The September Apple Event

Another keynote came and went yesterday, and there was nothing I could do after it was over. I couldn’t order the new iPhone 7, or upgrade my current iPhone to iOS 10. I couldn’t buy the new Apple Watch, and even the new iWork collaborative editing features are in new versions “coming soon”. When I tried to download the new Mario game, the App Store let me know I’d be notified when it was available. After everything was announced yesterday, today I’m wondering what the point of having the event when they did was.

There was once a time when you could download new apps or operating systems as soon as the keynote was over. I specifically remember Steve saying more than once “… and it’s available today”. For the past few years we haven’t been getting that. At best the new features are coming in a couple of weeks, or at worst at some undefined time, presumably so far in the future that they can’t nail down a specific date.

It’s good to ship products when they are ready and not at an arbitrary keynote date, but Apple used to be better at coordinating those times to all coincide. By not having anything available on day one, Apple misses out on the consumer excitement it generates by having these events in the first place. At least, I’m not as excited today as I was yesterday. After they keynote was over if I had the ability to order a new Series Two Apple Watch, I almost certainly would have. After giving it a day to think it over, now I’m not as convinced that I need one. I’ll probably wait for the first few reviews to come in and see how much of an upgrade it is.

Perhaps this is another sign of Apple’s confidence and maturity as a massive global corporation. It’s possible that the internal workings of scheduling all the moving parts is impossible to line up correctly. It used to be we only had the one platform and one operating system, the Mac and OS X.1 Now we have the Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and Apple TV; macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS, as well as iCloud to tie everything together, and the multiple services Apple provides. Now add the complexities of global shipping and coordinating their retail stores around the world, and I can start to make out why it might not all line up the same as it used to.

However, it doesn’t change the fact that the event came and went, and after it was over there was nothing I could do but read about what’s coming.

iPhone 7

I upgrade every two years on the “S” cycle, so on the off years, like this one, I get a glimpse of what’s coming when I do decide to upgrade. Overall the new iPhone seems like a great upgrade. I think they’ve taken appropriate steps to mitigate the uproar over removing the headphone jack by both including an adapter and setting a reasonable price for replacements. I’ve got at least another year with my current iPhone 6S, so by the time I’m ready to upgrade the story won’t be a story anymore.

More concerning is removing the physical home button and replacing it with a 3D Touch area. This is one of those things that I really hope works well, but since I haven’t been impressed with 3D Touch on the 6S, I’m skeptical of how well it’ll work for the most-used button on the phone. How fast will it respond to double-clicking for the app switcher? The exiting 3D Touch app switcher, where you press on the side of the phone is terrible, I never know if I’m about to damage my phone or what amount of pressure to apply. I find it unreliable enough that I don’t use it. Again, hopefully by the 7S model this will be resolved. Better camera, better color, faster CPU, all good things.

AirPods

I already lost them in the couch. Then another pair went through the wash. I’ll probably not be getting these.

Apple Watch Series 2

I wear a fitbit most days, but I run with my phone strapped to my arm, tracking my runs with the Nike+ Run Club app. When the Apple Watch was first announced being able to run without my phone was the first thing that came to mind, but the hardware wasn’t ready yet. The Watch didn’t have the ability to accurately track distance without GPS, so it still needed to be paired with the phone, which defeated the purpose for what I wanted it for. Now that GPS has finally been added I’m seriously thinking about getting one to replace my fitbit as a personal fitness coach and tracker, but I’m going to want to hear how it works for a few other people first.

That the watch is waterproof now is nice, but not a big deal for me. Sometimes I run in the rain, and not having to worry about my phone getting wet would be nice, but I haven’t swam for a few years. I suppose if I ever start training for a triathlon it’ll come in handy.

I use Nike’s apps, and have for about 1640 miles, but that Nike-branded Apple Watch was just plain ugly. No way I’m putting down any money for that band. The pure white Nike band looks acceptable, but still not as nice as the black sport band.

Assorted Nuts

The enhancements to iWork would have been more interesting to me a few years ago when I was in grad school. I had to write a few collaborative papers, and the only way to do it at the time was Google Docs, but I would have much rather worked in Pages. Of course, I still probably would have had to use Google Docs because the other students I worked with weren’t on Macs.

The Mario game looks like fun, I’ll buy it when it comes out, but what I’m really looking forward to is a proper Zelda adventure. We’ll see how far Nintendo’s commitment to iOS goes.

I could have done without Tim Cook singing, but the skit was fine. Better than previous attempts have been.

I quipped on Twitter that Phil Schiller reminded me of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz when he started talking about courage. It does take some amount of courage to “push the human race forward”, and if Apple has to do it one port at a time, then I’m on board for the ride. I just think they could have found a better way to come across, a better way to convey their reasoning and the purpose behind the change. I’m not going to miss the port, as long as I’ve got headphones I’m fine, but I use either a bluetooth speaker or the built in speakers more often than the headphones, especially now that I’m not driving to work every day and listening to podcasts in the car.

Yesterday’s announcements were about what was expected, Mario being the notable exception. There was not a lot for me, personally, to get excited about. I’m in the market for a new Mac, so I’m hoping for a refresh next month. Then maybe I’ll get excited.

  1. Well, I suppose you could count the iPod as a platform, but it was so much simpler that it doesn’t really compare.