Apple’s “Hey, Siri” Event

The day many have been waiting for has come and gone: Apple’s “Hey, Siri” event. As you’d expect, there were plenty of new devices and updates announced, from the Apple Watch, new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, new iPad mini, Apple TV, as well as iOS 9. But what stuck out to me was the segment on the new iPad Pro and accessories.

If you didn’t catch the event, or seen a bit of news on it since it was announced, the iPad Pro is Apple’s new 12.5″ tablet, complete with an optional keyboard case and new Apple Pencil. If you didn’t catch the announcement, but this does sound familiar to you, you can stop scratching your head. Apple has come out with its own Surface Pro.

To be honest, the idea that some ideas were copied doesn’t bother me. An Bluetooth keyboard is a good idea and just because it’s already been done doesn’t mean Apple can’t take a stab at it. Likewise for the stylus. Microsoft and others have cashed in well with it, so it’s only natural Apple would join in.

It really seems like Apple wants to compete with the Surface Pro 3 (soon to be 4) given the new keyboard and stylus, but running the tablet on iOS rather than OS X may prevent this. The Surface Pro 3 has the advantage of running Windows 8.1/10 rather than a mobile OS. Apple’s iOS is simply too limiting with regards to software. At this price point, we would expect to be able to run programs like Photoshop, real text editors… pretty much anything we can run on a desktop or laptop, but we can’t.

There have certainly been complaints that Apple has designed the Pencil to work only with the iPad Pro, and that it’s $99. Personally I don’t care about either because there already are other Bluetooth styluses..styli..whatever…that do the job just as well and work on any device. What has caught my attention is the outcry from people stating that introducing a stylus is a disgrace to Steve Jobs’ legacy.

“You have to get them and put them away and you lose them. Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus, so let’s not use a stylus.” – S. Jobs

It’s important to realize Jobs said this in 2007. The way we used the available devices was different. Desktops and laptops were really the only devices used in the professional setting, and tablets really were not yet a thing. Sure there had been some concepts, but it wasn’t until 2010 that Apple launched the iPad as well as other companies with their tablet offerings. It’s somewhat understandable, given the circumstances, that Jobs was anti-stylus since the only use for one would be on the 1st generation, 3.5″ iPhone. In this circumstance, I agree, a stylus would be too much for such a simple device. Given the limited usage of the iPhone at the time, what purpose was there for a stylus? I owned devices prior to the iPhone that required one and I couldn’t stand them, but again, what was I using my phone for? Calling, texting, email and maybe some mobile web usage; nothing that required a stylus.

Let’s move to 2010, more specifically, January 27th. Steve Jobs announces the very first iPad and changed everything. I understand the iPad was not the first tablet, but it was the first one to be geared towards consumer use and priced appropriately. Even then, what purpose would there be for a stylus?

Fast forward to 2015. Tablets are taking over in professional settings. They’re being used for everything and given the size of these things and their functionality, a stylus is starting to make more sense. With the old 3.5″ iPhone, sure you’d have a couple fingerprints on there but with a quick buff with your shirt, they’re gone. When working on a tablet screen, those fingerprints are much more noticeable and oddly hard to remove sometimes.

My question, if Steve Jobs were still around and saw the various uses of the iPad, would he still feel the same way about a stylus? It really is hard to answer. On the one hand, it’s become such a popular 3rd party accessory for tablets and comes standard with the Surface Pro, it’s clearly something the consumer desires and has proven to be a marketable product for many other companies. On the other hand, in 1997 Jobs made it clear, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” There is some truth to this. Prior to 2007, I had no desire to own an iPhone or anything like it, but that’s simply because we had never heard of such a thing. So the question is, what new, never before seen item could be created to take the place of a stylus to provide the same functionality? I don’t know either.

This I believe is becoming the problem with Apple. Instead of coming out with something new, they simply try to reinvent the wheel. Of course, they will still be hugely successful, but (and please don’t mistake my respect for his success in business as success as a person) likely will never be the revolutionary company they used to be with Jobs at the helm. Their success will instead come from bowing to the masses and selling what we think we want. If that’s the case, I have one request. If I am typing and I make a mistake, I want to be able to go that precise spot I made the error and fix it. Android allows this, but with Apple I must get as close as I can (sometimes a couple words off) and retype that entire section. Or, show me something new.

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