Post Steve Jobs Apple Shows Less Secrecy, Less Style, More Fragmentation

There were some interesting take-aways from Apple’s big press conference today. Naturally there was a whole slew of drool inducing gadgets on display, but between the lines we see some strange changes in the philosophy of the world’s largest electronics manufacturer.

Apple can’t keep a secret anymore

Nearly every rumor about the new iPhone line turned out to be true. From the resized 16x9 widescreen display to the new dock connector, the rumor mill one-upped every Apple selling point. Is this due to the change in the company’s leadership or just a symptom of our constantly connected world? Could this be the end of Apple’s legendary secrecy?

Apple’s sleek, unobtrusive design is yesterday

The iPhone 5 continues the tradition of Apple’s flagship device as a elegant slab, but have you seen what happened with the iPod line?

ipod nano 2012

While the choice of colors in a nice addition (and a good idea considering the device’s target demographic), what is going on with that white insert? And it’s not just a mismatching front inset, but on the bottom and back as well. A unified color scheme would have created a wonderfully stylish appearance, especially with the matching home screen colors on the Nano line. A quick glance at the black Nano on the far left gives a tantalizing glance at what could have been. Is this bold retro styling or an eyesore?

ipod touch 2012As tacky as the white insert on the Nanos appears, it pales in comparison to what happened with the new iPod Touch.Once again we see the same mismatched white front bezel, but the real atrocity is on the back of the device.

See that round, silver, button-looking thing in the bottom left corner? What do you think that’s for? Wrong!

It’s a peg for attaching a a giant wrist strap dubbed “The Loop”. Even without the strap attached you’ll be hounded by that silver peg as prototype cases already show cutouts to support The Loop even if you don’t.

ipod touch 2012 loop

Apple no longer interested in a unified user experience

The move to a widescreen format for the iPhone 5 and 5th generation iPod Touch may have been a inevitable one, but there is little doubt as to the headache this will cause app developers and consumers. Apple has stated that older 4x3 formatted applications will run with side boxing to ensure compatibility, but what about software moving forward? Apple developers are, at least for the next couple of years, forced to create two separate interfaces for their UIs. The inability to stretch older apps to fill the new screen will also put pressure on devs to get those new interfaces out ASAP. Early adopters are the most demanding and most outspoken consumers alive. Gripes from these tech pundits can cause damage to the reputation of… well, anything, as they are frequently parroted across the Internet.

ipod nano 2012 displayAnother sure sign of Apple’s lessening concern over ensuring a consistent interface across their various product lines is evident in the new iPod Nanos.

Round buttons on an iOS device. This small, inconsequential change speaks volumes about the the company’s lack of standardization across platforms. Would this change in an introductory level Apple experience have been allowed to go to market under Steve Job’s watch?
Today shows some very different trends in Apple’s design philosophy from what we have become accustomed to since its renaissance with the release of the iPhone. It also marks the first full product cycle since the company’s founding visionary departed. Is this a minor stumble sure to be corrected in next year’s inevitable retread or a sign that, without the guiding hand of Steve Jobs, Apple has lost sight of the aspects that made it such a successful and interesting company to watch?

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