Unless you’ve been in a coma for the last several months and just woke up a few minutes ago, you’ve no doubt read all about everything Apple offered up at the September event yesterday. If you haven’t, I’m not going to re-hash it all here—maybe you can watch a 5-minute catch-up video.
The following are just a few of my thoughts on the major touch points of the presentation:
Super Mario coming to the app store
I thought it was great that they started the show with such big news, and make no mistake about it, this was very big news. Having Shigeru Miyamoto translated live on stage was awkward and distracting, but it was a quick enough segment that I got over it fast.
I’m not a huge fan of Mario Bros., but I’ve always enjoyed playing a game or two, and I’m happy to see that Nintendo isn’t going to nickel and dime us to death with in-app purchases. I’m probably going to waste hours of my life playing Super Mario Run. The only thing that concerned me immediately was the “we’ll release pricing later” comment at the end. To me that means $30 minimum.
Wow. I was happy to see the word iWork appear on the screen, I honestly thought the iWork apps had been quietly sunsetted by Apple. Unfortunately, the screen was the hero of this segment. Apple’s Susan Prescott looked unprepared and uncomfortable in front of the crowd. The entire segment looked thrown together at the last minute. Realtime collaboration in Pages, Keynote and Numbers is a big deal, but only if you can get people to use the apps. Apple showed us nothing new that would get people to do that. So much is still missing from the previous version of Pages, I can’t believe they haven’t done anything with it. Still, I look forward to any update to iWork apps. Who knows, maybe there are more changes and Apple just didn’t want to spend too much time on it.
Blah, blah, blah. GPS has been integrated. Blah, blah, blah. Faster processor & brighter screen. Blah, blah. watchOS 3 is going to be cool, but we’ve seen this all before. Waterproofing is a big deal, particularly for swimmers, and runners. The new Ceramic Apple Watch looks beautiful, and the price makes it a little more attainable for a much larger audience than the previous Edition model. What I didn’t see or hear was any mention of battery life improvements, or the dramatically reduced selection of bands for each watch that you can get “in the box” when you first buy the Apple Watch.
Phil looked uncharacteristically clumsy, uninspired and nervous in portions of an otherwise cool presentation. Apple really pushed the “new design” of iPhone 7, which is to say that they’re very proud of the solid black matte and glossy finish. The Jet Black color looks pretty on screen, but that thing is going to be one ugly, scratched up mess in real-world use—Apple states as much on their iPhone sales page.
I’m going with the Black model when I upgrade. I like the solid black matte finish, and the fact that the antenna lines seem to completely disappear with it. Speaking of that, why can’t Apple make the antenna material match the gold and rose gold colors more closely?
The haptic feedback Home button is great news—it’s just one less thing to fail. The camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is going to be awesome, of course. Apple said that a free update that adds some sort of depth of field feature will be made available later. I’m not sure why it couldn’t be available when the phone ships. Again, it seems Apple was unprepared. Still, an exciting camera update. Better speed and battery life are always welcome, and so are the stereo speakers.
“One word: Courage”
Can we talk about the Barbie doll hairdryers Apple is selling for $160? I completely understand why Apple dropped the headphone jack from the phone. Quite frankly, I haven’t plugged headphones in my iPhone in nearly 3 years. I use Bluetooth in my car, and have a pair of Bose wireless over-the-ear headphones that I like quite a bit. I applaud Apple for sparing us the $30 fee for a Lightning-to-HeadphoneJack dongle and just placing it in the box for us—though it kind of screams “we’re not very courageous!”
The biggest issue with this whole headphone-jack-gate thing is the weak-assed effort Apple is selling for $160, known as AirPods. I had six immediate thoughts about them as soon as I saw them:
- They’re stupid looking—like something a Barbie Doll would use in a hair salon.
- They look uncomfortable as all hell, much like the current wired ones.
- They’re going to fall out of your ears on your first run and slip quickly into a street drain never to be seen again.
- Before they fall out of your ears while running or working out, you’re going to lose one or both of the AirPods, or the included charging box (what kind of cable is used for that?).
- Five. Well that’s a great number and all, but I generally want my headphones to work at least as long as my frigging phone. 5-hour battery life? Are you serious? Why bother…
- They’re stupid looking.
Bluetooth isn’t perfect, so I totally see why Apple would want to work around it by coming up with their own system for wirelessly connecting devices. This will likely go beyond just headphones. Think Apple Car. Anyway, if the Beats headphones can use the W1 chip and get battery life 3 to 4 times as long, why can’t the AirPods? 5 hours. Pffffftt!
Overall it was a pretty good event, in my opinion. Some cool products put on display, and the show itself didn’t feel like it was drawn-out too long. I noticed Apple was consciously putting women front and center in the presentation. It almost seemed forced, but in the end it’s a good thing.
The entire presentation could have used a bit more polish, and a lot more WOW factor. But I suspect the fact that rumor sites leaked almost everything weeks, if not months, in a advance kind of put a damper on the whole thing.