Welcome to our weekly collection of all the Apple news you missed this week, in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.
The law of surprise
Sometimes you write an article and wince slightly when you post it on the site. “That’s a hostage to fortune,” you think to yourself. “That might not age well.”
So it was with last week’s Different Think column, in which I complained that Apple’s imminent summer event wouldn’t be “the celebration of the Mac that WWDC ought to be.” The new 13-inch MacBook Pro wouldn’t be announced, I lamented in advance, while the MacBook Air would just be a superficial redesign with no sign of the M2 processor.
Reader, hands up: I (and much of the tech media bubble, to be fair) got that one wrong. The redesigned MacBook Air had the M2 after all, and Apple chucked in an M2 13-inch MacBook Pro for good measure. Apple faked us out. Or maybe, given that Apple didn’t tell us anything in advance, we faked ourselves out.
Apple has a reputation for secrecy, and for springing fully formed products onto a bewildered world that didn’t see them coming. The reality is more nuanced. The company certainly values discretion among its staff, but a lot of the time it simply can’t keep a secret. Veterans of the tech press will recall that even the first-gen iPhone, a proverbially stunning launch, was the subject of speculation for years beforehand. (I was working for a PC magazine at the time, and we used to joke about the name. It’s like an iPod, but it’s a phone, so they’ll call it an iPhone? You’ve got to be kidding! Amazing how you get used to things.)
Whether it’s down to the leakiness of its sprawling Asian supply chain, designers taking prototypes home with them during the pandemic, or simply the number of eager eyeballs checking its every regulatory filing and domain renewal, Apple’s secrets just keep getting leaked. There must be 10 products that we know about in advance for every genuine surprise. Professional cynics often argue that tech companies deliberately release leaks to generate hype, but why ascribe to sneakiness what can already be explained by human weakness?
In fact, for a company as large and leak-prone as Apple, keeping a product completely secret might not be realistic. Success in this context is something smaller: it’s expectation management. It’s persuading the media to under-predict so you can over-deliver. It’s dropping a shoulder and tricking the defense about the direction you’re headed.
This brings us back to WWDC, where we saw again Apple’s true genius: making customers excited about iterative changes. And the way you do that is to convince them first that there won’t be any change at all. If you’re expecting nothing, anything is a surprise.
Apple “has enlisted Hollywood directors such as Jon Favreau” to develop content for its upcoming AR headset, which appears to have slipped to 2023.
Podcast of the week
Apple opened a treasure trove of new features and products at its WWDC keynote. What looks impressive? What is downright disappointing? We cover iOS and iPadOS 16, the new Mac stuff, CarPlay, Apple Watch and more in episode 796 of the Macworld Podcast.
And with that, we’re done for this week. If you’d like to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Twitter for breaking news stories. See you next Saturday (and also on Monday for WWDC!), enjoy your weekend, and stay Appley.