Apple managed to pack a lot into today’s two-hour presentation, but viewers were left with some questions. And that’s not even mentioning the scarf-wearing dude on stage. Here are the eight things Tim Cook still needs to answer about his company.
Key Details on the Apple Watch: The Apple Watch turned out to be Cook’s “one more thing” — a hallmark of the Steve Jobs keynote. Apple executives had a lot to share about design and software features packed into the watch, but some crucial information was missing. For one, we don’t know when it’s coming out. “Early next year” is the best we got. Apple says the watch comes in two sizes — measuring 38 millimeters and 42 millimeters on their faces — but it didn’t say how thick they are or how much they weigh. Based on the promotional photos and on-stage demos, the Apple Watch is pretty chunky. We know the device will use a cool combination of inductive charging along with the MacBook-style magnetic plug, but we don’t know how long the battery will last. That’s a huge factor in this product’s appeal.
Apple TV: For years, rumors have been flying about two new product categories that may define the Cook era: the watch and the television set. We got one today, but not the other. The only mention of the TV was a P.S. tacked onto Cook’s Apple Watch introduction, when he mentioned that he likes to control his Apple TV box using his watch. Nice little tease, but no demo.
Sapphire iPhone Screens: Apple spent $114 million on a factory in Mesa, Arizona, to manufacture synthetic sapphire, which is basically a very sturdy kind of glass. With that much sapphire, some analysts were expecting Apple to use the material in every new product it makes. While the new iPhones do have “sapphire crystal lens covers” on the cameras, the screens are made from “ion-strengthened glass,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. That means a nasty drop onto concrete may still send you on a trip to the Genius Bar. The Apple Watch has a crystal of sapphire on the screen and “a ceramic cover with sapphire lenses” on the back for sensors that can detect the wearer’s heart rate.
The ‘Everything Is Great’ Filler: Leaving stuff out isn’t always a bad thing. Exhibit A: Cook opened by saying they had too many new things to talk about, so they skipped the generic recap at the beginning. This is usually where they talk about how many phones they’ve sold, what new stores they’ve opened, and other eye-glazing charts and graphs. Before moving onto the announcements, Cook said succinctly: “Everything is great.” Good enough.
iCloud Security: Probably the biggest news in Apple land before today was the hacking of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities’ iCloud accounts. The timing was less-than-ideal for Apple as it’s trying to sell people on entrusting all of their financial information to their iPhones. The company had already promised to add new security features to iCloud following the breach, but that may not be enough. While Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, didn’t mention the hack specifically on stage today, he did spend plenty of time talking about security in Apple Pay. (Financial information is stored on the device, not in the cloud, and fingerprint authentication keeps it safe.) Beyond payments, the iCloud photo blow-up could hurt the company’s upcoming Health app, which asks people to fill their iPhones with sensitive personal information.
iBeacon: Once Apple started talking about working with retailers, banks and other companies on Apple Pay, it seemed like an opportune time to address iBeacon. The wireless technology Apple is deploying in its own stores and encouraging other retailers to use is supposed to let smartphone owners get coupons and other relevant information pushed to their phones when they’re outside in the real world. It hasn’t taken off yet. Mobile payments could provide a boost to iBeacon, but there wasn’t any mention of the technology during the presentation. Another thing that could help is Apple’s partnership with Steve Jobs’s old rival, IBM. Because with IBM, Apple can reach more deeply into corporate information-technology departments.”
iPad: Apple’s tablet sales are suffering, and the bigger iPhones announced today could make things worse. Bloomberg TV’s Mark Glassman used data to show why the iPad is more important to Apple’s business than the iPhone. But you’ll have to wait until early next year to get your hands on the new iPads, including a larger 12.9-inch model, according to Bloomberg News. IPads barely got a shout-out today, but there’s still time for Apple to do something with their tablet line before the holidays.