Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, was trying to demonstrate the iPhone X’s new facial recognition feature during its rollout on Tuesday.
“Unlocking it is as easy as looking at it and swiping up,” he said as he attempted to do precisely that.
Except it wasn’t that easy. The software didn’t work, and he was asked to enter his passcode like some kind of troglodyte. Twitter, of course, had a field day over the fact that the first $1,000 iPhone wasn’t ready for prime time.
That’s probably an unfair complaint, as this particular glitch will no doubt be fixed by the time the phone actually rolls out in November.
But this highlights the reality that the iPhone, which revolutionized the communications landscape a decade ago, can no longer have that same kind of impact 10 years later. Back in the day, the iPhone essentially created social media by arming every Facebooker with a camera and a bully pulpit.
Today, with plenty of iPhone imitators and other options, there just aren’t many innovations that Apple can serve up anymore – and least building off the framework of a smartphone.
What’s up with facial recognition?
Consider facial recognition, which is cool, like something out of Star Trek, but also unnecessary. Federighi’s boast that just looking at your phone and swiping up is all too easy somehow presupposes that pressing a button is mind-numbing drudgery. In reality, adding a swipe-up actually complicates the process as it currently exists.
The fact is that the upgrades being offered just don’t have the “wow” factor that the first iPhone had back in the day. It was amazing to have a phone that could play music and stream video, even though it did it rather poorly.
But we’re all much more jaded these days. The best Apple can do now is make the thing look cooler and run faster, but the nature of the whole experience doesn’t feel that different. Switching from a flip phone to the first iPhone in 2007 was like trading in a tricycle for a new car.
Upgrading from, say, an iPhone 6 to and iPhone X can just feel like a chore, and an expensive one at that.
That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with being excited by the new iPhone, but everyone needs to come to terms with the fact that they’re not likely to be dazzled by the future iterations.
Enough with the smartphones already. It’s time to bring on the flying cars.
(Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre on the Apple Park campus on September 12 in Cupertino, California. Apple held their first special event at the new Apple Park campus, where they are unveiled a new iPhone. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.)