Apple opened with a showcase of everything already offered, including a number of hit Academy Award-winning films. The streaming wars are in full swing now, with every major tech company and media conglomerate going after as large of a share of the market as possible, swinging like wannabe MMA fighters in a vat of Cool-Aid. Apple didn’t offer the strongest lineup of new TV series, with expensive pieces like Foundation falling relatively flat, but there’s no doubt that they’re in a perfect position to deliver new art to the masses through their platform. A few of the films they highlighted from the last two years, like Swan Song, The Tragedy of Macbeth, and CODA, were all major hits with critics and audiences alike. But some of their upcoming releases seem pretty fun as well, like the Oprah-produced Luck starring Whoopi Goldberg, and Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's Killers of the Flower Moon.
Apple also unveiled a special Friday Night Baseball experience that will be exclusive to Apple TV+, bringing sports into the streaming wars in a new and honestly quite brilliant way. Hopefully, we see the unions win their battle quickly so sports fans can go on enjoying the greatest of American sports sensations.
Apple highlighted their powerful iPhone 13, with their Super Retina XDR Displays featuring True Tone technology. The iPhone 13 does take smartphone technology to a new height with both the internal hardware and the incredible IP68 water resistance (which, honestly, should be an industry standard).
What’s new for the iPhone 13 isn’t based on tech, however, but on style. Soon, customers will be able to purchase a new color of iPhone 13: green for the basic iPhone 13 and “alpine green” for the iPhone 13 Pro.
The 2020 Phone SE needed a bit of an upgrade, what with the rapid evolution of new tech and the rollout of 5G. To accomplish this, Apple unveiled what they’re calling their “budget” iPhone, featuring both 5G capabilities and Apple’s latest A15 processor, which has been engineered for increased performance and security.
There’s not a whole lot else about the design that’s different from the 2020 model, though the significant price bump of $429 (up from $399 in 2020). It’s a smaller phone with more basic overall features, but if it’s been a few years since you upgraded this isn’t a bad option with the new A15 chip certain to provide a boost.
Note, the iPhone SE only gives you IP67 water and dust resistance, making it less durable than the new iPhone 13 models. This, combined with some weird feature limitations (no night mode?) might make the SE a less-desirable phone than some Android models out there, especially considering the price bump. Honestly, if I were looking to grab a new iPhone this year, I’d just go with the iPhone 13 mini and get way more bang for my buck.
An interesting point about the iPhone SE presentation was Apple’s highlighting of their use of recycled materials. I felt like they glossed over this pretty quickly, which is unfortunate given recent estimates of serious climate change problems, but given Apple’s difficulties with recycling and environmentally-sound practices in the past, it’s nice to see even lip-service being paid toward this issue.
Apple’s iPad Air has always been a good option for those who wanted the iPad experience at less than half the weight, but the new model offers users something closer to the experience that users have been hoping for. This is accomplished through the addition of Apple’s new M1 8core CPU. That’s actually a huge deal, since the M1 chip really is a breakthrough in technology, offering better performance for less.
Apple’s clearly trying to highlight mobile gaming with these devices, since, historically, Windows has dominated that market. Before the M1, however, those claims felt a bit lame. Now, while Apple might not be up to Windows in terms of gaming capability, it certainly has an edge in terms of mobile gaming.
Other features, like better connectivity, new peripherals, and an enhanced camera design. IPadOS 15 has some nifty new features, too, offering new apps and a new way for users to create their own apps from directly within the iPad itself.
The M1 had some difficulties upon release, but there’s no doubt that Apple’s new in-house processor is undoubtedly a hit. It’s got great performance, solid security, and excellent power efficiency. Before the release of the M1, new generations of Apple products didn’t offer much that was groundbreaking. Since Apple’s main business model relies on people upgrading their hardware, they really needed to change this, and the M1 is their key to a new generation of success.
“We’ve transitioned nearly every product in the Mac lineup to Apple Silicon.” - Tim Cook
But the M1 Ultra inside Apple’s new Mac Studio takes things even farther, offering users an extreme performance and showcasing Apple’s lead on industry innovation. They developed a new type of chip architecture that allows them to connect two of their most powerful M1 chips together without adding to the latency or power draw of the system.
This chip offers some serious benefits, so much so that they claim their new Mac Studio featuring this chip (MSRP $3,999) is actually **at least 60% faster than their 2019 $50,000 Mac Pro. That’s quite the game-changer.
Apple isn’t leaving their lineup without a new take on a specialized display. The new Studio Display is intended as Apple’s companion to the new Mac Studio, offering 14.7-million pixel 27-inch screen. Forget 4k, this is a brilliant 5k screen capable of providing unparalleled color ranges. It even comes with an integrated A13 integrated chip, powerful camera, advanced mic array, 6-speaker sound system, and (for the first time ever) Apple’s Center Stage technology for grater immersion during web calls.
“One more product to go: Mac Pro. But that’s for another day.” - John Ternus
This one’s a total tease, but promises something exceedingly exciting for those hoping for a new Mac Pro option in 2022. Apple’s head of hardware, John Ternus wouldn’t go into details, so it seems like we’ll have to wait until later in the year for more information on this. The Mac Pro is the last remaining device in Apple’s lineup that features an Intel chipset.
There were a lot of non-reveals, including a lack of information about Apple’s new M2 chip, and no new information on MacBook Pro or MacBook Air (and some industry analysts believe this means that the 2022 models won’t come with the M2 at all, but will retain the M1 chip design).
Nor was there any hint of Apple’s rumored AR/VR headset, something that could shake up the market and knock Meta/Facebook off its Oculus-claimed pedestal.
Apple’s poised to enter a new field, with their Apple Silicon hardware leading the way. Apple’s positioning itself at the front of the high-end technology market more so than ever, promising everything from top-notch hardware and software to a renewed commitment to user privacy and security. What happens between now and the end of the year could show us whether they can cement their current lead.