The iPhone X is now real, after months of rumors, and people are bracing to preorder the $1000 phone. But, as always, what Apple reveals tells us about the state of Apple itself. What can we take away from the iPhone X?
Apple’s Not Really Sure Where To Go Next
Apple has seemed adrift before, but the iPhone X underscores this. While the facial recognition technology is undeniably impressive, and likely to kick off the next smartphone arms race, its actual utility is… what, again? The technology is impressive, and we shouldn’t disregard that for some communities, Face ID will make the difference between using a phone and not using one. But for most of us, there really isn’t a lot to the iPhone X beyond animated emoji and better Snapchat. Apple tellingly discussed the cheaper iPhone 8 first, and put all the upgrade talk there.
Is it unfair to expect earth-shaking revelations every year? It is. But the iPhone is blending into the pack with smartphones, and Apple needs something more. And it likely won’t have anything to do with making Black Mirror a reality.
Augmented Reality Is Apple’s Next Big Thing, If They Can Find A Killer App
Apple has been talking about augmented reality for a while, and frankly what it presented was underwhelming, in the context of the man on the street. Sure, an app to spot constellations or track baseball players at a live game is cool, but it’s not absolutely necessary. That said, a smartphone is a lot easier to use, and less awkward and expensive, than the AR solutions we’ve already seen, like Microsoft’s HoloLens or Google Glass. If Apple can find useful, practical apps that use AR to make our lives easier, that’ll put the brand far ahead.
Apple’s Future Might Not Be The iPhone
The most impressive leap forward frankly had nothing to do with the iPhone, and in fact was all about cutting out the iPhone altogether. Apple Watch is the king of a small hill, right now, but that’s thanks in part to it being an accessory to the iPhone, instead of an independent device. But Apple, with surprisingly little fanfare, officially made the Apple Watch its own thing with Series 3.
While the Apple Watch Series 3 doesn’t completely cut the cord, as you need to share a number with it in order to use cellular data, Apple has managed, finally, to cram all the essential features somebody needs from a phone onto a watch. In a culture with a growing need to stay connected, but not too connected, there’s appeal in a device that can take calls but won’t let you fall into a Twitter hole. We’ve expressed skepticism of smartwatches in the past, because nobody could answer an important question: What problem does a smart watch solve? Apple may have finally found the answer.
The Rumor Mill Is Getting Better
While the rumor mill didn’t bat 100% this year, with the iPhone X and the iPhone 8, it got pretty close. Tech journalists and rumormongers nailed everything from Face ID to the edge-to-edge screen to the multiple iPhones that debuted. Considering the extreme lengths Apple goes to in order to protect the iPhone, that’s impressive.
Apple’s Stores Are Getting Useful, If Weird
Apple’s presentation opened with a discussion of their retail operations, which was, frankly, a bit weird. Apple, a tech company, is spending millions to turn its stores, at least in major cities, into a mix of theme park and public space. It’s restoring buildings, adding public plazas, hiring live musicians, training teachers, and is very insistent that you call these spaces “town squares,” not stores.
It’s nice Apple is spending some of its giant war chest on things that will benefit the wider community. And it’s not like they’re going to gentrify anything; it discussed its Milan, Paris, and New York stores, which are already at tony, expensive addresses. But, well, why do this? Nobody is fooled that Apple is anything but a giant corporation. This PR push opened a marketing presentation that ended with the company showing off a phone that literally costs a month’s rent for the average American. So where’s this going, exactly? Is the future Apple Condos? We hope not. Siri knows enough about us already.