It’s time for the latest rumors about the Apple TV—the set-top box that we love to be “meh” about. A report from Bloomberg suggests that Apple is at work on a new revision of the device, which will bring support for 4K (Ultra High Definition or UHD) video as well as a feature with “more vivid colors,” which is probably something related to High Dynamic Range (HDR).
But is this too little too late for the Apple TV? While the set-top box probably does fine by Apple’s standards, it’s hardly the kind of category-defining product that we’ve seen even the Apple Watch or iPad be, much less aspiring to the heights of the iPhone. Historically, Apple’s TV attempts have always been a bit on the lackluster side, and these latest rumors don’t do much to change that perception.
We’ve heard the refrain over and over again: music is in Apple’s DNA. It’s been uttered regularly by Tim Cook, and even if Steve Jobs didn’t put it in exactly those words, it was clear from the direction he steered Apple—introducing products like the iTunes and the iPod—how important music was to both him and the corporation he headed.
But even as the company continues to push its Apple Music venture, there are a few places where Apple would be better served by re-examining the way it approaches music. From services to software to hardware, Apple’s gotten pretty comfortable about where it stands with music—but not necessarily because it has the best solutions out there.
Here’s the thing: This multipronged approach is nothing new to Apple. And while I do believe that Apple is investigating building computers based solely on the same type of ARM architecture it uses in its iOS devices, this latest report doesn’t necessarily draw a straight line to that future. After all, the Touch Bar and Touch ID sensor in the new MacBook Pro already rely on an ARM chipped dubbed the T1.
Mainly, it’s another example of Apple mixing and matching technologies where appropriate so that it always has the best tool for the job.
Apple is fond of talking about its secret sauce, about the things only it can do because of its unprecedented combination of hardware, software, and services. But for all that it has been very successful with its strategy of making the whole widget, from soup to nuts, it’s pretty clear that all three of those areas aren’t exactly on equal footing.
Hardware, sure. The company’s been making computers since the late ’70s, and it’s never seriously moved away from that—let’s not talk about the awkward fumbling of the clone years. Likewise its software, which has gone from revolutionary operating system to also-ran back around to venerable and respected veteran of the computer industry.
But then there’s services. Services have and continue to be a weak spot for the company, and its biggest challenge in 2017. This chink in its armor has left Apple vulnerable to its competitors, for many of whom services are a strong suit.
Last weekend, I spent some time with a couple of friends who both have Windows laptops and I found myself experiencing a hitherto unfamiliar feeling while watching them use their computers: envy.
Let’s be clear: I’m not talking envy for Windows. Throughout my life, I’ve spent a not inconsiderable amount of time untangling problems created by Microsoft’s operating system, and I have no desire to switch from macOS. No, what drew my eye was one specific hardware feature that their laptops—a Microsoft Surface Book and a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga—shared: a touchscreen.
Everybody’s getting into the content game these days, and from a report in the Wall Street Journal this week, it appears that Apple is no exception. The company is said to be planning a major push into original TV programming, looking to produce “critically acclaimed programs like Westworld on Time Warner Inc.’s HBO or Stranger Things on Netflix.” This is on top of the previously announced continuation of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke series (albeit without Corden himself) and the rumored Dr. Dre-produced scripted show.
So why is Apple, which has often enjoyed solid reputations with media companies, looking to throw its hat into the content ring? Isn’t this veering away from the company’s core mission of creating products that surprise and delight its customers? What exactly is Apple’s goal here?
Ah, the Consumer Electronics Show. Home to smart fridges, video games, automotive technology, and a whole lot of technological gadgets and junk. It’s bad enough sifting through all the news from the comfort of my own office—I just heave a sigh of relief that I haven’t needed to actually set foot at the show in almost a decade.
And the reason that I’ve been able to avoid the Las Vegas Convention Center is because Apple isn’t really a presence there. Oh, sure, there are plenty of companies developing iPhone add-ons or showing off their new apps, but Apple itself doesn’t attend in any official capacity. That’s in large part because the company is perfectly capable of making its own splash whenever it wants to, simply by calling a press event.
But another big reason is that Apple simply doesn’t see itself as a “gadget” purveyor that needs to compete with any of the other companies at the show. Because when it comes to CES, gadgets are a lot of what draw the eye.