Apple is making a lot of big strides: releasing new products in new categories, creating entirely new chip architectures, and offering a host of major updates to its software platforms within weeks.
But sometimes it can be interesting to look at the company smaller decisions. The ones that may be flying under the radar but still can point to changes that could ripple through the company’s product lines. This week Apple released several new iPads and a redesigned Apple TV, and while they may seem like ho-hum announcements, they all contain details that point to bigger changes to come.
The USB-C future
Apple has been putting USB-C ports on its devices for years; the first Mac to have one was the 12-inch MacBook in 2015. Since then, the port has slowly replaced the classic USB-A connectors across the Mac line and, more recently, the iPad. Rare now is the Apple device with one of those old rectangular ports.
Recently, the European Union passed a regulation requiring most consumer electronic devices to be standardized on the USB-C port by 2024, fueling rumors that Apple plans to ship its flagship product, the iPhone, to the connector next year. move.
But Apple uses its own Lightning port in smaller devices that are not Macs, iPads or iPhones. Case in point: The Apple TV 4K refresh last week included a new version of the Siri Remote that drops the Lightning port in favor of USB-C. Of all of Apple’s smaller devices, the Siri Remote is probably the easiest to port, as the USB-C port appears to be used almost exclusively for charging.
That leaves a handful of other devices to make the switch over the next two years: the Magic Keyboard for Mac, the Magic Trackpad, the Magic Mouse, and several AirPods cases. But if the Siri Remote is any indication, the writing on the wall is in front of the Lightning port.
A beautiful landscape
The iPad is an amazingly versatile device, and since the release of the first model in 2010, users have been able to rotate it freely and use it in any direction. That feature was one of the best subtle aspects of the device: there’s really no wrong way to pick it up and use it.
Except when it comes to the front camera. Anyone who has ever used an iPad to video chat (or, for example, had a FaceTime call with someone on an iPad) has experienced the annoyance of not seeing themselves or their conversation partner in the center of the screen, thanks to the camera on the front. shorter edge of the device – or worse, succumbed to the serious “thumbs over the camera” problem.
The thing is, while the iPad generally works well in every direction, 12 years from now it seems pretty clear that most people who use FaceTime, Zoom or other video chat apps use the device in landscape mode. Likewise, with the advent of keyboard cases for the iPad, including Apple’s own suite of Magic Keyboard accessories, iPad is increasingly adopting that of a traditional laptop.
But the camera has stubbornly stuck to that shorter side…until this week’s release of the tenth-generation iPad, which wisely moved it to the longer side. That change was also heralded by a landscape splash screen for the iPad, which first returned in iOS 14.5.
Unfortunately, the new iPad Pro models released this week retain the traditional front-facing camera on the short-edge design, which could be in part to avoid conflicts with the device’s speakers and Apple Pencil charging hardware, or simply because of this. were minor updates, not major redesigns. But it seems likely that the landscape camera will eventually make it to the rest of the iPads. Ultimately, it confirms what we all know: the iPad is really a device with a predominantly landscape orientation, just like the iPhone is a portrait device.
Colors are here to stay… set
The history of Apple and color is complicated. The Apple II helped popularize color displays in the PC market; arguably the company’s most famous logo is the classic six-color design (although it has largely been supplanted by a monochrome option in recent years); and the early iMac line famously came in an assortment of candy colors that were widely copied by PC makers. But in recent years, Apple has become more known for sleek devices in silver, white and various shades of “space gray”.
However, color has started to resurface in Apple’s lineup, returning to the iMac line and even making an occasional appearance on iPhone and iPad models. This week’s tenth-generation iPad has a few bold colors — blue, pink, and yellow — suggesting Apple has no intention of swinging the pendulum all the way back to silver and space gray.
But, as elsewhere in the company’s lineup, the colors are reserved for the more ‘consumer’ offering, with Pro models sticking to the more desaturated options — even the iPhone 14 Pro’s purple offering looks the same in most. lights out gray.
It looks like Apple isn’t ready to embrace color across its entire lineup just yet, which is a shame, given that professionals love bold color options just as much as the average consumer. Apple has always had a strong slant of individualism and iconoclasm – it’s a shame it didn’t reach the highest echelons of the company’s product lines; it’s a place where you pay more to get less.