Likes and Dislikes from Apple’s “Loop You in” Event

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While the March 21st Apple event didn’t generate, nor warrant, the hype of a WWDC (new software) or Fall event (new hardware) does – it still was a productive Monday morning for the company.  Here is my “Likes and Dislikes” from the event, broken down by section. For Fall’s event that saw the launch of the iPhone 6s, iPad Pro and more, please click here.

Opening

Likes

  • Tim Cook addressed the FBI case right out of the bat, continuing to articulate Apple’s strong pro-privacy stance and re-iterated why the company is fighting the FBI so hard in this matter.  It is easy to gloss over this, but Tim Cook continues to be out there on at the very least a very divisive issue, issues that large companies tend to avoid taking on so directly.
  • Instead of the common Apple event opening where Tim Cook (and previously Steve Jobs) discusses how well the company is doing financially and/or how Apple Stores are doing, they decided to spend time discussing topics that don’t get enough attention in other events. Those things?
    • Environment: Apple highlighted their recycling efforts, most notably Apple’s recycling robot named Liam.
    • ResearchKit: This is a rare place where Apple’s moral values and their desire to sell more Apple products align perfectly. Apple’s continued efforts in making their devices help those with disabilities and aid the research efforts in such innovative ways is truly admirable.  Just one example: in just a few months, Apple’s Parkinson’s study became the largest Parkinson’s study ever.

Dislikes

  • Nothing! Solid.

Apple Watch

Likes

  • New bands!
    • I like that Apple keeps releasing new bands, even referring to the colors as “spring colors”.  They have completely embraced the fashion angle and it’s safe to say that even if the hardware changes, all of the bands seem to be future-proof, giving Apple Watch fans the ability to keep their watch fresh no matter what.  I personally don’t really see myself changing my current Watch, but new bands? Why not?
  • Price Reduction
    • Given that new Apple Watch hardware is due in the Fall, now is a really good time to reduce the price. It’s not quite close enough to the Watch 2 launch to have people be upset for buying it at the lesser price.  Besides, how can I dislike a price reduction?

Dislikes

  • All good so far!

 

iPhone SE

Likes

  • Design
    • The iPhone 5 and 5S will probably go down as Apple’s best design overall, felt great in the hand, and as Apple decided to launch a 4-inch iPhone, this was a no brainer.  The curved glass design of the 6/6s made sense as the screen size grew to enhance “grippability”, but the original 5 design remains my favorite.
  • Specs + Name
    • Apple made the right decision to bring the iPhone SE internally comparable with the iPhone 6s in addition with bringing a no-brainer feature like Apple Pay with it.
    • Why did I lump in Name with Specs? I believe one of the reasons SE is the first iPhone after the original iPhone to not have a number attached to it is because this iPhone is meant to be iterated at a completely different timeline than a traditional iPhone.  I believe the SE will remain the SE as long as this “low end” device will exist in Apple’s lineup and possibly refreshed every 2 years (on the “s” cycle) and remain the SE.  Simple marketing message: no matter what we announce, you can always get a capable small, affordable smartphone at $399.
  • Price
    •  Finally. A $399 unlocked iPhone with effectively full features?  This could be HUGE for a company that is already selling iPhones at unprecedented rate.  This phone can become a major player in India, where Apple has a remarkably low  presence overall.  In addition, I can’t imagine a better option for a kid’s first iPhone than this.

Dislikes

  • 16 GB Storage
    • To sell an iPhone, low-end or not, in 2016 with only 16 GB internal storage is embarrassing.  I couldn’t buy an Apple TV with 16 GB storage today and I don’t even know what to do with that space.  You know what takes a lot of space? The same 4K video, 12MP camera, Live Photos, Panorama, etc that you brag about.  My dad is what I define as a “light” user, so I got him an iPhone 6 Plus with only 16GB storage – once a month I sit with him and we decide what things need to be deleted.  Sure, iCloud is great – but guess what? He doesn’t want to deal with it. So, he’s frustrated – and he’s not alone.  There have been journalists and Apple executives alike that I’ve seen try to justify this and haven’t heard a good enough reason yet as to why this is still the case.  If 16GB is so great, why do you  jump up to 64 GB at $100 more when you used to charge $100 more for just 32 GB? Per your logic, 32GB is double what I need, after all.
  • Minor complaint, but 3D touch would’ve been really nice. The faster it gets onto all iOS devices, the improved support across the board can be expected from App Developers.

9.7″ iPad Pro

Likes

  • iPad Pro Mini
    • It’s everything I love about the 12.9″ iPad Pro in a size that I’ve grown to love.
      • Speakers, power, Smart Connector, and more
  • Pencil Support
    • This applies to my last bullet point, but I wanted to highlight it separately because of how excited about this I personally am.  I’m a notorious “jotter” type of note taker.  I can’t do anything without a legal pad or stack of stickies near my computer and although it helps me in the moment, having to look for and decipher old notes I have in a myriad of places is a system that is serving me poorly.  Because I don’t properly retain notes I type, writing physically is very important to me and a 9.7″ iPad Pro with a Pencil can really improve my workflow in truly meaningful ways.  In addition, I like coloring and there are really cool coloring books with Pencil support that I can’t wait to try.  So there.
  • Upgraded USB adapter
    • While I’m not a professional podcaster by ANY stretch of the imagination, I have begun to enjoy the medium enough to dabble with it myself.  While I am okay using my Mac, I prefer to use my iPad and iPhone as much as possible, and this USB adapter seems like it should be able to accept my USB microphone for podcast recordings which would be great
  • Entry level 32 GB model
    • See! It can be done!

Dislikes

  • Price
    • The almost 2 year old iPad Air 2 appropriately switched from $499 to $399 (a really good value, incidentally) instead of the 9.7″ iPad Pro slotting into that $499 spot that has existed since the original iPad, it’s entry level is $599 for 32Gb.  Combined with accessories like the Keyboard Cover and the Pencil, this can get really, really pricy very quick.
  •  Intra-division
    • Why does the 9.7″ iPad Pro have the cool True Tone display and the recently launched 12.9″ iPad Pro doesn’t? Why does the 9.7″ iPad Pro have USB2 transfer speeds while the 12.9″ iPad Pro has USB3 transfer speeds with the same adapter? Why does the 9.7″ iPad Pro have as large an improvement over the camera as it does over the 12.9″? Why does the 9.7″ iPad Pro have the “Always On” Siri functionality while the 12.9″ doesn’t?  Why does the 9.7″ iPad Pro have half the RAM than the 12.9″?
    • The above paragraph was inherently meant to be a little confusing, and that’s the largest part of my criticism – the confusion.  It’s not like the 12.9″ iPad Pro was released a long time ago – it shipped in November 2015.  While I won’t ever disparage the addition of features, I don’t understand the downgrades in things such as RAM and USB transfer speeds, especially when the “Pro” part is emphasized enough to cause the iPad to start at $599 instead of $499.
  • Software
    • This is cheating, since I know that no major software change will be announced until WWDC (traditionally held in June).  It just irks me the amount that Apple talks about the iPad being a true laptop replacement but has handcuffed both the App Store and the OS overall to truly achieve that potential.  I won’t belabor this point, but I am a STAUNCH advocate of a bifurcation of iOS to phoneOS and iPadOS as early as possible to truly maximize the utility that can be derived from this great product.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Apple is a company that has gone from the “we know what’s good for you” to “we are hearing what you’re asking for, and will eventually provide that at our standard of excellence”.  To look at the variations/SKU’s of iPhones, iPads, iMac’s, MacBooks, MacBook Pro’s, Apple Watch’s available it’s a far departure from Steve Jobs’ famous simplification of the entire company lineup.  That’s not a criticism, in the least – it’s just the reality of where they are as a mature company that is trying to expand it’s market in common sense ways.  Traditional Apple followers continue to be dissatisfied by the quality, especially the software, and that might be a symptom of Apple internally dealing with the philosophical transition in strategy.  Overall, while this event may have just been iterations of new products launched recently, the affect of these launches (especially of the iPhone SE) will be the widening of their tablet and mobile phone markets that will serve the company very well.

 

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