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Has Innovation At Apple Come to a Sudden Halt Without Steve Jobs?

A common assertion across internet forums is that Apple has yet to deliver on an innovative product since the passing of Steve Jobs in 2011. In fact, there are compelling reasons for even the most hardcore Apple fanboy to claim that the trillion dollar company has reversed technological progress in certain parts of the industry.

However, I think differently on the issue. Here are three innovative products from Apple you can purchase from the Apple store right now.

 

HomePod Two

The HomePod–a lesser known accessory that briefly flashed front page coverage on Apple’s e-commerce storefront upon release in February–is a really expensive speaker.

Many tech reviewers wrote off this speaker for its limitations, whether it be its inability to natively support music apps outside of Apple Music and its tight integration of Siri as the voice assistant (neither of which are the HomePod’s worst atrocities). What they failed to understand is the essence of the HomePod. And I’m not talking about the marketing gimmick of pushing great audio above smart voice assistance.

The HomePod is an engineering feat in which you can feel. In its unassuming package are upward firing, high-excursion woofers which provides the pop in pop music–a visceral buzzing bass that will enthrall most audiences.  The six-microphone array detects “Hey Siri” better than any smart speaker I’ve owned in the past. And Siri is more than apt in playing playlists or finding songs for you via voice command.

These are the features which will make the HomePod feel innovative to much of the market–I’ve listened to subwoofers larger than the HomePod that can’t push out as much bass and smart speakers that can’t hear you while playing at 80% volume. However, if its core roots of providing seamless, voice-controlled music to your home are not enough to sell you on the idea that this product is innovative, perhaps you are simply not as invested in the Apple ecosystem of products. AirPlaying sound from any of my Apple devices is an effortless joy, and everything from set-up to the design language of the Home app itself seems curated from the hands of, by none other than, Steve Jobs. While it is only an accessory piece that admittedly feels as much table furniture as high-tech gear, it is at least a product that seems worthy of all the culture the Designed in California label presumes.

MacBook

The 12″ underpowered MacBook is certainly not the future for professionals who rely on Adobe’s (excellent) suite of apps to make a creative life possible for themselves. However, applying such standards to Apple’s 2016 MacBook refresh is simply an oversight in expectation. The form results in its function in this case.

For all the reasons the MacBook Air stunned ultrabook enthusiasts at Jobs’ keynote back in 2008, glowing Apple logo et al, the new MacBook is of similar innovative qualities. It completely redesigned the keyboard away from the traditional scissor mechanism to the new butterfly mechanism to increase thinness (regardless of how you personally feel about it). It completely redesigned the battery to fill more of the empty spaces of the MacBook’s aluminum chasse. It completely redesigned the already superb trackpad to invoke the sensation of clicks through its new taptic engine. All these changes are unified in its goal to usher in the new future of ultrabooks. And although it includes the compromise of computing power with Intel’s low-voltage M chips in order to completely deliver on Jobs’ vision of fanless computers, the plethora of MacOS optimized apps from Apple themselves should ensure a smooth innovative experience for most user workloads.

iPhone X.png

I’ve saved the most controversial innovative product for last.

The iPhone X is not just innovative because it fulfilled a long-lasting desire from Apple audiences for a new, modern smartphone. It is innovative because it signals three, long-lasting changes to the Apple ecosystem.

The most notable has to be FaceID, which pushes Apple’s vision of a completely hands-free user authentication process. The iPhone X is the first device to do it, but it will certainly not stop there. With selfie-cameras galore on practically all of Apple’s devices, including their diverse Mac line, it will be easy for them to deliver on the promise of such future as they update their lineup in September and in years to come. The new gesture-based UI of iPhone X iOS will also surely be implemented in their iPads, which can now also benefit from new, modern design with the removal of the antiquated home button. Last but not least, the iPhone X is innovative because of its bezeless design. I am fully aware of the annoying cut-off at the top of the screen infamously dubbed as the notch (how can one not see that?) but the iPhone is the first mass-market use case of Samsung’s bendable OLED technology. In order to ensure evenly spaced bezels across all sides of the phone, the screen actually bends around the bottom of the enclosure to make space for the ribbon cable in which the screen attaches to, a design footnote that only someone like Steve Jobs would care so deeply about.

 

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