Key Notes

Yesterday’s Apple keynote was so broad and so long that it’s impossible to comment on everything. Besides, everyone has heard the news by now. Instead of repeating everything verbatim, I’ve jotted down a few of my thoughts on each topic.




General presentation:
Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs. His style is much slower and more deliberate than the former CEO’s, and I’m not used to it. Listening to the keynote video almost made me bored, which never happened with Steve. But he’s stuck to the same format – good news first, then a product walkthrough led by various department chiefs. It livened up after all the recapping was done, and I really think they stretched that part. There’s no reason to give a condensed version of WWDC’s news, since it’s been on the web for months. Apple even had pages for iCloud and iOS 5 already, yet practically read them verbatim. Not the best way to engage a news-hungry audience. I have a feeling Steve will set them straight before the next time though, especially since this is his first time watching like the rest of us.


Apple is a sales beast, and there isn’t a product that’s underperforming. Unless you count the Apple TV, which no one ever does. Basically, Apple is selling merchandise of all kinds, everywhere in the world, just as fast as it can make it. Tim must be very proud, and he looks it.


Talking about iOS 5 (again) and third party apps transitioned into the strangest announcement of the day. Cards, Apple’s latest iOS app, allows you to design and customize a greeting card, which Apple will then print off, address, and mail. That’s right, Apple now does snail mail. I thought it was a joke when I heard it, but then I remembered iCards back in the day. Apple must have a high-level executive whose kids forget to write. But at $2.99 per card (includes mailing and printing) there’s almost no reason not to try this. Hallmark had better watch its back.


Find My Friends:
A new location app much like foursquare or Google Latitude, but iOS-only. I won’t use it, since the vast majority of my friends won’t have iOS devices. Yes, they’re common, but not common enough to make things like this work outside Silicon Valley. Also, why the faux leather again?


All four are still sold, though the classic isn’t mentioned anymore. It’s plain that Apple would rather forget about the antiquated model, but is still happy to take money for it. I used to think I’d be sad to see it go, but at this point I’d rather they just cut it off. The iPod shuffle is thankfully still around, unchanged since its update last year. The iPod nano drops in price and gets new software, with easier touchscreen navigation, Nike+, and 20 watch faces. When was the last time Apple offered 20 options for anything? This just strikes me as messy, cheesy, and overly complex. Worst of all, some of those clock faces are quite hideous. Who in their right mind wants to wear a muppet on their wrist iPod? Black and white were fine by themselves, especially for such a niche use. The iPod touch gets a small price drop and a white option, but is otherwise unchanged. Much of the iPod section was spent talking about how great the software was, rehashing iOS 5 and iCloud again. I suspect it was an effort to distract from the unchanged hardware this year, and it’s clear that iPods are taking a back seat this year.


iPhone 4S:
Ahh, the pièce de résistance. It’s not an iPhone 5, and its design is almost identical to the iPhone 4. Is that a disappointment? Not for me, but some people might think it is. They’re not looking close enough. An A5 that boosts speed and allows for longer battery life. A massive camera upgrade that promises to entirely replace pocket cameras. CDMA and GSM network compatibility, allowing you to roam anywhere in the world on any network. Twin antennas leading to twice as reliable calling and twice as fast data reception. Last year’s iPhone 4 and the old iPhone 3GS are still available for $99 and free, respectively. Looking to buy my first iPhone, I couldn’t ask for more. Especially when it comes with…


The “one more thing” of this announcement was Siri, a personal assistant that you talk to. Hold the home button and talk to your phone. Unlike other voice commands, you don’t need to speak preprogrammed commands or worry about syntax. Hold it up and ask “Siri, will I need a raincoat tomorrow?” “Also, set my alarm for 6 AM.” Done and done. “Remind me about my meeting tomorrow at 10 when I get in the car.” It can do that. This is very impressive stuff, and the first time such an advanced AI is available to consumers. If it lives up to the hype, I can see this revolutionizing fail life. But that’s a big if, especially when people look stupid talking into their phones. Out of everything Apple talked about, this could be the biggest hit or the biggest flop.

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