News

Bullshit, selfies and Photoshopped smiles: Apple’s iPhone 6S announcement was a joke

Hey Siri, tell us a new one

By Holly Brockwell September 10, 2015

It’s no secret that I’m far from Apple’s biggest fan. In fact, despite what Reddit seems to think, I’m firmly Team Android. But that doesn’t mean I don’t give Apple credit where it’s due – it’s just that it seems to be due less and less these days. Last night’s announcement was their worst yet.

Firstly, I don’t know who decides the hashtags for these things – it may be the public, to be fair – but #AppleEvent? Really? The events all have a theme – this one was “Hey Siri, give us a clue” – and yet it seems we’ve got tired of differentiating them from one another and just whack them all on one generic hashtag. Will we even bother numbering them? #AppleEvent2? #AppleEvent2019? #AppleEventHorizon…?

In any case, I raced home and tuned in, hoping for something cool, something that might persuade me to switch camps. I’d love to be an Apple person. It must be so easy. All apps are available to you, everyone can tell you how to do that thing you can’t figure out, and if you want a case, you have ninety bazillion to choose from. Android fans have to work a little harder, but it could be worse – at least we’re not Windows Phone.

But I digress.

On Apple announcement day, thousands of ancient installs of Safari get dusted off and brought out, because Apple doesn’t like you watching their stream on Google’s Chrome. Yes, they really are that petulant. This time, though, the stream was strangely also available through Microsoft’s Edge browser, the one that’s pretending not to be Internet Explorer despite having the same goddamn logo.

That was odd, I thought. But not for long. Because actual Microsoft came out on stage – at an Apple event! – and started waffling about how the giant new iPad Pro has Word and Excel and all that crap you forgot existed. You know a company’s lost its way when it turns up at an event where its competitor is unveiling a carbon copy of its product and praises the damn thing.

Yes, Apple, we all spotted that the iPad Pro is literally a Surface with an Apple logo on it. And yes, we know it’ll sell buckets just because of that logo. The world is not fair.

 

Left: Apple. Right: Microsoft.

Apple didn’t mention any free content on the iPad Pro, but I’m hoping for more near-undeletable albums, purely so I can make this weak joke:

Once we’d covered the big-ass tablet (though, to be fair, not as big as Alcatel’s), we were onto the Apple Pencil. Ugh. Does anyone else remember when Apple used to give things interesting names? Macintosh? Newton? Pippin? Nah, let’s just call our watch the Watch and this pencil thing? How about the Pencil?

Sigh.

It turned out to be an awkward moment for Apple, as just about everyone on Twitter wheeled out the screenshot of Steve Jobs in 2007 decrying the stylus. Oops.

Things took a turn for the better at this point, when Adobe (referred to as “our friends” despite Steve Jobs famously ranting about them on Apple.com) took the stage and we saw a rare woman in a sea of dudes.

Except that she was a photo. And the guy from Adobe was going to Photoshop her to smile more.

I am not making this up. Apple actually took one of the most frequent complaints on Everyday Sexism – bro-dudes telling women quietly trying to exist to “smile, love” – and turned it into a feature in their presentation. And all this before we’d seen a single human female on stage.

This, by the way, is why we need more women on staff at big tech companies. Because if they had anything like 50/50 representation, someone would have said “hey, maybe it’s not the best idea to show off our product by ‘improving’ women’s looks? You know, maybe that would be seen as the embodiment of all that’s wrong with Silicon Valley? Maybe we should choose to Photoshop literally anything else?”

But no one did.

That cringefest over, Apple went on to announce that the Pencil costs $99, and people actually seemed happy about that. Sometimes I feel like an alien on this planet.

Next up was Apple TV. Ahh, this was fantastic. Such a great example of the “first!” bullshit Apple spews at people who don’t keep up with tech. First, Tim Cook announced that – wait for it – Apple TV will have apps:

Then he started demonstrating the feature where you can search for TV stuff by voice, and ask Apple TV what else an actor has been in. This was received with gasps from the audience and joyful incredulity on Twitter. Meanwhile, anyone who’s ever seen an Amazon Fire TV Stick was facepalming.

A long-ass demo of various games followed, including Crossy Road:

But then things got better when some non-photoshopped ladies took the stage:

Not everyone was happy about it, though:

Quickly moving on from ladies talking about lady things, it was time for a man to come and talk about sport. At this point, fatigue set in. I don’t care about any of this. I came for phones and dammit, I want to see some.

Aaaand finally.

The leaks were accurate (even Apple isn’t immune to that, these days. Remember when phone announcements were a surprise?) and there is indeed a pink (AKA rose gold) iPhone. It’s not nearly as beautiful as the rose gold Mate S that Huawei unveiled last week, but it’s there, and I for one will be buying one immediately.

Just kidding.

This was followed by some Jobs-style weasel words in the form of “We brought you multi-touch.” This echoes what Jobs said in his 2007 iPhone announcement, where he proceeded to take credit for multi-touch technology belonging to a company called Fingerworks. Which Apple bought. That is not the same as inventing it.

But multi-touch is old, right? Why are we still talking about it? Ah, because of Force Touch, or 3D Touch as Apple seem to have rebranded it since the Macbook announcement – presumably not for this ridiculous reason:

Probably because Huawei called it Force Touch in their Mate S announcement last week, actually.

Again, this was presented as an entirely new thing that debuted on the iPhone. Wow, you can interact with apps with more than just a press? A second type of press, you say? Why, this is groundbreaking.

Oh.

Edit: Due to excessive nerd rage, I feel the need to clarify that yes, I am aware that 3D Touch and long press are not the same, and also that iOS has a (very underused) long press capacity. I’m referring to the way 3D Touch was described as if until now, a tap was the one and only way to interact with your phone and this was ~a whole new world.~

Next was a little joke about what it’s like to be Siri, which caused some technical difficulties:

And then we got onto more pretend newness. The iPhone 6S can record in 4K, you guys. This definitely hasn’t been around on Android phones since early 2014. For context, the Sony Xperia Z2 could record in 4K, and we’re now on the Z5.

What really depresses me about Apple claiming to have debuted things that have been around for yonks is that people play along with it. I can’t blame Apple fans for not knowing about all the other phones out there, or what they’ve been offering for years – but the tech press? Come on.

After Apple announced that the 6S does ‘Live Photos’, where it records a little bit of video as you take a photo, Twitter tech journos lost their shit.

And you know what I’m going to say.

This. Isn’t. New.

Back in November 2012 I was writing for BlackBerry, and I distinctly remember including their new BlackBerry 10 feature Time Shift, which records a little bit of video with every photo. And you know what else does? HTC Zoe, which has been a thing since the original HTC One. And you know what else does? Living Images, on Nokia Windows Phones. And and and.

Apple deliberately take advantage of consumers’ poor knowledge of other tech products (you can’t blame them, the market is overwhelming and moves at a ridiculous pace) to convince them that iPhones are at the cutting edge of innovation. I get it. It works. But tech writers who’ve been doing this longer than me should know better. None of this is new. Apple is just better at selling it than any of the other manufacturers.

Next, we got a roundup of the sizes and prices, including – despite offering 4K recording and video-photos – a 16GB model. That’s not terribly fair given that there’s no microSD slot – that meagre storage is going to fill up fast. Apple should really take notes from Samsung and start at 32GB.

Finally, we saw the ad. Yep, this is where Apple really shines.

THIS GUY made my day:

OK, so it’s all done by their ad agency, but we have to ask why Apple are so much better at getting compelling, effective advertising out of their agencies than any of the other manufacturers. Take the dire, gross Honey Bear ad for an Android manufacturer that we wrote about recently, and compare it to Apple’s effort. Different universes, and that’s why Apple’s winning. It’s not about making the best. It’s about selling the best.

At this point, One Republic took the stage:

After they took an awkward selfie with Tim Cook, the stream ended, leaving me with a gaping sense of disappointment that a) there was nothing original and b) no one else seemed to realise there was nothing original. For me, watching Apple announcements feels like being the shortest person at a gig – everyone else is watching something amazing and I just can’t see it. I want to, but I can’t. All I can see is a bunch of sweaty nerds clapping and whooping like sealions, eagerly snapping up the stale fish Apple throw.

Well, the fish have all been thrown, so I’ll see you again in six months for #AppleEvent2ElectricBoogaloo, where they’ll launch whatever was cool 18 months ago, and we’ll say:


Main image: Business Insider via Twitter

Share this postEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on Reddit