Posted by Karen Haslam 23 October 2014
The so-called life of a journalist covering an Apple Event
I was squeezed into a room full of European journalists recently as Apple broadcast the keynote address CEO Tim Cook was delivering to a similar room of journalists in California. Being lucky enough to be invited to attend the event in Berlin was fantastic, but what followed was a night to satisfy even the biggest workaholic.
Even before the keynote broadcast commenced the room of about 60 journalists was a hive of activity, tweeting and live blogging in the run up to the announcements. I was sat beside my colleague Andrew Harrison, technical editor for Macworld and PC Advisor and Twitter newbie, sending his first tweets out into the ether. Every tweet we sent would end up in our Live Blog here, which was also being managed back in the UK by our colleague Chris Martin from PC Advisor (no not the other Chris Martin). You can read the results of this Live Blog here.
You’ll know now that Apple launched two new iPads (although the newness of the iPad mini 3 is a matter of debate); a new iMac with a 5K monitor; a new Mac mini two years after Apple last updated it; and a few hours after the keynote finished the new OS X Yosemite was available to download.
Following the keynote we were filed in to another room where Apple had laid out the new products. The iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 were on one table, new 5K iMacs on another, and there was a Mac mini hidden out the back that we had to ask to see (as if Apple was hiding something, like the fact that it wasn’t possible to open up the box any more). This is where the hands-on reviews mania commenced as we tried out the new products to get our first impressions of them and Apple representatives took us through the new features in more detail and answered *some* of our questions.
Following this it was time to head back to the hotel, by this point it was just after 9pm in the evening. Apple was offering a buffet dinner in the hotel ballroom for us, along with Wi-Fi galore so we could work and file our stories. Scattered around the room were journalists from all sorts of European tech sites, but not everyone had the same remit. While Andrew and myself were uploading our first-look hands on reviews to Macworld and PC Advisor respectively, peers from other sites were filming videos recapping the announcements, or writing news stories based on what Apple had announced. I’m lucky enough to have a great couple of colleagues back in the UK, Ashleigh Allsopp and David Price, who, while I was live blogging the event, were updating all our stories about the new products. They did a great job and we got outstanding traffic on Macworld that evening (and over that days that followed) so it was all very much worth it, even if it meant working very late.
And I did work very late that night, finally calling it quits at 2.30am in my hotel room in Berlin having reached the point when I kept forgetting what it was I was doing.
Of course it doesn’t end after one night of reporting. The following morning after checking over the copy I uploaded the night before (which turned out to make a lot more sense than I had expected), I headed out to meet Apple again for a more in-depth briefing on the new products. Here’s where I got the technical low down on the new displays for the iMac and iPad Air 2, and found out why Apple had decided not to make the Mac mini user upgradable. They also explained their decision to remove the 32GB iPad (and iPhone) from the new line up (which I still think is a big mistake, find out why I think Apple should have discontinued the 16GB iPad and iPhone here).
With all this new information in hand it was time to update my previews of the new products, but with only an hour to go until we had to catch our BA flight back to Heathrow there was only time to add a few of the more important points and touch base with my team back in the UK to make sure that they had all the latest info too.
I worked on updating the stories while flying over France, eventually being able to update them for real in the CMS when the plane touched down and finally I could make my way home to catch up on sleep over the weekend.
Two days in two months
That was not where all the hard work stopped, and neither were those two days the beginning of the mega workload. This is the time of year when Apple related news becomes relentless for us over on Macworld UK. We’ve already had a crazy September with the launch of iOS 8, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and now we’re reeling from this October introduction of Yosemite, a new iPad Air 2, an iPad mini 3, a Retina display iMac and a long-awaited update to the Mac mini.
It would certainly help us if Apple didn’t choose to make its most important product announcements of the year during the two months that usher in autumn - it’s not as if there aren’t another ten months when it could have released some new stuff.
It’s not really true that Apple only makes announcements in September and October, as you will see if you read on, but that’s how it feels when we are rushing to report all the news and review the newest Apple products.
The timing doesn’t help either. The big events Apple holds are exciting, but they inevitably mean a sleepless night for us, even if we aren’t invited to an Apple Event, as we work late regardless, making sure we have all the news covered for our website. If only the announcements didn’t happen at 6pm UK time. The US has it easy - over there the announcements are at 10am.
It doesn’t stop with the sleepless night. This time round we’ve had two operating systems to write about and multiple new products to examine. The fact that there was hardly any time between Apple introducing iOS 8 and the iPhones, and then throwing us into the Yosemite, iPad and Mac news has left us feeling a little overwhelmed. It was nothing we didn’t expect though, and we’ve still managed to pull together extensive coverage of all of the recent announcements - we’re all workaholics here, it comes with the territory.
Apple’s almost uneventful 2014
Autumn is always a busy time for us, but it’s not really true that Apple has done nothing for the rest of the year. We’ve had plenty to keep us busy in 2014. In April Apple updated the MacBook Air, news that Apple was buying Beats broke in May, and we saw a new iPod touch in June.
Also in June we saw Apple unveil iOS 8 and Yosemite at its Worldwide Developers Conference, and then later that month it unveiled a new entry-level iMac and lowered prices across the range. Then July saw Apple update the MacBook Pro with Retina display before the chaos that was September and October hit, and we mustn’t forget the announcement of the Apple Watch in September, here, at last, was something innovative and new.
But I have to admit, compared to previous years it has felt pretty quiet. These are all good updates but, with the exception of the Retina iMac, there really hasn’t been a Mac update worthy of note. And while the iPhones 6 and 6 Plus and the iPad Air 3 are impressive, there is little to say in favour of the iPad mini 3.
It’s been a year where Apple products either got thinner or cheaper, but not much else. Apple’s not the only one to blame for this. Intel has been sluggish with its new processors, and an update to the Apple TV is said to be delayed as Apple tries to firm down deals with content provides and cable companies.
As we head into November we’ll start to look ahead to next year and speculate about the new products Apple might launch, the rumours right now are pointing to a new MacBook Air with a smaller Retina display, a new Apple TV which will become the control centre of all your household devices from your central heating to your garage door, and of course the Apple Watch. At least, for once, these rumours look set to materialise. As for the rumour that Apple will launch an actual TV, we don’t expect that 2015 will be the year that happens but we look forward to finding out.