Apple Day Celebration 2015
One of the fun things about being an Apple fan boy is the September announcement of all the cool stuff that’s been happening aboard the mother ship. Part of the celebration comes from reading the bitterness and sour grapes the anti-Apple crowd puts out in their live tweets, blogs, and followups. While the adoration is often over-the-top, the criticism tends to be further from objectivity. In some cases, the critics are upset that people are even writing about Apple’s big rollout events. One former journalist simply wrote:
— Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor) September 9, 2015
And a blogger followed with this jewel:
Unsure which I like less: The tech press losing all semblance of objectivity on Appleday, or the blistering obliviousness of why that’s bad.
— Karl Bode (@KarlBode) September 9, 2015
I appreciate the funk the antis felt yesterday because there was a time when my preferred platforms were Windows and Android; realizing the benefits of a well-integrated set of platforms that now extend all the way from wristwatches to super computers turned me around.
But Apple Day isn’t always pleasant for Apple fans either; some of these events are pretty h0-hum, and that was frequently the case when Steve Jobs was still alive. Jobs had irrational phobias about certain product features such as styluses, physical keyboards, and large memory capacities that tended to extend development cycles beyond the reasonable window for once-a-year announcements. It’s good to see Tim Cook breaking some of those conceptual barriers.
With the exception of the Apple Watch, which needs to be slimmer, lighter, and more power-efficient, there were significant upgrades in yesterday’s announcement. Apple TV got a completer makeover, with a voice-driven user interface that Amazon can’t match. The TV needs some content – deals to stream live TV and cable bundles were notoriously absent – but the device is sufficiently compelling that it should move programmers closer to yes. The TV programming industry is testing significant changes in its release windows that do away with many of the exclusive deals that have dominated in the past. Amazon got the Great British Baking Show this season before PBS, but the Amazon content seems to be disappearing as PBS begins its window. This is the miracle of binge watching, I suppose. I’m not fully warm to the idea of talking to my devices, but voice search works well on the Amazon Fire TV box even if voice control in my Subaru is a sad joke.
The new iPad Pro is a very impressive piece of gear that’s a lot closer to my expectations for the first generation iPad than the reality was. I bought Apple’s keyboard for my first iPad and only used it two or three times because the apps weren’t good enough for the device to take the place of a laptop while traveling. With a flexible and light keyboard, serious CPU power, and the full set of Microsoft Office applications, the iPad Pro is a credible business machine for days at a time. And with Apple cutting the price of iCloud storage in half, syncing data between the home, the office, and the hotel room becomes easy-peasy. Perhaps most of all, I like the new keyboard and stylus, because they greatly build on the tablet to make it a more useful and powerful device. Sorry Steve Jobs, wherever you are, a tablet without a stylus is like a buggy without a horse.
The new iPhones have grown another long overdue feature, haptic feedback. This is the pressure sensitive face that enables another dimension of user interaction that’s always been missing from touch screens. Mice have a hover state that distinct from the button press state, and it’s never been satisfying to mimic that without a clickable screen. Now that the iPhone has this feature we’re probably not far from having it on the iPad where it will do even more good. The new iPhones also have a 4K video camera that can shoot content you’ll enjoy viewing on the 5K iMac if you happen to have one, or on a 4K TV set if you’ve got one of those. Picture quality is bound to be really sharp whatever display you’ve got.
It was especially interesting to see folks from Microsoft and Adobe on the stage at the event as well. Relations with these companies and Apple have often been tumultuous, but it would seem that Apple is more focused on building great platforms again, leaving applications to those who do them well.
So when is Apple going to enter the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality space? Once you’ve got a watch, the next logical thing to build is some eyeglasses, don’t you think?