Gadgets

5 Things Steve Jobs Would Have Hated September’s Apple Event

ShortList.com's tech editor David Cornish gives his thoughts on the Apple event

The veil has been lifted, the tweets have been sent and Apple is riding high on a wave of praise for its latest iGadgets.

Rightly so - while the internet had predicted much of what Tim Cook & co. were set to reveal last night in San Francisco, there was a general sense that Apple was moving in some new, interesting directions.

And yet... there were several moments last night where you couldn't help but imagine the ghost of Steve Jobs shaking his head in grim disapproval. 

These are the five moments of last night's Apple event that Jobs would never have stood for.

The Apple Pencil

It's 2007. Jobs has taken to the stage for the Macworld event, with rumours circulating that Apple has a new piece of hardware that's going to turn a lot of heads.

It's not a new Mac, but a phone. The iPhone - a sort of PDA 'smart' phone. It's like the iPod, but with communications built in.

"How are we going to communicate with this?" asks Job. Not via a mouse. "Oh, a stylus, right?"

Jobs saw the stylus as a backward step - a "failed" technology that had flunked on previous devices such as the Apple Newton PDA. 

Sure, the Apple Pencil makes much more sense for the new iPad Pro hardware; a device aimed squarely at 'creatives and business' types who'll probably want to interact with the Pro as though it were an easel. But the Pro itself is a gamble - an attempt to get the public interested in tablets again, with sales being overtaken by the rise of 'phablet' phones.

This isn't the sort of gamble Jobs would have taken. 

The smaller iPhone 6S battery

A video illustrating the new internals of the iPhone 6S revealed a rather perplexing stat: Apple's new hardware would sport a smaller battery.

The old iPhone 6 has a 1810 mAh battery (a milliampere hour is the scale that batteries are measured in - you can read more here), while the new iPhone 6S had a battery clearly marked "1715 mAh".

No other slides or stats given last night drew attention to the smaller battery - with Apple even suggesting that the new battery would last as long as the older, lager battery.

But does that add up? With a more power-hungry screen, new functions like the '3D Touch' and Live Photos requiring more power, how will the smaller battery last as long? Jobs was a stickler for constant improvement - famously throwing a prototype iPhone into a fish tank to prove the engineers had left air gaps.

We can't see him accepting a smaller battery because "there wasn't enough room". Make room.

The limited Apple TV

Another item that Jobs would undoubtedly have seen as "rushed" is the new Apple TV.

Yes, it's got a lot of clever functions. Yes, the Siri interaction and remote are superb. 

But all that excitement about being able to play your favourite games from your sofa may well come back to hurt Apple. 

It turns out the all the apps for Apple TV have been limited to 200MB. Want to play Infinity Blade III (1.93GB)? Stick to your iPad. Fallout Shelter (205MB)? Not gonna happen. Hearthstone (868MB)? Too chubby - unless developers change the build to take advantage of cloud storage.

Someone, somewhere, didn't push hard enough. And Jobs would have hated that.

Microsoft do it better?

This wasn't the first time Microsoft showed up at an Apple event. Back in 1997, Bill Gates himself spoke to the assembled Apple clan at a Macworld event, provoking boos from the audience...

Jobs got Microsoft involved due to a variety of reasons - namely, patent disputes. It was a declaration of peace, and a moment that saw the companies work together for the benefit of the end users.

But that wasn't what happened last night. This wasn't a headline-grabbing call for a truce. In addition to large sections of the internet mocking Apple's Smart Keyboard as a direct Microsoft Surface copy, the inclusion of Microsoft to demonstrate the multitasking functions of the iPad Pro felt like more of an admission that Apple just can't do software.

They've tried to take on Office, and last night was an apparent white-flag of failure: Microsoft apps were always going to work on the new hardware, but to invite them along and give them a spot light during your own big moment was a step too far.

No killer app

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Yes, the iPad Pro looks fancy. And the '3D Touch' functions of the new iPhones is interesting. But there was no killer edge to last night's event - no "One more thing" moment that would take the internet by storm.

Since 2011, none of the Apple events have felt quite like the moments of old. Tim Cook has done well, but Apple hasn't found a master of ceremonies to equal Steve Jobs' presence and conviction. When Jobs took to the stage, you wanted whatever gadget he held in his hands. Last night, there was a sense of interest around each new product, but not a compulsion to head out and grab you spot in the Apple Store queue.

Apple is missing its 'killer app', that ability to get the average person into tech. And that could prove costly.

FOLLOW DAVID CORNISH ON TWITTER: @D_CORNISH

(Images: Rex)