Thoughts and Observations From Today’s Apple Event

There were some great announcements from Apple today. But at each turn I couldn’t help but think how nearly everything being announced was something we’ve seen already or expected.

This marks the second major hardware revision for the iPhone that Apple didn’t get to introduce to the world. Like we saw with Gizmodo and the lost iPhone 4 in 2010, the iPhone 5 looks just like the leaks and rumors said it would.

But that’s not all: the new dock connector — Lightning — and the new EarPods also look just like we’ve already seen. And though we didn’t have pictures of what they’d look like, we were told what to expect in the new iPod touch and also to expect new nanos today as well (not to mention the “Loop” accessory). Even iTunes 11 was leaked via Apple’s own website earlier this morning.

It was like the whole internet had the run sheet for today’s event.

Earlier this year Tim Cook said Apple was doubling down on secrecy, and yet virtually every single thing announced today was called by the rumor mill.

That is not to say that today’s event was a disappointment. Quite the contrary. The mystery and surprise of today’s announcements may have been diminished, but the quality of the products themselves was not. Knowing about the iPhone 5 before it was announced doesn’t make it any less a device had we not known anything at all.

  • The iPhone 5’s 4-inch screen: If the new iPhone screen is just as easy to use with one hand as all the previous models have been, a lot of iPhone owners are going to be very happy. And a lot of people are going to call us fanboys.

This image from Dustin Curtis is often referenced as a prime example of why the smaller-screen of the iPhone is superior to the ginormous screens of Android phones these days.

The onehandability of the iPhone has always been a great advantage. Especially for a guy like me who is 5’8″ and has somewhat small hands.

My biggest qualm with past Android phones I’ve tested or borrowed is how difficult they are to use one handedly. Jim Dalrymple reported that the iPhone 5 is, in fact, easy to use with one hand. My question, which would solicit a different answer from everyone because it’s unique to hand size is if the iPhone 5 is as easy to use one handed as the past iPhones have been.

On another note, with the extra vertical space there’s room for another row of icons. I’ve always kept my bottom row free from icons so now I can fit a 4th row without cluttering up my Home screen. Which is an interesting idea if you think about it. I can’t imagine how cluttered and random most peoples iPhone home screens are, and one of the solutions is “bigger physical screen”. I’m still standing on my soapbox that the iPhone Home screen needs a radical redesign.

  • LTE: The two things I am most excited about with the new iPhone is LTE and the better camera. My iPad has LTE from Verizon and it’s just wonderful. If I’m out somewhere and I’ve got my iPad nearby, I will often grab the iPad instead of my iPhone to look up directions, do a web search, or whatever it is. LTE is just so much faster than even AT&T’s HSPA+ network.

Having a significantly faster cellular connection means a significantly improved user experience (especially when battery life doesn’t take a hit). Because, at the end of the day, it really just boils down to less time waiting. And we all want that.

I wonder how many people are going to turn off wi-fi on their iPhones because LTE is faster than the internet in their home?

  • The iPhone 5’s camera: If I had to pick just one single hardware feature for Apple to continue improving upon year over year it would be the camera (which would be a very close toss up against cellular network speeds, but those are yoked to wireless carriers).

Data speeds are great but they aren’t something that I’ll look back on 40 years from now with my kids and grandkids to talk about. No, those will be the photos and videos that I shoot.

Not to get all mushy, but Apple’s investment into the quality of the iPhone camera is an investment into our future. The iPhone is the camera we have with us and it is the one we are using to capture our memories and the one we use to feed that habit of amateur photography we’re now all into.

  • iOS 6: Something new to me: iOS 6 will let you launch apps using Siri.

  • iTunes 11: 435 Million iTunes accounts. The new design, looks great. But I use Rdio for music, my Apple TV for movies, my iPad for books, and my iPhone for podcasts, so I spend hardly no time in iTunes. Nevertheless it’s a great update that was a long time coming.

  • iPod nano: Has any Apple device seen as many significant hardware changes as the nano? The nano is Apple’s hardware design playground.

Also, with the change in size of the nano, I think it’s clear that Apple’s is not planning on making it some sort of iPhone-satellite device. The device is designed as a stand-alone product.

As for the new design, I like it a lot. As John Siracusa said on Twitter, the new iPod nano looks like a tiny Lumia phone.

  • iPod touch: And speaking of good-looking iPods, the new touch is the best looking version of its breed yet. It’s just 6.1mm thin and has the exact same great display that’s in the iPhone. It now comes in all sorts of colors, and for the first time I find the design of the iPod touch more compelling than the iPhone.

I plan to pre-order a black 32GB AT&T iPhone on Friday morning. When upgrading from the 3GS to the 4 in 2010, and from the 4 to the 4S in 2011 I received a fully-subsidized pricing with the renewal of my contract. However, as of this writing, I’m not eligible for a subsidized upgrade from AT&T.

And it’s not just me. All of my regularly-upgrading friends and many of my Twitter followers are all reporting the same thing. We’ve been getting subsidized upgrades year-over-year but apparently not this time.

Perhaps that will change before iPhone pre-orders open up, or perhaps AT&T has ceased its good will and will not let us upgrade early. If I do have to pay a non-subsidized price for an iPhone, I may chose instead to cancel my AT&T contract and switch to Verizon since its nation wide LTE coverage is immensely superior to AT&T’s.

Thoughts and Observations From Today’s Apple Event