Amidst Apple’s pitched battle with the FBI, regarding the unlocking of San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5C, Apple found time to celebrate the first day of spring by welcoming new arrivals to its product family. Well, sort of new.
There were somewhat greater expectations preceding this Apple’s March event, regarding a possible second-generation Apple Watch, new Apple TV hardware and new products for iPhone and iPad lineups. So let us see what Apple has, from all of that, prepared for its customers and the public.
The Company of Tomorrow
At the beginning of the event, Tim Cook took to the stage and touched on the story that has brought Apple on front pages for a month now – its struggle with the FBI. Presenting Apple as a leader and a bastion of people’s fight for own privacy, he pledged that they will continue to fight the FBI’s demand for a key that can potentially be used on every iPhone out there, and that they will not shrink from that responsibility. And I applaud him for that.
The presentation continued with another selfless cause- the issue of climate and ecology. Apple has set a goal two years ago to become 100% renewable. Today, 93% of Apple’s facilities worldwide run on renewable energy, while in 23 countries including United States that number goes up to 100%. Then there was Liam. Liam is a recycling robot. Liam disassembles iPhones at the end of their lifecycle. Liam is cool. Meet Liam:
After that the story continued. Apple released its news and health apps, for which users apparently don’t care much about, or don’t know how to utilize them properly.
Apple Watch and Apple TV
When Tim Cook started talking about Apple Watch, some have hoped that the Apple Watch 2 will be revealed. But all we got is the new bands. Vibrantly colored woven nylon bands, and new color options for existing sport, leather and Milanese loop bands. The main announcement regarding the Apple Watch is the starting price drop to $299. I believe that is still a steep price for what is arguably the most poorly designed Apple product.
For the Apple TV on the other side, we only saw a software update for tvOS with some added features and more powerful Siri integration.
The new/old Arrivals
Now it was time for Greg Joswiak to take over the presentation and talk about the brand new product. A 4 inch iPhone SE (which started an avalanche of 4-inch jokes) that looks almost identical to three-year-old iPhone 5S. And before you start thinking “Am I back in 2012 again?”, Greg actually made a compelling point for returning to these smaller-sized displays with the information that last year alone Apple has sold over 30 million iPhones with 4-inch displays. And with these, the main goal is to attract new customers in developing countries, mainly China and India. Apple may just achieve this as they have set the starting price for iPhone SE (which stands for ‘Special Edition’ by the way) at $399.
That still may seem a lot for many people, but bare in mind that iPhone SE sports almost identical internals as the premium model, iPhone 6S (along with that dreadful 16GB storage starting point) which starts from $649.
To sum it up, if you decide to buy iPhone SE, this is what you get:
- 4” 1136 x 640 pixels Retina display
- 64-bit A9 chip (with M9 motion coprocessor embedded)
- 2GB of RAM
- Always-on “Hey Siri”
- 12MP iSight camera
- Retina Flash
- 4K video capturing and editing
- Faster LTE and Bluetooth
All of this will be running with new iOS9.3. The latest iteration of Apple’s OS for mobile devices has some major features, at least for a point upgrade, such as Night Shift (easy on the eyes warmer screen hue for night use) and an Education app for students and faculty.
The main star of the show was actually the new iPad Pro.. or iPad Pro 9.7, or.. smaller iPad Pro? The name is unclear. And to be frank, so is its purpose. Essentially, it is an upgraded iPad Air 2, but somehow “Pro”.
I am not so sure what the “Pro” stands for either. Apple wants us to think of it as our main computer, our tool for work and play, but it’s just not. Phil Schiller even made fun of Windows about how 600 million of its users have 5-year-old computers, but has not given them any reason why they should abandon their working devices for, let’s face it, inferior iPad Pro. But the iPad Pro 9.7 is a remarkably powerful tablet, that will be more than enough for average users needs. Probably even for some professionals, but not for all.
And don’t even get me started about that ugly protruding camera from iPhone 6S. Will the new iPad Pro wobble on the table? Is this disruption of otherwise refined design worth it? I don’t think so.
All in all, we saw some newish products for Apple’s ever- growing product lineup and products which will probably bring Apple new customers. And that’s ok, it was still a minor Apple event. But somehow I feel that people from Apple could have, and should have done more. There are only so many times you can repackage the same device in different form factors, now ridiculously ranging from 1.5” to 12.3“ in about dozen devices. For the September iPhone 7 event, Apple will have to produce something truly innovative if it wants to stay on top of the smartphone game. The competition, however, is only growing tougher.