Apple took a leaf out of Facebook’s book at its spring event Tuesday by unveiling new products and features that should look pretty dang familiar to competitors.
It released plenty of impressive stuff, including colorful new iMacs and a new iPad Pro, both powered by the super efficient Apple-made M1 chip. Some of the announcements were surprises, while others were long expected.
Where have we seen this before?
Either way, Apple is very good at what it does. So when it imitates your product, you should be concerned.
Apple is obviously an innovator — it’s the company that invented the freaking iPhone. But even when it’s late to the party, like it was with headphones, it can totally take over a market.
But hey, it’s a tech company eat tech company world out there.
1. Introducing AirTag, aka Tile
AirTag is a little Bluetooth sensor that you can attach to items like keys or the remote. Users can find the items with the FindMy app, or prompt them to make a sound to help you find them deep in the couch cushions.
Sound familiar? AirTag is Apple’s answer to Tile, a company whose whole thing is making Bluetooth trackers that do the same thing. Tile has collaborated with other companies, including FitBit.
The advantage of AirTags is that they should work really well with other Apple products, like your iPhone. Just like AirPods, they automatically connect to your phone. They also operate within the pre-existing FindMy app universe, so you can physically keep track of all of your Apple things in one place.
AirTags might not be unique, but they are definitely cute and useful. Sorry, Tile.
2. Center Stage, aka movement tracking from Facebook’s Portal
The biggest thing Portal, Facebook’s video chat device, had going for it when it launched in 2018 was how its camera followed people as they moved around.
Apple’s new iPad Pro comes with a very similar feature, which it’s calling Center Stage. It has an ultra-wide lens and movement sensor technology that Apple says makes it great for video chatting, Zoom lessons, or recording something like a cooking demonstration.
Amazon also cribbed this feature for the 2020 Echo Show 10. Sorry, Facebook Portal.
3. Apple Podcast Subscriptions, aka Patreon
Patreon pioneered the model of allowing fans and supporters of a creator, artist, or anyone, really, to become a “patron” by providing financial support on a regular basis. In kind, creators sometimes reward their patrons with special access to content or other perks.
Patreon has taken off in the world of podcasts in particular. Which is why it’s no surprise that Apple has unveiled “Apple Podcast Subscriptions.” Now, instead of using an external service (Patreon), podcasters can have fans “subscribe” directly in the Apple Podcasts app, where they can also release content only for patrons. It sounds convenient, and makes perfect sense. Sorry, Patreon.
Re-designed Apple podcasts come with a new subscription feature.
4. Ted Lasso on Apple, aka Ted Lasso on NBC
This isn’t a new one, but Apple and Tim Cook went so hard promoting Ted Lasso at its spring event that we had to mention it. Apple TV+’s hit show about a big-hearted, bumbling American soccer coach is returning for Season 2 this summer. Yay!
But did you know that before Ted Lasso was an Apple TV+ character, he was an NBC promo character? Yep, in 2013 and 2014, NBC released extended commercial skits featuring Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso to promote the Premier League coming to the network. In 2015, the creators shopped it around, and eventually landed at Apple. So yeah, Ted Lasso might be an Apple TV+ original. But not really.