Apple released a number of new products at its event yesterday. And while the products themselves were discussed and analysed threadbare, we felt that both the event and the products it showcased revealed a fair bit about the company’s approach. Here then are eleven things we think we learned from Apple’s September 7 event.
Apple is not afraid to change…or go back
Notwithstanding the threat of dire consequences if it ditched the well-entrenched 3.5 mm audio jack from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Apple went ahead and did just that, although it did throw in a lightning to 3.5 mm adapter in the box as a sop to hurt sentiments. Typical of the company some would say – after all, it did make us forget about removable batteries and expandable storage. On the flip side, however, Apple also showed a willingness to go back to its basics – the return of black to its iPhone color range after a brief sabbatical showed just that.
Apple is seeking third-party endorsement
For a brand that prided itself on setting trends, we must confess that it was a trifle odd to see so many third party endorsers come on to stage during the event. We have seen software developers and others make appearances at Apple events but we seldom have seen third party being given the sort of space on stage that the likes of Nintendo, Instagram, Nike and Niantec were given. There were even quotes from photographers for the iPhone camera. Optimists would call it a fresh approach which is more inclusive, pessimists would term it a sign of insecurity and as for us, we just think it diluted the focus of the event ever so slightly. Their presence also ensured that we honestly the star of the show made too late at an appearance at its own party. By the time the iPhone 7 arrived, Pokemon Go, Mario and Nike had not stolen its thunder, but had definitely diluted its impact, and a certain fatigue could almost be sensed in some sections of the audience, if Twitter is an indication.
Apple still makes stunning product films
We don’t know about you, but we literally sighed when we saw the iPhone 7 design film with Jony Ive’s voice enunciating syllables carefully in the background. Yes, the competition is getting better at it, but Apple remains in a zone of its own when it comes to product films.
The Apple Watch will follow the iPhone update model
Not too much of a surprise here some might say, but those who were predicting a radical overhaul of the Apple Watch (including a round dial and perhaps even the replacement of the crown with a touch sensitive button) would have been disappointed to see Apple stick to broadly the same update model it has kept for the iPhone – persist with a core design for at least two editions before making changes.
The “update the old” SE trend continues with Apple Watch Series 1
Apple does not have a tradition of updating an old model with new hardware, which is why many had been surprised to see it pump up the iPhone 5s with newer innards for the iPhone SE. Well, that pattern has been repeated with the Apple Watch Series 1, which gets a new processor but remains pretty much the same otherwise. Does this hint at a longer term strategy of having a well-specced but lower priced alternative?
The great outdoors beckon
Water resistance in the iPhone, a Nike Plus edition of the Apple Watch, a swim proof Apple Watch – all seem to hint at a rekindling of Apple’s romance with the great outdoors, which had seemed to have taken a backseat of late. Even the introduction of stereo speakers on the iPhone by many will be seen as a concession to those who want good music outdoors. Is this new outdoors-y approach a consequence of the fitness and health orientation of the Apple Watch? We don’t know but we are not complaining.
Apple is betting big on the iPad Pro
The iPad Pro was the ghost at the banquet. Not too many noticed it but the very fact that so much time was given to the collaborative feature added to iWork, which we reckon is most likely to be used by the iPad-and-Keyboard crowd, is a clear indication that Apple’s ambitions have not slackened in the iPad space, notwithstanding all the Doomsday punditry surrounding tablets.
Photography and gaming are the iPhone’s core strengths now
The iPhone started out by fighting purely on UI (the first iPhone survived purely on pinch to zoom and swipe to navigate homescreens, as per some), then graduated to slugging it out on apps, thinness and display quality, and if the latest edition of the device is any indication is now falling on two core strengths – its camera and its gaming muscle. The use of dual cameras for bokeh had been seen before but using one for optical zoom was a trick that some might have missed, and is certainly not available on the current lot of dual camera phones on Android. The graphics processor muscle of the devices continues to go up but the introduction of stereo speakers again does seem to hint at making this a part time portable console.
Siri is back, but is 3D touch receding?
Just when we thought that Siri was reduced to being an add on, Apple made it accessible to other developers, which should make Siri work better with more apps. But one worthy that was largely missing from the presentation was 3D touch which was one of the highlights of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Yes, both phones support 3D touch but not too much seems to have been added to that worthy.
The focus towards India is growing
The new Apple Watches, the new iPhones and even the new AirPod headphones will be coming to India in October. It is rare to see Apple (or most other companies’, for that matter) products come so quickly to the Indian market, which for all its vast numbers, remains largely value conscious. The prices remain premium but we suspect Apple is beginning to look at expanding its presence in India, where it witnessed some of its most spectacular growth last year.
But the focus towards Twitter needs to grow too!
In what can only be called an unusual misstep by a company that prides itself on its product secrecy, Apple’s official Twitter feed leaked out details of the new iPhones even while Tim Cook and Co were talking of the Apple Watch and Pokemon Go on stage. Yes, the tweets were quickly removed but they cleared proved that Apple is not quite at home in Twitterland yet. That we think needs to change, fast.
And one more thing…
Tim Cook CAN Sing
It was arguably the most famous Carpool Karaoke of all time as Tim Cook joined James Corden and Pharrell in singing in the car on way to the keynote (as per the video at least). And wonder of wonders, the Apple CEO seemed to be more than holding his own vocally in such august company, especially while belting out Sweet Home Alabama! Anyway, it was a darn sight more fun than the song and dance routine at the end.