- Reuters Pictures
- Apple is one of the biggest, most valuable, and most beloved tech companies in the world.
- Still, not everything the company debuted in 2018 lived up to expectations.
- We highlighted the most disappointing moments from Apple in 2018.
1. Apple hiked prices on just about everything.
- Justin Sullivan / Staff
Apple bumped up the starting prices of many of its most popular products in 2018, compared to 2017:
- The starting price of the newest and most affordable iPhone increased by $50.
- The starting price of the newest and most affordable Apple Watch increased by $70.
- The starting price of an iPad Pro increased by $150.
- The starting price of the MacBook Air increased by $200.
- The starting price of the Mac Mini increased by $300.
Apple creates great value in every product it makes, but the price hikes for these particular products, this year, were not justified.
2. Apple killed the iPhone SE, its smallest and most affordable iPhone.
- Business Insider/Steve Kovach
In 2017, the cheapest iPhone you could get from Apple was the $350 iPhone SE.
In 2018, Apple removed that phone from its lineup.
Now, the cheapest iPhone you can buy is the iPhone 7, which starts at $449.
The iPhone 7 is still an incredible phone, but it’s a shame that Apple no longer makes phones as small as the iPhone SE.
3. Apple released its first HomePod speaker, which showed just how far behind it is compared to Google and Amazon.
- Getty/Justin Sullivan
Apple’s HomePod speaker, which debuted in February, has brilliant sound.
But there is a list of things the HomePod can’t do:
- It won’t do a great job answering random questions like rival devices
- It doesn’t work with Android phones
- It doesn’t work well with other music services besides Apple Music
- It can’t be hooked up to another device with an auxiliary cord
Keep in mind: The HomePod costs $350, while rival smart speakers cost a fraction of that.
It has a beautiful design, but the HomePod is still very much in version 1.0.
4. Apple’s September event was one of the most disappointing iPhone launches in recent memory.
Chalk it up to leaks, but Apple’s September event, which debuted three new iPhone models and a new Apple Watch, featured absolutely zero surprises, which was very un-Apple.
Yes: The names, specs and features of Apple’s new devices were leaked weeks before the event. Bloomberg accurately reported on the names of the new iPhones – XS, XS Max, and XR – and Apple blog 9to5Mac published Apple’s own marketing photos of the new iPhones and Watch, which also showed up in the keynote.
If anything, the biggest surprises were actually bad news for Apple fans: The company discontinued two fan-favorite iPhones, the iPhone 6s and iPhone SE, and it offered no update on AirPower, the wireless charging accessory it teased a year ago. Apple removed all references from AirPower from its website at the time, drawing concerns that the project had been canned, but reports now say Apple plans to release AirPower in 2019.
Overall, Apple’s September event was one of the coldest and most boring Apple events I had witnessed in quite some time.
5. The new iPhone names were terrible.
Apple in 2017 unveiled the iPhone X – pronounced “ten,” not “ex,” since it represents the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.
In 2018, Apple had an opportunity to return the iPhone naming convention to normalcy, but instead decided on three terrible names for its 2018 iPhones: the iPhone XS (pronounced “ten-ess,” not “excess”), the iPhone XS Max (“ten-ess max”) and iPhone XR (“ten-arr”).
To cut to the chase: It makes no sense to put two letters next to each other and expect customers to pronounce one of the letters as a Roman numeral.
The iPhone X was cute marketing last year to make the 10th anniversary iPhone feel special, but if Apple didn’t want to confuse people, the new phones should’ve been spelled out as “iPhone 10S” and “10R.”
6. The iPhone XS was hardly an upgrade from last year’s iPhone X.
- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
Apple traditionally redesigns its iPhones every two years. For the years in between, Apple typically releases an “S” variant of that phone featuring faster chips and usually a handful of standout features to set it apart from the prior-year phone.
In 2018, the iPhone XS featured faster specs and a slightly better camera than its predecessor, the iPhone X. But it had nothing else to set it apart, and its starting price of $1,000 stayed the same. It was a very boring upgrade.
7. The gorgeous, redesigned iPad Pro is still hampered by frustrating limitations.
- Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
The 2018 iPad Pro is a gorgeous tablet, and a really powerful computer.
But despite the addition of a USB-C port for the first time, Apple will not allow the iPad Pro to connect to external storage devices.
And despite Apple’s insistence that this is a work computer, the iPad is frustrating to use if you want to do actual work, since Apple refuses to let its tablet work with mice or trackpads.
This means you’ll need to constantly lift your arm to touch the screen, which is still not a great experience.
The iPad Pro is excellent for niche use cases, but the architecture of iOS and Apple’s own bizarre restrictions keep it from being a true laptop replacement.
8. Apple’s big four-day “shopping event” for Black Friday was a total letdown
Apple hyped up a “four-day shopping event” in November, which kicked off on Black Friday.
But customers hoping that Apple would discount any of its newest products were very disappointed.
Apple’s Black Friday event basically consisted of gift cards given out when customers buy certain products.
And the gift-card deals could only be applied to older models. Apple’s $50 iPhone offer, for example, applied only when buying the iPhone 7 and 8 models and their respective Plus variants. The iPad gift cards couldn’t be obtained when buying the new iPad Pro models. The Apple Watch offers excluded the new Series 4.
While many were undoubtedly disappointed by Apple’s Black Friday event, the simple fact is that unlike many other companies, Apple does not need Black Friday to be successful.
9. Apple’s new MacBook Air did not get the full redesign treatment many had hoped for.
- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
After many years of the same design, Apple finally redesigned the MacBook Air in 2018.
The computer itself is great. But the new design is hardly different than before, and its starting price is $200 higher now.
The biggest difference is the new Retina display, a high-definition screen that’s now surrounded by black borders instead of the aluminum borders from past models.
Unfortunately, that Retina display, while sharp, is woefully dim. The computer works very well, but the screen cannot get bright enough for my liking. I swear I’m not being a snob about this; go to an Apple Store and turn the brightness up to the highest setting, and tell me that’s bright enough for your eyes.
My wife owns an old MacBook Air from 2014, which has just 4 GB of RAM. I told her not to bother updating to this year’s model. But that’s just one opinion; my colleague Ben Gilbert seems to be very happy with his new MacBook Air.
10. iOS 12 didn’t feel much different from iOS 11.
Every year, around the same time, Apple releases at least one new smartphone. But the best part of that annual cycle is actually the free software update that precedes the launch of the latest iPhone.
The biggest changes in iOS 12 are grouped notifications, which stacks your notifications by app, and sometimes by person. There’s also Siri Shortcuts, which very few people seem to use, and the new ScreenTime and App Limits features, which are actually excellent, but not really for me.
Don’t get me wrong: I love that Apple is letting people set limits on their phone usage. But it’s totally optional, and I don’t need to put limits on my time within apps. I get those ScreenTime Digest notifications every Sunday morning, and ignore them every single time.
Refinement is not a bad thing, but past iterations of iOS had more meaningful quality-of-life improvements that actually changed the experience of owning an iPhone or iPad.
11. Siri is still bad.
Siri is still a punchline in 2018.
Apple blew its massive head start it had back in 2011, when Siri debuted on the iPhone 4S. Over the past eight years, other better, more accurate assistants from Google and Amazon have dominated the marketplace: They connect to more devices, and offer more skills and abilities.
Siri became more natural sounding last year thanks to iOS 11, but it made no major steps forward in iOS 12 this year. It still has great difficulty generally doing or even understanding what you want it to do.
If Apple wants to improve Siri, it needs to make it better at understanding speech, acting quickly and accurately on commands, and proactively helping users in more personal ways. But right now, Siri remains woefully behind the competition.
12. One of the most advertised new features in iOS 12 is difficult to find, use, and understand.
Siri Shortcuts are a great idea, but their implementation was poorly executed.
Last week, I asked some of my colleagues on Business Insider’s tech team – who use and write about technology every single day – if anyone had tried Siri Shortcuts. Out of the 10 people in the room, one person had tried it, but she said she didn’t actually set up a shortcut.
Siri Shortcuts are basically “if-this-then-that” routines you can create for Siri. You program Siri to perform a certain action if another action occurs. The idea is to help fill in the gaps in Siri’s abilities by letting people make their own commands and actions.
The problem boils down to design: It’s very difficult to even find this feature – and once you’re there, it’s not very clear how everything works. It seems like the only people who generally understand how to use Siri Shortcuts are programmers and engineers – not regular people.
Over the past months since iOS 12 launched to the public, I’ve scoured various websites and subreddits to find the best Siri Shortcuts – and I had no trouble finding lots of examples. Loads of people have come up with different Shortcuts, and say they love the tool. That’s great for them. But the Shortcuts other people came up with don’t seem useful for my life; they’re extremely specific, and they don’t solve any problems I have (I don’t own a car, or use the third-party apps they do, for example.)
13. No new AirPods in 2018. (And no AirPower, either.)
- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Despite the many reports about new AirPods coming in 2018, this just wasn’t the year.
Apple debuted AirPods in 2016 alongside the iPhone 7, which was the first iPhone without a headphone jack. We’re hearing the next version of AirPods will have improved sound and water-resistance, but those are just rumors. It was a bummer we didn’t get the new models this year, but here’s hoping they arrive in 2019.
As for AirPower, Apple debuted that wireless charging accessory in late 2017, but offered no follow-up news on that announcement for the entirety of the next year. Here’s hoping we see AirPower resurface in 2019.