Brief Thoughts Before Apple’s Wonderlust Event
Later today, the world will be introduced to Apple’s latest and greatest. If Apple follows its longstanding routines, new iPhone models, regular and Pro, will be unveiled alongside updated Apple Watches.
If I’m honest, I’m a bit underwhelmed by the rumors and leaks, but I’ll be happy if proven wrong and Tim Cook and Co show off something that really rocks my world. But seeing as they just took the wraps off Vision Pro, which did rock my socks, I can give them a pass if the rest of the year’s announcements are more benign.
Anyway, here’s what I’m feeling at the moment about the anticipated product releases.
- Titanium finish for Pro models. Titanium seems to be the new stainless steel, and I’m all for the durability paired with lighter weight. I’m not sure it’ll be the jaw-dropping weight savings that some think it will be, but any dropped grams are okay by me.
- Dynamic Island coming to all models. It was such a cool introduction last year, that it’s one of the few features that I lust after while I cling to my 13 mini. I hope it being on more models will help with it becoming more useful with more apps.
- Better battery life. I’m really waiting for that next leap in electron storage technology to make a meaningful difference in day-to-day battery life. But in the tick-tock cycle we seem to have picked up in great battery life then okay battery life, this should be a “tock” (better battery life) year. That’s never a bad thing.
- Action button. Although I’ll be a little sad to see the mute switch go, it makes so much sense to turn it into a user-programmable button. Nearly everyone just sets and forgets their ring/silence preference, so the “switching” nature of the mute switch is probably hardly ever used. And for those who do regularly turn their phone’s ringer on and off, I imagine that software and haptics will make doing that with the Action button just as easy. But for the rest of us, we just might finally get that dedicated hardware camera button, flashlight, app launcher, or shortcut starter we’ve always wanted. I just hope it’s faster than the Action button on the Apple Watch Ultra, which is so criminally slow to launch a shortcut that I only begrudgingly use it.
- USB-C all the things. Lightning has had a great run and lasted the decade that Phil Schiller told us it would. I didn’t begrudge the port change then, and I don’t begrudge it now. I do think that every iPhone should get bumped to at least USB 3.0 speeds though. USB 2.0 just feels cruelly slow for a premium product like an iPhone in 2023. Most of all, though, I hope that they’ll use the opportunity to update the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID with USB-C as well, and release it in a black and silver color option.
- Periscope lens for the Pro Max. After several failed attempts, I’ve come to accept that I just don’t have enough interest to pursue becoming a discerning mobile photographer. I’m, at best, a point-and-shoot kind of person. And while a longer lens would certainly open up more options in those quick and dirty shots I take, I just can’t get myself excited for the ever-diminishing returns in smartphone camera improvements. And certainly not if it only comes to the largest of iPhones.
- Pro Max vs. Ultra. Speaking of large phones, until recently, it seemed that the “Ultra” moniker was going to replace “Pro Max” for the largest iPhone Pro. I was on board with the change, especially since it’s been rumored there would be a real feature difference between the regular-sized Pro phone, and the big boy. Now it seems “Pro Max” will be sticking around. I’ve never liked that name, and think “Ultra” would be more clear.
- No mini-sized phone. It’s the best one. A couple of years ago, I had hoped that Apple would switch back and forth from having a smaller then a bigger version of their regular phone available. A mini year, then a Plus year. No signs pointed toward that trend, but still, I held out hope. Despite supposedly weak sales of the iPhone 14 Plus, I guess I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed for a two-year back and forth. They did offer the mini for two years before switching to the Plus after all…
- Chip updates. It’s been far too long since we’ve seen a performance leap in the system-on-a-chip in the Apple Watch. And while most people don’t seem to crave a faster watch, we shouldn’t forget that the S-series chip has also gone into other products like the HomePod. I want the HomePod’s software to stay relevant for as long as possible since their audio quality should continue to be top-notch. Plus, with faster chips usually comes better battery life — always a welcome thing for a watch — and I’ll take any performance boost to that brute forces running shortcuts faster.
- Anything else? I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with anything else to say about the Apple Watch. New colors? Sure. Different band options? Great. Action button on the regular Series models? Okay, but that would dilute the Ultra’s differentiation. But we haven’t heard any whispers about new sensors, screen sizes, or anything else of note this year. It might be a sleeper year for the Watch lineup.
- Event day in general. This is only the second Apple event of 2023, which is a bit of an outlier. Can you believe that the only one since 2022’s iPhone event was WWDC23 in June? It’s a great year when we have an Apple Event to look forward to in each season. So to be “back” at Apple Park for anything is exciting.
- Bye-bye leather. I’m good with Apple replacing their leather accessories with something more progressive. I know some people swear by their leather cases, but I’ve never used one and I’m confident Apple will have developed a worthy replacement. Their textile game is so good. And “FineWoven” is a cool name.
- Pre-recorded events. Okay, I’ll concede that the polished videos are slick, fun to watch, and pack more in than a live presentation ever could. And pre-2020 keynotes now look a little dated and dark compared to the brightly lit scenes from around Apple Park of their modern event videos. But it’s a bit awkward to invite all the press to come watch a movie together in the Steve Jobs Theater, and I do miss the electric atmosphere of in-person presentations on event day, knowing that it was all happening live.
At this point, I’m not planning on purchasing anything rumored to be announced tomorrow — gotta save those pennies for the Vision Pro.