We don’t know anything about iOS 15 yet. And I’m totally OK with that. By comparison, this time last year we already knew plenty about iOS 14. This year, Apple’s somehow managed to keep leaks to virtually zero — despite the fact that many Apple engineers are working from home right now.
Here’s why I’m not shedding any tears over the lack of leaks. And why, frankly, I’d be happy if that same secrecy extended to other Apple products, too.
Did you hear the one about iOS 15?
I don’t like Apple product rumors. Sure, that’s a bit of a strange admission for someone who blogs frequently about Apple product rumors. If you write about Apple, you’re also expected to cover — to paraphrase Steve Jobs — not just where the Apple puck is today, but where it’s going to be next.
But when it comes to spoilers, I firmly believe they make things less fun. Even though I can’t stop myself from clicking on them.
Maybe it’s lack of imagination on my part but rumors, as briefly intoxicating as they can be, often end up giving an incomplete picture. It’s like the old parable about the blind men and the elephant, in which a group of blind men who have never encountered an elephant learn to conceptualize it by touching one. Except that every person feels a different part of the elephant. When they describe the beat, each one gives wildly different descriptions based on whether they touch the side, the trunk or the tusks.
Like spoiling The Sixth Sense
That’s not to say that there aren’t some great Apple reporters who extract juicy gossip about upcoming devices. But, even then, they’re typically telling us something about one product in isolation, not how it fits into a broad, overarching strategy. There are plenty of times I’ve heard about an upcoming product and dismissed it — only to eat crow when, 18 months later, I wound up appreciating it.
Incompleteness of rumors isn’t the main reason I don’t like them, though. Simply put, they rob us of surprises. It’s like reading a review of The Sixth Sense and having the reviewer give away the twist. Sure, you get a momentary satisfaction from it, but it sure makes the movie-watching experience less fun.
One of Apple’s great innovations was its ability (really, Steve Jobs’ ability) to turn what are essentially press releases into tiny bits of theater. It’s a big part of the fun of being an Apple fan. And the fact that there are people who watch YouTube clips of the original iPhone unveiling who weren’t even born at the time shows how effective the tactic is.
It’s about control
From Apple execs’ perspective, there are probably other reasons they don’t want rumors flying everywhere. Apple’s a company that loves control: from the vertical integration of hardware and software, to its control of the media narrative, to its vision of a tech ecosystem where everything “just works.”
Last week, news broke about Apple suing an ex-employee for allegedly leaking company secrets to the media. One of the first things Jobs did when he returned to Apple in the late 1990s was try to change the company’s leak-heavy culture, frequently by scaring or firing the bejesus out of anyone who talked to the press without authorization.
Letting a $2 trillion company totally dictate its own story is, obviously, not a good thing. There are plenty of areas Apple should be challenged by a free press, whether it’s ethical issues associated with doing business in China, antitrust accusations or hush-hush decisions like the one that led to batterygate.
But avoiding spoilers and letting Apple be the one who reveals its products on its own schedule, in its own words? As a fan — which I am, first and foremost — I’m totally OK with that. And not just for iOS 15, either. As far as I’m concerned, if there was no news about the next-gen iMac, the iPhone 13, the future iPad or Apple Watch, I wouldn’t shed too many tears.
It would just make Apple keynotes more exciting and joyful. And, in a world where the right kind of excitement and joy have been lacking for much of the past year, that’s needed more than a sneak peek at shaky renders of the colors the next Mac might ship in.
To spoil or not to spoil?
Are you a fan of rumors about upcoming products? Would you rather know everything about the next iPhone or operating system before Apple shows it, or keep it a surprise? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.