We’re less than a week away from one of the biggest Apple events of all-time. Next week, Tim Cook will take the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater to officially unveil Apple’s three new iPhones to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone back in 2007.
This year’s flagship iPhone 8 will include a host of changes, some being radical departures from how we’ve grown accustomed to using our smartphones over recent years. Because of these dramatic changes, this year’s iPhone event will depend more on demos than ever before, and we should expect Cook and other Apple executives to spend the majority of their time showing off these changes…
One of the best parts of Apple events are generally the demos. Apple executives show off the latest and greatest features and make them (usually) appear seamless and easy to use. One that comes to mind is Steve Jobs’ demonstration of the iPhone, showing that you can pack a phone, iPod, and internet browser into one device without compromising any of the features or functionality.
This year, Apple faces a different task. It has to show that huge changes like the removal of the Home button and Touch ID won’t seem like problems, but rather features on the iPhone 8.
It’s long been speculated that Apple would remove the Home button from the iPhone, and some have argued that the iPhone 7 was Apple’s way of bracing users for the change with the switch to a Force Touch Home button. This year, however, Apple will likely officially make the jump and remove the Home button – the main piece of navigation for 10 years – from the iPhone.
A Bloomberg report last month offered a few details as to how Apple will update iOS to make up for the lack of a Home button. The report explained that the iPhone 8 will feature a new iPad-like dock, as well as a ‘thin bar’ at the bottom of the display where the Home button usually resides. It’s said that users will pull up on this bar to unlock the phone, while the bar will also allow users to access the multitasking interface when the device is unlocked.
What Apple has to demonstrate next week is that these changes don’t in any way feel like a hindrance to using the iPhone 8. It should be just as easy to unlock the device without a Home button as it was with one, while getting to the Home screen from various points in iOS should also be just as easy.
What’s most affected by the removal of the Home button, however, is Touch ID. While earlier reports had claimed Apple would bring its fingerprint technology to either the rear of the device or beneath the display, it’s now believed Apple will ditch it altogether in favor of facial unlock.
The overwhelming majority of people have expressed doubt when it comes to Face ID, or whatever Apple will call it. Face unlock technology from companies like Samsung has been less than impressive, which has put a damper on the idea in general. Apple’s technology, however, is believed to be based on infrared which will allow it to recognize faces in any sort of environment and angle.
Reports and explanations, however, aren’t enough. If Apple wants to convince people that Touch ID won’t be missed – no matter that situation – it has to demo Face ID in a way that shows its versatility. One area where Touch ID would work better and Face ID will seem like a downgrade or compromise.
The demos don’t stop there. The iPhone 8 will also feature a “notch” along the top and Apple must highlight that the deep blacks of the new OLED make for a seamless viewing experience, even on the white model.
Then there’s ARKit, which Apple did a good job of demoing earlier this summer at WWDC, but with more apps emerging, there’s a bigger opportunity. Additionally, it’s believed that the iPhone 8 will feature more advanced augmented reality capabilities and thus new demo opportunities. There’s also wireless charging. Apple’s implementation is said to have several drawbacks that are going to require demos to win me over.
The iPhone 8 is the first time I’m nervous about changes Apple is making. Sure, the headphone jack was missed at first but it’s turned out to be the right choice in the long run. I’m hoping I feel the same after I see Apple demo Face ID, the new navigation methods, and more next week for the iPhone 8.
There’s also the price factor. The iPhone will be the most expensive iPhone to date and Apple has to make it clear that every change is for the better. If not, people are going to be even less likely to spring for the dramatically different and more expensive iPhone 8.
If anybody can pull off great demos and marketing, it’s Apple. They’ve proven time and time again they can take changes that seem unreasonable (CD drive, headphone jack, Flash, etc) and turn them into a positive experience.
I have a feeling that I will be nothing shy of blown away after next Tuesday’s keynote, ready to hand over the money. What about you?