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Everything Is an iPod in the Future

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"These keys say the Padré drove a Mercedes, or at least that's what they're passing off for a Mercedes these days. Modern cars, they all look like electric shavers."
Marv, Sin City
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As The Aesthetics of Technology change, our vision of the future does, too. Raygun Gothic gave way to Crystal Spires and Togas, in turn supplanted by Cassette Futurism, Used Future, and Cyberpunk (and then all kinds of Punk Punk). At the time of this writing, the most common style for the future is a mix of all of the foregoing, plus... well, the iPod (or the iPhone, or iPad, or any iOS).

Right now, being cutting-edge is all about plain black and white (maybe pastel colours if you're lucky), translucent plastic, smoothed edges, screens that slide and flip out, touch screens, unobtrusive buttons, minimalist advertising and displays, lights that come out of nowhere and catchy little chimes when the devices start up. And of course, it's all small and convenient. For current evidence, look no further than the success of the iPod and the iPhone ranges, and the iMac style they were based on, their imitators and other things that have adopted the style, such as pretty much the entire range of the latest game consoles.

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Everything Is Online, and physical data storage either consists of an equivalent of a USB thumbdrive or doesn't exist at all, considering that computers are so small and compact you can carry them anywhere and transfer data wirelessly. Interfaces are designed to be soothing, easy to use and colourful, and if intelligent they'll probably be annoyingly helpful.

Of course, like every other "futuristic" visual style used in previous decades, this trope will probably be considered Zeerust after a while.

This is on the shiny end of Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty.

Compare Crystal Spires and Togas. Contrast Raygun Gothic, which is its opposite in a number of ways, and Cassette Futurism, which could be thought of as "Everything Is A Walkman In The Future". See also Holographic Terminal and Ascetic Aesthetic. For when everything (in the future or otherwise) is actually made by Apple, see Everyone Owns a Mac, as well as iPhony for direct parodies of Apple products.

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Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The eponymous robot from Heroman.
  • Zero from the first Patlabor movie has some of this look about him. Which is quite impressive, considering Yutaka Izubuchi designed him in the late '80s.

    Comics 
  • In the 2005 Doctor Who Magazine comic strip "The Flood" (the final Eighth Doctor strip), the monsters are far-future Cybermen, who have been redesigned to look this. White? Check. Rounded, streamlined surfaces? Check. Glowy blue bits? Check.
  • The futuristic silver armor Iron Man began sporting after AXIS was stated by many to have a distinct Apple influence, particularly with the color scheme and minimalist design. Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso even referred to it as Tony's "Genius Bar costume" (a reference to the tech support stations inside most Apple stores).
  • The Fantastic Four's black and white costumes from a few years back were clearly aiming at a Genius Bar aesthetic.

    Films — Animation 
  • Despicable Me uses this to contrast Gru's classic Mad Scientist style villainy with the upstart, next-gen villain, Vector. Gru's base looks like something out of a James Bond film, Vector's looks like if Steve Jobs had designed an iFortress.
  • WALL•E:
    • EVE is basically a floating sentient iProbe that appears to be made mostly of curves, folds up neatly, and is packed with numerous features. Makes sense, since her character design was done by Jonathan Ive, who designed... wait for it... the iPod.
    • WALL•E himself, though his design is boxy and not sleek, makes a distinctive Mac start-up chime when he powers up, indicating that he probably runs on some form of macOS.
    • Everything aboard the Axiom and perhaps the exterior of the ship itself is indicative of this trope.
      • And as a rather cool bonus feature, AUTO (the autopilot) itself is voiced by MacInTalk (Apple's old text-to-speech software).
  • Played with in Big Hero 6. While the rest of San Fransokyo looks like early 21st century America, Baymax has an all-white body, minimalist design, and rounded surfaces.
  • The redesigned lab of New Island in Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution gives off this aesthetic, containing an array of holographic touch panels that still remain when Mewtwo rebuilds the lab.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The headquarters of Men in Black consists of featureless, rounded shapes, from the egg-shaped furniture (which Jay can't quite get the hang of) to the oval viewscreens. This is particularly amusing because the "Men In Black" organization is using technology built during the previous incarnation of this design style, the "space age" aesthetic of the early 1960s. It also shows up in A Clockwork Orange and the original Star Trek.
  • Star Trek (2009) has a Nokia system built into a vintage Cool Car. The new Enterprise itself is a mix of stylistic throwbacks but the general design seems a lot smoother than remembered. It helps that the plain white and minimalism of the old series adapts fairly well.
    • Nokia was enlisted to help design the communicators as well.
    • It's probably worth noting that the Apple.com splash screen, when the second-gen aluminium iMac was released, had a frame from that movie on the iMac's screen.
    • In many ways the closest resemblance to anything from the original Star Trek franchise was the look of the ship in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, whose pastels and self-illumination now look ahead of their time. The uniform buckles even look like iPhones or iPod Touches.
    • Ironically, the pop-art bright colors in The Original Series make more sense as it was supposedly designed to prevent cabin fever among the crew.
    • At the end of Star Trek IV, we very briefly see the NCC-1701-A Enterprise's bridge, which is just the STTMP bridge set painted completely white with black touchscreens, anticipating the iPod style in 1986. However, the design of the bridge would be significantly changed in Star Trek V.
    • The first bridge set for the USS Excelsior used only in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock is positively this style. Later variants of Excelsior-class bridges, including the Excelsior herself, were replaced with less minimalistic bridge sets later on.
  • The Starship Heart of Gold and Marvin the Paranoid Android in the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The film's artbook actually almost outlines this trope word for word. It also refers to how the designers wanted the titular guide to look like the previous generation's iPod to the Heart of Gold's current gen model.
  • In Cube 2: Hypercube, instead of something out of hell with dark shadows, visible circuit boards, spinning door latches and rumbling elevators, the environment of the new tesseract cube is almost user-friendly with all white surfaces and touch-to-open panels.
  • The film I, Robot pulled this off in a 20 Minutes into the Future setting. The latest line of robots are mostly plain, slightly transparent white, with visible blue and red lights, and very advanced (suspiciously so...). Even some of the other technology has a similar aesthetic; a security monitoring system consists of a thin strip of blue light.
  • The shiny areas of Minority Report qualify — the clothes shop looks like a Apple Store (the first of whom was opened one year prior to the movie's release). The technology is also full of transparent equipment (though there, plastered with holograms) and smooth, rounded designs such as the a futuristic Lexus and the spider droids.
  • The Work Pods and the interior of the Discovery in 2001: A Space Odyssey, made in 1968. This inspired the design of the iPod, hence the name. ("I'm sorry Dave, I can't play that...") In fact, Samsung has cited 2001's tablet-like devices as Prior Art to Apple's iPad in a patent struggle.
  • Star Wars: This aesthetic style is very common, depending on the planet or area. The high class has this aesthetics, the low class has to settle for Used Future.
    • Kamino, the ocean planet with the extensive cloning facilities. The facilities are almost completely white and smoothly curved, although according to background material, the inhabitants' eyesight is adapted to a spectrum of light closer to the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, meaning that the environment looks varied to them.
    • Leia's ship that gets captured at the beginning of A New Hope.
    • Costume designer Michael Kaplan has said that the newer, sleeker Stormtrooper armors from The Force Awakens were inspired by Apple's iPhone.
    • The Rebel Alliance (and later the Resistance) uses a mix of this, Used Future, and Raygun Gothic designs to show their being an alliance of different groups united by a common cause. Specifically, the Alliance's capital ships are all soft white and beige tones with smooth curves, but even some of the Used Future ships like Princess Leia's corvette have polished interiors befitting the status of their owners.
  • TRON, a film that takes place inside of a computer, uses this aesthetic, partly because of the limited CG technology of the time, but mostly because everything is supposed to look sleek and virtual. The video game sequel, Tron 2.0, modernizes it slightly. The film sequel, TRON: Legacy, is actually an interesting subversion — when you consider that the OS that everyone uses was made by a hacker, it makes sense that all the computer use a Command Line Interface, making for something of a Linux future.
  • The control room for the Arena in The Hunger Games adaptation has an Apple-like aesthetic. All the Gamemakers' desks look basically like giant iPads.
  • Total Recall (2012) has lots and lots of touch screen technology to spare, while also mixing this with the darker, grittier style of traditional Cyberpunk.
  • The Bubble Ship from Oblivion (2013) in particular is a prime example, all sleek curves and shiny white surfaces. The drones are really really pissed-off iPods.
  • The buildings and other structures in the eponymous park of Jurassic World have this aesthetic in contrast to the jungle-y safari theme used for the one in Jurassic Park.
  • The Yellowjacket armor in Ant-Man is described as looking like "Apple made an Ant-Man suit." This is in contrast to the suit worn by the protagonist, which was developed in the 60's and therefore looks rougher and more leathery.
  • Predators: The design of the super-Predators is meant to evoke this, with the filmmakers actually comparing the original Predator design to a Walkman and the new one to an iPod. Of course, since the super-Predators are villainous even by Predator standards, it comes off as this trope mixed with Obviously Evil.
  • The spaceship of Ego's human avatar in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is round and white.
  • The Sphere from Independence Day: Resurgence is a floating, white robotic orb.
  • The design and uniforms of PCL Labs in Pokémon Detective Pikachu give off this vibe, with special mention going to Dr. Ann Laurent's hazmat suit and the white stasis pods used to contain the Pokémon for genetic experiments, including Mewtwo.
  • Doctor Robotnik's drones from Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) are round, white, and have black monitors with red glowing lights for eyes. Since they remind Sonic of eggs, he uses them as an excuse to call him "Eggman". In the sequel, they keep the same visual look, though they're shaped more like traditional Badniks from the games.
  • While its two predecessors both depict the future (always specifically in San Dimas, California), the one in Bill & Ted Face the Music specifically has this aesthetic while the others do not, especially in architecture and the wholly redone design of time machines (replacing the phone booth model).
  • Deconstructively parodied in Don't Look Up. Peter Isherwell's spacecraft and visual technology looks impressively modern but seems to be about as reliable as the Schizo Tech from Brazil. Compared to the Boring, but Practical Used Future NASA shuttlecraft that has zero failures and a predicted high chance of success, two of Isherwell's spacecraft fail at launch and in the end did nothing to break up or deflect the asteroid as planned. As for his secret emergency plan to colonise another world with a Sleeper Ship for the world's elite, half of the cryopods fail completely (causing the deaths of the people inside) and the survivors have still aged enough to be unable to procreate and continue the species. And Isherwell cheerfully notes this outcome is better than all his predictions.

    Literature 
  • The Chee in Animorphs are like this under their holograms: sleek ivory and steel androids that vaguely resemble two legged dogs. The Pemalite ship that powers them has a similar look.
  • In the Time Scout series, the tech is mostly normal. The incredibly expensive technology used by the time scouts is basically a battered tin/plastic case. Their satchels are just regular, battered leather satchels. In other words, averted.
  • Hoffmann's offices in The Fear Index is described like this, where everything is sleek, clean and minimalistic.
  • The Thing in the Bromeliad Trilogy. Subverted since it can explode.
  • Starsnatcher: Whether it's an MRI scanner, a radar screen, or even a factory; everything in the Seizer civilization is portable, user-friendly, and more often than not explicitly described as shiny and sleek. A lot of their gadgets are even shaped like iPods.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the 2007 Discovery Channel speculative docu-drama 2057, which can be viewed here, most devices, vehicles, and buildings tend to have this aesthetic.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The inside of the TARDIS can be thought of as a version of this, in its original 1960s incarnation. The original set designer, Peter Brachacki, gave it a sterile white feel covered in a regular geometric pattern of circles with hints of neoclassical architecture to make it look "timeless", rather than deliberately futuristic. Due to the low budget, the control console in the middle of the room was covered with conventional buttons, dials, levers, and switches (Brachacki's original concept called for controls molded specifically to the pilot's hands), but the sterile white roundel-covered walls became iconic and continue to inform the design of the current TARDIS sets nearly 50 years on. Amusingly, attempts by subsequent less visionary designers to make the TARDIS look futuristic (especially with the console design in the 1980s, which looked like a giant BBC Micro) dated at alarming speed.
    • In the 21st century revived series, the origin of the Cybermen in a parallel universe involved shiny rounded wireless silver earpieces called EarPods by Cybus Industries, inspired by contemporary technological trends. Apple would make actual wireless earbuds a decade later.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation used iPad-like devices (called "PADDs") back in 1987. The goal was to save on the prop budget by using replaceable painted glass "touch screens" that could be updated to suit the plot, rather than designing a new machine with buttons and dials every time one was needed. However, the pads appear to be specialized in the content and functions they offer, often requiring crew members to swap between multiple pads to achieve different functions or access different files.
  • The 32nd century Starfleet lives and breathes this trope in Star Trek: Discovery. The interior of Federation Headquarters has enough cool blue-white lighting and sleek minimalist decor to make Steve Jobs blush.
  • Despite iCarly being something of a rip-off of the 'iPod Generation', the actual tech they used is completely opposite. The "Pear" Pods are literally shaped like pears, they're very colorful, and their laptops avert the typical white Macbook color scheme. The Pear "Pad" is a massively exaggerated version of the iPad that's about as big as most common LCD computer monitors.
  • Andromeda computers are rather like this.
  • The interiors of Moonbase Alpha on Space: 1999, and the Alphans' Rudi Gernreich-designed uniforms (particularly during the first season, when they were more unisex).
  • Present in Black Mirror. The future technology seen is generally sleek, white/gray, and lacks features like visible buttons.

    Music 

    Tabletop Games 
  • One of the aesthetics in Genius: The Transgression is called "Pod People." The corebook mentions an editorial cartoon in a Genius-run magazine supposedly depicting the standard Pod People Death Ray: its description sounds like an iPod with its controls replaced by a single button labeled "KILL."
  • The Tau Empire in Warhammer 40,000 combine this with Crystal Spires and Togas (at least on the surface).
  • Traveller fits this to a T with illustrations of computers looking almost exactly like twenty-first-century ones. Justifiable in that after you have miniaturized past a certain level user friendliness, fashion and aesthetics will become a premium. Maybe you can someday put several terabytes into a datadisk the size of a dime but a human still needs to interface with it comfortably, so it is hard to picture computers designed to communicate directly with a human instead of just another computer being smaller than a palmtop without being inconvenient. Wristwatch-sized computers, "datacloths" which seem to be flexible paper-thin screens, and perhaps myriads of other arrangements are available. However one of the most popular arrangements in Traveller from pictures and descriptions seems to be something that looks rather like an Amazon Kindle.
  • Eclipse Phase has this, because any object not physically implanted or worn has to be usable by everything from ordinary humans to uplifted squid. As a result, everything is palm-sized, made of smooth cream-coloured plastic, lacks corners or sharp edges, and more than likely doesn't even have buttons since you can operate most things mentally.

    Video Games 
  • Aeon technology in Supreme Commander is like this, in contrast to the utilitarian UEF look or the Cyberpunk Cybrans.
  • Putt-Putt Travels Through Time predicted the future would take place on Floating Continents, with teleportation being possible, having food makers for all living creatures, libraries where you could print your own stories, museums where calculators are ancient mathematics artifacts, and there is no such thing as money.
  • The Parasites from Gratuitous Space Battles. Their ships consist entirely of white metal hulls with brightly colored, transparent accents, and sleek weapons.
  • To "commemorate" the public beta release of League of Legends for the Mac, iBlitzcrank was introduced.
  • The near-future world of Lost Echo features this trope both in- and out-universe, since the game is made for iPod and iPad.
  • Simcity's expansion Cities of Tomorrow uses this design philosophy for its cleaner, more utopian structures. The dystopian ones are more gritty in design.
  • PlanetSide 2's Terran Republic employs the iPod aesthetic for most of their equipment; in contrast to the New Conglomerate's philosophy of "we don't believe in 'the curve'" and the Vanu Sovereignty's crab aesthetic, TR equipment is made of simple swooping and straight lines, and regular circles. While NC equipment is unpainted metal and VS are hexagonal ceramics, TR uses large amounts of plastics and carbon-fiber.
  • In Galaxy on Fire II, Deep Science ships definitely have this aesthetic. One looks like an iPod version of the Real Life Predator drone.
  • With the Rising Tide expansion for Civilization: Beyond Earth, the overall aesthetic of the Purity/Supremacy hybrid affinity is this - the ideology celebrates humanity's status as the "tool user", using science and technology to overcome any obstacle. Here is a released image showing the progression of the basic infantry unit.
  • In Warframe, Cephalon technology embodies this aesthetic. Weapons and tools have streamlined shapes with minimal decoration beyond some LED trim and suspended holograms. Apparently even AIs can have a taste in fashion.
  • Fallout
    • The in-universe explanation for averting this trope is a worldwide petroleum shortage that has made the manufacture of commercial plastics very expensive, hence why, among other examples, the go-to construction material for rifle stocks is wood or metal over plastics, home appliances are made of metal, and everything generally looks like the pre-plastic world.
    • The Institute has this going on very straight in Fallout 4. A stark contrast to everything else in the franchise, as their energy weapons and armor are sleek and clean-looking (and also less powerful than the bulkier, dirty Pre-War equipment they're derived from), while the Institute itself is very futuristic looking with clean white walls, decorative fountains, sleek doorways, and transparent walkways.
  • Maliwan banks heavily on this in Borderlands 2. Their gear is all smooth lines with very few sharp angles, their gun magazines look more like battery packs, their sights are holographic projections and their sniper scopes display what look almost like a full HUD on the rear lens, and all their guns are elemental, a technological cut above most of the competition. Funnily enough, they're the one company in the game that goes the biggest lengths to avert Sighted Guns Are Low-Tech.
  • Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere, the one installment of Ace Combat set in The Future proper of Strangereal instead of 20 Minutes into the Future, has this aesthetic to its plane designs, even the real life ones are future-ized versions with similar sleek curves, lack of canopies and predominantly white paintjobs. Being a game from 1999, they are more in-line with the Y2K futurism and "blobitecture" aesthetic.
  • Endless Space: The key aesthetic of the Badass Adorable Sophons, see for yourself.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown: The aliens' tech is mostly made of sleek curvy shapes with Tron Lines, especially the plasma weaponry they tote. When XCOM repurposes their highest-end technology, they also adopt this look, as especially visible on the plasma Sniper Rifle and the heavier armors. There's one aspect where this affects gameplay, and that is when boarding the scout ships, the roundest and sleekest of all UFOs – the angled walls make breaching from the open sides risky due to the lack of visibility, so it's not a bad idea to circle around and go in through the front; it also works in XCOM's favor once inside, as any aliens outside tend to go in through the closest entrance, and lateral entrances make for great funnels for Overwatch traps.
  • Ships used by The Empire in Elite Dangerous very much follow this aesthetic, with curvy flowing shapes and defaulting to bright white paint. The Federation, on the other hand, tends towards the blocky and angular Standard Human Spaceship, and the ships of The Alliance more or less hold a middle ground.
  • The Alterra Corporation in Subnautica uses this trope as their primary design motif, with extensive use of curved, shiny surfaces on all of their products, from tools to submersibles.
  • Pokémon examples:
  • Overwatch takes place 20 Minutes into the Future and has all sorts of incredible technology of varying aesthetics, so perhaps it's not "everything", but it is present in a few notable places.
    • The Vishkar Corporation is one of the most powerful (and corrupt) tech corporations in the world, and it heavily involves itself Hard Light construction that manifests its technology as white, sleek, and comforting. Symmetra — its representative playable hero — has an artificial arm, Photon Projector weapon, and other devices like sentry turrets and teleporters that all incorporate the aesthetic.
    • Echo was designed to be a constantly-evolving robot and is considered by the game's creators as the most advanced piece of technology in the entire setting. Not surprisingly, she's also heavily evocative of the look despite being created by Overwatch, not Vishkar, and sort of looks like if EVE from WallE had grown up and was also made to lightly resemble a fighter jet, being white, pristine, curvy, and pleasantly-voiced.
  • Metroid Dread features the robotic EMMI , with a sleek design and singular red photoreceptor, serving as a of major antagonist of the game. The first one seen in the trailer is even white, though others in the game come in different colors.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Long-range and wi-fi communication is made possible by four CCT towers that are stationed in each kingdom which can connect directly and via smaller relays that are located outside the kingdom and which are vulnerable to the Grimm. The towers can only function together or not all and make it possible for scrolls to function. Scrolls are collapsible tablets that, among other things, function as a phone, messenger (email, text, and video), camera, video game controller and holographic projector. It can also monitor Aura levels of both the owner and others.
    • A lot of other technology from the Kingdom of Atlas looks the part, for example their military's guard robots.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Floating Point features living A.I. Programs who are essentially walking smartphones, with their own self-installed Apps, making this trope somewhat literal.
  • Ilivais X follows this design, with cities being futuristic bubbles held above the land, and the Humongous Mecha typically being very sleek and advanced. The Avespias are the only units to even have any kind face, as the Ilivais prototypes have curved wedges with a sensor web, and the Espadas are piloted from within a shoulder-mounted sphere.
  • In Shuffle Quest, when the heroes visit the high-tech world of Men in Black, Terok Nor's spellbook transforms into a literal iPad - which Terok uses to consume the wildest conspiracy nonsense the Internet has to offer.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Upgrade," Gumball and Darwin take Bobert the robot to be fixed at the Bobert Store, where everything is bright white, even the employees. They end up buying a new Bobert—and while the original was already white and rather sleek, the new model is shiny black and even sleeker.
  • Parodied in a Time Travel episode of SpongeBob SquarePants where everything in the future is chrome. They even have guys who drive around in vans spray-painting everything that's not already chrome.
  • Spaceship Girl Aya in Green Lantern: The Animated Series is basically a humanoid EVE with emerald energy highlights. The Interceptor itself has the same design.

Alternative Title(s): I Punk

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