With the Spring Forward event yesterday, Apple took to the stage early this year, giving us a look into the new technology and updated models they would debut in coming months. There were loads of confirmations and definitely more than a few surprises, leaving many with more questions than before, including myself. But after much deliberation, it stands to reason that Apple did in fact “spring forward”, showcasing how to breathe new life into some of their more established product lines and giving a glimpse of where the future of computing is headed.
It was no secret that Apple was going to showoff its new Watch, giving new information on how it’s made, how it performs, and most importantly, how much it will cost. What disappointed many is that last question, with prices and bands being far higher than expected. While the price is certainly a point of contention, I believe the ends justifies the means. There is so much engineering in such a small package. Cases are precision melted, modeled and formed with bands given just as much consideration. New technologies, iPod-comparible power and all day battery life in a form factor the size of your wrist is feat onto itself. It’s a massive undertaking and Apple has achieved so much that its competitors have only dreamed of. What does bother me is the undeniable benefits it can provide that are being held back behind a premium price point. The quick communications, health regimes and notifications are something everyone would benefit from, but many won’t be able to make that plunge until they drop the price. I understand that it is the pitfall of the first product, which is why I am optimistic. The Apple Watch in its current state feels like a first generation iPad. It will grow as time progresses and become commonplace eventually. After all, the event was named Spring Forward for a reason.
The most surprising reveal was the addition of a new notebook to Apple’s line up in the form of the MacBook. Not a new Air, nor Pro, but simply MacBook. It seems odd to introduce something even more light-weight and thinner than the current Air, and yet less powerful and more expensive. But when you peel back the layer of this product and examine the individual parts, the total package makes sense.
The new MacBook is meant for the non-power user, the person who needs to travel light, take notes quickly and work all day. Think of the needs of a college student, journalist or blogger. This fits them perfectly. The new processor is totally focused on power efficiency, sacrificing raw power for performance. The batteries are layered to allow full spacial use of the unibody enclosure. The screen is still gorgeous, displaying Retina qualities without the need for huge graphical power or fans. The keyboard and its mechanisms are redesigned to take up less room in all directions. And the new Trackpad is the logical evolution of input devices. Combine this working style with the ever-growing wireless world and new USB standards and it makes sense to lose the ports. Everything in that setting can be done wirelessly, often easier than ever before. Plus, adding new forms of tech provides a cultural awareness of that demographic; the groups that want the newest, sleekest and minimalist. This whole idea matches the concept of spring forward, by providing a device already prepared for the future.
What is really exciting is what these new advances mean for the rest of the Mac line up. Slimmer, form-fitting batteries can provide the MacBook Air with even better battery life, while allowing for Retina screens to enter the mix. Force Touch trackpads give the already superb trackpad more functionality, and the haptic feedback can provide new UI and Accessibility opportunities. Perhaps the most exciting is the dawn of the new USB-C port. This new standard gives way to a whole new plethora of opportunities, by trimming down all existing ports, easier, referable design, provide faster charging and possibly even slimming down the already wafer thin unibodies. Some speculate that Thunderbolt and MiniDisplay will eventually follow the path of FireWire, which remains to be seen. Even the iOS devices may see a benefit from USB-C with faster charging cables or ditching the Lightning port all together. Again, this is all speculation, but this spring forward gives major insight to the eventual future of Apple and its products.
Apple’s other announcements are nothing to snuff at either. The cheaper Apple TV and HBO partnership is a one-two punch to the television market, and adds even more pressure for many to officially cut the cable cord. The new medical research commitment is an absolutely fantastic and crucial tool to the future of medicine. Making it open-source is welcome change from the usual closed Apple ecosystem, too. It establishes Apple as being truly aware and committed to the overall wellbeing of everyone, not just their customers.
As with the seasons, we find that spring is only the beginning of a what is to become a beautiful year. I find that Apple is taking the same inspiration and will provide us with what will be nothing short of a glorious summer.