The Russians Used a Pencil


Well, that was a very nice Apple keynote, for a change. And one I’ll remember for some time to come, for a number of reasons.

Let’s stick to the public ones: The iPad Pro is nice. Very nice in terms of vision (and I’ll let the pundits rage on about how it will fit in, replace or render obsolete other products or even entire industry segments – if ever), well positioned as far as pricing is concerned, but missing software to take full advantage of what it can do (oh, the Office demo was great, but the rest was kind of … stale).

Oh, and it has a pencil. The choice of word wasn’t lost on me.

However, I’m not too sure about the maturity of the platform for professionals. Even considering that around 70% of what ends up online here is drafted on an iPad mini, that I spend hours using it as a thin terminal and that it is the first device I pick up in the morning and the last I switch off at night, offline scenarios or anything more complex than editing a document (like, say, development) is still hard (or next to impossible) on iOS.

Maybe things will improve over time (especially with multitasking and the increasing migration of hitherto desktop-exclusive apps and features), but I’m leaning towards waiting to see what people can actually do with this form factor and just upgrading my first-generation mini to keep enjoying its portability and versatility.

I will be needing a new personal laptop fairly soon (that’s part of the non-public bits), but I don’t think the iPad Pro is it.

Yet. At least not until Apple adds separate user profiles to iOS.

It’s tantalizingly close, but not suitable for what I intend to do with my spare time going forward, and still pretty much useless as a shared device.

As to the Apple TV, and Siri gimmicks aside, think it’s a winner – although, of course, content licensing will mean that countries like mine get the short end of the stick, with only the bare minimum of features and awkward localization (Siri is a case in point, but Apple still hasn’t gotten its dictionary and predictive input right yet, and it’s been a few years now…).

But there’s going to be a cornucopia of games and over-the-top content apps of all sorts. Hopefully with better UI designs (there’s a lot to be said for TV UX, and I happen to have spent a few years sitting near people who obsess about it), but this is one situation where surely things will improve over time, because owning the living room is one of the Holy Grails of content distribution of pretty much any sort, and the ATV is likely to deliver a hefty chunk of it over time – in true Apple style, not necessarily the biggest chunk, but the most valuable chunk, for sure.

As to the iPhone “Success”, as it’s already being dubbed… Yeah. It’s worthy of that title. 3D Touch is going to be the annoying feature that we all wish we had on our current phones, but by the time the fifth Jony Ive video was being played, we were all agreeing that Jony should do voice overs for movie trailers, record his own Siri voice, and maybe do a tie-in with TomTom for voice directions, so nobody cared about Live Photos other than point out that the entry level iPhone storage is still ridiculously small.

And that’s pretty much it, unless you care about watches, of which there wasn’t any actual news other than more fashionable straps.

As it happens, today I happened to try an Android Wear device on loan (an LG G Watch R, which is bulky but actually round), and even without being able to use most of its native features on iOS, the user experience was fine – because all I actually care about are notifications and some fitness data.

Time alone will tell if I’ll get hooked, but I’m pretty sure I won’t get a Hermès strap…