Apple events didn’t use to be like this. Details were tightly kept secrets. The products were truly revolutionary.
Steve Jobs would step onto the stage, clad in jeans and blackturtle neck, and tell you how he was about to change the world. You would listen and nod mostly because it was true. The iPhone was a revolutionary invention. The App Store was a revolutionary invention (Can you remember the world before apps?). Hell, even the iPad, originally mocked for its simplistic self-indulgence, somehow managed to be a pretty incredible piece of hardware.
But times have changed. Apple confirmed today’s event only last week. Yet it seemed like anyone who wanted to know what to expect could easily find out. Rumours and leaks abounded. A YouTube video of popular vlogger stress testing the new 6s came out in a couple week ago and has been viewed almost two million times.
Leaks are rampant and are surely a key part in the media build up prior to these events. We’re desperate for content and Apple is happy to oblige.
The Cupertino company has traded actual innovation for hype and spectacle. In their invite to today’s event, Apple instructed guests to ask Siri for a hint. The personal assistant would then reply with a cheeky quip, one of her classic non-answers. Cute – delightful, even, in the parlance of Silicon Valley – but ultimately meaningless.
The Apple Watch is another example of this. While the iPhone solved a problem we didn’t know existed, the Apple Watch has accomplished little. Like Google Glass, what function does it serve other than as a nonverbal cue that you might be a douche?
Consider today’s announcements. Here’s a breakdown of what Apple unveiled:
iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
- New 3D Touch pressure sensitive display
- 700-Series aluminum body
- Ion-X glass, not Sapphire
- New Rose Gold colour option
- Camera capable of shooting 4k video
- Always-on “Hey Siri” listening functionality
- 12.9” retina display
- New A9X processor
- 10 hours of battery life
- Accessories will include detachable keyboard cover and stylus (!) called Apple Pencil
Apple Watch OS 2
- Watch OS 2 available September 16th
- New native third-party apps, new third-party watch face complications, system performance upgrades
- New watch bands from Hermes
- New Siri-enabled voice controls
- Redesigned OS places focus on content rather than networks or channels
- Open access for third party developers will create Apple TV App Store
- New gaming platform, with cross device continuity
Of today’s announcements, only the Apple TV represents any significant step forward for any of the product lines. The platform itself has always been Apple’s ugly step-child in many ways. Rumours have persisted of efforts within the company to build out this side of the business, and today looks like Apple is finally following through. Obviously better apps will lead to a better user experience. Google though has had these capabilities for several years now and has yet to find much success with their own TV product.
Today’s event was maybe Apple’s largest ever. The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, a first for Apple, has a capacity of 7, 000 people, an order of magnitude larger than the typical venue on the company’s campus in Cupertino. This change seemed to signal something monumental was coming.
What we got however was a bevy of minor unveilings, impressive if only for the sheer number of them.
Yes, at today’s event we saw the next stage of a larger transition the company is undergoing, from an electronics manufacturer to content creator, which surely will please investors.
As consumers though, we listen and nod, but does it really matter?