Apple’s unveiling of its Watch yesterday went off pretty much as expected but a few other announcements gave the “Spring Forward” event some of the pizzazz we love to expect from these extravaganzas in stagecraft and hype.
The Watch, which we got a peek at last fall, is clearly a concept in progress. “Should you really spend hundreds of dollars, let alone thousands, on a gadget to free you from the inconvenience of accessing your $650 smartphone?” asks Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times. “That remains the deepest unanswered question about the Apple Watch. For now, at least.”
Still, there’s all that promise ….
“Like most Americans, I watched the news about the soon-to-be-released Apple Watch and thought, ‘What an incredibly unnecessary, ridiculous concept. I'll take eight of them — one for each day of the week and three for on weekends,’” writes Rex W. Huppke in the Chicago Tribune. “That's what happens when there's an Apple event. We want more of what we don't necessarily need.”
The Watch itself is in need of a “killer app,” according to a hed in the Wall Street Journal, but Daisuke Wakabayashi’s story tells us that it may not matter. “There’s not a single killer app. It’s a collection of experiences to create a device that I think people will buy,” Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy, tells Wakabayashi and Rolfe Winkler.
Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey observes that “competing smartwatch makers have to be breathing a sigh of relief” that there aren’t any breakthrough features they can’t replicate. “Yet, Apple will outsell all the rest of them combined in 2015.”
The oohs and aahs came out, however, for a new device that carries a full keyboard and screen and bears a passing resemblance to the portable computational devices we grew up with.
“Maybe it’s because we’ve already seen the Apple Watch and knew a lot about it going in, but I thought the MacBook was the more exciting product announcement of the day,” writes Re/code’s Bonnie Cha. “It’s the start of a new family of laptops for the company,” she reports.
The two-pound, 12-inch device with Retina display “is “absurdly thin and light, and it strips out pretty much everything that’s not a screen, trackpad or keyboard,” write Adi Robertson, Josh Dzieza and Lizzie Plaugic on The Verge. It starts at $1,299 for 8 gigs of RAM with a 256 GB SSD. The only jacks are for a headphone and a new USB Type-C connector.
“For a company that seemed to write off the importance of traditional personal computers a few years back, there was something supremely poetic about the fact that at the first Apple event of 2015, more people walked away talking about wanting a new notebook than they did a new watch,” opines Bob O’Donnell on Techpinions. “Yes, the new MacBook was the star of the occasion, and even Apple itself seemed to know this based on how much time was spent describing every aspect of it in great detail.”
Including the hardware.
“In every way, this is a thing of beauty; it’s no wonder Apple spent so much time talking about the engineering behind it,” writes David Pierce for Wired, saying that it “feels like an entirely different category of not-there-ness” but that the Retina display is “the most important upgrade this device offers”
HBO, meanwhile, took the occasion to announce that the standalone streaming service it first announced in October, HBO Now, would be exclusively available on Apple devices. It will launch next month and cost $14.99 — the same amount that most cable companies change. Apple TV is one of those devices and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the price would drop from $99 to $69 —“ a move that should help it compete with Roku’s lineup and Amazon’s Fire TV devices,” writesTime’s Alex Fitzpatrick.
“One of the more ‘boring’ Apple announcements was related to a brand-new tool for developers called ResearchKit that’s actually more potentially important than any laptop or smartwatch," writes Chris Smith on BGR. It is an open-source software framework that’s “tailored toward doctors who are looking into certain diseases and who are interested in performing all sorts of tests and trials on patients to discover new treatments and remedies.”
ResearchKit utilizes apps that run on the iPhone to gather the data, of course, and “it wouldn’t be surprising to soon see certain doctors recommend iPhone and Apple Watch devices to their patients as overall wellness trackers,” Smith observes.
If you’re really into these things, you can watch the entire 90-plus minutes worth of yesterday’s event here. It’s not coincidental that it opens with a video of giddy Apple customers — toddlers to seniors — at the newest flagship Apple Retail Store. It is in West Lake, China.