Was Apple’s livestreamed iPad event really such a big yawn? Search Twitter for “#AppleEvent yawn” or “Apple boring” and you’ll see tweet after tweet bemoaning the boring nature of Thursday’s press conference. It got so tedious for some, there were dozens of photos of napping dogs.
“Most boring Apple event ever,” tweeted one. “Bring back the Chinese translation.”
Maybe some of those folks are being facetious, but there’s a grain of truth in the tweets: Nothing about Thursday’s event, except for maybe Stephen Colbert’s crackup comedy bit with Craig Federighi, was super-compelling on the surface. Many of the specs had been leaked (some even by Apple itself), and the rumor mill proved pretty accurate in the run-up to the presentation.
Still, this was no Phantom Menace. I mean really, what were people expecting? Jetpacks, aliens and electric cars?
This is Apple’s big dilemma right now: How do you top yourself when you make the best products in the world?
Putting aside all the typical statistical huffing and puffing about how great iPhone 6 sales are and how amazing iOS 8 uptake is, Thursday’s announcements add up to one thing: Apple products are better and cheaper than ever, and they work together more seamlessly so we can accomplish tasks more easily.
Anywhere other than Planet Apple, this would be beyond amazing. Unfortunately, Cupertino has blown our minds so routinely that even wonderfully powerful products can start to seem commonplace.
“This is the strongest lineup of products that Apple has ever had,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook near the end of Thursday’s hour-long presentation, “and we believe that each one of these play a very important role. People need different types of technology.”
The press event was all about incremental updates to Apple’s already great gear — and the deployment of OS X Yosemite.
Most if not all of the fancy features Cook and Co. touted with regard to the Yosemite and its interoperability with iOS 8 had been revealed by Apple at this spring’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Now the Word has been made flesh, as it were, and will soon dwell among us, thanks to the OS updates and all the developers building apps to take advantage of Continuity, Handoff and Extensibility.
In a very real way, Thursday was the fulfillment of the wide-ranging prophecy of an interconnected world that Apple laid out last June.
On some level, it’s easy to understand why people might break bad on Thursday’s announcements. The product line refreshes — Retina 5K iMacs; thinner, faster iPads; cheaper, more powerful Mac minis — were basically just extensions of the ever-sweetening value proposition we’ve all come to expect, spoiled as we are by the relentless march of technology.
In Apple’s case, it’s a little like Superman doing some weightlifting so he can bench-press a few more boxcars. The best just got even better (particularly when it comes to the thinner-than-a-pencil iPad Air 2).
Naturally, anytime Cupertino commands our attention, we’re all hoping for something magical and transformative, but it’s simply ludicrous to expect that Apple would unveil some astonishing new product just a month after giving the world it’s first look at the Apple Watch.
Remember when Star Wars movies were good, and each entry in the original trilogy took us to new and exciting places? Just imagine if The Phantom Menace had been better than Return of the Jedi, and then Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith each raised the bar rather than turning into dreadful sci-fi slogs.
Star Wars fans would still be excited about J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Episode VII, but that excitement wouldn’t come from a place of such pent-up desire — we wouldn’t be hoping against hope for something that’s merely passable to wash away the stench of previous years.
Apple is like a talented director who keeps making enthralling films, each just a little bit more fantastic than the last. Despite minor missteps over the years, and the dark days when Steve Jobs was in exile from the company he loved, Apple has never truly delivered a piece of crap.
Critics have dinged Cupertino for its lack of openness, its premium pricing strategy and its occasionally haughty attitude. But if they’re truly honest with themselves, they can’t actually fault the company’s inexorable progress toward ever-greater products. That’s what we got a taste of Thursday — a confident company that’s continually moving forward and making great things even better and more useful.
Spec boosts aside, Thursday’s most exciting moment came after Cook’s reiteration of the “something for everyone” aspect of Apple’s lineup — the big new screens for when you want to work at a desk, the powerful laptops when you need that kind of computing firepower away from home, the thinner iPads for when you want to touch all that beautiful stuff, and the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch for when you want all that wondrous technology in the palm of your hand or on your wrist.
“This is our vision of personal technology,” Cook said, “and we are just getting started.”
If that’s not exciting, what is?