to hunker down over a screen – than to experience real play, interaction, the use of muscles, of arms and legs, mouth and hands? It is as if that company wants us to develop a sort of locked-in syndrome, zombies with only eyes, thumbs and fingers, that it is somehow an aspiration to emit a trumpet sound or a guitar chord by pressing a button rather than creating it with our own developed talents.

Are we to gather for concerts to watch an individual hunker over the blue light of their iPad while they form the sounds of an orchestra? It’s worth seeing that advert to witness the destruction of the trumpet, the piano and the metronome. Because I think it will genuinely repulse you.

With any luck this misadventure, this deranged corporate decision, could be their Gerald Ratner moment, the joke that backfires and breaks them (though, just the iPad mind I need that damn phone and Mac…) Someone has put a video of the advert in reverse on Twitter and it’s magnificent. The iPad disappears and all these majestic inventions spring back to form and life.

This could be the tipping point for the awful iPad. Let’s smash them in that giant crusher, to smithereens and embrace real objects; inventions that celebrate and encourage the best of human endeavour.