About this time every year Apple introduces new iPhones. 2016 represents the 10th model, though 2017 will be the 10-year anniversary. Every year during every new iPhone presentation there are surprises and disappointments and this year’s event was no different. Some new products and features are called magical, most are merely annualized innovations that move the technology bar forward, and every now and then Apple leaps forward with a revolutionary new product.
2016 is not the year of revolution. It’s yet another year of incremental magic and annualized innovations.
Wednesday I watched a live video stream of Apple’s latest new products and came away impressed by how polished diminished expectations can be. Nearly every product and improvement that was expected arrived (or, will within a few weeks or months), but the whole presentation was another of Apple’s time honored shows with statistics, classy and shiny videos, enough missing pieces to be mildly disappointed, but with more than enough new magic to have millions of customers whip out their credit cards and buy some of the glitter that Apple sells.
Tim Cook’s stamp on Apple product presentations was clearly evident, and Steve Jobs’ ‘One more thing…’ became yet more of a distant shadow in the past.
- Apple Music – 17-million subscribers
- 140-billion App Store downloads
- 500,000 App Store games
- 100-percent YoY Growth
Impressive. Super Mario Run and stickers for Messages will be a hit. Also impressive was Apple’s obvious Presenter Diversity program with multiple colors and genders. That’s another Tim Cook fingerprint (along with dividends and stock buybacks).
Some of the magic continued into Apple Watch Series 2 (and an updated and less expensive Apple Watch Series 1 with better CPU; Apple is counting on watchOS 3 being enough of a performance increase to expand the Watch product line, and when bands and cases are included, it’s massive).
A ceramic Watch case seems to have replaced the Gold Edition on Apple’s Watch website but remains a luxury item at a $1,249 starting price. Obviously, Watch had an enormous impact on the entire watch industry, trailing only Rolex in revenue (and only counting eight months of revenue in 2015). Failure my ass.
There is much to like about Watch 2, of course, but everything about the device smacks of incremental magic and annualized innovations, both of which add up year after year to a truly improved product line. That’s more visible now than ever. GPS is nice. Watch might become the best exercise and health tracking device you can buy without someone to help you carry it.
Apple is as much about iPhone as any product. iPhone 7 brings new magic, more innovations, but some disappointments, too. Over one billion have been sold since 2007. iPhone 7 is water and dust resistant. The Home button gets 3D Touch and more functionality. Entry level storage has doubled but so has high end storage. But the HD screen doesn’t come with competitive specifications. No Quad-HD. Still the same PPI count. But the screens have P3 wide color to match iPad Pro. In other words, good enough. No revolution here.
Other than calls and text messaging, most of us use iPhones for taking photos and videos, and while it remains to be seen exactly how much better the new camera really is, even Apple is calling it the best ever in a smartphone.
- Image stabilizer
- Wider aperture
- 6-element lens
- 12-MP sensor
- RAW files
Incremental magic and annualized innovation.
Unfortunately, some disappointment came, too. The iPhone 7 Plus has dual cameras; one wider angle, the other a zoom. But some of the features won’t be available until a software update later in the year and that tells me some engineers will be working overtime for a few months.
Apple’s Phil Schiller explained away the iPhone 7’s lack of an analog audio port as best he could, with something like this: It’s time to move forward. That component goes back to the 1800s. Lightning is better. Plus, we give you a Lightning-to-analog adapter so you’re good to go with your antiquated relive headphones and earbuds. But if you want the future it’s almost here and starts at $169 for AirPods and Beats Solo Wireless and PowerBeats and you’ll need more money because we like money at Apple.
That was the gist of what I saw.
Apple’s iPhone CPU and GPU are monsters. Again. Just like last year. Battery life is a bit better. Most of those odd antenna bands on the case are gone. Black is back in favor. Wireless is the future. Nobody should complain about entry-level storage being anemic, but the mid-range iPhone 6s and 6s Plus don’t get 256GB and the iPhone 7 gets stereo speakers, but not side-by-side, instead top and bottom.
What should become obvious when you view Apple’s iPhone 7 specifications is how far the company has moved the bar forward with little more than some incremental magic and annualized innovations. iPhone 7 is an incredibly packaged and capable product.
As always, I want one.