By Jason Snell
September 30, 2017 5:32 PM PT
Seasons of change
It’s late September. For me that means a few things. I’m sitting in my backyard, barefoot, under our big redwood tree, because late September is basically the best weather period in the Bay Area. And it’s also my busiest working period, which is why I’ve got an iPhone 8 in my pocket, an Apple Watch Series 3 on my wrist, and an Apple TV 4K on my TV. And why I’m typing into an iPad running iOS 11.
If June and WWDC is the starting gun for Apple’s product year, September is the single biggest milestone, led by the announcement of new phones and the release of the new operating systems. It’s Christmas come early for people who love Apple products.
One of the things I’m enjoying this September is being able to take my time with my evaluations of the new products, now that the three week crush of writing thousands of words has passed. When you get a new Apple product from Apple PR under an embargo, the company gets to make you adhere to its deadlines: If you get an iPhone 8 early, you’ll work to post your story at the moment everyone who was given an advance unit can post theirs. It’s basic competition.
When you’re not in that group—and I’m fortunate to have been in it, from time to time over the years—there’s no point in rushing your review. The first reviews are out there. I find myself enjoying the fact that I’m actually living with the cellular Apple Watch, collecting my thoughts on it before I write a review. The same with the iPhone 8, which I’ve gotten to use with a Qi inductive charging station so I can see how that fits (or doesn’t) in my life. I miss the excitement and prestige of being one of the first reviewers of these products, but I don’t miss the pressure of having to blast through using them in order to get a review done in a handful of days. Having some more time to consider a product is a luxury I appreciate more now.
If I had to pick the Apple product released this month that will impact my life the most… I suppose I’d have to pick iOS 11, since I used my iPad so much. But I’ve been using iOS 11 all summer, so it feels like cheating to pick it. Instead, I’ll say the Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular. It’s not for everyone, and watchOS has a lot of catching up to do with the hardware it’s driving, but in many ways it feels like a milestone.
As the cellphone era began, we started to take our phones with us wherever we went, just to stay in touch, or in case of an emergency. Once I got my first iPhone, I never went anywhere without my phone. It’s been ten years of that. But with the Apple Watch Series 3, all of a sudden my iPhone is no longer a mandatory carry. I can actually consider whether I want my iPhone or not. If the only reason I’m bringing it is just in case of an emergency where I need to call or someone needs to reach me, I don’t need to bring it. I’ve got my watch on my wrist and it does all those things, too.
Is that worth $10/month to my cellular carrier? I was talking about this with my wife, and she firmly believes it isn’t worth it for her. But I think maybe its worth it for me. Reasonable people will differ. But… it feels like the future. This is going to keep happening more and more. The smartphone is technology that has unlocked tremendous power for all of us. We have supercomputers in our pockets connected to a high-speed global data network. Everything has been concentrated in the smartphone… until now.
Now that power is going to be split up again, into smaller devices that are built for specific tasks. I believe the smartphone will be at the heart of it for years to come, but other devices are going to get smarter, and become more connected. The days of the smartphone as the only way for you to stay in touch and be connected are at an end. When the iPhone came into my life, the world changes. The Apple Watch Series 3 changes it again, for the first time in a decade. It’s not as revolutionary a product, to be sure, but it suggests that other devices are coming that will change how we interact with the Internet-powered communication sphere that we’ve constructed throughout human society.
Stuff is always changing. That’s the fun of writing about, and using, the latest and greatest technology. It’s something I’m reminded of every September.