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Editor’s Desk: Was Apple’s first event of the year a dud?

Editor’s Desk: Was Apple’s first event of the year a dud?

Apple Peek Performance March Event Iphone Se 3 Tim CookSource: Apple

So, here they are: our first new Apple products of the year. At this week’s media event, the Cupertino company unveiled an array of new devices including a spec-bumped iPhone SE, a moderately upgraded iPad Air, and an all-new Mac line.

In the company’s recent history, March isn’t usually the time when Apple makes blockbuster announcements (those are saved for the fall) but there haven’t been many Apple events that whizzed by without anything piquing my interest. However, Apple’s ‘Peek Performance’ event had relatively little for most folks to get excited about.

Apple TV+ at-bat

Apple Tv Plus Mlb

Source: Apple

In an hour-long event, there’s not too much time for fluff so Apple spared little energy on pleasantries and dived straight into a sizzle reel of upcoming Apple TV+ content to open up its event.

I’ve been closely tracking all of the releases for our complete list of Apple TV+ shows and movies for months now and the batch shown off included some of the most exciting titles yet. There’s never been a better time to use your Apple TV+ free trial, really.

That wasn’t all, though, as Tim Cook announced that Friday Night Baseball is coming to Apple TV+. It will even be available “for a limited time, without the need for a subscription,” according to the press release that followed the event. We’ll soon find out more details on that.

Being British, I’m not particularly interested in baseball but Friday Night Baseball is going to be made available over here so I will certainly check it out. This announcement is probably a big deal for those that are into the sport, but it will pass by those that aren’t.

Green with envy, but not for the iPhone SE

Iphone 13 Green

Source: Apple

Next up was an update for iPhone 13 in the form of a new color for both the regular and Pro models. We’ve now seen green iPhone 13 unboxings and, frankly, I’m very jealous.

As our own Christine Romero-Chan pointed out, it’s annoying for early adopters that we can’t have all iPhone colors on day one as we’re never going to get buy an iPhone mid-cycle. Apple has surely crunched the numbers and knows that a new iPhone color in the spring juices sales (see purple iPhone 12), but it’s especially frustrating that the iPhone 13 Pro got a new hue this spring as I would totally have opted for that green model last fall.

One phone debuted that I was not at all jealous of was the updated 2022 iPhone SE. This third-gen version of Apple’s affordable phone offers a few spec bumps to bring it up to modern standards, like the speedy A15 Bionic chip and 5G support, but the design is still straight out of 2014. I know it’s not aimed at me, and I know it’s a solid upgrade for those still holding onto an older phone, but it’s not a device worth getting excited about.

iPad Air 5 is okay, I guess

Ipad Air

Source: Apple

Another product unveiling that had me feeling a little less than impressed was the iPad Air 5. For most people, the iPad Air 5 will be the best iPad to purchase, but that’s not because this latest iteration is particularly exciting. As I wrote after the event, the device checks a lot of boxes, but not all of them.

The fifth-gen model gets 5G to bring it in line with 2021’s iPad mini as well as the upgraded front-facing camera hardware to support Center Stage, which all of last year’s iPads got too.

The new iPad Air pulls ahead of the mini in terms of power thanks to the adoption of the previously Pro-exclusive M1 chip, though iPadOS still can’t fully make use of that chip in its current form anyway.

Outside of those spec bumps, it’s basically the same as the iPad Air 4 that came before it. It still occupies that awkward spot in Apple’s tablet lineup, too, brushing up against the more advanced 11-inch iPad Pro in terms of price the moment you adjust the configuration. Perhaps there’s an argument that the iPad Air should no longer exist, but that’s a column idea for another day.

M1 Ultra, Mac Studio, and Studio Display

Mac Studio Lifestyle

Source: Apple

When Cook moved us along into the Mac section of the presentation, things got more interesting with the super-powerful M1 Ultra chip, all-new Mac Studio product line, and finally an Apple-made display for those that don’t want to spend $5,000 on a Pro Display XDR.

But, again, these products aren’t for everyone. As Apple SVP of Hardware Engineering John Ternus said, the studio is “where creators like designers, scientists, and developers change the world.” The Mac Studio and Studio Display are aimed at these folks.

I get the feeling that if these products speak to you then they really speak to you, but it was obvious from its pitch that they aren’t consumer-focused. I’m definitely glad both products exist, and Apple has actually made some function-first design choices that are great to see. I do, however, feel bad for 2019 Mac Pro owners right about now.

Roll on WWDC

As I said at the outset, spring isn’t really peak announcement time so expectations should always be lower going into an Apple March event. The fun really starts in a few months at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference when we’ll get our first looks at the software that will be powering Apple’s best iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices later in the year and maybe even a sneak peek at an all-new platform in the form of Apple VR.

Even if none of Apple’s March event announcements were for you, there’s still plenty to look forward to later this year. And we’ll be here to cover it all!

— Adam Oram