Yes, you’re reading yet another “here’s my take on Apple’s Spring Loaded event” blog post.
But I’m going to let you into a little secret: I had to force myself to write this one. And that’s because I’m becoming increasingly disinterested in what might be unveiled next week.
Yup – I’m struggling to get excited about this one, Tim. Sorry.
I’ve got a history of making unfair assumptions about Apple stuff, haven’t I?
So, why the lack of interest this time?
We’ve reached a plateau with Apple tech
The M1 chips launched last year were an absolute triumph. As noted in my recent four-month review of the brilliant M1 MacBook Air, Apple has completely changed the conversation and left Intel reeling.
Therefore, my lack of excitement isn’t aimed at the Mac – I’d like to clear that up immediately. I think we have an incredibly exciting time ahead in that regard, and I can’t wait to see what Apple does with the next iMac, MacBook Pro and that beast of a Mac Pro.
As for everything else in their product lineup, I’ve already explained why I think we’ve reached peak smartphone with the iPhone, but I believe the same can be said of the iPad and AirPods.
I should probably confirm that I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this. I certainly don’t have one. Apple is a victim of its own success – particularly when it comes to the iPhone; everyone wants “the next big thing”.
The problem? That doesn’t exist. Products like the iPhone crop up once every century, which means we have to make do with smaller iterations to existing innovations in between. That’s why Apple’s announcements – M1 aside – are often met with so much disappointment on behalf of die-hard, ardent fans.
They never quite deliver on the promises of the rumour mill, do they?
This isn’t necessarily an issue, but it does mean that they have to work awfully hard to get people like me excited about their events.
So, here’s my take on what we might see next Tuesday.
New iPads Pro
First things first: I love the iPad. I was one of the first at the gate when the original version launched in 2010.
Everyone poked fun at me. “What are you doing with that massive iPhone?” they chortled.
Now look at them, spending hundreds of their earnings on their own giant slabs of glass and silicone.
The problem with the iPad is that it is too good. My 2018 iPad Pro has recently been brought back to life thanks to nothing more than a £15 stand, but its resurrection has also reminded me of how capable these devices are.
They have so much headroom, performance-wise; they’re so well made; the batteries don’t appear to degrade much at all; the screens – despite ‘only’ being of the LCD variety – are beautiful.
Even the Apple Pencil is genuinely useful, and the 2nd generation was a masterpiece.
The problem is that iPads remain great tablets for much longer than anything else on the market. It’s why sales have struggled to grow consistently and why your dad still loves his iPad 3 (you know, the terrible one).
So, where does Apple take the iPad from here? Add a LiDAR sensor no one will use? Upgrade the camera despite the fact so few iPad owners even open the camera app? Add some new display technology that regular consumers (the vast majority of the iPad’s user base) won’t even know exists?
I love being proved wrong. And there’s a tiny bit of hope that we’ll see some kind of Apple Pencil redesign if the Spring Loaded event artwork is anything to go by.
But even that’s scraping the barrel, isn’t it?
Throw into the mix the fact that the iPad Air is a better tablet than the iPad Pro, and I’m struggling to see where we go from here.
Sorry, Apple, you made the iPad far too brilliant to make future iterations worth getting excited about.
New iPad mini
I won’t labour the point with this, because I’ve written about it recently.
But, until last week, I was genuinely excited about an iPad mini redesign eventually hitting the shelves.
However, if Sonny Dickson’s leaked photo is to be believed, we’re not getting that at all. We’re simply getting the same, ageing iPad mini design albeit with new internals.
I think this is such a missed opportunity, but potentially indicative of Apple’s desire not to cannibalise sales of the brilliant iPad Air.
Gen 3 AirPods
AirPods are superb headphones. AirPods Pro are even better. AirPods Max are stupidly expensive, but an absolute joy if you have the cash.
But even the standard AirPods are not cheap and there are some genuinely interesting and, in some cases, better performing, alternatives out there as I’ve discovered during recent testing.
When it comes to recent Apple innovation, I’d place AirPods alongside the M1 chip. They’ve changed the headphone game, big time. I just wish they were more accessible to a larger audience.
So, if we indeed receive an update to the ‘base level’ AirPods next week, I hope that pushes the price of the first and second generation down even further. That’s all we need to see, thanks, Tim – and a press release will suffice.
Something isn’t quite right with AirTags.
I don’t think it’s the hardware (although I’m sure they’ve been tricky to get right) – I think it’s far more likely the story behind them.
Apple understandably loves painting a very clear picture of why a product exists. And AirTags need that perhaps more than any other product they currently sell.
These are tracking devices. You know, the sort of tech we’ve seen in movies, where secret agents attach little beacons to the inside of car wheel arches to track down the baddies.
…or the devices used by criminals to track down and murder their prey.
See what I mean? The AirTags story has got to be tight.
But even if it is (which it will be – Apple really can’t afford any nasty privacy headlines given their stance on the matter), I’m not sure how AirTags will fit into my life.
I joked on a recent podcast appearance (due next week) that I could only think of two uses for AirTags. The first would be for my dog to discover where he goes when he completely and inexplicably vanishes within the house. The second was a desire for AirTags to be waterproof, thus enabling me to place one in my beer to ensure I pick up the right pint when I return to a busy bar.
Alas, I’ve survived this long without pooch or pint tracking of that kind.
Someone needs to explain why I should get excited about this right now.
To me, AR tech feels miles away. In order for it to reach mass-market consumption, it needs to be completely invisible, bar any branding or design flourishes that make it desirable.
Until someone can convince me that AR glasses from Apple will look just like regular glasses, I remain of the mind that this is far-future tech. Still.
And don’t get me started on VR headsets. I appreciate why some people like to strap what is essentially 90s tech around their faces, but something of that nature just doesn’t appear to sit anywhere comfortably within Apple’s product line up.
Now we’re talking.
Only, I don’t think we’re going to see these, or, indeed any Mac next week.
So, keep dreaming. They’ll more likely arrive post WWDC, in my book.
Agree? Disagree? Get involved!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since writing my semi-infamous Apple TV article, it’s that it’s absolutely ok to think differently about Apple.
It’s certainly ok to think differently to me. I love Apple’s products, but beyond that M1 chip, I have a sneaking suspicion that they’re losing their way a little. The product lineup is becoming bloated, confusing and new innovations appear to be relatively thin on the ground.
What do you think? Get involved in the comments.