Every Apple event brings out polarizing opinions. This one was no exception.
At yesterday's conference in San Francisco, the technology behemoth unveiled a larger, more powerful iPad, a new version of Apple TV (with its own App store, a nifty new remote, and support for gaming), and the biggest upgrade to the iPhone in recent memory.
And, of course, people can't stop talking about that stylus.
That's right. Apple's new product, known as "Pencil," seems to go against a fundamental Steve Jobs dogma. Remember his words back in 2007, upon release of the first iPhone?
Who wants a stylus? You have to get 'em and put 'em away, and you lose 'em... Yuch. Nobody wants a stylus.
But make no mistake: Steve Jobs would have loved this stylus. In fact, he would have loved the entire event yesterday. This is the closest Apple has come to matching the extraordinary vision of the famous founder since his unfortunate passing four years ago.
Here is why yesterday's event is the best thing to happen to Apple in years.
1. Apple Watch's new OS and the iPad Pro will change the world as we know it.
Until now, the Apple watch, and even the iPad, have been luxury items. They're nice to have and bring along some great extras, but their value has lacked depth.
That all changed yesterday.
WatchOS 2, Apple Watch's new operating system, is capable of running extremely advanced applications. These tools show a peek at medical innovation we've never seen. Think, ability for doctors to monitor patients' information, regardless of their location.
Dr. Cameron Powell, an obstetrician who quit practicing in 2008 to focus on the development of a new app known as AirStrip, demonstrated how medical professionals can monitor heart rate (and other vital signs) of an expectant mother and her unborn child using Apple Watch--all while the mother is sitting comfortable at home.
How about the iPad Pro? It has a bigger screen and sports some interesting new features, like a four-speaker audio system and a new super HD display.
But the real innovation lies in the iPad Pro's power. It has the potential to greatly enhance productivity and training across various industries. For example, it gives teachers and students the ability to communicate and learn in ways we've seen only in sci-fi movies.
Take a look:
Does any of this sound familiar?
Way back in 1985, when Steve Jobs left Apple and began a new startup by the name of NeXT, his goal was to revolutionize the education industry.
Note what he said in this interview, filmed 30 years ago:
So, what our vision is is that there's a revolution in software going on now ... and it has to do with providing two types of breakthrough software. One is called simulated learning environments. It's where ... you can't give a student in physics a linear accelerator. You can't give a student in biology a five million-dollar recombinant DNA laboratory. But you can simulate those things. You can simulate them on a very powerful computer. And it is not possible for students to afford these things. It is not possible for most faculty members to afford these things. So if we can take what we do best, which is to find really great technology and pull it down to a price point that's affordable to people ... I think we can make a real difference in the way the learning experience happens.
The iPad Pro just may bring Jobs's vision to fruition.
And now for that Apple Pencil. This morning we read headlines like "The Stylus Steve Jobs Warned Us About" and "Here's Why Apple Made the Stylus That Steve Jobs Hated".
But nothing could be further from the truth. Steve Jobs hated the idea of a stylus for a 3.5 inch phone. But the world has changed. And it has never seen a stylus quite like this one.
"When you're using the Pencil," says Apple chief design officer Jony Ive, "the system scans twice as often, allowing iPad Pro to capture more points in a single stroke. Highly responsive sensors built into the tip of Apple Pencil work with the iPad Pro display to detect position, force, and tilt."
The result? The ability to produce light, dark, thin, and broad strokes. In the words of Ive: "It has a responsiveness that feels like a true writing or drawing instrument."
Take a look for yourself:
If Apple Pencil lives up to the hype, it will be the sought-after tool for artists and designers everywhere.
If you don't think Steve Jobs would have loved these products, then you don't get Steve Jobs.
2. Tim Cook shipped just in time.
Famous entrepreneur and ex-Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki once related one of the key lessons he learned from working with Steve Jobs:
"Real entrepreneurs ship."
The first version of an innovative product is never the best one. It may be revolutionary, but it will have weaknesses (think iPhone 1 versus future models, or the first iPad versus current models). But if you let that hold you back from going to market, you'll be waiting forever. The window of opportunity will pass you by.
With the new and improved Apple TV, Tim Cook waited almost too long. The features are nice, but it looks like Microsoft has already done a lot of this with the Xbox. And the video games Apple chose to demonstrate look, well, ancient. Crossy Road, a popular game that has been available on iOS for almost a year, looks like a glorified version of Frogger.
But now was the time to move. Apple's been working on (and the public's been waiting for) an update to Apple TV for years. People already love games like Crossy Road,and Apple is now making it possible to play them, together with your friends (who have Apple devices, of course), on the TV screen.
Cook couldn't wait for things to be perfect, and he didn't. He shipped.
Or how about the partnership with Major League Baseball? Now you can watch a baseball game live, and get instant data regarding the pitcher, the batter, or anyone else on the team--right on the TV without interrupting the game.
As Cook says confidently, "The future of TV is apps." He's right. It's increasingly how people watch TV, and by announcing collaborations with Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and Showtime, and by entering the video game space full force, Apple is taking advantage of current trends and bringing all the worlds of entertainment together.
In doing so, it's paving the way for the future.
3. Jobs would have loved the new iPhone.
Steve Jobs was all about jumping curves. True innovation requires doing things, not 10 percent better, but 10 times better. That's why recent Apple events have been somewhat disappointing. They've missed the "revolutionary" and "innovative" feel that carried Apple for so long.
Yesterday's iPhone release was different. Sure, there were the normal improvements in speed and camera performance. And the new photography feature known as "Live Photos" is interesting: Whenever you take a photo, your iPhone camera records a second-and-a-half video before and after the actual picture. Many will see it as a novelty, but at the very least we've got brilliant marketing here: Photos are a snapshot of a moment in time, so why not extend that moment with an extra few seconds?
But here is the new feature that really takes us to the next level: 3-D touch.
3-D touch utilizes a pressure-sensitive screen that allows you to perform different actions depending on how hard you press. For example, press lightly to preview an email or a message (while not yet marking it as "read" if you want to delve into the details later). If you decide you want to deal with it now, press harder and open up the message.
Here it is in action:
By producing a technology that saves time, increases productivity, and makes life easier, Apple has introduced a new standard. Again.
We can just imagine Jobs up there on stage doing the demo, speaking to himself, with millions of people watching: "Man, this is cool."
Don't get me wrong: None of yesterday's presenters came close to matching Steve's passion, style, or enthusiasm. And if Jobs had been sitting in the audience, his critical side would have surely came out, with loads of suggestions for improvement.
But Steve Jobs would also have been extremely proud of yesterday's event. Simply for one fact:
Apple is finally moving in the right direction again.