Excellent piece by Sam Gerstenzang on Medium:
Apple is making a series of very small connected computers: the Pencil, the Airpod, the Watch and the Touch Bar. What’s important here is that each of these computers is something else first (pencil, headphones, watch), and only a computer to make that object function better.
This is what the “Internet of Things” missed… the important part wasn’t the internet, but the “thing.” The “internet” is grabbing the telescope by the wrong end: what’s important is that this very small computer has the affordances of a pencil but is making its own decisions and is now orbiting my phone.
Apple is quietly getting very good at shipping very small computers that charge very rapidly, and thus can be unanchored ––unlike Google Home or Amazon Echo. Over time, as power and size requirements decrease, a direct internet connection might add value. But for now, Bluetooth allows a connection to your phone (which is still quite obviously and self-consciously a computer) and that’s enough.
Gruber makes a great point about the Touch Bar on the latest episode of The Talk Show, saying that it's effectively a computer in a computer. It's an iOS device embedded in a macOS device—the fact it's so well integrated is wholly due to Apple controlling the whole stack, hardware and software. It gives Apple a huge competitive advantage.