Is Apple Listening to Us?

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There was a moment during Apple’s iPhone Event last week that got a lot of people’s attention, mine included. When Phil Schiller started talking about significantly better battery life for all new iPhone models, tech writers, bloggers, and aficionados alike took notice. It was even bigger news when early reviews confirmed Apple’s claims.

This is exactly what many of us have been asking Apple to give us for a while now. However, they have usually seemed too concerned with thin and light to worry about adding battery capacity.

This is just the latest in what appears to me to be a series of shifts in different products over the last year. Last Fall, Apple added USB-C to the iPad Pro, which set it apart from all other devices that run a variant of iOS. This year, the company followed that up with the new iPadOS and its enhanced multitasking and ability to use external storage. These moves have brought the iPad Pro incredibly close to the desktop replacement that we have been asking for since the more advanced hardware and Apple Pencil were introduced.

I can’t leave the Apple Watch Series 5’s big new feature off this list, either. Always-on screen support has been one of the more requested features since the original Series 0, and now we have it. Apple even managed to keep it a surprise until the event.

There have been other little things, as well. We got support for XBox One and PS4 controllers out of the blue at the WWDC Keynote. Even though the Steel Series Nimbus is good, it’s expensive and only works with iOS. The ability to use console controllers is what gamers have really wanted. Now, support for them has arrived just in time for Apple Arcade.

Even iCloud got some new, long-requested features, such as Pinned Folders and Folder Sharing. Well, sort of. They won’t be released yet, but are coming later on in the iOS 13 roadmap. Despite the delay, they still show Apple’s intent to deliver the features that we want and need.

Other long-requested features have even started showing up in rumors. Take the 16″ MacBook Pro that has been projected to come soon over the last few months. Supposedly, this new laptop will do away with the much-maligned butterfly keyboard mechanism, which is exactly what Apple laptop owners have wanted for a while now. Rather than continuing to try and band-aid a deficient design, it sounds like they are finally ready to move on and give the people what they want again.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Apple is completely aloof. I know they care about what their customers think, but they often come off as dictating to us, rather than serving us. I hate to speak ill of the recently retired, but this was increasingly true with Jony Ive’s designs over the past 5-8 years. The austerity and slavish devotion to thin and light wasn’t as high of a priority for many Apple users as some of the things mentioned above.

I don’t know if I am reading too much into the tea leaves or whether Jony Ive leaving has anything to do with the changes listed above or not, but it certainly feels like things are shifting at Apple at the moment. It feels like there is a renewed focus on what their customers and fans really want and need. Some of their most popular products and services are now changing to include features and improvements that fans have been begging for. And just look at my article yesterday to see the results– the kind of overwhelmingly positive reviews we used to expect every time Apple released a product. Take note, Apple execs, Giving the people what they want really works.

Where will Apple go next with this? If they truly are more open to listening and giving their users and fans what we want, then there are several sacred cows that could end up served as steak. How about USB-C on the iPhone? There’s always my favorite requests- Pencil and split-screen support for the iPhone Pro Max. Want to get really wild? How about a touchscreen Mac? Or what about an iPadOS device in the form factor of the MacBook. Yeah, now we’re talking.

I know some of these things still feel like pipe dreams. However, considering how far Apple has gone over the last year to give us multiple features that we’ve been clamoring for, I have more confidence that some of the things I listed above will find their way into our hands in the near future. I couldn’t have said this a year ago, but here we are.

Come on, Apple. Show us how well you’re listening.


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