Welcome to our weekly Apple Breakfast column, which includes all the Apple news you missed last week in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a Monday morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.
In defense of boredom
This year has in general been pretty boring for fans of the world’s richest tech company. The new iPhones for 2023 were cautious upgrades on the previous year’s models; the new Apple Watches were barely different; there haven’t been any new iPads at all. And while the Mac range did get the excitement of the M3 rollout, it wasn’t the big leap we hoped it would be and the fun won’t last, with 2024 expected to be one of that product’s dullest years ever.
There are good reasons for all this, of course. Namely, Apple has been forced to devote a disproportionate chunk of its developmental resources over the past few years to Vision Pro, the moonshot launch it hopes will one day replace the iPhone as its primary platform and revenue source. Vision Pro looms so large over Apple’s long-term future that every other product has seemingly been left to languish in the shade.
It has to be said, though, that nobody else phones it in quite like Apple. The iPhone 15 Plus is dull and conservative, for sure, but it’s still a great phone. I’m happily using the Apple Watch Series 9, a top-tier smartwatch whose only crime is that it doesn’t take enough risks. Even when it’s on autopilot, Apple reliably flies in the right direction.
This is what will define Tim Cook’s legacy at Apple. When he arrived, it was a sort of piratical dream factory dependent on inspiration from a handful of geniuses. Now it has excellence baked into its very processes and doesn’t rely on anyone… except perhaps Cook himself, although he’s done everything he can to make the company bigger than himself. His great achievement is to make the excellent seem routine.
As the last few years of political drama have taught us, there’s a lot to be said for dull reliability. But is it enough? Apple’s most recent balance sheet suggests customers are starting to yearn for a little excitement, and refusing to crack open their wallets until they get it. The long-awaited arrival of Vision Pro, and the hoped-for renaissance of the iPad, could make 2024 a year to remember. I hope so. But whatever happens in the limelight, you can depend on Cook’s Apple to keep doing the boring things well, and long may it continue.
The new Apple Watch Series 9 is available, but is it worth buying? In this episode of the Macworld Podcast, we talk about what makes the Apple Watch compelling and when is the right time to upgrade an Apple Watch if you already have one.
iOS 17.2 will finally let you customize your iPhone’s main alert sound.
And with that, we’re done for this week’s Apple Breakfast. If you’d like to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Facebook, Threads, or Twitter for discussion of breaking Apple news stories. See you next Monday, and stay Appley.