The new announcements were pretty much as expected. A few things stood out to me.
iOS 8 Adoption
I thought it was interesting that they put up a pie chart showing the iOS 8 adoption numbers when they are so much worse than the adoption for prior iOS releases. To compare favorably with Android this year they had to combine the numbers for iOS 7 and 8.
Why does Apple care about the adoption numbers at all? So much that they dedicate time and a slide every year to it. Is it just to get a jab in at Android? Apple really cares about selling new devices. Having the best OS in the market on new devices justifies the expense of releasing new iOS versions each year. Allowing customers who purchased an iDevice in the last year or two to upgrade to the latest iOS version gives customers peace of mind that they are still being taken care of. But if those customers chose not to upgrade, Apple couldn’t care less. It’s of course a big pain for us developers to support older versions of iOS. Apples own free apps like Pages and iMovie are not in the same boat. They just need to work great on the latest iOS in order to sell new devices.
I thought it was noteworthy that Craig Federighi admitted, albeit in a humorous way, that iOS 8.0 was less than stellar. That shows awareness at the highest levels of Apple. Awareness is the first step to fixing a problem.
Actively selling 56 different iPad models seems very unlike Apple. In the iPhone lineup, the options have always been quite clear. Historically you bought the current model with all the new fancy features, or you could save money and buy the prior year’s model. This year you pick the iPhone screen size that fits you. It also used to be a simple size choice for iPads as well. But now, how do you choose? As developers and app business owners we of course collect them all! (Under the thin guise that we need them for testing…) But what would you tell a friend who asks for your advice on which iPad to get?
And what’s up with selling a 16 GB iPad in 2014? Other than greed? Granted that decision was made many months before Apple was criticized for the same thing with the iPhone lineup. And before limited memory hampered the upgrade rate for iOS 8. In hindsight I think this decision will be looked upon as one of the less insightful ones in recent Apple history.
Old Models Still For Sale
From an app development perspective having these old devices still for sale is problematic. Since we can’t prevent the sale of an app based on specific models you always have to develop for the lowest common denominator. In this case it’s the original iPad mini with the A5 CPU and a non-retina screen. Also known as the iPad zombie.
Don’t get me wrong, the iPad mini is an amazing device that was unthinkable just a few years. But technology moves forward at a dizzying pace. And in this case I think Apple should revert to its more aggressive self and retire the older devices. That will make customers’ experience so much better when they try to use cutting edge apps.
I thought it was curious that they included the M8 motion chip in the new iPad Air 2. Are people going to use an iPad to count the number of steps they walk during the day? But there are probably better use cases for games and for image stabilization with the camera.
Apple is really embracing the trend of using an iPad as a camera.
Touch ID & Apple Pay
The new iPad is going to be a shopping machine for the upcoming holidays.
This was mentioned in a single sentence when Phil Schiller explained how the new iPad Air 2 is able to get 150 Mbps speed on cellular. I was intrigued. Would that require multiple SIMs in the iPad?
Part of the answer came when the product specs went up on the website. Take a look specifically at the Apple SIM section. This is a huge innovation. One that will further diminish the power of the carriers.
In the future the purchase of your device will be even more disconnected from the selection of a carrier. You will be able to switch carriers effortlessly without having to track down a new SIM card. International travel will be much easier. You bring your device and when you get to your destination you just pick a carrier and a plan from the competing offerings. Carriers are going to hate this because it removes several of their lock-in levers and actually promotes competition between them. But they don’t have a choice unless they want to walk away from a huge chunk of profitable customers.
I wonder why Apple SIM is not in the new iPhone 6 models? Perhaps Apple wanted to do a softer launch with the iPad before hitting the carriers with this new brave world for the much more important iPhone.
Update: It turns out that carriers can still play shenanigans with the Apple SIM. AT&T for example will lock the Apple SIM to their network as soon as you activate their service on your iPad. Talk about incentive to not use AT&T! Sprint apparently plays a different game where an iPad that you buy in one of their stores does not come with the Apple SIM at all. Instead you get a “legacy SIM” that, surprise, only works on the Sprint network.
I remember sitting in the auditorium at WWDC when the retina MacBook Pro was introduced. I think every developer in the room wanted to click the Buy button right then and there. The new iMac has a similar drool factor for developers. Very nice!
Tim Cook of course iterated how very, very excited they are to release the Apple Watch in early 2015. I found it interesting that it appeared that he was only wearing the Apple Watch during that particular segment of the event. Shouldn’t the executives and the developers wear the prototypes around the clock?
We developers are of course very excited that WatchKit will be released in November.
It’s been a long time
I still don’t know what the title of the invitation means. The only hardware that saw a refresh for the first time in a long time was the Apple Mini. And that was appropriately given just a few minutes of stage time. The title could be an inside joke, perhaps referring to the fact that it wasn’t that long since the big September event. I think Apple is just having fun with Apple watchers who try to read the tea leaves and parse everything that comes out of Cupertino.