” How was your flight? ” the driver of the shuttle that was picking me up at the airport asked me, while I was changing my SIM card in the iPhone to be able to have data on U.S. territory. ” Well, very quiet ” I said as the apple was lit on the phone. The plane had been quite punctual, which would allow me to get to San Francisco on time . ” How long will it take us to get to San Jose? “, I asked as I looked up at the driver by myself. ” Oh, just half an hour, depends on the traffic. Here in Silicon Valley there is always a traffic jam. 45 minutes at the most. ” I looked down again at the iPhone screen: ” I leave the airport. I’m coming. ” I wrote to a colleague in iMessage, and put it in a pocket.
I wasn’t going to miss the view, but I wanted to know when we got to Infinite Loop
The road lit up with orange tones as we left the city, but it soon began to sparkle. Those immense trees that embraced both sides of the road gave a certain serenity to the moment, and one could forget that I was in one of the cradles of the world’s technology . I didn’t want to miss the view, but I was watching one of the areas that the road passed by – when I knew it was close, I looked to the right and had my phone ready to record. There were those well-known buildings with green tones: I was passing by 1 Infinite Loop , the location of Apple’s original campus, the mothership as we knew it.
I smiled. The Junipero Serra Freeway is a 57-mile stretch connecting the city of San José and San Francisco, although it is currently known as Interstate 280 . It is known as the “world’s most beautiful highway” because of its scenic route along the San Francisco Peninsula. You’ll know its logo – a small blue and red shield with a “280” on it – is the one that appears on the Apple Maps icon. There I knew I was close, and somehow everything was comfortably familiar.
Twelve days, one hour and 20 seconds. That’s how long it was since I got the invitation that Thursday afternoon, until the keynote started. During that time, I became obsessed with the idea of getting everything that was going to live there to all of you in the best possible way – in every possible way. I started looking for live event videos, not necessarily technology, but also fashion and sports. I was fully aware that this time, every second counted to tell this story. But I had a plan.
The night before the keynote I only got four hours of sleep: I wanted everything to be perfect
I slept for four hours. And upstairs. While I was getting dressed, I kept looking at my MacBook Pro , where I left the camera, where the case was, where I took everything. “The American adapter, don’t forget ” and I put everything in it. I recorded video of all this for my Instagram Stories, a simple way of bringing the moment to those who wanted to know the ins and outs of preparing such an event. I had to deactivate the notifications for that social network because the day before it almost destroyed the battery of my iPhone. Also the ones from Twitter and Facebook – that level of attention I was getting was good because I understood that all that was also interesting for you: and I hadn’t started anything yet.
Last year, I saw many journalists with tripods at the presentation. They were essentially Americans, and could afford to carry more material since they didn’t have to make a transatlantic flight like I did – since I also didn’t want to check in to avoid problems with luggage. So I thought I would look for a selfie stick on Amazon a few days before would become a tripod. I hate selfie sticks but this occasion required exceptional measures . I found one that was reasonably light, compact, sturdy, with a mini mirror so that I could see myself while I was live. There I had it all set up on the hotel desk . I took that and put it inside the case. It looked like a lightsaber. Let’s do this .
The international press was already at the top of the bus, so we sat behind the whole thing. While we were leaving San José – which was only 20km away from the destination – it seemed like a normal day. The daily routine in that California city made it even more special where we were going, if that was possible.
Everyone was sitting on that bus, but I kept looking at the iPhone screen. ” Leave your mobile phone, you’ll run out of battery ” someone told me – which was practically impossible because I was armed with two external 10,000 mAh batteries charged to the max. I was actually looking at Apple Maps to see exactly where we were going, and looking out the window.
I want us to stop right now for a moment. If this were a film, I would like to freeze this frame , or make it go into slow motion. In those seconds I imagined all the images I had seen, all the things I had read, all those damn drone videos. All of that happened while I was actually realizing where I was.
The Apple Park live is even more impressive because we didn’t imagine it to be so big
The arrow wrapped in a blue circle of Maps was entering the perimeter . I looked up through the left window and couldn’t help but move my briefcase aside, stand up with my knee against the seat and without looking at the screen, open the camera and start recording video. My pupils must have dilated, I think my heart rate increased and I am convinced that I smiled. The circle of Apple Park was there, gigantic, like something out of a science fiction movie. Everyone started looking out the window and being surprised out loud by what was in front of them.
We had arrived.
Welcome to Apple Park
The parking lot of the Visitor Center was already giving us the first surprises. The streetlights were LED rectangles, the bus stop seats had a design we had never seen before and the whole place looked like a computer render . Everything was so neat, tidy and in place, with that mix of nature and design that gave almost an unreal feeling . When we got out of the vehicle a path led to one of the highest hills in the park: up there was the Steve Jobs Auditorium itself .
On the way, I recorded a couple of Stories for Instagram and some pictures for Twitter. I stopped to visit the entrance of the auditorium without doing anything else: that huge cylinder of 50m in diameter and 6m high stood imposing while the circular building was omnipresent on the horizon. Someone was surprised that there was not a single pillar to support the roof, and that the thermal sensation inside was perfectly pleasant. ” This you have to see now “.
I went outside and recorded one of the first videos for Apple’s Facebook: that horrendous selfie stick was working perfectly because it allowed me to move and manoeuvre among people without losing sight of what I wanted to show you. There was a lot to tell, but I wanted you to see for yourselves:
Inside, the journalists were already preparing to go down to the event. Two gigantic side stairs allowed access to the lower area and a mysterious elevator that seemed to turn on its own axis was at the bottom of where I was. Inside, there was even more of a sense of unreality: a super-technological place surrounded by trees and green areas – some recently planted – next to the imposing vision of the circle in the background. This had to be told, so again I tried another live video:
People were already crowding at the beginning of the descending stairs, so I recruited the closest companions I could find and we went to them. ” We have to be the first ,” I said as I zigzagged to where they left me. After a few minutes, someone gave permission for the press to start going down .
The Steve Jobs Auditorium
Going down that enormous staircase, perfectly prepared to house a large number of people by it, we descended to the lower level. Even the railing is carved into the wall, so as not to hinder the descent if that staircase is full of people. White tones, combined with aluminum, the whole place looked like another Apple product. Profiled and detailed down to the smallest detail.
The rumored circular wall was there: it hid behind it all the products that were going to be presented to us
However, it seemed to me that there wasn’t much room in the middle. I looked to my left and a gigantic wall of some aluminium-coloured material closed in a circular fashion from end to end the semicircle that seemed to come out of the upper floor. There I remembered all those rumors of the wall that was spinning that during weeks previous to the presentation, it had been commented that it existed there. That, without a doubt, was the test area where we could later touch all the products we were about to meet. Above, on the right, just before the entrance, carved on the upper wall, three words “Steve Jobs Theater” . I took out my iPhone and shot a video, it was the first time the press came to that place.
We looked for a place on the right, although actually any place was good to follow the presentation. Here I understood a bit why limit the auditorium to a thousand people : all the seats have a fantastic view of the stage. We chose our seats, not before taking some pictures: we were going to premiere them, and a lot had been said about them.
While I was finishing some new video for Facebook, I started the follow-up at Apple . The interest of the people in that event was more than evident, and the press that was there began to sit down and fill the auditorium. The moment was approaching. The lights dimmed little by little, a voiceover told us – when we were all ready – to please lower the screen of the laptops and turn off the mobiles. And suddenly, the voice of Steve Jobs was heard again on an Apple keynote.
This was how the first performance in Apple Park was going to start. Instinctively, and lowering the phone screen to the minimum so as not to disturb, I recorded that beginning that you can see above – although looking, at the end, at a different perspective: the grandstand, where the press colleagues, guests and Apple staff were sitting.
The sound was impressive, and the screen visibility was perfect from anywhere in the auditorium
The sound in that room was what impressed me the most. Maybe I was expecting an even bigger screen, but the incredible visibility of that place meant that nothing bigger was needed. The decoration of the site seemed to me to be reminiscent in some respects of the classic Town Hall room of 1 Infinite Loop , where the iPod was presented. There were moments when I would stop for a few seconds and look around: living a keynote from the inside allowed me to have those licenses. For example, I discovered that Apple provided a person who translated all the content of the presentation into sign language, in case someone in the room had hearing difficulties.
The presentation had a fairly quiet pace, but the density of what they were presenting only prepared us for the last stage of that: we had to try everything and take home the sensations of each product. There is no press room in the auditorium, so later we could go back to those comfortable seats to finish writing the chronicles to send as soon as possible. The keynote finished, and behind us out of the seating area, the huge circular wall was uncovered and revealed several tables, guarded by Apple employees.
The test area
Luckily, we stood in a high area of the auditorium, so we were able to go out more or less soon to see the products. As always, the tables were already full of people taking the first photos and videos , so I took the opportunity to record an entry for my first impression article. However, I forgot the damn lapel microphone I had bought especially for the occasion – the ambient noise made it impossible to record directly with the iPhone.
Comrade Angel Jimenez came to the rescue. He lent me his microphone, which I put under my shirt almost as if I could, and without calibrating the sound, I recorded my video . Then I discovered that the sound was too saturated – a point to be improved for the next occasion – or better still, maybe not to forget mine at the hotel which by the way I had been trying out until late the night before.
The test table, this time, was quite fun. The international press tide was mostly on the iPhone X table – the big star – but I was overtaking material on the side tables recording the new Apple Watch Series 3 and the iPhone 8 . Suddenly, there was a big noise at the side table and many people went there. “What’s so interesting that I left the iPhone X on the table after queuing to try it out?” I thought… until I realized who was passing by.
It was Tim Cook , and next to him was Jonathan Ive.
Todo sobre la keynote del 12 de Septiembre
Cook made statements with an iPhone X in his hand and Ive, like a Hollywood star , took pictures with the fans. Mentally I apologized to them for not paying attention to them but the table I wanted had just been cleared : I crossed to the other end and asked for a demo from a very nice Apple employee who let me play a bit with the new phone. I asked him what he thought – still waiting for an “official” statement – and he surprised me with ” nothing I can say will convince you as much as when you try it. ” I smiled and slipped back into that comfortable chair to write and finish mounting my first impression article.
That place was definitely one of Steve Jobs’ last dreams
I remember ending that day with laughter with the colleagues, with memories of the last details, with conversations about the new products, with that bus ride at noon to continue working at the hotel. I remember a really interesting conversation about Steve Jobs , about the beginning of that keynote and about how he would have felt if he had been there. In a way, we all felt that Jobs was also the protagonist that day, and that that amazing place was simply one of his last dreams .
We went to dinner but came back to the hotel early, we were exhausted. I ended up in bed going over the photos and videos of that day, of that moment, and I could only sleep for a couple of hours. At three o’clock in the morning I sent an audio file for a radio program in which I was asked to collaborate. At four in the morning I recorded a one-hour interview for TerritoriMac. Honestly, I just wanted to talk about everything that had happened that day.
Living an Apple keynote is a special moment because each and every one of them is part of the company’s mythology, and they are part of a much bigger story that connects all the dots . It’s one of those moments that you end up telling for years afterwards in cafés with friends, that you remember with a smile when you come across a photo, or when you think of an exciting moment in your life.
I was there, but it wasn’t just my keynote anymore. I like to think that it was all of us, that we shared it in a special way and that we all lived intensely .