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Oftentimes I hear that Apple’s veil of secrecy simply doesn’t exist anymore, but that’s only true for certain things, most especially for the iPhone. Stuff like this, however, that doesn’t involve their supply chain, Apple can keep under wraps almost perfectly.
Nintendo not only creating what seems to be a partnership with Apple, but doing so by speaking at one of their events, is pretty big for both companies. In recent years, Nintendo’s been announcing new games and consoles discreetly, opting out of the annual E3 presentations and instead announcing via their Nintendo Direct videos on their YouTube channel. Again, this is big for Nintendo because what it shows is that this foray into mobile gaming is something they’re pretty serious about.
They announced Super Mario Run, a mobile game exclusive to iPhone in the meantime. I’m guessing they’ll eventually port it over to Android – they’d be dumb to ignore the potential due to scale – but I think this is a great first move for Nintendo. The game will be selling through a one-time purchase – no in-app purchases – which is what I think totally in-line with what Nintendo would do. It's straightforward, not a money grab, and could potentially influence other developers to do the same.
I really hope this blossoms into a more solid partnership. While the benefits remain unclear – apart from Apple handling a portion of the marketing for their mobile games – I have a gut feeling that these two companies are a match made in heaven. I think this will be the case in terms of culture and for what Nintendo wants their collection of mobile games to achieve in the future. Quality games need quality hardware and software (and scale, lots of it).
Apple Watch Series 1 and 2
Overall, a pretty solid update. Let's start with the Series 2.
The emphasis on waterproofing and swimming was interesting. I don’t know exactly how many more units the Series 2 will sell because it has capabilities that can help swimmers get better – I see it as one of those things that Apple can do, wants to do, and wants other people to know they can do, but won’t necessarily benefit too much from financially.
What I think is more of a draw is the built-in GPS, effectively cutting one of the few leashes that keep the device tethered to the iPhone for most users. Apple seems to be doubling down on the Watch as a fitness device, as they’re marketing it as such – a major segment of their target market seems to be runners, and I’m guessing this is the one thing that’s keeping them from leaving their iPhone at home. I think the Watch will become much more of an essential device compared to its predecessor as a result.
The Watch’s new S2 chip is probably the biggest update from the original Apple Watch. Apple claims it’s 50% faster with 2x the GPU performance, which sounds pretty drastic. They tend to under-promise and overachieve on their marketed benchmarks, so I’m optimistic that the increased speed will be noticeable and will delight users.
What’s more interesting, though, is that the same chip is in the Apple Watch Series 1, which is basically the first Apple Watch but with the S2 inside. It doesn’t just show, but blatantly proves, that the S1 chip wasn’t good enough for either users or Apple themselves, especially considering how the obvious option was to just sell the first Apple Watch as is, but at a lower price, similar to the current iPhones. That said, I think Apple made the right choice here.
I still don’t know what all this means in terms of sales, though. While it has been a long time since the unveiling of the previous Apple Watch (two years now!), it’s still very early in the product life cycle, making it hard to determine the product’s viability for success based on previous sales figures. I’m cautiously optimistic that this will reach Apple’s internal goals, but I wouldn’t bet on it selling like hotcakes.
Finally, San Francisco
San Francisco is a font that was developed internally by Apple for their own use. It’s now the system font of both iOS and macOS, but only now has it appeared in their product marketing. It’s used specifically for names of products on their website, on printed material (e.g. pamphlets in packaging), and on the products themselves.
After giving it some time, I can’t say I like it. I can accept it as a system font, but in their marketing, it seems to dilute the sophisticated look Apple has been so good at pulling off over the years. Of course, this is in context of Myriad (and variants) having been used for so long, and now replaced in some places. This also means that the two juxtaposing fonts now co-exist, which is even worse to me.
At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t really matter all that much. These things are relative, after all – it’s easy to spot far, far worse misuse of fonts almost anywhere on the internet.