Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 2, the iPhone 7, and a new set of wireless AirPods this past Wednesday. I wanted to take a hot second to jot down some quick reflections on some of the announcements. These are in somewhat chronological order.
Just one brief note: I went into watching this event without any real interest in purchasing anything announced.
Not sure what it is, but the announcement of a Mario game coming to iOS made me feel like a seven year old. It looks to have the characteristic tightness and polish I expect from Nintendo games. I will definitely buy and play this game. Also very cool that it is going to be a fixed price and not have in app purchases.
Oh boy. Anytime iWork gets mentioned, I sit up in my seat a little. It was announced that iWork is getting real time collaborative features (yeah yeah, just like Google Docs in 2007). The cool thing is that collaborators can be working on Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents from on the web or in the native applications on Mac or iOS. As these apps are my primary tools of choice for making docs, spreadsheets, and presentations, I am pumped that Apple is working on this.
Sadly, these features depend on the reliability of iCloud sync to be awesome. If these newer features work as well as existing iWork document sync, I am going to need see them in action first hand before getting too excited.
Pokemon Go for Apple Watch
Again, I found myself surprised that one of the most exciting announcements for me was about a game. Pokemon Go is the perfect fit for Apple Watch. It will resolve every reason that I do not currently play the game often (even though I find it entertaining and aspire to play it more).
The app reconciles the fact that playing Pokemon Go is basically a workout and therefore tracks your calories and distance as you play and records this data to the Apple Health app. It tells you when Pokemon are near as you walk so that you don't have to be staring at your screen the entire time, ignoring the moment and running your battery dry.
I will play this game a ton.
Apple Watch Series 2
I was not planning to be excited about this device but it might be the most compelling thing to me about the entire presentation. Apple Watch Series 2 brings GPS, waterproofing, speed increase, and water related workouts to the watch and also has some new and cool designs.
The Nike+ version of the watch has a breathable sport band and comes with some extra software installed to help track runs and motivate the user to get outside.
I have the stainless steel version of the original Apple Watch but I have bounced around the idea of getting a cheaper aluminum model just for the work out features and speed increase. It was also announced that watchOS 3 will come out next Wednesday, September 13th. This update is advertised to improve speed so much that it will feel like a new watch. So far, reviews have indicated that the hype is real. I will wait to see how much faster my watch feels next week before deciding if I really want a the new model.
Well, they really did it. They took away the headphone jack. Honestly, I think this is where the technology needs to go, but as an audio professional, I think I am going to introduce a lot of friction into my life for the next year if I early adopt this technology. I still want the ability to plug my phone into any sound system I come across, and while using a Lightning to 1/8th inch adaptor is not a huge hassle for me, I would really rather just not deal with it. Eventually I do believe the entire industry will move this way, but I really wish that in pushing things forward, Apple had gone with a standard solution like a USB C cable, not one that is proprietary like Lightning.
Audio jack aside, the new camera features on the phone look compelling and I am definitely interested in them. Maybe next time around...
Along with the audio jack removal, Apple announced a new set of wireless "AirPods" that are designed just like the ones that come in the box, but without wires. The AirPods come in a chargeable case that charges the pods itself. As soon as you take them out of the case, they immediately pair to whatever Apple device you want to use them with (Mac, Apple Watch, iPhone) in one tap. They seamlessly pass audio from one of these devices to the other in one tap without fiddling with Bluetooth settings. They allow you to talk to Siri and get a couple hours of playback from a few seconds of charge.
If you have seen the product photography of these, the potential for loosing them is immediately obvious. That being said, I am very compelled by these devices because they are the only one in the presentation that actually solve new technological problems for me in a user friendly way. If these don't sound like garbage and fit my ears, I will definitely buy them. If you are compelled by these but fear of loosing them, Apple's headphone company, Beats, is also releasing three new wireless headphone models that use them same pairing technology as the Apple AirPods. Each of the Beats models have a wire to attach the two ear pieces together.
I think for me, it is looking like:
iPhone: I'll wait.
Apple Watch: See how fast watchOS 3 feels first.
AirPods: See how they sound and fit first. If the fit is bad, consider Beats.