The Big “iPhone 6 / iOS 8 / Some Sort Of Wearable” Event

Finally! After much speculation, lots of rambling, and a fair amount of random dreck, we are going to find out just what the heck is in that Big White Box. But it’s nowhere near as much fun without semi-crazy, mostly unfounded, and half-baked predictions … so with not much else to do in the next sixty minutes, let’s take a shot!

The Thing: iPhone 6
Gonna See It Today: Yep
The Lowdown: It’s not much of a secret at all that the newest member of the iPhone family will come in two fresh sizes … specifically, Too Big and Way Too Big. Sigh. Honestly, I think this is a terrible idea. The existing 4″ screen is pretty much the perfect size for a pocket computer. Period. Large enough to easily see and read, small enough to fit in your pocket, and packing the perfect dimensions for one-handed use. The iPhone 6 will be available in a 4.7 inch size – which doesn’t really add anything, and makes it a bitch to try and use one-handed – and a 5.5 inch size which is just idiotic. The existing (and perfectly sized) iPhone 5s and 5c will hang around as the low-priced and free-with-contract models respectively, but that is cold comfort.

Beyond the unusable size, the new phones will offer Apple’s first foray into NFC connectivity – something they have avoided until now because the old antenna technology attached to NFC made for annoyingly thick handsets, and because there was nothing useful to actually do with NFC until, well, today. They will also have startlingly large batteries packed into their stupidly large cases, meaning that they will have gratifyingly long battery life if you can actually bear to carry one of these things around.

The Thing: iOS 8
Gonna See It Today: Yep
The Lowdown: I’ve been using iOS 8 for a few months now, and it is everything that you could hope for in an incremental OS release. It strengthens the connections between the various parts of the Apple ecosystem, makes your workflow from one device to the next essentially seamless, and simplifies the way you setup and deal with basic mobile computing functions. Look for it to hit the update queue of your device within 48 hours.

The Thing: OSX Yosemite
Gonna See It Today: Yep
The Lowdown: The next version of OSX brings some serious workflow love to your desktop or laptop Mac. It’s a strong build on the direction that was taken with Mavericks, and the ability to slide into a “one experience, one workflow, any device” mindset is nicely realized. It’s also fast – surprisingly so, considering how much new shit is going on under the hood. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience so far. However, there are a couple of catches here. Caveat one, this will not be released today. We will see it, but unless you are a developer, you probably won’t be getting your mitts on it for another month. Caveat two, if you are still using a machine that is 4 or 5 years old, you aren’t going to be able to enjoy a lot of the OSX/iOS integration … your box just doesn’t have the hardware to make it go.

The Thing: A Giant iPad Of Doom
Gonna See It Today: Nope
The Lowdown: This is just stupid. Next.

The Thing: Something To Do With Beats
Gonna See It Today: Probably
The Lowdown: The Beats acquisition is still a bit odd. Beats is not a brand that fits into Apple’s product gestalt … while Apple traditionally offers super-premium products for a premium price, Beats has slightly-above-average products at a super-premium price. Every item in the Beats catalog has a competitor that is noticeably better for the same price, and a another competitor that offers a seriously better product for a little bit more. Contrast this to traditional Apple gear where every item is indisputably the best you can get for that price, and equivalent stuff from other companies always costs more. That is a disconnect, and a big one.

But … Beats also came with Jimmy Iovine, and I think that is where the real value and future is. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Apple is getting into either music publishing or artist-direct distribution, helping to push the music labels farther into oblivion and giving more control and more revenue from music sales directly to the artists.

The Thing: New Macintosh Models
Gonna See It Today: Nope
The Lowdown: See you in October.

The Thing: Some Sort Of Digital Payment System
Gonna See It Today: Yep
The Lowdown: No idea, really. This gets into the realm of the banks and the credit card providers and who knows what else and I’m over my head here. Suffice to say that Apple will browbeat the financial institutions into providing the service to end users at cost, that there will be some sort of security component tied to both TouchID and two-factor authentication (last week’s celebrity selfie fiasco proved that you can’t trust users to use basic common sense or pay attention to warning messages when it comes to data security), and that it will provide and actual reason to put NFC technology into the new generation of Apple’s mobile devices. Beyond that, I’m in the dark. I think everyone is.

The Thing: The “Wearable”
Gonna See It Today: Yep
The Lowdown: What to call this? The iWatch? A smartwatch? A wearable? Until we know more, I’m going to stick with wearable. As to what it will be, and what it will do, the shrouds of secrecy are heavy on this one. I wrote earlier today about the existing players in this game, and how they stack up to what Apple might do, and I don’t think that there is much more to go on right now.

However, there are three points worth thinking about. One, in addition to the usual cadre from the tech press, Apple send out invitations for today’s event to a gaggle of style and fashion writers. You would assume that wouldn’t be the case if the new wearable/whatever is dog-barf ugly like the Galaxy Gear and its ilk. Two, Tim Cook has talked in the past about the need for a wearable to be something you have on all the time. But something you wear when you are working out is usually something that you would give a pass to when dressing for the office, or a night on the town. Can one device bridge this divide? Or will there be a family of devices, some for Extreme Sportball Action, some for day-to-day dress, and all of them sharing info in one virtual device? And three, Marc Newsome has joined the Apple design team … you may remember the props given to him in These Very Pages for the awesome Heineken “Sub”. Newsome made his name with timepiece design, and his calling card is understated elegance combined with no-nonsense industrial edge. Are his hands all over whatever the hell this wearable thing is going to be?

The Thing: Induction Power For Mobile Devices From Your Skin
Gonna See It Today: Maybe?
The Lowdown: I have no idea how this could even work. I’d call the chances of seeing this Extremely Low. But the buzz is out there, so it’s worth at least mentioning.

The Thing: U2
Gonna See It Today: Yep
The Lowdown: Just because.

One comment

  1. zale says:

    Hey, I need advice on an Apple matter, so of course I turn to you.
    Mail me, k?


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