Apple Event, September 2017

Today was one of the most highly anticipated of the now legendary (and infamous, in some circles) Apple Events in recent years.

I have taken the time to watch these events every year since 2007 and the introduction of the original iPhone (which at times involves some strategic lunch planning or side-by-side windows on my computer at work.) I was pretty excited to see all of the new offerings, though I had been spoiled by the leaks over the weekend of all of the specs for the new iPhone.

Leaks aside, it’s always enjoyable to witness Apple make their spectacle of a presentation and take in all of the products, personalities and atmosphere. This time was no exception, as the Event emanated from the newly-built Steve Jobs Theater on the grounds of Apple’s brand new campus, Apple Park.

Here’s some annotations from the event, with my opinions:

  • Seeing the completed Steve Jobs Theater was incredible. You could tell from our limited view on the stream that is was an immaculate structure. Everyone walking through had their phones out like they were tourists at a national monument. I can’t wait to be able to visit that campus someday.
  • The theater itself struck me as smaller than I thought it would be, and I’ll miss the giant stage and hundreds of attendees at each announcement. However, the seating looked brilliant and the intimacy of the venue worked well. Even the stage lighting helped to focus on exactly what Apple wanted us to see, hear and feel.
  • The tribute to Steve Jobs at the beginning hit me hard. Hearing his voice brought an emotional wave over me that I’m almost embarrassed to admit to. He was such an influential figure to me, and his story is so phenomenal. Perfect? Hell no. A genius? Arguable. An influence over millions? No doubt. I do agree that he would have loved this theater and much of what Apple is doing today, though he would definitely have a little bit more of a stranglehold over some of the product design.
  • Since I’ve been watching the progression since it started, it was really fun to get an update on and see the excitement and focus on the new Chicago “flagship” retail store. This new store looks incredible and I can’t wait to check it out on October 20th.
  • I’m actually quite excited about the advancements in health with the Apple Watch. Having live, real-time insights into heart rate and other biometrics is invaluable, and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.
  • LTE/cellular on the Apple Watch seems like a ho-hum feature, but I’ve actually wished for it many times when out for a run or just far enough away from my phone. I don’t think I’m in for $10/month just yet, though. I’ll be waiting for a smaller form factor (if possible) to upgrade my Watch, most likely.
  • Apple TV 4K was, quite frankly, a disappointment. The 4K/HDR support is very welcome of course, and the iTunes Store pricing on 4K movies was much better than I was expecting. But the bump in system specs doesn’t address the biggest concerns with Apple TV, which mostly revolve around content. No Netflix support in the TV app still. No announced Amazon Prime app release date (or confirmation that it will be compatible with the TV app.) No Apple-sponsored or packaged TV bundle for cord-cutters. And apart from content, no improvement on the less-than-ideal (but not as horrible as everyone makes it out to be) Siri remote. Apple keeps making minute incremental updates to Apple TV but doesn’t seem to want to go all-in. It’s frustrating for those of us who want to stay with the ecosystem of devices, but are limited by Apple’s decisions. I’m pretty sure I’ll be skipping this version, but to be fair, I don’t own a 4K TV so I don’t really need it.
  • iPhone 8 and 8 Plus looked really good, for the older, 5 year-old form factor. I really wish they would have squared off the sides of these phones ala the iPhone 4 or SE, but this is what we get. The glass sandwich design is a welcome one and adds a bit more class to the device.
  • Not too much more happening to the 8 other than some spec bumps and the welcome additions of a TrueTone display and wireless charging. I was also hoping for OLED in these 8 models, but that was reserved for the X. The cameras get incremental bumps with awesome frame rate options. And the processor apparently is fast enough for an iMac, blowing every other smart phone out of the water. This will be an awesome phone for someone coming from a 6 or 6S.
  • I however will be ordering an iPhone X. This thing looks beautiful.
  • The huge screen is where I’ve wanted the phone to be at for a while and it’s going to be great to view big, colorful iOS apps on this thing.
  • Face ID is a point of contention from a lot of people who either don’t trust its accuracy or the logistics of using it day-to-day in a variety of situations. After Apple’s demos, I’m mostly sold. It looks very fast, and I’m betting the angle at which you have to hold the phone up to your face is fairly forgiving (TBD, though.) Touch ID was never perfect, and while I did get used to it and will miss it slightly, I’m certain that Apple would not put out Face ID (and remove Touch ID as an option) if it wasn’t a good enough replacement.
  • I’m really excited to get a larger screen in a reasonably sized phone. It’s only .2" taller and .15" wider than the iPhone 7 I have now. I can definitely live with that. And iOS 11 relocates much of the navigation to the bottom of the screen, so reaching won’t be as much of a problem.
  • The OLED display will be exciting to experience in real life.
  • I haven’t had a phone with dual cameras yet so that will also be fun. And it’s great that this phone has OIS (optical image stabilization) on both cameras, as opposed to only the primary like the 7 Plus.
  • I don’t like how the phone still sticks to the rounded edges. It makes the device more slippery.
  • I don’t like the notch, though reviewers have said it grows on you over time. To me it’s very un-Apple.
  • I don’t like the name. I keep saying “iPhone eks”. I always said “oh ess eks” for OS X, too. It’s something I’ll have to get over, and accept other people doing as well.
  • I love the potential for wireless charging, and the AirPower pad for charging the phone, watch and AirPods looks awesome. Wonder how much that AirPods wireless charging case will be, and how available.
  • I’ll be ordering a silver, 256GB iPhone X.
  • Overall a good event, and I can’t help but wonder what my thoughts would be if I hadn’t been spoiled by almost everything days before the event. Not knowing about iPhone X would probably have blown my mind, as I would have thought that iPhone 8 was it. Apple skipping from 7 straight to 8 (and not implementing a 7S model this year) is surprising but a great move. Skipping 9 is strange, but not many people seem to care (and why should we?)

I’m glad this event is over and that we can now dig into these products as well as software offerings like iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. And we’ll see how hard it will be to actually get my hands on an iPhone X. I’m assuming I’ll be lucky to get one by the end of the year.