Apple has lost it, they said. It no longer knows how to innovate, they said. Every new iPhone would just have a better screen and faster processor, they said.
Well, Apple sure showed them.
The iPhone 6 which was launched last week has a better processor for sure, but the screen resolution is about the same as the iPhone 5s, so there. Take that, haters.
Of course, keeping the screen resolution roughly the same is not the earth-shattering innovation that prompted record numbers of people to go and queue outside Apple stores last week.
No, the big thing this year is size. Apple has unveiled the biggish 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and downright man-sized 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.
Now, when I say man-sized, I am not suggesting that only men would be interested in such a large phone. I am merely pointing out that men have a long history of telling people that 5.5-inch objects are 6 Plus.
Still, there hasn't been an innovation this exciting in the Apple universe since last year, when it came up with the idea of gold phones.
Now, some of you haters may not realise why having a big iPhone is such a huge deal, given that large smartphones have been in the market for years, not to mention the fact that people have been bugging Apple to make one for a long time.
Let me explain it to you. You see, a large part of the appeal of owning the iPhone has nothing to do with technology. It has to do with letting you feel superior to people with lousier phones.
People with new iPhones have confessed that they sometimes walk into meetings feeling more confident. And they get a real kick from sitting down and slapping (gently) their new phone on the table knowing that there will be people looking on enviously.
This used to be a fairly straightforward affair because nearly every one had phones that were lousier than an iPhone. You could be confident that you would get massive bragging rights as long as you were walking around with a new iPhone within the first month or so of the launch.
These days, there are people with flagship Android phones, who for some strange reason nobody will ever understand, do not hold the same respect for owners of new iPhones. So all your new iPhone owner has left is the feeling of superiority over people with older iPhones.
Even then, this is not as simple as it was before. You see the past four models, the 4, 4S, 5 and 5S all looked roughly the same. (The 5C looked different but then, it was considered a budget model.) People had to be paying very close attention to notice the differences, especially if the phone was in a protective case.
So, someone feeling good about himself would walk into a meeting, whip out his phone (gently), sit back and realise nobody said anything. People just weren't sure whether he had a new phone and therefore couldn't figure out how much respect they should accord this person.
The solution was to find ways to gently sneak the fact into his presentation: "That's a good question, Phil. Let me pull up my sales figures on my brand- new iPhone 5s that I just got yesterday. It's the gold one, but you may not be able to tell because I have put a case on it to protect the gold from scratches. I can take it out of the case for you to have a look if you want, but can you please go and wash your hands first. I saw you eating curry puff."
By fundamentally changing the size of the iPhones, there is no longer any ambiguity. He can walk into that meeting, slam his iPhone down on the table in an authoritative (and gentle) manner and all the people with smaller iPhones would suddenly feel inadequate.
It was sort of the same case with the iPad mini, except in that case, all the people with bigger iPads suddenly felt behind the times.
I cannot even begin to imagine the sort of queues there will be once the Apple Watch becomes a real thing next year.
That would be a real iRevolution. Just think of the convenience. People would be able to get the same shot of self-esteem without having to take their phones out of their pockets. They could just pretend to check the time.
Now, none of this is to say that the iPhone and Apple Watch has reached the peak of perfection. For it to stay ahead of challengers such as Samsung and Motorola, I think it could afford to still try and innovate a little bit.
I have two ideas on my Apple wish list.
1. Context-aware advice notifications:
I'm sure the technology for this already exists. What I'm thinking is that instead of just alerting you that your boss has e-mailed you or that your mother-in-law is calling, the phone and watch should also be able to give you a little bit of advice.
Let's say through its mic, GPS and camera, it can tell that you are having dinner with your family at home while simultaneously chatting on Whatsapp with your friends. The phone would then buzz and give you a full screen notification that says: "Look up. Talk to your sister. Let your parents see your eyes every once in a while."
2. Context-aware security locks:
Under certain conditions, the phone will automatically shut down, preventing people from turning it on or getting into your precious data. Not only will this help deter thieves, it will also help prevent you from getting into fights in public. For instance, if the phone detects that you are watching a movie in a cinema, it simply would not switch on no matter what you did. You have to leave the cinema before it starts working again.
And then, if you actually left the movie mid-way to check, the context-aware advice notification would pop up: "You should not have left your wife in the cinema just to see if you have e-mail. What a sad person you are."
If Apple were to put these features in a phone, I'd happily get in line.
This article was first published on Sep 22, 2014.
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