Apple’s 21st March event revealed several welcome updates to their product range that might not set the world on fire but will nevertheless improve the user experience. Unfortunately, pretty much every announcement was marred by the fact that everything had been leaked in the run up to the event. Although it is great to hear the official technical specs and see the products firsthand, part of me still yearns for Steve Jobs’ “One more thing” announcements where a brand new product or service would be revealed to a howling crowd. I suppose it’s just a sign of the times that leaks occur and all sectors suffer from it, from tech to movies to video games.
Here is a summary of my thoughts and opinions on the recent event:
The Apple Watch price drop hints, to me, at a model refresh coming later in the year. I can’t imagine that there have been many people waiting patiently for this drop before rushing out to get one. Buyers have definitely been quite cautious about comitting to this new Apple product, especially as it isn’t a device that has seen huge sales for any manufacturer so far. It must be difficult for Apple to gauge the refresh cycle for the Watch, it certainly doesn’t feel like a once a year update like the iPhone but it needs to keep up with its rivals and the current advances in technology.
It’s nice to see new bands available but I can’t help but wonder, regardless of Apple’s assertions, do people really collect the bands and change them regularly? If I owned an Apple Watch I would buy the most durable and desirable band I could afford but other than replacing through wear and tear, I don’t think that I would be purchasing several straps and changing them depending on what I’m wearing or what I’m doing. The same happened with the Nintendo New 3DS with its changeable cover plates. When I got the system I had visions of owning many cover plates and changing them frequently depending on the game I was currently playing or my mood. In reality, I bought one set of cover plates in addition to the packaged ones and only changed them over once. It was a bother to change them and frankly I forgot about doing it after a week or so as the functionality of the device was more important to me than the appearance. I suppose that is the dividing factor for many Apple users; form or function. Apple, obviously, has to cater for both.
The most exciting advancement here is Night Shift, where after sunset the iPhone/iPad changes the screen colours to the warmer part of the spectrum so as to reduce blue light
and improve the user’s sleep. As someone that uses their iPad in bed every night before sleep, and sometimes finds it hard to nod off or wakes up frequently in the night, this is a very welcome addition. I had heard about glasses wth special lenses that had been developed for just this reason and actually considered getting a pair, so to have this built-in at no extra cost is a real boon. Hopefully, iPhone and iPad users everywhere will benefit from this feature.
The introduction of the SE to the iPhone family makes a lot of sense for Apple. The iPhone 5s is looking a bit long in the tooth, so to have the innards of an iPhone 6s in this smaller form factor is an excellent move. Technically, Apple are staying relevant in every corner of the market, they have a small phone, medium phone and ‘phablet’ range with very similar specs and features. Customers that want a smaller device are no longer having to put up with older technology and can benefit from services like Apple Pay. The larger iPhone range must be reaching saturation point by now, so offering a 4″ phone to the 5s customers that are wanting to upgrade will likely entice people to stick with Apple. The move to a character based naming convention is also a smart move, perhaps it will always be known as the SE but will just see minor improvements every year rather than a big jump in case design and specs that we see in the numbered phones. Apple really need to do away with the 16GB options for their devices though. I appreciate that the industry is trying to push us further and further towards streaming services but with a 12MP camera and 4K video, anyone more than a casual user will definitely want the larger storage option. On the subject of cameras, I do think it is amazing that we can walk around with a 4K camera in our pockets these days, it doesn’t feel that long ago that we all had DV camcorders!
iPad Pro 9.7″
Personally, I’ve been waiting for the smaller iPad Pro since the product line was revealed. I’ve long wanted an iPad that packs more power and has the potential to be a true laptop replacement. The only thing missing is full applications to run on it. The Adobe suite on offer is great for working on illustrations and shooting/editing video direct from the iPad but the lack of an After Effects option holds it back somewhat. Obviously I’m talking from a media production point of view but until full packages are available I can’t see businesses replacing their edit suites with iPads for instance. The Apple Pencil is definitely a step in the right direction for design work and if Apple and the software companies can work out a way of delivering full, high-end packages that allow simple data transfer between iPad and desktop computers then I think iPad Pros could easily be the choice for freelancers and production on the move.
I’m intrigued by the True Tone display but do wonder what this will mean for video editing/Photoshop whereby you want the true colours to be displayed, not the colour cast of the available light.
The iPad Pro’s four speaker system should be a vast improvement over the previous model’s. The iPad Air 2 doesn’t have particularly stellar audio quality and often creates a vibrating sound when placed on a surface which can be very noticeable. As a user that consumes a lot of media on the iPad, I’m quite excited for this addition. Currently I use a Logitech keyboard for typing on the iPad Air 2, which is quite a nice experience but I’ve always wanted Apple to create a case that includes a keyboard as I love their build quality and design and how everything just fits together so well. With the Apple Pencil, keyboard case and iPad Pro in one bag, I can see how productive a trip to a coffee shop could become.
I’m excited to get my hands on an iPad Pro eventually and can see the benefit in having unity across the iPhone range but I would have liked to have seen something brand new at this event, a glimpse of Apple’s foray into VR perhaps? What did you think of the recent Apple event and product reveals? Let me know in the comments section below.