The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Dear Apple: Can I please own my phone?

A customer tries out an iPhone 6 Plus at the Apple Inc. George Street store during the sales launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. (Lisa Maree Williams/Bloomberg)

Whose phone is this anyway? I am referring to my iPhone, which woke me in the middle of the night last week to announce a new operating system. I keep the phone next to my bed since I use it as an alarm clock and so, groggy and near-blind, I did something – this and that – and when I awoke in the morning I found apps I never asked for, do not want and will never use. Worse, I cannot get rid of them.

My phone was bought. It was paid for. It is mine, and I ought to be able to choose what apps I want. (This is the way America used to work.) Nosiree, says the monolith from Cupertino: You will take what we offer. We know best and, besides, your phone is not yours. It is ours (or sometimes the government’s) and so when you are sleeping the phone could be do anything it wants. And there is nothing you can do about it.

So I awoke to an app called “Health.” It has a kitchy little heart embedded in it and it does …what? If I press it, do I get health, good health, more health or, God forbid, less health? I have another app called “Tips.” It has a light bulb imbedded in it and it is yet another app I did not ask for and do not want. The same is true for iBooks and Face Time and Game Center. I not only never asked for them, I cannot get rid of them. The techie Orwellians at Apple have decided I must have them.

On the rare occasions my phone rings, I sometimes get a menu of options – something like wait, don’t wait, call back – something like that. I never know what to do. I panic and sometimes lose the call. I don’t want this feature. I never asked for it. Hello, Cupertino. Take if off my phone. I know you have my number.

I know I sound like a grouchy Luddite from another century. But there’s a principle here. I want to feel as if my phone is actually my phone. As it is, I feel like I’m carrying it around for Apple. Mostly, I like my phone. In fact, I like it so much, I’d like to own it. Really.