Let’s Talk iPhone: The Good The Bad, and the Meh
As with all big Apple events, I once again find people turning to me for my opinion on the announcements from Apple’s Let’s Talk iPhone Event. Honestly I can’t blame them, as my opinion is often the only correct one when it comes to such things. I seem to have the uncanny ability to cut through the hype with laser beam-like precision, and somehow categorize the day’s events into one of three categories: Good, Bad, and Meh. Here’s how the Let’s Talk iPhone Event broke down:
iPhone 4S: Well, newer is always better, and today we got a new iPhone. Obviously the A5 processor should make an “iPad 2-like” difference in graphics-heavy games, which is a funny thing to think about when you look back 4 years and realize how crazy the idea of worrying about how much dedicated graphics RAM your phone would have sounded. Now, usually I take the “meh, so what?” point of view when it comes to gaming on the iPhone, as I find that while I spend about 23 hours a day gaming on the thing, the games I play are usually the Words/Hanging with Friends, Tiny Tower, DragonVale variety which aren’t overly taxing (although I HAVE noticed quite a slow down on my iPhone 4 on Tiny Tower and DragonVale as you get into the post-floor100 and level 18 respectively). The idea of playing a FPS or fighting game on my iPhone, no matter how pretty, seems unattractive to me as I think some games just don’t lend themselves to touch screen controls, especially when your fingers and buttons cover half the action. So yes, I suppose ultimately a speedier iPhone will always be a good thing, but iPhone developers are insatiable creatures who can never be fed enough RAM and Processing cycles. Games, even seemingly simple ones, will gradually start taxing even the A5’s power. The real danger here is that as we get more and more speed and power, some developers might get sloppier about optimizing their code to keep it from getting bloated and hogging resources, making it unplayable on NON-iPhone 4S iPhones. Hopefully this doesn’t happen until after next April when I get my new iPhone 5 (?).
iPhone finally gets 64 GB of storage! This has been a thorn in my side since the iPhone 3G, and the fact that Apple held on to this bargaining chip for so long means they looked ahead on their iPhone roadmap and knew they’d need to pull this one out down the road to help make the 4S a more enticing upgrade. While I always thought I would buy any iPhone with 64 GB sight unseen, now that I’ve seen it, I’m sorry to say it’s just not enough. But still, this is a welcome addition. Hopefully we don’t have to wait until the iPhone 6 to see 128 GB.
iPod nano: With a slightly redesigned UI, a price drop, plus a built-in Mickey Mouse watch, how can this be bad? Well, I suppose it’s bad when you compare it to the OLD iPod nano (with a video camera) but if you’re resigned to this being the future (or at least, “present”) of the iPod nano’s design, this small update seems like a smart one, albeit mainly software based. Hmm… actually, now that I think about it, they might not have updated it at all… stay tuned and see if they release a software update for the current ones.
We got a 4S, not an iPhone5. Yes, better Camera, more storage, and a faster processor are all nice upgrades, but from even 2 inches away it’s an iPhone 4. I’m not knocking the upgrade, and if you have a 3GS or (shudder) an iPhone 3, then by all means, run out and get your spot in line NOW. But given how obsessed I am with new Apple tech, if I am able to convince myself that I don’t NEED to get a new piece of Apple hardware, then Apple has done something wrong. This is not to say if Apple crammed everything in the 4S into a new body I’d be standing in line either (although admittedly, it would help). I have bought each and every iPhone model (2 of each, actually) since the original launched, but I think I can finally skip one. I’m not sure what it is that the iPhone 5 would need to make it a must have upgrade from the 4, but the 4S doesn’t have it. Of course, maybe when iOS 5 hits and slows things down on my 4, I will feel the need to jump to the 4S.
Assitant/Siri: Judging from every person on the planet around me, I am likely going to be in the minority here, but I don’t think I care about Siri (Apple’s new “spoken assitant” for the iPhone 4S), and the amount of attention it got today sort of adds a bit of extra “meh” to the event. I realize everyone else on the planet seems to have no problem with everyone knowing their business, but quite frankly, I do not want to “speak” to launch apps, reply to an email, or navigate my iPhone. And as for iPhone use in the car, well, we’ve long established that I have no friends and therefore never get phone calls in the car, and I listen mainly to podcasts while driving these days, so I rarely need to switch tracks and such. I suppose this is really geared towards the high powered super busy handsome man I see in movies, often played by Bradley Cooper or Ryan Gosling, driving his expensive black car in his expensive suit as he travels from supermodel to meeting to a different supermodel, making and changing appointments as he recklessless changes lanes, finally pulling an e-brake skid into his parking spot. I’m sure I will find SOME use down the road for Siri and eventually wonder how I ever got along without it, but since it only runs on the 4S anyway, odds are I won’t discover that use until the iPhone 5 comes out.
iPod touch: Now in black and white, and also slightly cheaper. The new iPod touch doesn’t actually seem all that new – basically a color change – as the camera and processor and storage all seem to be the same as last year’s model. I guess all those cool new gaming features shown off today will not be appearing on what Apple calls “The World’s Number 1 game system”, as they forgot to include an A5 chip in the “new” iPod touch. Well on the bright side, at least I don’t need to buy the kids a new one this Christmas!
Siri technology doesn’t appear to provide spoken turn by turn directions for Maps. Oh well. I have so many 3rd party GPS apps now that this doesn’t kill me, but SIRIously, Apple, how can you not have addressed native TBT directions on the world’s most advanced phone by now?
Nothing Amazing/No One More Thing: The only other bad thing about today’s event (besides no Steve and no live stream so we could judge Tim Cook’s presentation skills instantly) is that there wasn’t anything AMAZING announced today. One could argue that for Tim’s first solo act (a solo act where Phil seemed to do most of the talking) Apple should have tried to pull out a “One More Thing” to show us that a change of leadership hasn’t changed the company’s core love of showmanship. Still, the 4S is a very nice piece of tech, and a solid upgrade for those iPhone 3G/3G S users who were able to hold out and resist the iPhone 4. But as an iPhone4 user, I don’t feel quite the need to upgrade as I did for the 3G to 3G S bump.
Now, that’s not to say accidents don’t happen, and my iPhone 4 could very well get dropped in a toilet or backed over in the driveway requiring a replacement… stranger things have happened.