I was in attendance at Apple's press event on Tuesday, the one that christened the new Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park.
The event was memorable not only for new products like the iPhone X, but also for the fact this was the first time anyone stepped foot onto Apple's unbelievably beautiful new campus. Apple Park truly is an architectural marvel; the fit and finish is absolutely in line with Apple's other products.
On a personal level, it occurred to me yesterday that I was in the audience for the last media event at Infinite Loop's Town Hall: last October's Touch Bar MacBook Pro introduction. Thus, I think it's neat how that October event and yesterday's first-ever event at the Steve Jobs theater kind of bookend. I don't mention this to be braggadocious—rather, I'm simply noting how these two events have some historical context.
What follows are assorted thoughts on the announcements made yesterday.
Apple Watch Series 3. I'm excited for this new generation, as I've used a Series 0 since launch in 2015 and have been itching a bit for an upgrade. To me, Series 3 is essentially a reborn iPod. With cellular, Apple Music, and AirPods, you have a way to listen to music (and hopefully podcasts) without needing to lug around your iPhone all the time. And of course you're reachable via phone call or text message. I’ve been a fan of Apple Watch from the beginning, and this new version is a huge step forward. A compelling, forward-thinking update.
As an aside, my Series 0 (stainless steel; I prefer it to the aluminum) still works like a charm two-and-a-half years later. watchOS 3 runs well, and the device still is pretty great for notifications, fitness, and Apple Pay. I'll update it to watchOS 4 next week and use it for a bit until I'm ready to upgrade. It pleases me that I've gotten so much life out of the original model, and I'm keen to see how the new OS does.
iPhone X. This was the showstopper. After Phil Schiller finished talking about iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Tim Cook returned to the stage to announce Apple had "one more thing" to show us, and it was the much-ballyhooed iPhone X. From Face ID to the new gestures to the OLED display and more, the futuristic iPhone X has all sorts of accessibility angles to consider. Apple told me yesterday, for example, Face ID is fully integrated with VoiceOver and that there's an option to stop Face ID setup from using multiple shots for scanning. (This is useful if you're someone who can't move their neck.) If enabled, Face ID will use a single shot of your face to perform the depth mapping. The proof is in the testing, but for now, Apple deserves the utmost credit for making provisions such that the hallmark feature of its smartphone of the future is an accessible one. The future for everyone.
AirPower. You may not think of Apple's new charging mat, due sometime next year, in terms of accessibility, but you should. Before the iPhone 7 launched last year, I argued the removal of the headphone jack was a good thing because it alleviated any frustration with inserting and removing a plug. A year later, I've been a delighted AirPods user for many months now and don't miss the tedium of plugging in my old EarPods. The future of wireless sure is convenient, but it's also accessible—at least in my experience. AirPower should be great largely for the same reasons: no more cables to fuss with. All you do is place the device (iPhone, Apple Watch, or AirPods) down and they charge. When they're done, pick it up.
The Hands-On Area. After this year's WWDC keynote, I wrote about how I'd like to see the hands-on area at the San Jose Convention Center get better lighting. The room was extremely dark and extremely crowded... not the best environmental factors for a visually impaired person. At Apple Park, the room still is packed with reporters, of course, but the great thing is there's plenty of light. It's like an Apple Store in this sense, and I really appreciated it. I love being there in the scrum with my colleagues, although I admit to feeling somewhat anxious immersed in a sea of people and their damn camera equipment. On the bright side—pun intended—the well-lit room makes it easier for me to plot an escape route.