Michael Caine, as Cutter, in The Prestige:
Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called The Pledge. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course…it probably isn't. The second act is called The Turn. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret…but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call The Prestige.
Steve Jobs, introducing the iPad:
We’re excited for customers to get their hands on this magical and revolutionary product and connect with their apps and content in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.
Hyperbole? Sure. Jobs's penchant for seeing magic in Apple's devices was often (and remains) the subject of derision from pundits and skeptics. This is, I think, based on a misunderstanding. Yes, if you think of Harry Potter-style "alohamora" wand-waving magic, it's easy to be critical of Jobs's colorful rhetoric.
Instead, if you think of magic as an illusion, a trick, there's no more fitting term for what the iPad sought to be than "magical".
Steve Jobs introduced the world to -- yes, Samsung -- an ordinary rounded rectangle with a screen. Apple gave us a tablet years after Microsoft and others had failed to achieve any real success with similarly-ish ordinary rectangles with screens. We were invited to take a look at it, to wonder why this device was special.
Steve Jobs opened an app. Like magic, this tablet was now a book. Go ahead and turn it over. The ordinary rounded rectangle is gone. And then, it was a web browser. What had been a book was suddenly something else entirely. In 2013, that "ordinary rounded rectangle" can be anything at all, limited only by developer commitment to the turn. (This is why app ecosystems matter, especially in a Post-PC world.)
Apple has no interest in the prestige because there's absolutely no sense in bringing back that ordinary rounded rectangle. Unfortunately, iOS constantly forces us to bring it back and Android can't wait to shove it in your face.
This brings us to Android vs. iOS: According to pundits and even some fans of Apple's devices, iOS has grown stale. It's a grid of icons which all represent a potential transition from the pledge to the turn. The solution, they'd have us believe, is to complicate the pledge. Everything that made the iPad magical, they argue, should be abandoned in favor of making that ordinary rounded rectangle more like the laptop I'm typing this on.
More like Android.
What the fuck is magical about Android?
Apple's focus is on the turn because that's where the magic happens.
It's true, though: That grid of icons is getting in the way.
The solution has nothing to do with making the OS more complex by replacing the grid with something "more" -- it's to make the OS go away altogether. Real innovation does not involve recreating what Apple left behind when they introduced the iPad; it has everything to do with making sure we never think about the fact that we're holding an ordinary rounded rectangle.
Ideally, Apple must strip away everything they possibly can that destroys the illusion and takes us out of the turn.
If it's unmagical, we shouldn't (or should very rarely) see it: Settings are unmagical. Icons and app launchers are unmagical. The entire concept of an underlying OS that we have to interact with is unmagical.
All of that adds complexity and gets in the way of the tablet experience. Post-PC is nothing more than the illusion that the PC does not exist.
Android fans and some tech pundits would have us believe that we should be spending more time outside apps. We should spend more time tinkering with the operating system. Tweaking settings. Switching screens.
Apple asks us to believe in the extraordinary by forgetting that we're holding an ordinary rounded rectangle.
Put simply: Apple's vision is that magic can be real if we never know it's an illusion.