On Monday, Apple conducted what may have been their quickest and most concise ‘special event’ ever. Concise, that is, when it came to the new products on offer, because it was all rather rambling to begin with.
We were, as predicted, treated to a mini sermon from Tim Cook on the FBI privacy issue. I’ve made my feelings on this clear, but Cook grabbed the opportunity to reaffirm his company’s stance that no one – not even the FBI – should ever have theoretical access to a backdoor in iOS. Ever. We get it, Tim. And the FBI have finally backed down, so… time to move on.
A lady then took to the stage (bravo, etc, although Apple’s sudden insistence on thrusting a female member of the species into the spotlight at any given opportunity can surely only be attributed to justified questions raised by the media on the lack there of previously) and told us all about Apple’s efforts to keep the planet nice and green. They’ve even built a robot called Liam which can take iPhones apart and chuck the various screws and gubbins into little shoots which send them somewhere else to be melted down and turned into other stuff. You get the idea. Very good, Tim. We’re impressed.
Time for some products, Tim? Not yet. Sorry.
Education and health were next on the agenda. Apple have made great strides in both areas with teachers now able to administer en masse the collections of iPads which are yet to be stolen from their classrooms. Excellent. Health-wise, iOS devices are now used extensively to help doctors and researchers gain a better understanding of diseases such as Parkinson’s. Admirable, and doubtless life-changing for many. We’re still impressed, Tim.
It was at this stage of the event that I was genuinely starting to wonder whether or not all of the talk surrounding new iPads and iPhones was simply a brilliant ploy by Apple to have us all tune in and find out how bloody fantastic they are when it comes to all things humanity-related.
Thankfully, at around thirty minutes in, my theory was dispelled when we got to see some new, shiny, expensive stuff. Now this is what Apple events are all about.
“Christ, that looks just like the iPhone 5s,” I thought. And it does – it looks identical. Then, you hear the specs, and it becomes clear this new little device is a country mile away its ancestor. Essentially, the iPhone SE is a 4″ iPhone 6s in a different casing. And that’s impressive, particularly at the price point.
It’ll sell like hotcakes. And boy do those Cupertino boys know what they’re doing, because when you dig into the specs you find that one significant corner has been cut: the front-facing ‘selfie’ camera is a measly 1.2 megapixels. I don’t think it’s even possible to buy a point-and-shoot camera these days with such a pathetic sensor. However, the iPhone SE’s target market will have no idea about this on purchase, and may only grumble occasionally when their selfies come out ‘all grainy and dark’.
Such a tactic is a reminder of Apple’s laser focus on profitability, and it’s also why they’re the most valuable company in the world.
New Apple Watch bands
The rumoured ‘nato’ bands didn’t materialise, but there is a brand new range of spring-influenced colours to choose from for existing band designs and some new woven nylon bands which look rather nice. I’ll be getting one of the latter, for sure.
iPad Pro (9.7″)
Ok, so they didn’t call it the iPad Air 3, but that’s essentially what Apple’s new tablet is. They’re pitching it as the ultimate PC replacement and the biggest upgrade for anyone with an older iPad, and they’re right – it’s fab. Pencil support, smart connector, a very clever screen… despite the fact that no one understands what the ‘Pro’ moniker signifies any more, it’s a lovely looking tablet. I’ll be getting one.
There was no ‘and finally…’ moment this time, but there was a rather significant announcement cleverly disguised as a brief note buried within the Apple Watch band talk: The Apple Watch has received a price reduction, and quite a significant one. In my opinion, this was curiously early for such price tinkering.
It’s welcome, of course, but why so early on in the product’s lifetime? And with no higher-spec replacement announced? Curious.
Either Apple genuinely want more people to have access to the Apple Watch (as claimed on stage this week), or they’re worried. Despite claims that their tiny wrist computer is the “top-selling smartwatch in the world”, are they secretly concerned about market penetration? I’m certainly spotting more out in the wild, but people are still genuinely surprised when they spot I’m wearing one. And I’m still struggling to explain what it’s all about (which only confuses them further when I confess to not wishing to live without it).
Maybe Apple do want to get the Watch onto more people’s wrists, but perhaps their reasoning for doing so is more rooted in a desire for wider customer feedback on what is arguably a confusing, bloated user experience.
Boy do they need it.