September 9 was a massive day for Apple. As I sat in the audience watching Tim Cook and Phil Schiller launching product after product, it struck me that Apple had really focused on the details with all of its latest releases—both software and hardware. That’s important for Apple because I believe that’s where one of the company’s main competitive advantages lies.
There were three main product announcements in the keynote: iPhone, iPad Pro, and Apple TV. There were however, several smaller announcements, like new Apple Watches and an iPhone upgrade program that will continue to propel Apple to the top of market in their respective categories.
When I started thinking about the keynote announcements and talking to people about the products, I noticed that many were taking the announcements as separate, individual releases. You can certainly do that, but with Apple, it’s the entirety of the ecosystem, and therefore the announcements, that make the difference.
Each product on its own is impressive, but when put together, the enormity of what Apple released is truly stunning.
When looking at iPhone, you have to look at the new hardware, but also how the hardware and iOS 9 work together. This is a huge advantage for Apple because they control both. This is what makes iPhone so compelling.
We know that this is an “s” model year for iPhone, which means the outer design remains pretty much the same as the model released a year ago. I think we can all agree that the design of iPhone 6 is really good, so no major changes were needed.
Design elements aside, Apple changed everything else, making this a truly new device, and a compelling upgrade, especially for those people coming from the “5 series” models.
One of the most popular and most used features of iPhone is the camera. With a new 12-megapixel camera, Apple gave users the tools to take even better photos. However, raising the megapixels in the camera isn’t enough on its own, you also have to make sure the captured images look crisp and clear. Apple did that by designing its own signal processor to ensure color and detail are maintained in the image.
These are the details that Apple strives to get right. These are also the details that many consumers don’t recognize—they just see great photos and a higher megapixel camera.
Add to that Live Photos, a new feature that captures moments immediately before and after a picture is taken, and support for 4K video, and you have something really compelling for iPhone users.
Perhaps one of the greatest new features of the iPhone is 3D Touch. I say that because I see this as a new way to navigate iPhone.
We look to Apple for clarity in the user interface. What they did with 3D Touch is save us time when doing simple tasks on iPhone. For instance, from the Home screen, we have to go into an app and then dive into to whatever it is we want to do. When done, we have to back ourselves out again to the main screen. Depending on the app, it’s a few taps at the very least.
With 3D Touch we are able to initiate many tasks by just adding a bit of pressure to the app icon and choosing from the menu. This is called a “Peek” and it gives us a preview of a mail or message. Adding a bit more pressure and the message will “Pop” allowing us to interact with it as we normally would. All of this is done without losing our original position in the iPhone. This is huge.
Like notifications addressed a pain point for users in always having to navigate to different apps to see what’s new, 3D Touch addresses a navigation pain point that will eliminate the number of taps we need to make in order to get something done.
The changes in hardware, along with the integration of iOS 9, make the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus a really compelling update.
The future of TV or the future of Apple TV?
As a long time user, I really like the new Apple TV. The Siri-enabled remote will help me navigate through content in a fraction of the time it took before. However, I’m not sure if I understand Apple when they say this is the future of TV.
To me, TV is about content and the future of TV should include ways to view that content without needing a cable or satellite subscription. With the many Apple TV enhancements yesterday, this fundamental content problem was not addressed.
It could be that Apple’s view of TV includes features to watch content without a subscription, but they just weren’t able to pull it off in time for the event. Bundling channels (or maybe they’ll be called apps), and being able to search across those channels for my programming is exactly what I would like in a future Apple TV service.
They did make some improvements with current partners, most notably MLB.com. That, I would agree is the future of TV. The demo was impressive, it was interactive, and if that’s what Apple has in mind for the future, I’m all in.
Much of the success of the current Apple TV will depend on if developers create apps for it. Games, shopping, and other entertainment and media will be welcome by users, but they have to be compelling enough to make it a goto device.
I like and appreciate the changes and features coming with Apple TV, especially Siri search, but I think it’s going to take some time for Apple to make this new platform the future.
Having said that, I will be the first one to buy Apple TV because the experience is going to be so much better. Apple once again solved a navigation problem that I welcome with open arms.
One question I had about iPad Pro going into the event was, “who is Apple going to market this device to? Professionals? Creatives? Gamers?” The answer appears to be, yes.
Apple’s Phil Schiller called on a number of companies to demo products across a variety of markets, effectively showing iPad Pro can work for everyone.
After using iPad Pro yesterday, I can tell you it’s gorgeous. The screen is outstanding, it’s fast, the battery will last 10 hours, and it’s lightweight. The addition of Apple Pencil certainly makes this a great device for creative professionals.
I didn’t get an opportunity to use the pencil, but watching others that did, there didn’t appear to be any latency when drawing on the iPad Pro screen. Latency in this kind of application is incredibly frustrating and would make the device virtually useless as anything other than a toy. That didn’t happen, so the opportunities for iPad Pro seem wide open.
I’m looking forward to getting my hands on an iPad Pro and using it for an extended period of time to see how it fits into my current workflow and lifestyle. I currently use both the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 all the time, so this will be interesting for me.
In addition to the big announcements at the event, Apple will also release new gold and rose gold aluminum Apple Watch Sport models, new watch bands, Hermes watches, watchOS 2, tvOS, iOS 9, an iPhone upgrade program, and OS X El Capitan.
Most of these items got little to no attention on stage, which should give you an idea of just how big of a day it was for Apple.
I don’t look for Apple to stay on par with its competition, I look for them to set the standard for everything that’s going to happen in the next year. From what I saw yesterday, both at the keynote and touching the products myself, they’ve done that.