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[flagged] The Last Apple Keynote (Hopefully) (nytimes.com)
26 points by thomasjudge 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments





What a bizarre article. This could have just as easily been written about Google or Samsung or any other smartphone manufacturer.

The reason Apple should cease keynotes, from what I can parse from the vague and scattershot article, is the following:

* The Frogger demo was weird and out-of-touch

* "It feels a little obscene to gather to worship a $1,000 phone"

* Apple execs tout that new iPads are made with 100% recycled aluminum, whereas Microsoft and Amazon employees are staging climate change walkouts

* The event seemed "eerily calm", like a "super chill birthday party" (what?)

* The keynotes used to just appeal to white, middle-aged men, but now they have more women and POC featured

* And, finally: "The company’s flagship product — the iPhone — no longer feels like a piece of the future dropped from into the hands of mere mortals. It feels like, well, a phone, a commodity. And so the whole thing seems gratuitous."

Such a strange article.


The article couldn’t have been written about Google or Samsung, because what the NYT is saying is that Apple keynotes, once considered capital-N News by the press and public, now have all the excitement of a Samsung press event. They ascribe this to a lack of innovation in the iPhone but I think it’s really just the lack of Steve Jobs. The iPhone releases have always been about speeds and camera quality — Steve Jobs just had the star power of an entertainment celebrity and got people interested in these releases in a way that is not sustainable in his absence. Now it’s back to “Mega Corporation releases new product lineup.”

I always found them to be funny BECAUSE all they showed off was speed and a new camera. Past the first iPhone release much of the technology was already in Android phones before Apple. The whole "but we perfect the technology" was such a BS answer that I never really cared to see how Apple now had multi-touch, or Biometrics, or whatever else last year's tech you're adding it and charging crazy prices for.

No phone really did Face ID or Touch ID right before iPhone, and multi-touch was basically nonexistent before Apple popularized it.

Perfecting Battery management and Privacy settings made iOS markedly better for normal person long term usage, something google didnt really resolve until Android 9.

Even if Android had features first, the overall OS was a drag on battery, and apps were an all or nothing allow. Even if those things dont matter to people as a flashy feature, they matter.

My point is, when you are building a foundation, having better windows doesnt make you better. An accomplishment doesnt count fully if you missed the scope of what you were supposed to achieve.


Multi touch from Apple was a big deal, heck, there was only one bad implementation of a capacitive screen phone when the iPhone came out.

I'd go beyond "bizarre" and "strange" and say that this article is just bad.

---

(From here, I'm responding to the article via your points. This is not directed at you.)

* The Frogger demo was weird and out-of-touch

I can't argue with this on its own, but it was like 2 minutes out of a 2-hour presentation. Get over yourself.

Also, it was being demoed by the company that made it, not Apple directly. Apple invited the company, and they chose to make this demo. (I'm sure Apple had input on the demo, but it's not like they'd say "No, don't show the primary mechanics of the game because it won't be exciting.")

* "It feels a little obscene to gather to worship a $1,000 phone"

So why did you go? Surely you knew this was the intent from the beginning.

* Apple execs tout that new iPads are made with 100% recycled aluminum, whereas Microsoft and Amazon employees are staging climate change walkouts

But that's the employees, not the companies. The employees of Microsoft and Amazon are walking out because their companies are doing almost nothing. While recycled aluminum isn't exactly a Holy Grail of environmental sustainability, it's certainly a positive step and something we should expect wherever we can get it, so it seems reasonable for Apple to highlight this.

Also, 100% of Apple's "offices, retail locations, and data centers run on 100% renewable energy", and they've reduced their carbon footprint by some 35% since 2015 [0]. It seems absurd to be upset at them over this, of all things.

[0] https://www.apple.com/environment/our-approach/

* The event seemed "eerily calm", like a "super chill birthday party" (what?)

Because it wasn't full of HYPE, they should cease doing keynotes in the future? If you're not into it... just don't go or watch. Wait for the tech specs to drop after the event. Not hard.

* The keynotes used to just appeal to white, middle-aged men, but now they have more women and POC featured

The horror!

* And, finally: "The company’s flagship product — the iPhone — no longer feels like a piece of the future dropped from into the hands of mere mortals. It feels like, well, a phone, a commodity. And so the whole thing seems gratuitous."

It's almost like — gasp! — it's not possible to create "pieces of the future" on a yearly basis.

---

Don't get me wrong: Apple is not without flaws. (For a recent example, see their handling of the whole Uyghur issue. That was awful.)

But these are such minor points that can easily be alleviated by the author of the article simply not going. If you're not into it, don't go! Apple can do whatever they want, and other people can pay attention (or not!) as they wish. But trying to say "Hey, I didn't your event so I think you should stop having it" is just dumb.


I strongly disagree with the premise of this article. First of all, Apple isn’t the only company doing keynotes–most tech companies have yearly presentations, and many are more cringy than Apple’s. Sure, there’s always some video game person who’s a bit too excited about the game they’re demoing, but that’s nothing new. Oh, and by the way, lumping in random current events (iPhone zero days, tech walkouts) doesn’t help the argument, it just seems like a reach for things to throw at Apple. And FWIW, Apple almost always has a couple of slides at the beginning that addresses the concerns brought about diversity and the environment; Tim Cook specifically mentioned that he’s skipping them this time. If you don’t like the keynote, don’t watch it: Apple isn’t always going to release a new iPhone, and just because this event was a bit more on the boring side doesn’t mean they should just stop doing them.

The Apple keynotes were created to present, and build hype around, something new. Some new product, or feature, or service, that would supposedly change the way an Apple user would interact with the world.

Of the announcements from this most recent keynote, what was new? The third camera on the iPhone? The update of the main series iPads to use the "Pro" look? A new screen in the Watch? A couple games and a tv show?

These keynotes stopped being relevant when Apple stopped producing anything keynote-worthy. They're just routine at this point.


Steve was also a lot more informal and relaxed. The current presenters just seem very "corporate excited" instead of actually enthusiastic about what they're working on.

Craig Federighi always seems genuinely excited, but he only details the software stuff so he wasn't on yesterday.

The keynotes are relevant to those of us interested in updates to the Apple product line. They were created to hype Apple products, and they continue to be used for this purpose. That some people are not entertained is easily solved by those people not watching them.

Another big change post-Jobs has been the increase in information coming out of Apple and its suppliers prior to these press events. It used to be that we'd have a few rumors, but not a lot substantiated. Now, almost everything was known before the event, or was easily predicted. There were a few details which may not have been released prior, but nothing of significance. The camera, known. The sizes, predicted. Even the idea of "Pro" iPhones was out before the event.

What was actually new that wasn't anticipated, predicted, or leaked for this event? I think the 10.2" iPad may have been an unanticipated announcement. At least, it was not something I'd seen in articles I'd read prior to the event.

None of this is bad, but it changes the dynamic and energy of the press event. Whereas before it was about anticipation and discovery of the new things coming out, now it's just confirmation and filling in details. It's not interesting anymore. Maybe it doesn't need to be interesting, most of these things aren't. It's certainly not hurting Apple's sales for it to be more boring (the event) so long as people still buy their hardware and services.


>> These keynotes stopped being relevant when Apple stopped producing anything keynote-worthy. They're just routine at this point.

When the majority of the iPhone X keynote was demonstrating the ability to animate emoji's with your voice, that was it for me.


The game executives noted in the beginning of the article don’t work for Apple. They’ve always had guests presenting games/apps. Some good...some bad.

I do miss the days of Apple Keynotes actually being a surprise. These days, everything is leaked weeks before.


The new always-on Apple Watch screen was a big surprise! But in general, yeah I agree. I wish we were surprised more.

Ming-chi Kuo single-handedly reveals most of the Apple hardware surprises in advance. I fail to understand why Apple can't limit the leaks to him.

The keynotes have been boring and almost a parody for a while now, and I'm not sure why anyone (including me) continues to _watch_ them.

But for Apple, they continue to be an amazing marketing platform. 1.5mm were watching the YouTube stream yesterday alone. Why would you ever cutoff that much free marketing?


I watch them because I feel like I get a better feel for new features, their usage, and their potential, from the way Apple presents them vs reading about them in the news afterwards.

For example, the new ultra wide lens. I know mentally what wide-angle lenses do, but I learned a lot from seeing the kinds of pictures they took, and the comparison between wide/normal/zoom. It was instructive to see how the Camera app uses the vertical letterboxes to show the extra content you would see if you switched to the ultra wide.

I probably will not get the Pro phone, and may keep my Xr for another year. But the ~6 hrs/yr of Apple keynotes are a very information-dense way to consume a year of Apple releases, even despite the fluffier parts and AR game demos.

Your question is like asking why people would ever watch a movie trailer for free - if there's something new that you want to learn about, watching promotional material is a good way to go about it.


Yes, I also hate it when Apple forces me to leave everything I am doing and watch their keynote. Only if I had the choice to not watch it.

Apple Keynotes were special because Steve Jobs was special, not because iPhones were. In a world where the top guys (Tim Cook, Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Satya Nadella) have the charisma of somewhere between a moldy shoe (Zuck) and a friendly PTA dad (Nadella), for all of his horridness Steve Jobs was a bona fide rockstar — a Picasso / Lennon / Madonna. They’re not making one of those again so Apple keynotes are now like any other corporate event, a sequence of boring people announcing marginally improved products. That’s not bad, it’s just life.

Parts of it just seemed half-baked.

"And now let's watch a video about how great this feature is"....with no explanation before, during, or after the video. Lights go down, lights go up. Applause. Repeat.


seems like the calm before the storm to me. Apple's next big thing is probably AR, and once we get to MVP on that tech every year will likely bring similar leaps akin to the early iPhone launches.

There's already AR on phones, and it's never really taken off. If you need comedy/expensive glasses for it it's always going to be a niche market comprised of people who don't think they look bad. AR is already here for audio (turn by turn directions) but I can't see it taking off visually outside of people such as gamers who are already using it.

I mostly agree with you. But Apple almost never invents new things. They just greatly improve existing things. There were smart watches before the Apple Watch. There were smartphones before the iPhone. There were MP3 players before the iPod.

Just because AR exists and isn't widely used today isn't really proof that there's no potential there.


> comprised of people who don't think they look bad

I quite like the look of the Magic Leap glasses. They've got a real wild 'retro spaceman' vibe. https://i.imgur.com/kA3UaNY.jpg


so says you, the same was said about cell phones when they were the size of a brick. predicting the future is hard.

I just can't believe that even the moderately level headed people can tolerate the monotonously repetitive assertions by the Apple team - 'The best ever!, 'The fastest ever!', 'It's gorgeous!', 'It's so impressive!', blah blah blah and applause that follows. Sometimes I'm scared that some of us have forgotten that we have a choice not to watch or applause at this grotesque display of self stroking speak that comes out from apple twice a year.

This article is deluded. Apple practically creates its own weather and rules the news cycle through these events. Because poor Charlie is bored is hardly a reason to give up on a formula that creates billions in sales.

Do you remember Craig Federighi imitating a chicken and a unicorn in 2017? I felt so stupid watching this event. The parody resumed everything: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4Xl4hPEV80

That Frogger demo was pretty cringey.

I think incremental updates are ok. No need to watch the stream if not interested!

This article actually only serves to demonstrate how ideologically-possessed and out of touch the New York Times has become. They’re basically yelling at Apple for not making their keynotes “political enough” (for values of “political” equal to “Progressive,” of course)



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