theonetrueipad1_2040.0.0Yesterday’s new Apple event was interesting as far as it went, though there was not a whole lot of interest concerning e-books and e-readers. But that’s not to say there wasn’t anything.

Much of the event had to do with Apple’s new medical monitoring software, as well as the new green environmental options for recycling old hardware. (Let’s hear it for robot arms that can take old phones apart, hmm?)

But the two new standout hardware models could both have an impact on e-books. For starters, the iPhone SE. Although some have criticized it for being simply an iPhone 5S with a better CPU and camera, you could effectively say that about any new model of smartphone or iPhone—it’s just the same as some older one with better hardware and new cosmetic flourishes.

The important thing is that very few smartphone companies have bothered keeping up with high-end smaller phones in this era of the phablet—but plenty of consumers still think those phones are too big and want something smaller in their pocket. Apple said that 30 million people bought the two-year-old iPhone 5S in 2015, which is as many iPhones as they sold in their first two and a half years of release.

The price is fairly reasonable for an iPhone, too—$399 for the 16 GB version and $499 for the 64 GB version. (Why on earth they’re still starting their basic model with only 16 GB in this age of 12 megapixel cameras and high-definition video, I’m sure I don’t know.) It’s possible that this concentration on a flagship phone meant for people who like them smaller could help Apple regain a foothold in the global mid-priced smartphone market—which is currently Android’s playground.

And the phone has a 4” 1136 x 640 326 ppi retina display, which will make e-book text look sharp and clear, albeit small. It might be small, but almost any smartphone screen is small—and small screens haven’t yet dampened the enthusiasm of people who enjoy reading on them. For that matter, Steve Jobs himself is on record as having felt that smaller was better when it came to smartphones.

But for iPads, larger screens are the order of the day. For all that a lot of people seem to like the small iPad Mini, two thirds of all iPads sold remain the larger 9.7” iPad Pro size. So, Apple’s release of a new model in that line is not exactly surprising.

Again, much of what Apple had to say today about the iPad didn’t have much to do with e-books, but one new feature it did mention seems like a potentially important innovation when it comes to e-reading. That feature is “True Tone,” the ambient light color temperature matching system.

The way True Tone works is that its sensors will pick up on the color temperature of your environment and shift the color temperature of the iPad’s display to match. When you’re under warm yellow incandescent bulbs, the display will be warm and yellow. Under cooler fluorescents or bright sunlight, it will be cooler.

The interesting thing about this is that it lets the iPad explicitly mimic the affect of paper—or, for that matter, e-ink readers—which also changes tone with the environment because it works by reflected rather than self-emitted light.

It’s possible that this could help reduce eyestrain and headaches associated with reading from a light-emitting tablet—or, for that matter, a smartphone, when the same technology eventually makes its way to iPhones. Either way, this is one of the best displays ever seen on a tablet, and it’s aimed right square at e-readers.

That said, the price on this new iPad starts at $799 for WiFi only and 32 GB of memory, and goes up from there—so e-book readers on a budget will probably be waiting a while to see the benefits of that new technology. But that’s just how it goes with Apple.

At any rate, there might have been relatively few things for e-readers in yesterday’s Apple presentation, but at least the ones they did have were pretty big in the end.


  1. Quote: “Let’s hear it for robot arms that can take old phones apart, hmm?”

    No, let’s hear boos and hisses for an Apple that makes products so hard to repair and upgrade, they must be soon recycled, whether by robots or anything else. And don’t forget the waste and environmental destruction inherent in the entire solar echo system. Cities get polluted in China to build solar. Forests get leveled here to locate them.

    And add in some additional boos for environmentalists so clueless they fall for such ploys. Products like smartphones should be built so they have a useful life of at least a decade. Anything else is environmental waste on a giant scale.


    Quote: “Why on earth they’re still starting their basic model with only 16 GB in this age of 12 megapixel cameras and high-definition video, I’m sure I don’t know.”

    Don’t fein ignorance, Chris. You know precisely why. Look across Apple’s product lines. They typically have a loss-leader model with too little RAM or storage. Then they have a model with an adequate amount of either with an grossly inflated price. Does the extra 48GB of storage cost more than a tiny fraction of the $100 Apple is charging. No, not even close. I doubt it costs Apple $10.

    The Mac mini plays the same devious game. Adding additional memory from Apple costs four times the market rate for RAM. My 2012 model allowed me to add memory myself. Greedy as a SOB, Apple gave the model after mine soldered in RAM, which meant that those who want more have to pay Apple’s robber baron rates.

    And again, Apple plays the environmentalists for the fools they undoubtedly are. Those new Mac minis will have to be discarded years too soon, broken up into mere parts by robots, because Apple—did I mention they are a bunch of greedy SOBs—won’t make user RAM upgrades possible.

    And did I mention that environmentalist are fools for letting Apple pay this all-too-obvious game on them? Apple wants “recycle” to mean turning an iPhone that cost an enormous amount of resources to create into a end process having little more impact than recycling a pop can. It wants that iPhone destroyed, so those who need one have to buy new and from it. Much better to give that iPhone to a friend and recycle your pop cans.

    Unfortunately, people who belong to the Sierra Club and the like are too rich and stupid to fathom the enormous difference in ecological impact between reuse, meaning passing along that iPhone to someone else who will continue to use it (perhaps as an ereader) and recycling, which in practice means one heck of a lot of wasted resources. And no, I don’t blame Apple executives for what I’m sure they know is an all-too-transparent lie. I blame the environmentalists who aren’t clever enough to know they’re being taken.

    That said, except for the inadequate storage, the new iPhone SE is a good move. At $499 new, in a couple of years buying one used may make sense on my writer’s budget. And now that Apple is selling unlocked iPhones direct to the public to make more money for itself, that does weaken the wasteful, upgrade-too-often market that cellular companies have created with their free-with-a-contract schemes.

    Make real environmentalism pay and Apple will behave well. May bad environmental policies pay, and it’ll be a blight on our planet. That’s particularly true when it can play the environmental cult for the fools many of them are.

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