Apple’s schedule for product update seems to be a mishmash when using a calendar to track new models. How often does the Mac mini get updated? Every year. Or, two. Or, three. How about the new Mac Pro? Has it ever been updated? Even the iPad is not on an annual schedule. It took almost 18 months to turn the iPad Air 2 into an iPad Pro. Apple TV skipped a few years between updates.
There is one product in Apple’s lineup that has escaped the messy calendar update schedule. It’s Apple’s bread and butter iPhone which gets an annual update, usually in the early fall. Even iPhone is subject to the realities of living in a universe where Apple does not control everything, so the company has adopted what is called a ‘tick tock’ schedule. The recent iPhone 6 and 6s are perfect examples.
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were dramatic departures in design from the previous model, iPhone 5s. The 6 line is a ‘tick’ while the iPhone 5s was a ‘tock.’ That means the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are ‘tock’ models which has a similar case design but with new components inside. Tick and tock work. Each year there’s something new, but not a visual design overhaul.
Word on the streets is that Apple will adopt a similar tick tock model for Watch, first introduced in spring of 2015, and the second version is expected to be introduced later this year as a tock version– same case, same look, similar design, but upgraded internal components.
Tick. Then tock. Then, another tick to mark a completely new design. That’s a process that has worked well for the iPhone, but it seems to be the only product which receives such annualized attention other than Apple’s various and sundry operating systems.
What I would expect to see in Watch are watchOS updates, more standalone functions including built-in Wi-Fi that works in such a way that the iPhone does not have to be nearby; thereby ending or limiting some of the built-in and inherent tethering. Think ‘Back To Your Mac.’ Toss in a few new sensors, onboard GPS, and maybe a standalone cellphone capability. Frankly, the user interface could use an overhaul, too, and maybe some of that will be introduced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. That’s when we would expect to see OS X 10.12 Bakersfield, or, even better, a simplification to ‘macOS‘ to match iOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
User interface overhaul?
Those app icons are too small and not easily identifiable. On iPhone and iPad each icon comes with a name. There’s not much screen real estate on Watch, but with no names to match the app icons the app launchpad screen is useless.
How successful is Watch? Only Apple knows. One report suggested one of every eight Americans owns an Apple Watch. That’s ludicrous. Another analyst says half that number but Watch sales in 2016 will go down, not up. Shades of the iPad; a big hit for awhile, then the upgrade and life cycle issues inhibit sales of new models.
What I would like to see is Apple adopting a tick tock schedule for other products, including Mac, iPad, Apple TV, and even OS X (macOS), iOS, watchOS, tvOS so that one year is new features, while the next gets performance improvements; and less of each so that we can depend more on our devices not going wonky at the worst possible moment.