Apple kicked off its annual developer conference WWDC 2017 with a dark comedy slapstick short that paints a dystopian scenario of how our lives would play out if all the apps on every iPhone and iPad around the world, suddenly stopped working and mysteriously disappeared. It’s cheekily titled “Appocalypse”.
The video begins with the induction of a new Apple employee, who works in a starkly off-white environment reminiscent of futuristic sci-fi films. After his manager introduces him to his new workplace – the App Store Servers room – she tells him the location of the cafeteria, and their preferred lunch hours, and leaves him be. There’s even a mention of the “big move” to the new Apple Park headquarters.
Before he unpacks his belongings, the employee – named Scott, evinced by his Apple badge – wears a pair of wired EarPods plugged into a seemingly ancient iPod Classic. The only song on it is Christopher Cross’ 1983 pop hit All Right, whose title and lyrics serve as an ironic joke themselves. While looking for a power socket under his desk, Scott pulls out a couple of cables, which starts to shut down the servers in the room.
The video then cuts to people around the world, seeing their apps crash and start to disappear. Rudely interrupted at the restaurant, on the treadmill, or while video chatting, people start to panic. Those on the road even forget how to steer their cars (it’s meant to be humorous), and are incapable of making their own way. “I don’t even know what city we’re in!” a hysterical co-passenger says to his driver friend asking for directions.
Fast forward to a global emergency being declared to discuss the “appocalypse”, visibly shocked women trying to distribute printed selfies, and an old man declaring “The appocalypse is nigh”. Everyone seems to be in on the clever word-play, at least. Meanwhile, plastic surgery centres are upping their game to offer literal face swaps, now that the apps for doing so are gone.
Black markets with storefront versions of apps have popped up, too, where iTunes now means music CDs, and Candy Crush involves literally crushing candy with a hammer. A man who ate an entire pizza by himself shouts random hashtags into a police microphone, Tinder is now a storefront of men waiting to be noticed, and Lyft is a dismantled car sitting atop a horse cart.
Of course, it’s nowhere close to how a server shutdown would play out in real life, but that’s missing the point. Apple’s video is aimed towards developers – it was shown at WWDC, and it closes with title cards that say “Keep making apps. The world is depending on you.” – and it’s meant to play up their importance.
Still, all of us should probably learn a real-life skill or two, just in case.