siri shortcuts

A Few Observations on Today’s Apple Event

More than Hardware

As we all come to grips with the fact that Apple is becoming more of a services company, it was interesting to see they kicked off the event with a discussion of the television and gaming subscription services. I think the pricing on the gaming service, $5 a month, seems about right. I had no idea what to think about the television content pricing going in. It feels to me like Disney has disrupted everyone with excellent pricing for a massive amount of new and old content. In contrast, Apple is going to launch with just a few shows. Had they charged $10 a month, I would’ve felt like it was dead on arrival. Five dollars a month feels better but still strange for such a limited number of shows. The fact that they are going to bundle 12 free months with the purchase of any Apple hardware makes a ton of sense. I guess now it is up to Apple to make good programming.

Camera improvements

There was no surprise about the additional third lens on the iPhone 11 Pro. The interesting part of this presentation was the explanation of what they intend to do with that extra lens through software. The new features look cool, but I need to see them in action. I think Apple gets the fact that camera improvements drive phone sales and I don’t think they’ll lose sight of that any time soon.

Battery Life FTW

One of the announcements concerning the new iPhones was improved battery life of four hours for the small one and an additional five hours for the big one. That is a significant increase. I suspect it has a lot to do with the improvements to the processor and the way it is so aggressive with battery management. If these improvements are real, a lot of iPhone owners are going to be happy. Indeed, that may be the killer feature with the new phones if it weren’t for that slow-motion selfie camera, because …

The Slow Motion Selfie Camera is a Bigger Deal than their Nerds Think It Is

As someone who spends too much time at Disneyland, I can tell you that a lot of people take more pictures with the lens on the front of their phone than the one on the back. Those folks are going to love a slow-motion selfie. This feature will sell iPhones.

Pro Max, Really?

I like the new naming conventions of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. I hope that the “S” days are behind us and next year sees an iPhone 12. I do wish they had come up with something other than “Pro Max” for the big one.

Presenter Diversity

There was plenty of diversity and new faces among the presenters, and they all did great. I have to think that after Craig Federighi’s first presentation, Apple instituted some training program for their presenters. They’ve all been so reliable since, and of course, Federighi is now amazing at it. I do still have a soft spot for Phil Schiller when he gets to talk about the iPhone camera. Here’s a guy that likes talking about mobile photography … and pixel density.

That $329 iPad

A common complaint against Apple is that they do good at the high end but don’t deliver much in terms of value pricing. I would argue that one exception to this is the iPad. That new iPad, which is just $329, includes smart connector (and Smart Keyboard) support and Apple Pencil support. It looks pretty great, and you could buy three of them for what I paid for my iPad Pro. There are a lot of people that could get by just fine with this new iPad and the new iPadOS, particularly with the improvements to Safari.

Apple Can Still Surprise

Because today was a hardware event, I didn’t expect many surprises. Nevertheless, Apple delivered. The new iPhone Pro line got a new color, midnight green. (I love it, and I’m going to buy one.) It was also a surprise to me that the back on these new iPhones is a matte finish. I prefer that. Hopefully, it’s a bit more grippy and makes the phone feel less like a bar of soap.

An even bigger surprise was the fact that the new Apple Watch, Series 5 features an always-on watch face. I thought that was several years away and I am delighted that we can now get it. I had no intention of upgrading my Apple Watch this year, but now I’m in.

The iOS 13 Release Date

While it is always fun watching an Apple event, I had some low-level anxiety throughout this one. I am very nearly done with the new Shortcuts Field Guide, and I wanted to make sure it was available on day one of the iOS 13 release. They never explained in the keynote when iOS 13 is going to release, but an Apple press release sets the date as September 19, next Thursday. That’s a few more days than I was expecting, and I’ll take that. Speaking of which, the new Shortcuts Field Guide will be my biggest yet, and it is coming out great. Stay tuned.

Checking In On The Shortcuts Update

I am still in the honeymoon phase with the iOS 13 updates to Shortcuts. As I explained in a recent newsletter, I am in the process of recording an entirely new Shortcuts Field Guide. I’ve already recorded over 50 videos, and I have quite a few left.

This update to Shortcuts is way more than I expected. There are new triggers, actions, and the overall programming paradigm has been simplified, making it easier than ever for anyone to create automation on their iPhone and iPad. The last few betas removed some of the more interesting automatic triggers, but I understand they will be coming back. Regardless, if you have any remote interest in automation on your iPad and iPhone, you’re in for a treat in September.

Today while working with the new Shortcuts, I was pondering the state of affairs a few years ago when Apple first bought the Workflow application. At the time I thought there were two possibilities: they’d bring it into iOS but remove it’s more powerful elements (like they did with Siri) or they would scrap it entirely and re-distribute the very talented team to other projects.

Honestly, it never occurred to me that they would incorporate Workflow into the operating system and vastly improve its capabilities. Even if the thought had occurred to me, I would have bet you a lot of money that they wouldn’t then double down a second year to make it even easier to use and more powerful.

I have always believed that automation is something everybody should be able to master and use. These improvements to Shortcuts are paving the way for just that. These devices we carry in our pocket do not need to be an interruption in our lives. With the kind of automation Apple is democratizing with Shortcuts, we can get our work done faster and get on to the more essential things of life, like making art (however you define that), playing with their children, and, of course, taking naps.