Apple's Phil Schiller talks HomePod delay, AirPods engineering, Face ID in iPhone X, iMac ...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2017
Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller continues his media rounds talking about all things Apple, with the latest interview delving into the internal thought process when the company decided to move away from Touch ID in the iPhone X, thoughts on Apple's collaborative environment, and the iMac Pro's imminent release.




In an interview granted to T3 and published on Tuesday hours before the iMac Pro availability announcement, Schiller called Face ID "the boldest of the things we've done" and reiterating the Apple committed to the new technology early in the process.

"That's an exciting moment, when you have to sort of the old saying: Burn the boats. Leave the past behind, and commit'," said Schiller. "Knowing that the team was willing to make that gamble was a key point early enough in the process."

As far as the Face ID technology included in other products, Schiller danced around the subject.

"We try not to get ahead of ourselves," Schiller said to T3. "While we have many plans throughout the year for many things, we also are realists in that we need to create something, and that we need to make it great, and that we need to study, and we need to learn all the user cases all around the world from everybody in every situation, before we then imagine some of the other things we might do."

Schiller also has seen that the new gestures on the iPhone X made necessary by the omission of a home button have been easy for users to adapt to.

"Most people are comfortable with it within minutes - 30 minutes, whatever. It's not the kind of thing you have to live with for a week or two to get used to," said Schiller. "That, to me, is always the sign of some or our most advanced, best thought-out technology: they become intuitive incredibly quickly and change how you think about everything else you use."

Tim Cook's powers of collaboration

Apple's deep integration between its assorted technologies is often cited as a reason for sticking with the ecosystem. Pointing to the Apple Watch being able to unlock a Mac, AirPods, and the Apple Pencil as examples, Schiller sees Apple CEO Tim Cook at the core of those interactions.

"One of the great things Tim has done is to recognize the power of collaborative work at Apple; he encourages us all to really take advantage of that; and to not only work together, but to imagine things in our products that would not be possible had it not been for that collaboration," said Schiller about Cook. "And those then turn into strengths that, as customers, we all benefit from."

Apple innovation in the AirPods

Schiller spoke at length about the engineering process for the AirPods. Saying that the company first had the Apple Watch Series 3 in mind when they conceived the device, the executive spoke about problems that they ran into along the way.

"At the surface level, it's an incredibly simple product. But the reality is it's actually an incredibly complex product to make," Schiller said regarding the very popular wireless earbud released in the end of 2016. "Each AirPod really is its own computer, running software and hardware. And those two computers need to deliver this very clear experience that you want, and they have to work together, because we're very attuned to synchronization in audio as a species."

Issues cited along the way were the unexpected result that removing the cable had on bud retention in the ears, dealing with RF shielding by the human body itself, and other fit and finish issues.

iMac Pro is a game-changer

Schiller claims that Apple "learned over the last few years" the "depth and love" that the Mac platform has by pro users. He says that the definition of Pro is very wide, and is very difficult to accommodate in full -- but they are listening.

"So why now? Because this is how long it's taken. It was a big, big project, and that's just how things go. It takes this time. And we're getting close to when it's out there. It's very soon. A matter of days now." Schiller said. "And like all of our products, we have a lot of thoughts and feelings about it, but the truth will be: what do customers tell us? I can't wait."

HomePod delayed, but no real reason given

"It's really very simple. It's a brand new product. It's a lot of engineering to make it be the product we've described, and for it to be what we all hope it can be." Schiller said about the HomePod's delay into 2018. "I'm actually really proud that we're a company that will take the time to do something right. Our goal is always not to be most' but to be best', and we set high standards. We often exceed those, but not always. And we need to be self-honest if something's not ready, and continue to work on it until it is."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,694member
    Schiller claims that Apple "learned over the last few years" the "depth and love" that the Mac platform has by pro users.”

    Why only recently have they come to understand this? This is surprising to me, having worked in video post at a time when Mac devotion was at it’s highest level. I thought for sure they understood how much we love and demand Macs. Better late than never I guess. 
    h2pbloggerblogminicoffeedysamoriacornchipjony0cgWerksargonautmarkaceto
  • Reply 2 of 70
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,010member
    welshdog said:
    “Schiller claims that Apple "learned over the last few years" the "depth and love" that the Mac platform has by pro users.”

    Why only recently have they come to understand this? This is surprising to me, having worked in video post at a time when Mac devotion was at it’s highest level. I thought for sure they understood how much we love and demand Macs. Better late than never I guess. 
    I think he meant to say we forgot and then had to relearn. ;-)
    dysamoriacornchipjony0magman1979cgWerksargonaut
  • Reply 3 of 70
    Unclear is, did they discover the HP wasn't ready after announcing it or decided to announce it knowing it wasn't complete hoping it' be ready in time ?  


    either way lots of questions here
  • Reply 4 of 70
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,898administrator
    holyone said:
    Unclear is, did they discover the HP wasn't ready after announcing it or decided to announce it knowing it wasn't complete hoping it' be ready in time ?  


    either way lots of questions here
    Yeah, and we're asking them on multiple vectors. We'll let you know what we find out.
    chia
  • Reply 5 of 70
    welshdog said:
    “Schiller claims that Apple "learned over the last few years" the "depth and love" that the Mac platform has by pro users.”

    Why only recently have they come to understand this? This is surprising to me, having worked in video post at a time when Mac devotion was at it’s highest level. I thought for sure they understood how much we love and demand Macs. Better late than never I guess. 
    Translation: "we were going to abandon that market, but recently realized it was a mistake"
    welshdogdysamoriajony0cgWerksargonaut
  • Reply 6 of 70
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,852member
    Truth is the current leadership team had to learn it.  Cook is a supply chain guru. It isn’t surprising he discounted the importance of power, configurability, and the classic interaction of that power and configurability with robust software tools. It looks like he understands mainstream products and low configurability means more efficient supply chains with high reliability. Maybe it was a cathartic reaction to finally being in charge led to going too far at the cost of the higher performance niches.

    Why was there nobody in a leadership position to fight against this and bring balance to the Mac? Maybe they were all Forstalled.

    On Face Id in other products, The problem is user accounts. Making an iMac that uses FaceId would require it to be able to read the FaceId of multiple users. How to do that without triggering demands for the same on iphone X? Hmm? Tricky.
    dysamoriacornchipargonaut
  • Reply 7 of 70
    entropys said:
    Truth is the current leadership team had to learn it.  Cook is a supply chain guru. It isn’t surprising he discounted the importance of power, configurability, and the classic interaction of that power and configurability with robust software tools. It looks like he understands mainstream products and low configurability means more efficient supply chains with high reliability. Maybe it was a cathartic reaction to finally being in charge led to going too far at the cost of the higher performance niches.

    Why was there nobody in a leadership position to fight against this and bring balance to the Mac? Maybe they were all Forstalled.

    On Face Id in other products, The problem is user accounts. Making an iMac that uses FaceId would require it to be able to read the FaceId of multiple users. How to do that without triggering demands for the same on iphone X? Hmm? Tricky.
    Are you suggesting Cook wanted to do this all along but Steve Jobs wouldn’t let him?
  • Reply 8 of 70
    Delays and software glitches seem to be increasing at Apple. Innovations are coming more slowly. Apple's quality goals are an increasingly tired excuse, and "integration" seems to be the next excuse. 

    I have an iPhone 5 and was looking forward to the new iPhone releases. The iPhone 8 would work fine for me but I couldn't bring myself to shell out the big bucks for something that looks not much different. (Someone tell Jon Ive at least some of his ideas are not precious enough to hold onto for five+ years!) The iPhone X was more like it but I'll wait another year (if there are no delays) in the hope of less expensive models. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 9 of 70
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,162member
    I generally like watching Phil's presentation at Apple announcements and it's a good thing to see him out and talking about Apple products outside of the auditorium. But at some level I interpret most of what he's saying as being very cliche, reaching, rehashed, and standard marketing 101 spin-speak. Is it really burning your boats on iPhone X when you have two very capable iPhone 8s as a life raft? No doubt that the year-long wave of anticipation for something totally new would have been in vain had the iPhone 8, or much less the iPhone 7s, been the only option. Not shipping the X this year would not have destroyed the iPhone franchise because the iPhone 8/8+ is still clearly better than most competitive flagship products. All in all, nothing earth shattering either good or bad to be inferred based on what Phil is saying - but I can't shake a my gut feeling that what we're hearing from Phil, at least between the lines, is decidedly not "Think Different" but more like "Defend Your Position." Overthinking perhaps, but that's what my gut tells me.
  • Reply 10 of 70
    Educated guess with the HomePod would be on the software side, specifically the room sensing and audio beam forming and how it's controlled by the SoC.
    Scot1
  • Reply 11 of 70
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,852member
    entropys said:
    Truth is the current leadership team had to learn it.  Cook is a supply chain guru. It isn’t surprising he discounted the importance of power, configurability, and the classic interaction of that power and configurability with robust software tools. It looks like he understands mainstream products and low configurability means more efficient supply chains with high reliability. Maybe it was a cathartic reaction to finally being in charge led to going too far at the cost of the higher performance niches.

    Why was there nobody in a leadership position to fight against this and bring balance to the Mac? Maybe they were all Forstalled.

    On Face Id in other products, The problem is user accounts. Making an iMac that uses FaceId would require it to be able to read the FaceId of multiple users. How to do that without triggering demands for the same on iphone X? Hmm? Tricky.
    Are you suggesting Cook wanted to do this all along but Steve Jobs wouldn’t let him?
    My theory, and a theory is all it is, is not so much that Jobs wouldn’t let him, more that Jobs lead with a slightly different set of priorities. Once in charge, Cook could emphasise his own priorities in investment, and his priorities are efficient supply chains. When there are big changes like that overreach can occur. We are only now in the correction phase.
    edited December 2017 dysamoriacornchipcgWerksargonaut
  • Reply 12 of 70
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,694member
    entropys said:
    Truth is the current leadership team had to learn it.  Cook is a supply chain guru. It isn’t surprising he discounted the importance of power, configurability, and the classic interaction of that power and configurability with robust software tools. It looks like he understands mainstream products and low configurability means more efficient supply chains with high reliability. Maybe it was a cathartic reaction to finally being in charge led to going too far at the cost of the higher performance niches.

    Why was there nobody in a leadership position to fight against this and bring balance to the Mac? Maybe they were all Forstalled.

    On Face Id in other products, The problem is user accounts. Making an iMac that uses FaceId would require it to be able to read the FaceId of multiple users. How to do that without triggering demands for the same on iphone X? Hmm? Tricky.
    Are you suggesting Cook wanted to do this all along but Steve Jobs wouldn’t let him?
    The Mac malaise started under Jobs direct supervision. I watched as my beautiful Xserves died on the vine and Steve’s response was “Nobody is buying them”. So a normal response by someone who cared about Mac market would have been “Hmm, let’s make our server software better and more capable. Then we’ll evaluate the hardware and our competitions hardware a respond appropriately.” That didn’t happen and after Xserve died, Mac Pros got ignored for years and years. If anything Cook and Schiller should be applauded for re-examining and evaluating the Mac line to make it better. 
    bloggerblogcorradokidking editor the gratefastasleepmike1dysamoriamagman1979patchythepirateargonaut
  • Reply 13 of 70
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,219member
    dewme said:
    I generally like watching Phil's presentation at Apple announcements and it's a good thing to see him out and talking about Apple products outside of the auditorium. But at some level I interpret most of what he's saying as being very cliche, reaching, rehashed, and standard marketing 101 spin-speak. Is it really burning your boats on iPhone X when you have two very capable iPhone 8s as a life raft? No doubt that the year-long wave of anticipation for something totally new would have been in vain had the iPhone 8, or much less the iPhone 7s, been the only option. Not shipping the X this year would not have destroyed the iPhone franchise because the iPhone 8/8+ is still clearly better than most competitive flagship products. All in all, nothing earth shattering either good or bad to be inferred based on what Phil is saying - but I can't shake a my gut feeling that what we're hearing from Phil, at least between the lines, is decidedly not "Think Different" but more like "Defend Your Position." Overthinking perhaps, but that's what my gut tells me.
    I won't rehash your words as you put things very well but if Phil, and by extension Apple, is really listening, give us a mid range tower!

    Zero engineering issues to resolve, a form factor everybody is well used to, upgradeable, thermally stable, bring your own screen... Just like with the G3, G4, G5...

    There are some 'boats' that never needed to be burned, much less in the name of 'innovation'.

    dysamoriaargonaut
  • Reply 14 of 70
    welshdog said:
    “Schiller claims that Apple "learned over the last few years" the "depth and love" that the Mac platform has by pro users.”

    Why only recently have they come to understand this? This is surprising to me, having worked in video post at a time when Mac devotion was at it’s highest level. I thought for sure they understood how much we love and demand Macs. Better late than never I guess. 
    I know it's so annoying. The pro market would have more "love" for Apple had Apple not stonewalled them so often. Almost all great Apple pro products are followed by years of near obsolescence and total uncertainty.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 15 of 70
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,852member
    welshdog said:
    entropys said:
    Truth is the current leadership team had to learn it.  Cook is a supply chain guru. It isn’t surprising he discounted the importance of power, configurability, and the classic interaction of that power and configurability with robust software tools. It looks like he understands mainstream products and low configurability means more efficient supply chains with high reliability. Maybe it was a cathartic reaction to finally being in charge led to going too far at the cost of the higher performance niches.

    Why was there nobody in a leadership position to fight against this and bring balance to the Mac? Maybe they were all Forstalled.

    On Face Id in other products, The problem is user accounts. Making an iMac that uses FaceId would require it to be able to read the FaceId of multiple users. How to do that without triggering demands for the same on iphone X? Hmm? Tricky.
    Are you suggesting Cook wanted to do this all along but Steve Jobs wouldn’t let him?
    The Mac malaise started under Jobs direct supervision. I watched as my beautiful Xserves died on the vine and Steve’s response was “Nobody is buying them”. So a normal response by someone who cared about Mac market would have been “Hmm, let’s make our server software better and more capable. Then we’ll evaluate the hardware and our competitions hardware a respond appropriately.” That didn’t happen and after Xserve died, Mac Pros got ignored for years and years. If anything Cook and Schiller should be applauded for re-examining and evaluating the Mac line to make it better. 
    I am sure that apple if it wanted to could easily have made the best xserve/server software in the market.  But would IT departments have ever bought it?  If it wasn't MS there is outright antipathy amongst those nerds. Mainstream and professional class macs are entirely different kettle of fish.
    that said, the mac mini server was pretty could for small business, but even that is a niche.  
    lowededwookiedysamoriaargonautzoetmb
  • Reply 16 of 70
    GBannis said:
    Delays and software glitches seem to be increasing at Apple. Innovations are coming more slowly. Apple's quality goals are an increasingly tired excuse, and "integration" seems to be the next excuse. 

    I have an iPhone 5 and was looking forward to the new iPhone releases. The iPhone 8 would work fine for me but I couldn't bring myself to shell out the big bucks for something that looks not much different. (Someone tell Jon Ive at least some of his ideas are not precious enough to hold onto for five+ years!) The iPhone X was more like it but I'll wait another year (if there are no delays) in the hope of less expensive models. 
    Someone should tell you what Ive has stated on many occasions — Apple doesn’t believe design is how something looks alone, but how it works. And that they don’t do change for change’s sake. And that his 20 person design team works as a team and it isn’t just him designing this stuff. 
    tmaylowededwookiefastasleepradarthekatcornchipmagman1979watto_cobraargonautzoetmbbrucemc
  • Reply 17 of 70

    avon b7 said:
    dewme said:
    I generally like watching Phil's presentation at Apple announcements and it's a good thing to see him out and talking about Apple products outside of the auditorium. But at some level I interpret most of what he's saying as being very cliche, reaching, rehashed, and standard marketing 101 spin-speak. Is it really burning your boats on iPhone X when you have two very capable iPhone 8s as a life raft? No doubt that the year-long wave of anticipation for something totally new would have been in vain had the iPhone 8, or much less the iPhone 7s, been the only option. Not shipping the X this year would not have destroyed the iPhone franchise because the iPhone 8/8+ is still clearly better than most competitive flagship products. All in all, nothing earth shattering either good or bad to be inferred based on what Phil is saying - but I can't shake a my gut feeling that what we're hearing from Phil, at least between the lines, is decidedly not "Think Different" but more like "Defend Your Position." Overthinking perhaps, but that's what my gut tells me.
    I won't rehash your words as you put things very well but if Phil, and by extension Apple, is really listening, give us a mid range tower!

    Zero engineering issues to resolve, a form factor everybody is well used to, upgradeable, thermally stable, bring your own screen... Just like with the G3, G4, G5...

    There are some 'boats' that never needed to be burned, much less in the name of 'innovation'.

    A brand new Mac form factor, and you claim it would have zero engineering issues to resolve. Do you guys even listen to the words you’re saying?
    tmayfastasleepmagman1979patchythepiratewatto_cobrabrucemcwilliamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 70
    Jesus the entitlement on this thread is mind numbing. Everyone thinks what they want in a new Mac is boss, that Apple doesn’t listen to them, that real world compromises aren’t a thing, that Apple is misguided and clueless, yada yada... To which I say — if this is actually true then there’s a huge untapped market full of potential. Start your company. Build what Apple refuses to. Watch your success and fortunes unfold as Jobs and Woz did. What is stopping you??
    edited December 2017 mike1radarthekatmagman1979appletreewickRayz2016watto_cobrabrucemcwilliamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 70
    Looking forward to HomePod. spoke to some apple engineers last week who all compared the sound quality to a Sonos 5. That would be pretty amazing given the HomePods size and significantly lower price point.
    magman1979watto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 20 of 70
    holyone said:
    Unclear is, did they discover the HP wasn't ready after announcing it or decided to announce it knowing it wasn't complete hoping it' be ready in time ?  


    either way lots of questions here
    Yeah, and we're asking them on multiple vectors. We'll let you know what we find out.
    I think the placeholder aspect is pretty significant here. Everybody and his brother is putting voice-activated speaker pods out on the market. Had Apple kept entirely mum about the HomePod until it was ready to go, even people well-invested in the Apple ecosystem would’ve had little reason not to go ahead and buy the Google or Amazon device, dimming Apple’s market prospects as they enter later. Even with the delay, with Apple laying down the marker, a lot will be willing to wait for the Apple device, rather than start down the road with one of the other items.

    I’ve tossed this out there before, but I also suspect that the HomePod is likely tied to other as-of-yet unannounced things, like next generation networking hardware and HomeKit advances. I’m tugging at dubious threads now, but Belkin announced a HomeKit bridge for its Wemo switches earlier this year too, saying it would come out this fall. There’s only a couple of weeks left of fall and Belkin has been in radio silence on that bridge device for months. I’m only bringing this up to wonder aloud (figuratively) if Belkin’s delay is tied to HomePod and as-of-yet advances in networking and HomeKit tech.
    edited December 2017 radarthekatwatto_cobra
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