You want to talk about Apple. I understand. They are the biggest tech company in the world. Their products are used by hundreds of millions. Oh, and next week there’s — OMG! — a major Apple event, not at Moscone Center in San Francisco but at Flint Center in Cupertino, the very same location where the original Mac was introduced and where the phoenix-like (i)Mac was introduced, and this can only mean…
A new Mac?
How can that be?
We are all expecting an iWatch.
And a large, new iPhone.
Some of us are even expecting an iPad XL, complete with badly needed split-screen, multitasking function. Tim Cook has repeatedly promised us new products, after all. We are 14 years beyond Y2K. Macs are borderline inconsequential in our glorious new world. Apple can’t possibly be putting the Mac at center stage, can they?
Unlikely, but kudos for cleverly diverting our attention.
Oh, glorious Apple. Stoking the rumors, week after week. Divvying out the “leaks” bit by bit. Building our excitement. Inciting our lust until…shazam!
Something totally unexpected.
Fine. Two can play at that. Here’s my totally unexpected prediction: a 5.5-inch iRemote for the home.
Price? $299, including an Apple TV.
The $299 iRemote
Ben Bajarin says there will be no 5.5-inch iPhone “phablet.” I agree. Jony Ive resisted increasing the size of the original iPhone for years. Market demand forced his hand. The market now wants an even larger iPhone. Ive will once again be forced to capitulate.
A 4.7-inch iPhone should suffice.
An iPhone that size can retain most of Ive’s iconic design, support one handed use, at least for some, and have the additional benefit of offering a larger, longer lasting battery, which is sorely needed.
A 5.5-inch iPhone is nothing more than a twisted abomination of Ive’s design. I can’t believe this will happen. Unless the rumors of a 5.5-inch iPhone point instead to an entirely new device.
The Future Of The iPod
A remote control for the Apple-optimized home does not require one handed use. It needs only be light, mobile, affordable, possibly even unapologetically plastic.
Such a device can control your HomeKit-enabled appliances.
It replaces that wretched plastic Apple TV remote which has grown so useless even as Apple TV offers up so many more new content possibilities.
It’s the perfect size for tweeting while watching television. It encourages FaceTime calls.
Possibly, this device even supports multiple user accounts.
That Apple will finally offer “widgets,” which are optimized for both the small iWatch screen and glanceable CarPlay screens, may possibly work better on this new device as well.
The device also does not diminish iPhone sales, where Apple gets the bulk of its money from. Think of this as the future of the iPod, if that helps. Not quite an iPad, which is more personal, this new “iPod” belongs not to a person but to a home. It collects data, controls applications and commands other devices. Yes, even an Apple Television in time.
Instead of storing and presenting your music collection, this new iPod stores, presents and manipulates the collection of data from the family’s wearables, appliances, the Internet-connected thermostats, door cams, and lights. The iPod becomes the universal remote for the Apple optimized household.
Siri will be front-and center with this new iPod, encouraging you to tell her when to turn off the air conditioner, or for how long the oven temperature should be set. Plus, with iCloud, Apple suddenly becomes a leader not just in “machine learning” but more importantly, possesses a knowledge of people inside their homes that is truly unique.
Everywhere A Screen
I accept I may be completely wrong. Where a large iPhone ends, a small iPad begins, or how iPod evolves in a world with all of these is not as clear-cut as even Apple marketing would have us believe. My strength lies not in predicting new technologies but in understanding how existing technologies will re-make the world, the economy, learning, work, power, joy.
Yet, as computing spreads into all areas of our lives, and burrows its way into all of our things, we need new and better devices to help take full advantage of their combined potential.
This is a unique Apple strength.
Time and again, Apple shows us how all our many technologies are supposed to work — for people, not for corporations or things or business models or the established order.
This is why I am reasonably confident that, whether Apple reveals an entirely new device, a deconstruction of an old one, or something in between or far beyond, it will matter. If not right away, soon.
Next week, the very moment Apple releases a larger iPhone of any size, tech bloggers will giddily point their finger and exclaim: “J’accuse! Apple copied! The iPhone phablet is copying the Samsung Note!”
This is willfully missing the point.
Lousy artists copy. Tech bloggers squeal. Sound and fury signifying nothing.
Mobile computing is barely into the Model T phase. Apple is helping to push us forward, mostly in positive ways — even when we think their latest product is just one more device in an already crowded market. We can’t know what we need till we have it, be it an iWatch, a phablet, an all new Mac, or, yes, a universal home remote.
We live in interesting times. They are about to get even more interesting.