Apple is No Longer the Plug

Earlier this afternoon, Apple held its latest keynote event, a time when people huddle around office computers and gawk at live tech blogs, waiting for the right excuse to spend inordinate amounts of money on a device that’ll be deemed archaic before the end of the winter. In the past, those excuses have been somewhat solid. The iPhone 4 made mobile video chatting possible and gave us the “read receipt.” The iPhone 5 made it so you don’t have to punch in a combination of letters and numbers to get access to your phone. Even as hype around iPhone releases improvements have dwindled in recent years, there were always rumors reasons for why you’d need an upgrade. Unfortunately for iPhone lovers, that really isn’t the case anymore.

Today’s reveal, which included the announcement of two new iPhones, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X, felt as vain as one of these events have ever felt. While iPhone users have griped over the years about losing the traditional auxiliary headphone jack, inconsistent GPS features, iCloud’s erasure of pre-Apple Music libraries, the secret expiration dates its stock chargers appear to carry and many more pertinent issues, Apple has responded with relatively middling changes, like overhauls to software interfaces and additional camera modes.

Today that trend continued. Highlights included the introduction of animated emojis, wireless charging that prevents you from holding your phone while its battery power regenerates and facial recognition software. Any one of those features may sound compelling to a given iPhone user, the likelihood of any of those tweaks being enthralling enough to outweigh a more urgent like—like the ability to charge an iPhone and listen to music on it simultaneously—is probably pretty low.

Worse, some of the features Apple is gung-ho about today are upgrades that Android users, consistently the brunt of Apple fans’ jokes and memes, have been enjoying for quite a while. “Face Unlock” began popping up on Samsung phones in the early 2010s, and Androids have been compatible with wireless charging for several years. Apple will undoubtedly find a way to make these features prettier and sexier than they are in other devices but the innovation arm of these keynote conferences is obviously weakening.

Also, despite the marginal nature of these improvements, the price of an iPhone continues to skyrocket. The iPhone X retails at $999, the price of a Macbook in some instances, while a 64-gig iPhone 8 starts at $699. For comparison, a 64-gig iPhone 5 initially retailed for $399.

A tech geek could probably comment on this with a laundry list of the hardware and software specs, which regular users don’t really care about but that prove that later editions of the iPhone do in fact include game-changing improvements. Which is probably how an Android fan would’ve responded to an iPhone user five years ago.

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