Anytime Apple schedules an event it makes news, and today is no exception. Case in point- even though the September 12 date has been common knowledge for over a week now, Apple’s stock hit an all time high after the release of the official announcement today. That is a level of reach into the both the culture and the wallets of consumers that even Samsung is likely still envious of.
Now that we have a real event to look forward to, let’s take a minute to dive into a few details of both the event and the iPhone 8, itself.
There has been a lot of debate over whether Apple’s new campus, especially the new Steve Jobs Theater, was complete enough to make this the first event held there. Evidently Apple was able to clear enough hurdles and make enough deadlines to feel confident that all will be well when Tim Cook walks out on stage at 10 AM PST on September 12.
I am a contractor by trade, and my particular trade is usually one of the last to finish up at the end of a new construction project. I’ve never been in a deadline situation this intense, but I have enough experience with such unpleasantness to know that there are some companies, Apple included, pulling out all the stops and working multiple shift crews and tons of OT to be sure that the loose ends are tied off on time. To all concerned, I salute you and hope you are getting paid well for all those hours of overtime.
The Usual Pattern
This Apple event may be unique thanks to its location and the tenth year of the iPhone, but some things are likely going to stay the same. Apple held with its usual Tuesday announcement date, and likely avoided next week thanks to Labor Day and the natural conflicts that the holiday would have posed with holding an event the next day.
It is also a pretty safe bet that preorders for new iPhones will get started at midnight on Friday, September 15. Not so bad for those on the West Coast, but this really sucks for those of us in the Central and Eastern Time Zones. I know I will have a 1:45 AM wake up call on 9/15, as will many other Apple fans and bloggers. It is what it is. I would rather do this than have to line up at a store. We can also expect the new iPhones that are ordered within the first hour or so on the 15th to show up on Friday, September 22. Again, just like clockwork.
One interesting thing to watch for at the end of the iPhone announcement will be how Apple handles the iPhone 8 (or whatever it ends up being officially named). We had all those mountains of unnecessary alarming early rumors telling us that the new flagship device would be severely delayed, even as far out as next year. However, it seems that Apple did what Apple always does and is getting ready to ship yet another iPhone within the same launch window it always uses. Still, I am very interested to see if Apple will have enough of the new models to do pre-orders. Making the launch window and making target device yield rates are two very different things, and there is no guarantee that Apple will have enough to do a proper pre-order.
We have mixed evidence on this from the recent past. When Apple released the iPhone 5S, they skipped pre-orders and anyone who wanted a phone on launch day had to queue up somewhere. This was presumably due to relatively low stock because of the newness of TouchID. That is one of only two times that I have “done the line,” and thanks to the fact that I just went ahead and sat out in the early line at my local Apple Store rather than going to bed, I got there early enough to get one.
Of course, even more recently Apple went ahead and allowed pre-orders for the iPhone 6 Plus, despite having very few to sell at launch. I tried to snag one when pre-orders opened, but even though my Apple Store app got me in by 2:03 AM that morning, the Plus was already a hard sellout. So, Apple will likely make the iPhone 8 available for pre-orders, but you never know. Maybe a ten year anniversary line party at Apple Stores around the country is what they want this time around.
What’s Up, Dock?
The iPhone 8’s lack of a Home Button opens up a lot of possibilities for how Apple will handle its core navigation and triggering tasks going forward. While many initial rumors focused on a Virtual Home Button at the bottom of the screen, the consensus now seems to be that the area at the bottom of the phone will become a “gesture area” that will serve to absorb the Home Button’s functions. As usual, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman is leading the charge in letting us know what’s coming a little early.
While this sounds great, what really grabbed my attention was the mention that the iPhone 8 may be getting a new Dock similar to the iPad’s in iOS 11. In my opinion, this is bigger news than getting more gestures. If Apple brings about 75-80% of the functionality from the iPad’s Dock to the iPhone 8, it will really change how we use our devices. If we can go from the standard 4 apps to 8 or more, that would be a notable shift. If we can reserve one or two spots for recently used apps (a default setting on the iPad’s Dock), it would become an even faster way to switch between apps without having to open the app switcher.
The real game-changer would be the ability to swipe up and access the Dock from inside of running apps, just like we can on the iPad in the iOS 11 Beta. Not only is this a very handy feature, but it sets Apple up for the next big feature for their Plus-sized phones. The increase in usable screen real estate and emergence of a Dock point to future split-screen multitasking on the iPhone.
I am 99.999% certain that we won’t see this in the iPhone 8, as someone likely would have found it digging though the guts of either the iOS 11 Beta, or the leaked HomePod firmware. The iPhone 8 and iOS 11 are already bringing a lot of change to the platform, so I don’t there is a reason to add such a feature on top of everything else. Rather, this seems like the perfect feature to bring out next year at WWDC in iOS 12. Apple will have a year of feedback and testing using the new Dock on the iPhone 8, which will allow them to tweak and refine in preparation for what would be an important shift for the platform.
For those who are planning to order the iPhone 7S or 7S Plus, I have a feeling you might miss out on the new Dock features that the iPhone 8 gets. Apple has a tendency to start small with new features such as these, and I don’t think this will be an exception. Just look back at Siri, TouchID, the Apple Pencil, and 3D Touch. Each started out on one new model only, and grew from there. Until we see otherwise on the 12th, I think any new Dock features will be limited to the iPhone 8.
Are you ready for September 12th, 15th, and 22nd? Which iPhone are you planning on getting? What do you think of an iPad-like Dock coming to the iPhone? Let me know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.