Thursday, September 10, 2015

Apple Event 9/9/2015 - iPhone 6s, iPad Pro, Apple TV

The yearly September occurrence of Apple announcing its new product line and the media in turn announcing that Apple has lost its innovative verve took place yesterday in San Francisco.

When you are Apple (or any of the players in the market), it is very hard to wow the world.  How much better can phones get?  What more can we do with streaming TV?  Is the wrist really the next frontier?  Is the tablet market at full-saturation?

These products are completely iterative right now.  Evolutionary, not revolutionary.

The smartphone - tablet - watch - streaming TV (PTWTV) markets have no true visionary alpha dog(s) right now.  Everybody is keeping up with the Jones's - or should I say, phones's.  There are no Steve Jobs, leaders whose vision can imagine new frontiers.

Let's face it: Android and iPhones pretty much do the same things. They even almost look the same. When one comes out with a new feature, and users like it, the other will copy-cat that feature and implement it under another name.  We have great product managers right now.

That said, how much more do we want from our PTWTV's?  They are pretty amazing, and their continued iterative tweakings will result in noticeable improvements moving forward.  We have become like the drug user who chases that first high.  We will not get that first iPhone feeling ever again.  By chasing it, we are leaving ourselves with an unmet need of our own creation.

iPhone 6s/iPhone 6s Plus

I purposely did something that would allow this new round of iPhones to interest me.  As a Verizon Edge customer, I can get a new iPhone every year.  It's somewhat akin to what Apple announced yesterday for those who want to do the same through Apple Stores.  With the iPhone 6, I got the 4.7 inch phone.  It was my only choice at the time, as the store had no iPhone 6 Plus models on-hand, but I figured that for my upgrade a year later I could get the Plus model.  Typically, the S cycle of the iPhone is a faster hardware, more iterative upgrade on the non-S model that came before it.  Getting the Plus this year will mark that upgrade but will also give me a new, much larger screen experience.

3D Touch is going to be a neat feature.  It's a brand-new feature on iPhones, and is based on pressure you put on the glass that gives you a new quick menu to get in and out of apps, or get quick glances of information without the onerous opening and closing of applications.  It's similar to what I have experienced on the Apple Watch, where this feature was introduced under the name "Force Touch."  (Side Note: good job by Apple of changing that name).

Other than that, the cameras are better, and the innards are faster.  That kind of stuff loses its effect after you've had the device for a couple of days.  But it is improvement nonetheless.

iPad Pro

Apple unveiled its new business-focused "big" iPad, the iPad Pro.  The main difference here is obviously the size, with the Pro clocking in at 12.9 inches.  The pictures of people holding it almost look ridiculous.  But people holding the original iPad looked ridiculous too.  We'll get used to it.  Whether large swaths of consumers - business or otherwise - go for this thing remains to be seen.  It starts at $800 and can be coupled with a $100 "pencil" stylus (yes, a Steve Jobs rolling-in-his-grave moment) and a $170 case/keyboard combo.

From November 2014 ... About the then rumored iPad Pro

Apple TV

Meh.  It took three years to release this?  The Apple TV will start at $149 and boasts a new remote control/game controller/Siri summoner with Wii-like functionality.  The Apple TV will now have its own OS - called tvOS - and its own App Store. It will also have universal search, a nifty way to search for shows/movies/etc. and have results ping all of the apps to show you, well, universal results.  Right now there are a handful of apps that will integrate, but I'm sure many more will come.  I was waiting on the Apple TV announcement to see if something would blow me away.  It didn't, so I immediately bought a Roku 3.

I want a streaming TV product for innovations in that sphere. Games are a sleight-of-hand that packs "features" into the box that I don't believe consumers are looking for.  Roku at least innovates the TV watching experiences.  They have had universal search since 2012, and their private listening feature is a glaring Apple TV omission.

On Siri, maybe it's just me, but Siri and I don't work well together.  I can type faster than the time it takes me to formulate the right way to ask Siri a question. I would never ask Siri to "show me kids' shows with Eddie Murphy."

What I want is for the system to assimilate everything I watch on its own and display things I will like - kind of like Netflix does.  But universally.  Say I'm on a Breaking Bad binge.  I want the interface to intuitively show me when "All The Way" - featuring Bryan Cranston - comes on HBO GO, or that the new Marvel series "Jessica Jones" (starring the actress who played Jane on BB) is available on Netflix.  How about if I listened to a certain podcast and the interface showed me movie results that relate to the actor/actress being interviewed.  Or, if I was watching "I Am Cait," the system recommends the Amazon original show "Transparent" or the Marc Maron podcast interview with Laura Jane Grace.  This is the kind of context and ordering my disparate media life needs.  I forget half the things I'm in the middle of watching, and forget to watch the other half.

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