Everything Announced at Apple’s September iPhone Infomercial 2021

New Hardware: iPad Cheap, iPad Mini, Apple Watch Series 7, iPhone 13

Apple announces new hardware every year alongside their new iPhone. Today’s infomercial or “event” is no different. This is the second pandemic iPhone announcement. This article is going to be long, so here is a table of contents based on the order of appearance:

Apple TV+

Tim Cook introduced a montage of shows for their subscription TV and movie service that are coming this Fall. They’re probably fine shows because they’re produced by people who Apple hired that knew how to make TV shows and movies. There is nothing about the shows and movies on Apple TV+ that couldn’t have existed without Apple. This is the epitome of weird over expansion for a technology company to have its own video service just to, presumably, appease investors and diversify their product offerings to include something they can charge subscription money for. These shows and movies could just as easily be from Paramount or Amazon or any other company and the only thing that would be different is the funding and maybe the product placement.

Ipad cheap

iPad Cheap 2021

The iPad lineup has been confusing for years. There’s an iPad with no surname that I call the iPad Cheap, it doesn’t share the same design and features as the iPad Pro line but it has been relatively cheap at $330 and fast enough. Cook had Melody Kuna, Apple’s Senior Manager of iPad Product Design introduce an updated version of this iPad Cheap. Kuna said the 2021 iPad Cheap gets and A13 Bionic and that this chip is 20% faster than last year’s iPad Cheap. Comparisons were made to the “best-selling” Android Tablet and “best-selling” Chromebook both being slower. The comparisons did not specify which devices or include any idea of what the benchmark was. Both cameras are supposed to be improved. The front-facing selfie camera is now a 12 megapixel sensor with a wider 122 degree field of view that enables Apple’s Center Stage video call feature that focuses on the participants in the call according to Kuna. The display is also said to get the True Tone features, but it is also still stuck with the first-generation Apple Pencil stylus, continuing a distinction that is sure to frustrate anyone who ends up with the wrong Apple Pencil due to an upgrade or gift or for whatever reason. So stupid. The storage tiers at least now start at a more reasonable 64GB. Colors are only Space Gray and Silver. Orders start today, it ships next week.

Ipad mini

iPad Mini 2021

I’m very happy to see the iPad Mini continue to get updates, it is my favorite iPad. Katie McDonald is the Product Manager for Apple’s iPad line and she introduced the new model with a larger 8.3” “Liquid Retina” screen that also gets True Tone among other upgrades and a new design that almost matches the iPad Pro lineup with flat sides but the “all-screen design” to me appears to still have pretty thick borders even if it lacks a home button. There is no ProMotion variable refresh rate support, which is disappointing. Touch ID has moved from the home button to the sleep/wake button. Colors are Purple, Pink, “Starlight” and Space Gray. Apple claims 40% faster CPU performance over the previous generation and 80% faster GPU performance, Apple did not say why the new Mini was faster during the event, because the A-series system wasn’t announced until the iPhone portion of the event, but the secret was the A15. The new Mini also gets USB-C, 5G cellular connectivity, better cameras with the Center Stage feature, stereo speakers in landscape mode, the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil stylus. It’s $500 for the 64GB Wi-Fi model. Orders start today, and it ships next week.

Apple watch 7

Apple Watch Series 7

Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams emphasized new bicycling features for WatchOS 8 with detection for when riders pause briefly, fall detection, and support for e-bikes before introducing a new Apple Watch. The Apple Watch Series 7 is supposed to get a larger display with 20% more screen, 40% thinner borders, and be 70% brighter “indoors, when your wrist is down.” Which is an odd thing to boast about but Willaims said this would make it easier to check the time. Apple’s Product Manager for the Apple Watch lineup, Lauren Braun, went into more detail and said that the OS would get larger, redesigned, buttons to match the larger screen and can fit up to 50% more text on-screen. All of the rumors about the new watch being flat-sided were wrong, it is still rounded. Braun also introduced a very familiar on-screen keyboard that rips off the design of FlickType, an app that was on Apple’s App Store until Apple decided to start rejecting updates to it despie previously praising FlickType as an accessibility tool. The developer of FlickType, Kosta Eleftheriou, is suing Apple for ripping off the design. I hope that Eleftheriou wins.

The new Series 7 watch also gets new watch faces, Contour, and an update to the Modular watch face. Braun says that durability is improved to be more crack-resistant and dust resistant, and that the new Apple Watch charges faster. It’ll be available in new colors “midnight, starlight, green, blue, and red” as well as the upgraded models for rich people. Band compatability hasn’t changed. Remarkably, Apple is still selling the Series 3 watch for $200 that is supposed to be difficult to update to new versions of the OS and it is Apple’s last 32-bit product. Developers hate it! The $280 Apple Watch SE also hangs on and the Series 7 replaces the previous high-end models at $400. Availability for the Series 7 is “Later this fall.” No 5G on the new Apple Watch and it appears to have the same internal system on a chip as the Series 6.

Apple Fitness+

Jay Blahnik is Apple’s Senior Director of Fitness Technologies and Blahnik talked about how the workouts on the service would be availabile in more countries, and would use subtitles. That seems like a half-assed solution. Sam Sanchez is one of the on-screen trainers and she talked about some of the workout options, including new Pilates workouts. Another trainer, Jessica Skye said Fitness+ would also get guided meditations with video and audio versions. Bakari Williams said that there would be new workouts specifically designed for winter sports. Blahnik returned to say that group workouts would work using Apple’s Messages or FaceTime calls for up to 32 people. Most of the new features are out “later this month” with the group workouts and new countries coming “later this Fall.”

Iphone 13

iPhone 13 & iPhone 13 Mini

Kaiann Drance, Apple’s Vice President of iPhone Product Marketing, introduced the iPhone 13 regular 6.1” and Mini 5.4” variations in front of a bizarre empty outdoor event space. Apple made a big deal of a drone or helicopter camera view that zoomed in to show Drance, but it is an incredibly strange situation. There was also no outdoor audio in the audio feed, so it sounded like the audio was all recorded perfectly indoors. The exterior of the new iPhones hasn’t changed much except for the placement of the cameras being placed diagonally on the back and a supposedly “20%” smaller notch at the top for the front-facing camera system. Drance showed off five new colors for the new iPhone. Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, and Red. . Drance said there is a new OLED that is up to 28% brighter, up to 800 nits, and that the display is more power-efficient. There’s a bigger battery inside, and the devices have the A15 Bionic. Drance boasted that “the competition” is still catching up to where Apple was two years ago in performance which is also a little odd when the iPad Cheap ships with a similar or the same A13 as was available two years ago.

Hope Giles is Apple’s VP of Engineering Program Management for Hardware Technologies. She boasted about how the A15 Bionic system is more powerful and more efficient with 6 cores, two of which are high-performance and four are dedicated to efficiency. Giles said this would speed-up the text-to-speech processing on-device and maps directions. Boring. Giles compared it to the competition by saying this A15 “…up to 50% faster…” Giles also said that games would have access to 4-core GPU that is up to “30% faster graphics than the leading competition.” The neural engine is now supposed to have 16 cores.

All of the comparisons about the A15 being faster than the competition instead of the iPhone 12’s A14 makes me think that it might not be a huge upgrade in terms of processing power.

The iPhone 13 lineup has new cameras. The regular “wide” camera has bigger pixels and an f 1.6 aperture that Apple says gathers up to 47% more light. Optical image stabilization also comes to the cheaper iPhone 13 and the Mini version as well. Last year it was exclusive to the Pro Max model. This is the same feature you may have seen headlines about, where it may be sensitive to being attached to a motorcycle or bicycle. The ultra-wide camera was updated with an f 2.4 aperture. As always, Apple shows off these cameras with professional photography that seems sort-of inappropriate. Camera companies and other phone makers do the same thing. I think it should be mixed with actual handheld shots that show how the newer iPhone deals with challenging situations for these tiny camera sensors better. Apple says the new ultra-wide camera will capture less noise than previous generations.

Video capture gets a “Cinematic mode.” One of Apple’s Human Interface Designers, Johnnie Manzari, talked about the new feature. Continuing the professionals using consumer tools to show unrealistic results fraud, Apple showed off the new feature with a short film called “Whodunit” that demonstrated Cinematic Mode by changing the focus swiftly between multiple subjects and objects in a scene. Manzari said that the focus changes would also automatically change to track the subject of a shot, and if it is tracking a person, it will follow that person’s gaze to change focus away from them and back. Users can also tap to change the current focus after the video is captured.

The 5G radios are supposed to be improved, according to Drance, to work with 200 carriers in 60 countries and regions by the end of the year. Supposedly the updated 5G radios and antennas also improve battery life. A “Smart Data mode is still supposed to move back to LTE when 5G isn’t available.

There’s no USB-C on the new iPhone 13. The iPhone 13 Mini is supposed to get 1.5 hours more battery life than the iPhone 12 Mini. Drance said that The iPhone 13 has 2.5 more hours than the 12.

Drance also boasted about the privacy of the iPhone 13, she boasted about the Siri audio requests being processed on the device, and not leaving the iPhone “by default.”  among other features.

Pricing is the same as last year, $700 for the mini and $800 for the regular, Drance boasted about trade-in offers from various carriers bringing that price down which is frankly gross. The default capacity is now 128GB and then there are 256GB and 512GB tiers. At least you get a reasonable amount of storage and there aren’t 16GB iPhones at these prices.

Ironically, the iPhone 13 ad during this infomercial features a caseless iPhone 13 on a motorbike despite recent Apple support articles that claim that the iPhone should be using an isolated mount or it may break the cameras.

Iphone 13 pro

iPhone 13 Pro & Pro Max

Greg “Joz” Joswiak, Apple’s senior-Vice President of Worldwide Marketing introduced the Pro models of the iPhone 13. The Pro models once again have “surgical-grade stainless steel bands” around the outside edge. Colors are Graphite, Gold, Silver, and a “Sierra Blue.” The display is once again a new iteration on the “Super Retina XDR” technology that is supposed to be brighter at up-to 1000 nits and it finally gets Apple’s variable refresh rate (VRR) technology, ProMotion. The VRR can supposedly go down to 10hz for battery efficiency and up to 120hz to match the content and the user input.

Louis Dudley, Apple’s iPhone Product Manager, introduced the new Pro camera systems. The telephoto zoom camera has a 77mm focal length and is a 3x optical zoom. The Ultra-wide camera has an f1.8 aperture, apple says this gets up to a 92% improvement in low-light. The regular “wide” camera also gets an f1.5 aperture with larger pixels for Apple’s claimed 2.2x improvement in low light over the 12 Pro. You can tell Apple doesn’t want you to think too much about this because they switch between percentage improvements and multiplication improvements, but it should still be a good improvement.

Rebecca Pujols is an Image Quality Engineer and she talked about image processing improvements on the Pro lineup. Pujols talked about a new feature called Photographic styles that will be available on all of the iPhone 13 models. Pulojs emphasized that these are inserted into the image capture pipeline and then are improved over what you could achieve with a filter. The camera app will have four default styles including “rich contrast” and “vibrant.” These styles are customizable to adjust how much of different aspects of the style are applied. Pujols emphasized that once you set these styles, you won’t need to apply them to each photo.

Back in the pantheon of unrealistic goals for people buying smart phones. Apple featured a short video made by professional filmmakers to show how they could theoretically shoot a real movie using an iPhone. The one thing that was better about this was that the included behind-the-scenes footage showed the iPhones attached to various mounts like steadicams, something to really demonstrate that end-users should not expect to have their footage look like this.

Joswiak said that 4k/30 ProRes video capture would come to the iPhone 13 models later this year.

There is also one more GPU core on the A15 for the iPhone 13 Pro models versus the regular iPhone 13.

The baseline iPhone 13 Pro is $1000, the larger Pro Max model is $1100. Those models all start with 128GB of storage and go up to 1TB. Orders go up on Friday, the 17th, they ship on September 24th which is the Friday after this one.

Overall

The new iPhones are expensive, and so little separates the “Pro” line from the other iPhone 13 models. That lack of a difference outside of cameras and variable refresh rate display technology between the models is good, because the technology does become more reachable. However, The iPhone lineup is ridiculous. Apple is now selling 8 different models, the SE and 11, and then both sizes of the 12, 13, and 13 Pro which hit every price point from $400, $500, $600, $700, and $1000. It must be incredibly confusing to try to buy an iPhone these days. All of those iPhones are good enough performance-wise with the major changes being camera functionality and screen technologies.

As I said earlier, the Apple Watch Series 3 hanging on is bad for users and developers. The Apple Watch Series 3 is this year’s “16GB Model” of iPhone or iPad. The SE should be $200.

The 5GB free tier of iCloud storage is still a joke, and I harp on this every time Apple mentions anything anymore but it is truly shameful that you could spend $1500 on an iPhone and Apple won’t do anything to help you back the data up so you won’t lose your photos if that iPhone is lost or broken. Some people will never spend the monthly fee to back up their phone storage and it is something that one of the richest companies in the world could easily do to help their users.

Apple’s treatment of their workers has been excruciatingly terrible for years with a bizarre sense of toxic positivity, and they are a rent-seeking business that steals 30% from possibly the majority of external software developers.

There are heaps of criticisms to make of this company, and they are all deserved and the result of capitalism that is speeding the destruction of our planet no matter how much Apple claims to have been progressive or environmentally-friendly. Every appeasement Apple makes to environmentalism or demonstration of philanthropy is a symptom of capital that should have been regulated or taxed along with the rest of the rich businesses that are destroying our planet and hurting the people who live on it. I will give Apple credit for one thing, it is more possible to keep an iPhone for longer, in terms of software updates. No other phone maker has made phones that could theoretically get updates for so long. However, Apple’s work against the right-to-repair has demonstrated that Apple is absolutely on the wrong side of history overall.

Apple WWDC 2019 Event Notes

Apple held their annual World-Wide Developer Conference event in San Jose, California today. Here’s what they announced:

The event opened with this ad romanticizing overworked developers.

Tim Cook’s Services Showcase

Tim Cook hosted and reiterated how great he thinks Apple is, and briefly recapped their services event. As if to fix their perplexing lack of trailers or clips of their original TV programming (Apple TV+) from the services event, Cook introduced a clip for For All Mankind. It’s the Ron Moore-led show about the Russians winning the space race, and it was extremely incongruous with the rest of the event.

tvOS Updates

Cook introduced a redesigned home-screen for tvOS with full-screen background previews of shows.

Up next, multi-user support for tvOS so you only see your shows. A blessing for parents who never wanted Game of Thrones mixed with Sesame Street. Unless it’s in a Sesame Street parody of Game of Thrones, which I am ready for.

As an aside, Cook showed how you could swap users in tvOS using a new control-center menu that looks like it is available via a swipe in from the right.

The components in the new tvOS control center showed the time, date, profile pictures for the different tvOS users, a quick option to put the Apple TV to sleep, music controls, the audio output dingus which will be handy for AirPod users, and a search icon.

Cook showed that users would have personalized music options, again, my recommendations will no-longer be destroyed by the music I play for my family. Fantastic. This multi-user stuff needs to be on every Apple device.

The updated Apple Music app for tvOS would display lyrics while you’re listening.

Apple Arcade was demonstrated with Oceanhorn 2.

Cook promised that the Apple TV would now support the Xbox One S and the PlayStation Dual Shock 4 controllers, which both have Bluetooth functionality. This is fantastic because the only MFi controller that has clickable thumbsticks is wired. I believe this functionality is coming to iOS as well.

Screensavers are getting updated with underwater vistas in collaboration with the BBC’s Natural History team.

watchOS 6

Cook boasted the current functionality of the watches Apple makes before introducing Kevin Lynch to talk about new features.

Lynch promised “more watch faces this year since the very first Apple Watch.” I think he meant that there are more new faces this year than there have ever been before.

Lynch demonstrated five new faces. A gradient face that moves an angled gradient with the minute hand. A “large numerals face” that showed the current hour in multiple languages. A modern digital face with huge chunky numbers. Finally, a hideous analog California dial with roman numerals (X, XI, I, II) above the horizontal midpoint of the watch and traditional Arabic numbers (8, 7, 5, 4) below. Finally, a new solar face that had multiple circles to represent the movement of the sun during the day.

According to Lynch he new faces would have an optional hourly chimes that they call Taptic Chimes. Each hour you’d either feel a nudge on your wrist from the “taptic engine” of the watch or if sound is on you’d hear something like a bird singing with the new modern face. This is extremely obnoxious. I can’t imagine anyone using it.

There are also new apps for the Apple Watch, an audiobook app for books purchased through Apple’s book store and a Voice Memos app to match the phone’s. Another new app is an Apple-provided calculator.

Finally, WatchOS gets apps that run only on the Watch. Previously, every Watch app had to have a companion app for the iPhone, even when that made little sense.

In the first actual nod to developers for the event, Lynch promised new APIs. An Extended Runtime API lets apps run for longer. Lynch specifically called out that this would be for apps using sensor data, like meditation, exercise, or tooth brushing.

A new-to-the-watch Streaming Audio API would let developers stream audio over the network. Three examples were given, podcasts (Outcast app), music (Pandora), and the MLB’s watch app with the Phillies versus the Brewers.

Lynch also promised a new UI framework this year.

Independent apps also mean that the watch gets its own App Store app to browse for & install new apps.

Dr. Sumbal Desai, Apple’s Vice President of Health was introduced to talk about new health and fitness features for the Watch.

Desai promised an updated Activity app with more long-term information through trending data. The updated app is supposed to provide new data points that weren’t previously exposed.

One of the new features of the Watch is the new Noise app that monitors your auditory environment and alerts you when it’s so noisy that you could damage your hearing. There’s also a complication for the watch face to display the current noise level.

Desai promised that the Noise app wouldn’t record or save audio, and instead just sample the volume every so-often.

Another new feature for the Watch is the Cycle Tracking app for period tracking. It’ll also be available in the iOS Health app.

Lynch returned to discuss a newly redesigned iOS Health app. A Summary view provides health related notifications and other summarily-provided information. He also promised that all of your health information would be private and securely-stored on your iPhone or encrypted in their data centers.

WatchOS program lead Haley Allen demonstrated the new watchOS functionality. Allen started with a new watch face, the Modular Compact face that had four items on the screen, a large analog dial in the upper right, two new complications (Wind and Rain) on the left side, and a large complication space in the bottom with an upcoming calendar item. Allen replaced the large calendar complication with a Noise complication to measure the environmental volume and had the audience cheer to raise the volume.

Allen moved on to the Infograph Modular face with a pretty cool two-tone color scheme of whte numerals with red highlights. Allen demonstrated the audiobook complication that let her tap to get back into the audiobook watch app.

The new app store was demoed, and it looks fine, although it isn’t clear how easy it will be to navigate from these short demos.

Finally, Allen demonstrated the MLB app streaming Red Sox versus Orioles game.

Lynch returned with the traditional “didn’t have time” feature jumble and mentioned that the watch would finally update itself without requiring the user to do so on their iPhone.

Lynch said there would be new watch bands and colors, he specifically called out a new pride band.

Apple shortchanges all of their retail workers equally when they make people line up for mandatory off-the-clock searches before being allowed to leave at the end of their shift.

iOS 13

Cook returned to move things back to iOS and introduced Craig Federighi who joked about the tremendous creativity behind the iOS 13 name, and then moved on to talking about how much performance has increased in current devices with the new operating system.

Federighi gave some examples and said that Face ID would be 30% faster to unlock devices.

Apps would be packaged differently for iOS 13, and would be 50% smaller to download and updates would somehow be 60% smaller. Who knows how much work is involved on the part of developers to attain those numbers, and what exactly is going on. Compression, selective assets, it could be any number of things and those could be effective or not across a wide variety of apps and games.

Apps, Federighi said, would launch twice as quickly on iOS 13.

Moving on to new features, Federighi introduced a video advertising the new iOS dark mode.

Dark Mode is a feature that debuted on macOS last year. Federighi demonstrated it in use on an iPhone, starting with the lock screen switching from a light version of a wallpaper and theme to a darker version. He moved on to News, which will no-longer blind you in the middle of the night, then swapped to the Calendar, Notes, and Messages. It’s a feature that should have been on iOS as soon as OLED screens became an option.

While in Messages Federighi demonstrated that the keyboard, also updated for dark mode, has swiping functionality. He later called it the “quick path keyboard”.

Federighi showed that the new share sheet in photos also adjusted to dark mode, and it had sharing suggestions in addition to a redesigned interface for sharing to apps and actions.

The darkness embraced the music app, which also has time-synched lyrics just like the TV Music app.

Federighi exited the darkness and talked about other app updates.

Safari is promised to have quick functionality to scale the text of the site you’re viewing, and per-site preferences.

Mail is to get “…desktop-class text formatting, including support for rich fonts.”

Notes has a new gallery overview, shared folders, and “much more.”

Reminders has been “completely reinvented” and “completely rewritten from the ground-up.” It’s supposed to give you suggestions of when or where you might want to be reminded, a quick-type bar lets you quickly add locations or photos to your reminders.

To-do lists can be embedded inside a top-level reminder for more organizational functionality. People can be tagged in a reminder so you’re reminded to talk to them about something you wanted to remember.

The Maps app is supposedly updated with new information from a fleet of Apple’s mapping vehicles. The entire US is to have the new data by the end of the year.

Meg Frost was introduced for a demonstration of the new maps app. She’s wheelchair bound and has what I can honestly say is the most awesome looking wheelchair I’ve ever seen.

The redesigned Maps app has a horizontally-scrolling list of categorized favorites under the search bar, collections of places in a vertical list, and then your recently viewed places.

Finally, there’s a street view mode with a binocular icon that launches users into a “look-around” view that appears comparable to Google’s app.

Federighi returned to quickly list off a few more changes to the maps app. A junction view for China that lets people see how traffic will flow in an upcoming intersection, and ETA sharing via quick on-screen shortcuts.

Federighi reiterated his company’s commitment to privacy with another word jumble and then talked about new privacy controls. Location could be shared with an app just once, and then it’d have to ask for approval the next time. You’ll also get regular alerts to apps using your location in the background, and said they wouldn’t allow apps to scan WiFi and Bluetooth signals to track your location.

Federighi promised that Apple would create a new single-sign on functionality for streamlining logins to apps without third-party services or new accounts. It’ll be up to the developer to support this method of sign-on. Federighi promised that this would create a new account for the app without revealing “… any new personal information.” Signing in would use Face ID, or presumably Touch ID. Developers can optionally request your name and e-mail address. Users can optionally share a one-time email address that Apple creates on the spot to forward mail from that app. Federighi said that you could delete the new address at any time to stop receiving mail from that app.

This will inhibit situations where, for example, you want to log into the web version of an app, so it isn’t clear to me how that will work but Federighi said that it’ll work on websites. It won’t work in Firefox, Chrome, or Edge unless Apple has built something for those browsers.

Next, Federighi talked about a new feature of HomeKit, Secure Video, for home security cameras to analyze video locally (on an iPad, HomePod, or Apple TV box) instead of on remote servers. When the video is uploaded, it’ll go to iCloud but be encrypted and Federighi promised that Apple can’t even see the video.

Federighi said that storage for 10 days of video recordings would be included in existing iCloud accounts, and that this video storage wouldn’t count against iCloud storage limits.

The first companies to support this new Secure Video functionality are Netatmo, Logitech, and Eufy. At leat two of those sound like Pokemon.

Federighi promised that there would be HomeKit enabled routers which just makes it even more infuriating that they stopped developing their AirPort line of network routers. HomeKit-enabled routers would segregate the network connections of internet-of-things devices. Federighi said that Linksys, Amazon-owned Eero, and the Spectrum ISP would make these routers at first.

Moving back to Messages, Federighi immediately sherlocked Casey Liss’s Vignette by saying that you could optionally share your name and photo with people you message so they wouldn’t just get a random phone number.

Federighi introduced popular YouTube spec workers’ “Memoji” avatars to talk about new features for those avatars. There are a ton of new features, here’s the video:

After the video, Federighi spoke about Memoji stickers. These could replace regular emoji with automatically generated Memoji versions of the regular emojis. It’s interesting that these are also included in the system keyboard, and Federighi said that the customized stickers would work in mail or other apps.

Finally, Federighi said that users without FaceID, but who had at least an A9 SoC, could create, edit, and share Memoji. Although they wouldn’t be animated without the iPhone and iPad Pro sensor suite.

The Camera and Photo apps have also been updated.

New Portrait Mode features include “high key mono,” and you’ll be able to move the virtual portrait lighting lights further or closer to your subject.

Edits are promised to be easier to make, have new features, and be available for video as well. You can finally rotate a video while editing without using another app.

Browsing photos is to be easier, separating out screenhots and photos of things like receipts, and organizing photos to only show a single photo of a particularly scene instead of every duplicate.

Justin Titi demonstrated the new Photos app, and how it organizes photos into easier collections of days, months, years, or still allows users to dig into every photo.

Federighi returned to introduce Stacy Leizeig (not sure on the spelling of that name) to talk about AirPods, HomePods, CarPlay, and Siri updates for iOS 13.

AirPods can optionally announce incoming messages as soon as they come in, so you can reply immediately. Leizeig said this would work with any messaging application that uses Apple’s SiriKit API.

Audio sharing will be available in iOS 13 to share audio between multiple devices. There is a user consent dialog before this happens, and audio is controlled independently.

Leizeig said that people could use the HandOff API to share music or a podcast to a HomePod by holding their device close to the HomePod. Recovering the listening session happens by the same gesture.

Siri is promised to have live radio access with over a hundred-thousand live stations.

The HomePod will finally recognize multiple speakers and personalize answers and data for Messages, Music, Reminders, Notes, and so on.

CarPlay updates include a new dashboard view with more information. Siri is promised to stay “out of the way” and not obscure the entire display. We need that functionality on regular iOS.

Siri Shortcuts is built into iOS 13 and “more powerful than ever.” The Shortcuts app will make more suggestions about multi-step shortcuts that might be useful to you.

The Siri voice in iOS 13 is promised to be entirely software generated for the first time, as opposed to generated using clips of different speech sounds to create each word. I hope this fixes Siri’s pronounciation of Hawaiian names, because it’s pretty awful. Leizeig compared iOS 12’s Siri to iOS 13’s Siri pronouncing a complex sentence scientifically describing absolute zero. The iOS 13 Siri sounded much more natural and human.

iPadOS

Federighi returned to close out the iOS 13 discussion and talk about the split to iPadOS. He introduced a video that has not been excerpted onto Apple’s YouTube channel yet, it showed new functionality that would be exclusive to the iPad.

Federighi demonstrated the newly defined iPadOS. He showed that an iPad Pro (2018) running iPad OS with more icons on the home screen, and by swiping over from the left, the widgets previously on their own home screen are now visible on the regular screen.

Multitasking is improved by giving slide-over windows their own grab handle at the bottom of the slide-over window that lets you quickly choose a recent window.

Split-view was demonstrated in Notes by grabbing a note from the list and splitting it off into a different split-view window. Finally. The iPad has been available for almost 10 years and multitasking needs these improvements.

Federighi demonstrated dragging and dropping individual notes next to other “spaces” with other apps open in other windows. App Expose would allow you to see any fullscreen space with a Note open, in Federighi’s example.

Federighi also demonstrated two Microsoft Word documents side-by-side in SplitView.

Federighi then demonstrated splitting e-mail composition into a new window while continuing to browse through other emails before dragging and dropping an image from another e-mail he had received to the e-mail he was composing. He also showed previewing a link in another e-mail, and then dragging that link and dropping the link into the e-mail he was composing.

An e-mail in the background joked about screensavers for iPad OS, including Flying Toasters. I’ll be holding out for the Dancing Disco Pig.

Federighi also talked about improvements to the Files app. New views like icon and list views. A Column view with previews, and quick actions.

iCloud Drive will finally get folder sharing.

The Files app in iPadOS is to get Samba sharing, it sounded like it was just to access network shares and not share from iOS.

Finally, the Files app will get external storage support for thumb-drives, SD cards, and other connected drives. Holy shit this took forever.

Finally, you can import directly from a camera into an app (Lightroom was the example) instead of going through iCloud Photos.

Safari is also getting updated on the iPad with “Desktop-class browsing” so that iPad users won’t get served the mobile version of websites.

Federighi specifically said that browser apps like Google Docs, Squarespace, and WordPress would work better now.

As rumored, Safari is getting a download manager. There will also be 30 new keyboard shortcuts for Safari.

Also rumored, fonts are easier to manage in iOS 13. They’ll be downloadable from the App Store. Fonts have been an important focus of Apple’s software for as long a very long time, this is a big Finally for iOS. It will be interesting to see how fonts are managed, and if they will be freely loadable without going through the App Store.

iPadOS multitouch is supposed to be easier. Federighi showed a giant hand grabbing the page scroll indicator directly on a long document, grabbing the cursor while editing a note and moving it easier while also adjusting that movement into a selection. A new gesture enables copy and paste on the iPad. Once text is selected it is possible to copy by pinching with three fingers and then pasting by moving the cursor and spreading three fingers out.

A three-finger swipe left is the new iPad undo gesture. Federighi joked about how people won’t have to shake-to-undo the iPad anymore.

The Apple Pencil latency is supposed to be reduced from 20 miliseconds to 9 miliseconds. The Pencil drawing tools are improved and available to third-party developers via a new API called PencilKit.

iPadOS 13 will allow you to mark-up “…anything on any app” by dragging up with the pencil from the corner of the screen to get a screenshot of the screen and mark it up. This is said to also work with an entire document, instead of just the currently visible screen area.

Toby Patterson was introduced to show off iPadOS’ new editing functionality, including bringing up a small iPhone-sized keyboard for typing with one hand. He accessed that new small keyboard by pinching the large keyboard with two fingers. Patterson was visibly flustered when trying to demonstrate some of the text selection gestures, which weren’t cooperating with him.

Patterson said you could still shake to undo, but he also showed off the new three-finger swipe. He said these gestures would work in any application that supports cut, copy, and paste with undo and redo, not just text-based document applications.

Moving onto the Pencil’s new tool pallete. Patterson showed it being dragged and dropped around the screen, so it could get out of the way of his work. It can be pinned to the edge, or minimized out of the way.

Patterson also showed the markup mode, and how it works with screenshots and can be toggled in apps that support it to the document mark-up mode.

Mac Pro 2019

Cook was brought back out to move things to the Mac Pro. John Siracusa’s dreams have come true. After a decade he can finally get a new 2019 Advanced-Cheese Grater Mac Pro.

John Ternus was introduced to talk about the long overdue replacement for the Trashcan Mac Pro. The Intel Xeon-based computer supports up to 28 cores.

The RAM is 2933Mhz ECC RAM, 6 memory channels, there are 12 DIMM slots. You could havce up to 1.5 terabytes of RAM.

Ternus said the new Mac Pro has 8 internal PCI-express slots. Four double-wide, three single-wide, and one additional half-wide slot that has IO ports. That card has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-A ports, and a regular 3.5 mm audio minijack. There are two more Thunderbolt 3 ports on the top of the computer.

There are two gigabit ethernet ports near the power connector at the bottom of the back of the 2019 Mac Pro.

Ternus said there is a new Mac Pro Expansion (MPX) module specifically for containing video cards that has it’s own 500 watts of power, a regular x16 PCI express edge connector, and then an additional PCI express/ DisplayPort/Power thing on the end. The starting graphics card would be a Radeon Pro 580X. I’m a little confused by that part, because it sounds like the 2017 Radeon Pro 580. Another option for graphics is the Radeon Pro Vega II, or two of those Vega II GPUs. I really wish the Nvidia and Apple feud would end so some other competing options could be availalbe.

Ternus called the dual Vega II configuration “The world’s most powerful graphics card.” before he introduced another marketing term, the Infinity Fabric Link, which supposedly lets data move between the GPUs five times faster than the PCI express bus.

Ternus said you could also configure the new Mac Pro with two dual Vega IIs modules.

Ternus talked about an add-on card for editing ProRes and ProRes RAW video. This card has a custom ASIC that allows the Mac Pro to process huge video data streams. Ternus said the Mac Pro could play 3 8K ProRes RAW streams.

The new Mac Pro has a 1.4 kiloWatt power supply. Ternus said that “under typical load conditions” the new three-fans-and-one-blower thermal cooling setup in the new Mac Pro is as quiet as an iMac Pro.

There are optional wheels for the Mac Pro.

Ternus boasted about the third-parties that are working with Apple for the new Mac Pro and specifically boasted about performance beating an Nvidia+Windows configuration.

David Earl was introduced to talk about Logic and Final Cut, and showed adding hundreds of instruments to a soundtrack for a documentary. He added about a thousand tracks and then worked with 8K video.

The starting price for this Mac Pro $6000. The availability was given as “this Fall.”

There will also be a special version of the 2019 Mac Pro for rack-mount configurations.

Apple Pro Display XDR

Colleen Novielli was brought out to talk about the new display for the new Mac Pro. She compared it to a pro display that costs $43,000. The APDXDR is 32 inches and has a resolution of 6016 x 3384. Novielli called it a 6K Retina Display. The new display was said to support P3 wide color gamut, 10-bit color, and has Reference modes built-in. Novielli said the display has contrast that is 25x better than a typical LCD.

Novielli also said there was a superior matte option available for the display that doesn’t degrade image quality compared to older technologies.

This display is supposed to maintain higher brightness levels, 1000 nits in perpituity, 1600 nits at the peak. Novielli said the display would have a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.

Novielli said the 15 inch MacBook Pro can have two of these displays connected, while the new Mac Pro can have six of these displays connected.

The arm for the display is custom, and supposedly makes the monitor feel weightless while it is being adjusted. There is also an optional VESA mounting adapter.

The Apple Pro Display XDR costs $5000. There is also a “Nano-Textured” version of the display that costs $6000. The VESA adapter is $200. The “Pro-stand” is a laughable $1000. If you don’t have either I guess you’ve gotta get some plywood and screws out or keep it on your lap?

macOS 10.15 Catalina’s iTunes Breakdown

Cook returned to summon Craig Federighi to talk about the new version of macOS.

Federighi walked us through some of the features of iTunes added over the past 18 years, paused to joke about adding Mail and Safari and a Dock to iTunes, before introducing a split of iTunes into three apps. Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV. It wasn’t immediately clear if the new app would still support local libraries of music and features like iTunes Match.

Federighi talked about how the Apple Music experience would be better in the new app before introducing the idea that sync for iOS devices would be moved to the Finder app.

Apple Podcasts gets its own app, as well. Federighi said that the new Podcasts app has machine learning’d it up to scan the spoken word content of the podcasts so you can search for the actual content instead of just the name or episode title.

The Apple TV app is split off into its own app. Federighi boasted that the new app would support 4K HDR playback supporting HDR-10, Dolby Atmos, and Dolby Vision standards.

The rumored iPad-as-external-display feature is real, and it is called Sidecar. Goodbye to the podcast ads? This functionality supports the Apple Pencil, and works wired or wirelessly.

Accessibility

Federighi introduced an accessibility ad for new voice features to control Macs and iOS, as well as rich text composition:

Find My

As rumored, Find My iPhone and Find My Friends have been combined for both iOS and macOS into one app just called Find My. Apparently devices will now emit Bluetooth signals so you can track them down even when they are offline, via a mesh network of Apple devices. Federighi promises that this is encrypted and anonymous.

Activation Lock

Macs with the T2 security chip (an ARM SoC from Apple) get the ability to be locked down via activation lock.

macOS 10.15 Catalina, Again

Federighi talked about how the new updates to Photos would make it to this version of macOS, along with an updated start page in Safari, and the new gallery view in Notes. Reminders is also coming to macOS along with Screen Time.

Project Catalyst (Marzipan?)

Federighi’s got a marketing name for the stuff that brought shit iPad versions of News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home to macOS Mojave. Federighi says that this new cross-platform support is much improved, the slides are not very convincing.

In terms of third-party support, Federighi boasted about the racing game Asphalt, Twitter’s iPad client which is not somebody I want to hear about when they hate third-party developers to a degree that is profoundly disturbing for the long-term success of that platform. Finally, Federighi introduced somebody from Atlassian to talk about Jira for the Mac. Zzz. it’ll be in the Mac App Store this Fall.

Catalyst is available to developers in Xcode preview today. No multiple window support was demonstrated. I am not hopeful that this feature is at all improved over the awful News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home apps on macOS today.

AR

Federighi talked about the new AR API RealityKit, for developers that don’t have experience with existing game engines. Reality Composer is a new app as part of Xcode, or for iOS and iPad. It has a bunch of pre-existing models to stuff into your app. Very strange. ARKit 3 was demonstrated with a new people occlusion feature to allow for people to be better placed in-between AR models. Motion capture was also demonstrated.

Minecraft Earth AR Demo

It wouldn’t be a modern Apple event without an awkward demo featuring VR or AR. VR is a little out of fashion, so it’s an AR demo from Lydia Winters and Saxs Persson of Mojang. I’m not sure how many people will want to hold an iPhone or iPad for hours to view an AR version of Minecraft called Minecraft Earth. All things considered this demo could have been much worse.

SwiftUI

Federighi returned to talk about a new framework for the Swift programming language, SwiftUI. Federighi gave an example of a huge list that would be a huge piece of code but minimized when it was converted to the SwiftUI framework.

Federighi said that new features would be brought to apps with SwiftUI automatically, like Dark Mode. He also said that there’s a new interactive, upgraded preview type of thing in Xcode for SwiftUI. Federighi compared it to Swift Playgrounds but said it was much more powerful.

Josh Schafer was brought out to demo SwiftUI’s new editor in Xcode. He made a joke app to make up phony versions of MacOS, and immediately showed his changes both in the Xcode Preview as well as on a live iPhone.

Federighi returned to say that the SwiftUI framework was also available for watchOS, and all Apple platforms.

Cook’s Close-out Deals

Cook returned to tell us that developers betas were available for all of the new operating systems and software today, with public betas in July. The usual promised release window for the new operating systems was “The Fall.”

Overall

The world’s most performant Mac Pro is great if you’re working on movies or high-end audio production Apple still can’t ship a reliable laptop keyboard or a tower for normal people who aren’t at Pixar. It’s also not clear at all what storage upgrades for the Mac Pro will look like, I’m not sure if the word “T2” was mentioned during the keynote, but the product page for the new Mac Pro mentions the dedicated ARM SoC Apple calls T2 so it seems like you might be limited to add-on PCI-express modules or hooking up external peripheral storage. This is especially galling on the base-model Mac Pro that only includes 256GB of storage.

The display that costs extra if you want to put it somewhere besides flat on your floor is just the ridiculous cherry-on-top of unapproachable high-end hardware.

The OS update for the Mac was couched in the end of iTunes, which will hopefully still be available if some functionality is missing from the new Music, Podcast, and TV apps. Windows users, are of course still suck with the worst version of iTunes.

iCloud is still capped to an increasingly paltry 5GBs of free storage. I am very tired of reading help posts from iPhone users online who have lost their entire photo and video library when their phone breaks and they couldn’t afford enough iCloud storage. Somehow Apple has deemed the subset of their user base that has home video security cameras more important than the millions of iPhone users who would refuse to pay for secure backups.

One way that Apple could work around this is with their own home network router that had a disk inside for backups of all your devices, but the AirPort line of routers is dead and I am sad about that.

I’m not sure how much I buy the split of iOS and iPadOS, it didn’t seem like this event was organized to emphasize that split, but I am glad that they’re working on the iPad to make it a better competitor to a traditional laptop computer. Still, there are so many limitations of an iPad compared to a modern Mac. For example, there is still no generally available multi-user mode for the iPad. The HomePod is getting that feature first, I’m glad the HomePod is going to be more useful, but it’s ridiculous and looks more like a cash grab that everyone in a house needs their own iPad if they want it to be tailored to their uses.

I am a little concerned that the only way improvements can come to these platforms is bundled in a cute marketing name. The iPad needs more improvements yet to be more competitive as a laptop replacement, maybe we don’t need our home screen to be just a list of apps and a select few widgets. Maybe a home screen could include files and be arranged however someone wants it, just like a real computer. Apple is so slowly trickling out features to the iPad, I’m looking forward to more. Perhaps they’ll come faster with the rebranding to iPadOS.

The most important Pro app for iPads to be a full computer and ship their own apps is Xcode, and we still don’t have it. Until an iPad can ship iPad software without any other device, I’m not sure Apple is really onboard with the iPad as a real computer.

Apple Special Event September 2017 Notes

Apple held their first iPhone event at their new Steve Jobs Theater on their UFO campus in California today. The event opened with Tim Cook memorializing Jobs. Then he discussed disaster relief projects and encouraged donations. Finally Cook talked about Apple’s new campus. No mentions of offices for the engineers, who have complained that the new campus is almost entirely an open space.

Angela Ahrendts talked about their stores before Cook came back out to start announcing devices and software.

Here’s what they announced.

WatchOS 4
Tim Cook talked about their success then played a video featuring letters from users about how the watch has helped them. Here’s that video:

Jeff Williams reiterated WatchOS 4 updates with better coaching, a redesigned workout app, features for swimmers, and integration with gym equipment. The new OS also gets a new heart rate app and a heart rate complication for the watch faces. The watch will now alert you to an unusually high heart rate when it thinks you’re not active. It’ll also monitor for arrhythmias in a study with Stanford Medicine and the FDA later this year.

WatchOS 4 will be out on September 19th.

Apple Watch Series 3
Here’s their ad for the new Series 3 watch:

It’s a cellular device that takes calls with your regular iPhone’s phone number. Of course it’ll also have data capabilities and will stream music from Apple Music.

There’s a new faster processor and Siri finally speaks on the watch if you want to hear them instead of reading a response. The device also has a barometric altimeter built-in.

The Series 3 Apple Watch retains the form factor of the previous watches. Cellular models of the Series 3 have a red dot on the crown so that you can feel special.

Williams made a very awful joke during this presentation about a potential device with all of this functionality looking like a house arrest bracelet. Not funny.

Obviously Apple is very focused on this being an activity monitoring device. I’m not very active but I still appreciate mine as a device for triaging notifications.

Series 2 watches are getting dropped. The Series 1 will remain in the lineup at $250. The base series 3 watch will be $330 and the Series 3 with cellular capabilities will be $400.

No word on the cost for the cellular plan to go with it, but Williams said they have a special deal worked out with some carriers.

The new Series 3 watches will be available to pre-order on September 15th, they’ll be generally available on September 22nd.

I don’t see much reason to upgrade from my Series 0, but I’m glad they’re continuing to work on improvements.

Apple TV 4K

The Apple TV is one of the most expensive devices you can buy to put under your TV, and it has been a long time since Apple made any changes to the hardware. Eddy Cue’s pitch for this upgrade talked about how the new device also includes support for HDR standards. It also has an A10X Fusion chip, Eddy reminds us that it’s same one as in the iPad Pro. He boasted that it’s twice as fast at general computing tasks — and four times as fast on the GPU side — as the current 1080p 4th generation Apple TV.

Apple’s Aerial screensaver that displays high-resolution footage of interesting places to look at is getting updated with 4K footage.

4K movies will cost the same from Apple’s iTunes store as they currently charge for HD films. Any movies people currently own in HD that have 4K versions will be upgraded to 4K HDR for free.

Cue also said that Netflix and Amazon are on-board for the 4K update. Cue didn’t mention that the Amazon Prime Video app still isn’t available on the Apple TV even though Apple said they had a deal worked out with Amazon earlier this year.

Live news and sports are coming to the TV app on the Apple TV and iOS devices.

That Game Company’s Jenova Chen demoed a new game called Sky for the Apple TV. It’s a fun multiplayer game that has a similar style as their previous games like Journey. It’s temporarily exclusive to the Apple TV and iOS devices and will be out this winter. I didn’t hear anyone mention if the game runs in 4K.

Here’s a trailer for it:

The Apple TV lineup will now be:

  • Old Apple TV 32GB at $150.
  • Apple TV 4K 32GB $180
  • Apple TV 4K 64GB $200

It’ll be up for pre-orders on the 15th and have general availability on the 22nd.

Unfortunately there were no updates to the Apple TV Siri Remote announced, which is a shame because it’s not great for gaming and has some other design issues. Especially regarding picking up the remote and accidentally pressing the wrong button because it’s not easy to tell which orientation you’re holding it in without looking at it.

iPhone 8, 8 Plus

The rumors and leaks were accurate , there were three new iPhones announced today instead of two. An iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus.

Here’s the iPhone 8 ad:

Phil Schiller did his bit to sell the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. As rumored it has a glass back as well the front. It’ll be in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold. They assure that the glass is reinforced with steel and the “most durable ever” glass.

The display has been updated. It now has the True Tone technology from the iPad Pro that adjusts the display’s color temperature to look correct in different lighting conditions. The iPad Pro still doesn’t have the iPhone’s 3D Touch feature and that makes writing on it a little bit more frustrating when I switch back and forth between my iPhone and iPad.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus speakers are louder and more accurate.

There’s a new A11 Bionic chip with six cores inside the iPhone 8. It’s supposedly 25% faster than the A10. Two of the six A11 cores are tuned for performance, and four of the cores are set up for tasks that can run efficiently and don’t require as much performance so that the device can save you some battery life. Those four low-power cores are supposedly 70% faster than the ones in the A10 chip.

The GPU on the 8 is the first one Apple has developed, it’s supposed to be 30% faster than last year’s A10 while taking half the power.

There’s a new image processing engine in the A11 that Schiller says will deliver faster autofocus in low-light conditions among other improvements that should make photos taken with the 8 look sharper and have less noise.

The cameras still shoot 12 megapixels, but Apple says that the sensor is larger and lets in more light. The Plus still has the exclusive on the dual camera setup versus the regular iPhone 8.

Apple’s photos captured with the 8 and 8 Plus’ cameras look fantastic, but they are just demonstrating the difference between an experienced photographer shooting for demonstration purposes and someone taking snapshots. Of course these camera improvements will help with either type of scenario, but they’re not going to turn Frank G. iPhoneOwner into a pro photographer unless they’re interested enough to edit their photos and think about what they’re doing before taking the photo.

Schiller says that there will be a new feature called Portrait Lighting in beta for the iPhone 8 Plus. He promises that this feature will be more than a filter, it’ll present you with different lighting choices for your subject in Portrait Mode within Apple’s Camera app. You’ll be able to edit those photos and choose different lighting scenarios after the fact.

Phil Schiller also promised that these phones have better video quality. You’ll be able to record 4K videos at 60 frames-per-second and if you like slo-mo you’ll be able to record 1080p video at 240 FPS.

Schiller says that the cameras and the A11 are also configured for augmented reality. The demos I have seen for AR on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are impressive, it could be useful to have a focus on AR in the hardware as well. Schiller played pre-recorded AR demos of a Warhammer game, an MLB overlay on a live game at a stadium, and an astronomy app called Sky Guide overlaying star charts directly on the sky as viewed through an iPhone.

Directive Games’ Atli Mar demoed their AR game, The Machines. It looked a little bit like an RTS but overlaid on a table. Mar said that there was a strategic advantage to being able to move the game’s camera around by moving the physical phone, but I’m not sure if that lines up with reality. It looked almost as awkward as the AR demo from WWDC but it is very difficult to play a game for an audience and line up your view to present something cinematic, especially in front of a live audience.

The iPhone 8 also has “wireless charging” which is just contact charging, it isn’t truly wireless. It’ll use the Qi charging standard that is already widely supported. It’s good that Apple didn’t make another standard, but they aren’t including a contact charging device in the box.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will be up for pre-order on September 15th and available in-stores on September 22nd. Here are the prices for different configurations:

iPhone 8

  • 64 GB for $700
  • 256 GB for $850

iPhone 8 Plus

  • 64GB for $800
  • 256GB for $950

iOS 11 will be out on September 19th.

iPhone X

Apple’s surprise of the iPhone X was spoiled by leaks and rumors, I was pretty disgusted with some journalists who took umbrage with the person who leaked the information. It’s only in Apple’s promotional interests to keep these things a secret and they aren’t going to affect our national security.

Here’s the iPhone X ad:

 

Phil Schiller called it “the iPhone 10,” skipping 9, I wasn’t sure if that was intentional or not at first, but then they continued it and I guess this is just what it is now.

The X’s OLED display is 5.8 inches diagonally and continues the journey to a rounded rectangular slab that is all display without any border. It’s almost there, there’s just a notch at the top of the phone for the front-facing camera, earpiece, and other sensors. Apple calls this new display a “Super Retina Display” at 2436×1125 pixels and  It’s 458 pixels-per-inch. So you’re getting a display that’s larger than the Plus and has more resolution in a smaller package. It’s also got an HDR standard for films and Apple’s True Tone tech.

Last year we lost the headphone TRSS jack and the home button was replaced with a simulation that I’ve grown accustomed to. This year the home button is just gone. You can wake the phone up by tapping on the display when it is in sleep mode.

iOS has other changes to accommodate the lack of a home button, of course. To get to the home screen from a “locked” iPhone X you now just swipe up from the bottom of the screen. It’s the same gesture when you’re in an app. Pausing mid-swipe, instead of raising your hand off the screen to complete the gesture, will bring up the multitasking switcher to choose from your recent apps.

I’m curious how that will work out with games. This overloading of gestures is a lot for users to take in.

The iPhone X’s sleep/wake switch is larger and can also be used to activate Siri.

Without a home button there isn’t room for a sensor to read your fingerprint for TouchID, so the iPhone X will have a face recognition system that Apple calls FaceID. Phil Schiller assures us that new sensors at the top of the phone in the notch will securely detect your face, even in the dark, to authorize your iPhone to be unlocked or in other places where you use TouchID. Including with Apple Pay.

Phil Schiller’s pitch for FaceID included a terrifying image of a wall of fake faces that Apple’s engineers used to test the face unlocking feature.

Apple are making an API available to developers for accessing the kinect-style data from the sensors on the front of the iPhone. They’re using the sensors internally to make 12 animated emojis that respond to your face and can be recorded along with audio messages to send over iMessage. Snapchat was demonstrated with it for face masking as well. They had a pretty impressive Ultimate Warrior style mask.

Craig Federighi demonstrated the iPhone X and showed that you can access the new iOS 11 Control Center by swiping down from the upper right corner where the connection status indicators are.

Phil Schiller boasted about the iPhone X cameras, they’re even better than the ones in the iPhone 8 Plus with optical image stabilization on both cameras. The front-facing camera is supposed to be better for selfies as well.

The iPhone X is supposed to get 2 more hours of battery life over the base iPhone 7, and have the same Qi charging as the 8.

The iPhone X will be up for pre-order on October 27th and shipping on November 3rd. Here are the prices for different configurations:

  • 64GB for $1000
  • 256GB for $1150

AirPower & Updated AirPods

Apple also has a new oval Qi charging mat coming out next year that will charge the iPhone 8 and X, as well as their Apple Watch and a new case for the AirPods that Phil Schiller said was “optional.” I’m not sure yet if “optional” means a more expensive set of AirPods or a separate purchase after the fact or both. I’d hope I could upgrade my current AirPods with a one-time purchase.

Overall:
I’m kind of disappointed with the pitch for the iPhone 8 versus the iPhone X. I don’t think I would personally want the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus when there’s an iPhone X available. Although I’m sure the iPhone X will not be available in as large a quantity as the 8. I also am not looking forward to an upgrade to the AirPods already. They don’t seem like something that should change as often, but I guess it might end up being similar to the Watch where there are updates but they seem less necessary than the phone.

I’m very disappointed that Apple is calling contact charging “wireless” when there are wires involved and you can’t just hold your iPhone five feet from the AirPower dingus to charge it.

Apple’s WWDC 2017 Press Event Notes

Every year Apple has at least two big events, their iPhone event in the second half of the year and their developers conference event in the first half of the year. Each event has it’s own press briefing, here are my notes from today’s WWDC 2017 press briefing. It is long as hell.

The show opened with a comedy skit about a new Apple engineer sitting down at a new desk and accidentally unplugging the iOS app store servers, disabling every app. Soon, the world descends into chaos as people can’t get directions and we see a marketplace of people trying to substitute for the missing apps:

Tim Cook was the first live human on stage with numbers and then to announce that Amazon’s Prime Video service is finally going to the Apple TV.

WatchOS 4:
Kevin Lynch announced new Siri functionality that would automatically present information you might want on the new Siri watch face. Rotating the crown scrolls through the available information. For example you might want to see your upcoming appointments and weather changes. They’re displayed as tiny cards as seen here:

There’s also a new kaleidoscope face along with several animated Toy Story character faces.

WatchOS 4 also has more customized notifications for activity encouragement and better reward animations when you’re done exercising.

The exercise tracking is more advanced and detects when you’re paused while swimming to determine your intervals, for example. It’s also easier now to move from one workout type into another without stopping.

New gym equipment will be Apple Watch enabled and will help you record your fitness activities on that equipment when you swipe your watch near a certain area on the equipment.

Apple Music is improved on the watch with a new app.

The new WatchOS will be out this Fall with a pre-release version available to developers today.


Mac Updates:
Tim Cook introduced Craig Federighi to talk about macOS updates. macOS 10.13 will be called High Sierra, another stability update along the lines of Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion. Craig joked about the name’s obvious weed reference.

Craig promises these new features in 10.13:

Faster Safari web browsing with faster Javascript.

Safari will also block autoplaying video and audio on web pages. That’s great.

Safari will have “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” to prevent sites from identifying you across domains.

Search is better somehow. Apple didn’t really explain how

Mail gets a split view in full-screen mode to edit new messages alongside reading others and is also more optimized for storage.

Photos gets all kinds of improvements such as improvements in detecting faces.

Finally, Photos’ machine learning stuff gets synced across devices.

Photos also has way more advanced editing features on the Mac.

Apple’s Apple File System came to iOS recently to replace HFS+, APFS will be on High Sierra as well.

MacOS will also support h.265 for video compression, which will also be supported with dedicated hardware on Macs.

Craig boasted about their graphics API Metal for a while before announcing Metal 2 that is supposed to give a 10x draw call throughput improvement. It’ll also have better debugging and optimization tools.

Interestingly, Craig talked about how there is a new Thunderbolt 3 enclosure with an AMD Radeon RX 580 and USB-C hub available for developers who want to offload Metal GPU computation tasks to an external device from a Mac. It isn’t clear if this can offload desktop graphics rendering, as well, but you would assume so.

Craig announced VR support coming to the Mac from Valve with SteamVR and engines from Epic (Unreal) and Unity.

All systems that support Sierra will support High Sierra. It’ll be out this Fall with a public beta later in June.


Mac Hardware Updates
New iMacs are coming with 50% brighter displays and Kaby Lake chipsets from Intel. The iMacs are getting support for more RAM, 32 gigs on the 21.5 inch and 64 gigs on the 27. The 27 also gets fusion drives by default. The 21.5 iMac gets improved integrated graphics. The 4k 21.5 inch iMac gets the Radeon Pro 555 and 560 with up to 4 gigs of RAM.

The 27inch 5K iMac gets the Radeon Pro 570, 575, and 580 with up to 6 gigs of RAM.

MacBooks and MacBook Pros are also getting updated with new chipsets.

Industrial Light & Magic’s John Knoll & Epic’s Lauren Ridge showed up to give a VR demo running on the new iMacs. The demo featured live edits to a Star Wars scene in the Unreal Engine. It was incredibly awkward and didn’t demonstrate anything new over what Windows desktop machines could do last year.


iMac Pro

 

There’s a new 27 inch iMac Pro in Space Gray to offer an option for anyone missing the Mac Pro that hasn’t been updated in years. With copious options in CPU (up to 18 cores) and RAM (up to 128GB).

According to Apple it’ll be much cheaper than a comparable workstation that would cost over $7000, this one will start at $5000. It’ll be available this December.


iOS 11
Tim Cook boasted about iOS 10’s lack of fragmentation compared to Android and then reintroduced Craig Federighi to talk about iOS 11.

iMessage apps get an updated app drawer.

iMessages is now in the cloud to sync your message history to all of your devices, and it is still encrypted end-to-end, which should mean that Apple can’t access your messages in any situation. Although practically they could do so and you might not know about it.

Apple Pay is getting person-to-person payments, and it’ll have integration with Messages. Although it’ll store by default to an Apple Pay Wallet you can transfer money to your bank account. Sounds like the introduction of an Apple Bank.

Siri is getting an improved voice that sounds more natural and is still the only option with both male and female voices. Siri will also support translation in beta with some languages. SiriKit for developers will do more and support more applications. The last update only worked with a few custom actions like sending messages in third-party apps.

iPhone photos and videos are getting new compression formats that are supposedly much more efficient. The portrait camera is getting more features for a higher quality end-result.

Memories are enhanced. Video editing is supposed to be much improved as well.

Control Center is now modular and a single page. If you 3D touch a control module you get more controls and more information for that module as it expands to take up more space on the display.

The lock screen notification area will now expand with a swipe to display all of your notifications, not just the most recent ones.

Live Photos are improved, you can pick the key photo and loop the short video in live photos or choose other effects.

Maps gets improved maps for inside buildings like malls and airports. Navigation gets speed limits and lane-guidance. There’s a new feature for drivers called Do Not Disturb while Driving, it’ll be automatically suggested while driving and hide notifications. It can also notify anyone texting you that you’re driving and that you won’t see their messages unless they’re on a VIP list or they can break through by responding with “urgent.”

AirPlay 2 supports multi-room speaker systems from all iOS devices as well as the 4th generation Apple TV.

Apple Music can optionally share your playlists and music library with your friends, developers can also access this information through new APIs.

Phil Schiller appeared on stage to announce some updates coming for developers and users. The iOS App Store gets a complete redesign that looks more like Apple Music. A new Today screen shows off new cards with different stories about new apps. There are new dedicated screens for showing off games and a different screen for non-game apps. Category editors can display videos demonstrating tips and tricks for different apps.

Craig came back to talk about other technology improvements, including ARKit for augmented reality. It’ll work with Unity, Unreal Engine, and Apple’s SceneKit. Craig demonstrated 3D objects like coffee cups and lamps displayed on surfaces like tables that are detected instead of just having the 3D objects overlaid on what the camera sees without any interaction with real-world objects. An updated version of Pokemon Go will support this new ARKit and display Pokemon on the ground instead of just floating in the air.

Peter Jackson’s WingnutAR team appeared on stage to demonstrate an AR application running on an iPad with a science fiction action scene. Using AR to display a pre-configured action sequence is pretty boring, honestly.


The 10.5 inch iPad Pro

Apple introduced a new iPad Pro with a 10.5 inch display and an A10x processor. Joz told us that this supports a full-size software keyboard along with a better keyboard case. It’ll have a better refresh rate that looks smoother when motion is displayed on the screen, so Apple called this ProMotion. It’ll also dynamically adjust the display refresh rate for whatever the content is you’re working on, for better performance or battery life at a slower refresh rate.

The new 10.5 inch iPad Pro also has the same camera as the iPhone 7 and the base model has 64 gigs of storage. They’re available for order today and will ship next week.

Craig came back to talk about iOS improvements for the iPad. The dock can now have a large amount of apps. It can be pulled up from the bottom of the screen in any app. You can pull apps out of the dock into a slide-over multi-tasking split-view. iOS 11 will also support drag and drop. There’s a new Files app that supports iCloud drive and third-party cloud file management services like Dropbox.

The Notes app now supports handwritten notes that get interpreted using OCR as text by the system for searching and can scan a document for editing.

The 12.9 (let’s be honest, 13) inch iPad Pro also gets the new display, processor, increased base storage (64GB) and other features. All of these iPads 10.5 and 12.9 also have the 2nd generation TouchID sensor with quicker fingerprint recognition, but still appear to have physical home buttons instead of the haptic-driven virtual home buttons of the iPhones 7 and 7 Plus.


HomePod

Phil Schiller came back on stage to talk about “Reinventing Home Music” with a new speaker from Apple called HomePod. The first non-Beats branded speaker from Apple since the iPod Hi-Fi. HomePod is a rotund  7-inch tall device with a little bit of an urn shape and has its own A8 chip inside. Supposedly this speaker is very advanced and detects the kind of environment it is in to adjust for different types of rooms and adjust the audio for clarity. It’ll also work with another HomePod automatically for better stereo separation.

Of course, this speaker will support Siri and be Apple’s competitor to Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home device as was rumored for months. Apple says that this speaker will have advanced Siri functionality that is tailored specifically to it.

The HomePod will be $349, in white and space gray, this December.


Overall, this feels like Apple trying to catch up, in VR and AR, with a speaker for Siri and finally getting updates to the iPad Pro and an iMac Pro to help reassure Mac Pro users like video editors that Apple hasn’t completely abandoned them when the Mac Pro still doesn’t have a release scheduled beyond “not this year.”

It’s good to see VR on the Mac, but nothing today addressed the desire for a desktop Mac for gamers to play VR applications unless you want a machine with a built-in display and a GPU you can’t upgrade. As terrible as Nvidia can be as we’ve seen with the GTX 970 memory debacle, I don’t ever want to buy a desktop with an AMD graphics chipset.

I would probably want a HomePod as Apple is the only company offering an AI assistant speaker that gives a damn about privacy and isn’t just trying to sell you shit through their store like Amazon with their Echo.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Apple held an event at the Bill Graham Auditorium at just about the regular time as they’ve done for years to announce their new iPhones.

Here’s a brief summary of what’s changed in this year’s phones.

Headphones.

As was rumored, the iPhones 7 have dropped the headphone jack. It was generally used as a single-purpose port based on an ancient design from the 1800s whose time had come.

In retrospect it seems amazing how this change was leaked early. Tech people were prepared for the change by the leaked information, and although they grumbled about it still they were more ready for the change after the leak as it became increasingly apparent that it was going to happen.

It’s not surprising how many people reject change, and although there are some not-so-great effects to this change, I feel like it is ultimately a positive one.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve caught a headphone cable on a door knob and had my headphones violently ripped out of my ears, or found earbuds tangled up in my pocket and given up trying to untangle them. Once, I even foolishly spent more than $100 on a set of earbuds only to have them break, and then the replacement from the company broke within a month. These cables break devices, they are the failure points in headphones, they get tangled and the port itself is often faulty. Pocket crud fills it up and causes random issues with the jack dropping one stereo channel or the other.

There are true negatives to the change, accessibility devices used that port. So do a number of other accessories that couldn’t afford to pay Apple’s certification fees for their Lightning port or where it was just the best mechanism to connect. I’ve got apps that process guitar audio and the only way to connect my guitar the hardware accessory for a long time was via the TRRS jack.

Fortunately Apple has solutions for almost everyone. An adapter ships in the box alongside a pair of their EarPod earbuds that use a lightning cable. The adapter will also be available separately for $9 which is pretty cheap.

I wonder if all of the accessories that have connected through that port over the past 9 years of iPhones will work with whatever hardware is in the adapter. It isn’t clear yet if it moves the digital audio converter outside of the phone yet or not and what capabilities it has. So I won’t know if this will work with my guitar kit.

Apple has also introduced their own wireless AirPod earbuds. All wireless headphones have tiny computers in them, the AirPods have a new system on a chip they call the W1. These look just like the regular EarPods but without a cable, and you’ll notice metal at the ends for the new microphone. They’re smart, they detect if one is pulled out because you want to hear something or someone in your vicinity and pause whatever you’re listening to. Pairing regular Bluetooth headphones can be a pain, but the AirPods begin the pairing process with your nearby Apple devices when you open their case. That case is pretty smart, too. It charges the AirPods whenever you put them away.

Since you can use just one AirPod you could swap between them for hours and hours of listening. I use one earbud all the time to keep a better ear to my surroundings when I’m listening to podcasts. These have the advantage of being smart enough to switch to monaural output when you press play after removing one.

Most Bluetooth earbuds have a cable between the left and the right sides in order to just have the one tiny computer and battery. I’ve got a Motorola set from years ago that do this, they’re tough to kill and have great battery life although they’ve finally lost the little dingus that keeps the cables organized and attached to the part that goes around my collar. That’s where they get thick and have their battery and computer. Otherwise, the earbuds themselves are just dumb cheap earbuds like most.

People complain about the price of the AirPods at $170, which is kind of ridiculous considering that Bluetooth earbuds without cables have a computer and battery in both ears in order to communicate with each other and whatever device they’re connecting to. Most of those sets are also way more expensive. A set of truly wireless earbuds that were originally crowdfunded and looked very interesting Bragi’s Dash, go for $300 and lose their connection between each earbud while in-use causing all kinds of issues. The AirPods will be available next month so we’ll find out then if they’re better, they should be.

There are other changes, but the headphone issue is front and center for most people. It’s reasonable to be upset about it, but wireless audio connections are pretty damn good already so I expect most people will be very happy to move to those headsets.

I’d still understand if this issue would make people hesitant to get these phones at first, but I think that the change is inevitable at this point. Where Apple goes, the rest of the phone and tiny computer in your pocket industry follow. There will be some holdouts, and the transition will not be fun, just as there were with hardware keyboards, flip phones, floppy drives, disc drives, but I’m excited for fewer wires. Finally.

Water resistant, not waterproof.

Moving on to other improvements. The iPhones are now water (and dust) resistant. For up to 30 minutes and 3.3 feet (1 meter), the iPhones 7 can remain in water. So a quick dunk in a toilet or pool shouldn’t be an issue, don’t make a habit of it or try to charge your phone for 5 hours after getting out. Apple won’t cover water damage to the phone under warranty, which makes sense. How do they know if it was in water for less than 31 minutes or 3.3 feet?

Every year when iFixit tears these devices apart I’m kind of surprised at what is inside besides electronics. If you build a computer you know there are gaskets and seals, but glue? An adhesive is what makes up much of the sealing around the device’s screen. It clearly works, they’ve used adhesives for years to keep small mobile computers like iPhones together, but it feels strange to me to buy something held together with glue even if it is in addition to screws.

Cameras.

The cameras on the iPhone are all improved, and there is one more of them if you get the larger Plus phone.

The front-facing camera people use for FaceTime video chat and selfies is now 7 megapickles and can record video at 1080p compared to the 5 megapickles of last year’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. The front-facing camera on my current iPhone, the 6 Plus, is just 1.2 megapickles. People love selfies, it’s how I take most of the pictures of my son and I together, this is a great improvement.

Previous big iPhone Pluses had a camera feature called optical image stabilization (OIS) that was exclusive to them. Both iPhones now have OIS in their primary camera on the rear of the device, which is great because it makes low-light shots much better as it physically moves the camera system to help keep the shutter open longer and let in more light. Hold out something in your hand and try to keep it steady. That is why we all need OIS.

I called it the primary camera because the Plus now has an additional camera on the back. The regular camera is wide-angle, as it always has been and needs to be in order to let in so much light. The new camera has the trade-off of letting in less light but giving you way more zoom. Apple calls it a telephoto lens, but it’s more like a regular lens in contrast to the wide-angle of the primary camera.

Unless your phone has a camera lens that physically protrudes and can change it’s length, it can only have digital zoom with the typical camera sensor and lens fixture. Digital zoom is complete garbage. All it does is crop whatever picture you get out of the regular sensor. You get less picture data and less of a digital thing means you’re getting crap. Images from phone cameras tend to look like impressionist watercolor paintings when you get in real close via a tight crop or “digital zoom.” This second camera gets you a real, physical, 2x zoom and cropping from that point will be much better than cropping from the wide-angle lens and sensor.

On the iPhone 7 Plus both cameras also work together to improve every photo you take. If you’re outdoors and taking a photo the image processors on the phone will try to get data from both sensors in order to make your pictures better. If you’re indoors and the telephoto camera can’t get enough light to take a good picture, the image processors will dump the data from that sensor. Brilliant.

Both of the cameras on the rear of the phone shoot 12 megapickles.

Adding in another camera is a bizarre but frankly necessary solution, and it’s impressive that Apple recognizes the necessity of making the hump on the back of the phones that contains the lenses and sensors larger in order to include this secondary camera system. Most people think of them as a company that puts form behind function in their designs, this is clearly the opposite. That hump is hideous, and makes the phone slightly more unwieldy because it can’t lay flat on a table. I think Apple recognizes that most people use cases, and cases easily make the hump a non-issue.

Et Cetera.

The iPhones 7 are, of course, faster. They have a new processor with the marketing name, A10 Fusion. The numbers are kind of not important, benchmarks show that they’re faster than their Android cousins, but you should use whatever device you’re comfortable with.

More important than the processor improvements are the fact that instead of going quad-core like other smartphones, the new iPhones are quadcore with a twist. The two other processor cores are slower. What, why? Because then less important tasks take less battery. Smart.

The display on the iPhone has improved, it now has a wide color gamut. This means that reds and greens are supposed to be more correct to life. The cameras are set up to capture this new detail, but that does mean most older photos won’t have the additional colors. It also means that we can’t see these improvements on regular phones and computers, so you and I won’t know what the wide color gamut looks like until we see a new iPhone in person while it is displaying something that has more color data in it.

It’s a little disappointing that the iPhone didn’t receive the true-tone display improvements of this year’s 9.7 inch iPad Pro. That feature detects the lighting conditions in a room or outside and makes a white background look like a sheet of paper would in the same room.

The home button will no-longer physically move. Instead, the phone will attempt to trick you into thinking it moved with haptic feedback. That same haptic feedback will be used throughout the operating system to make the virtual interfaces more physically responsive. I’ve had the home button on a few iPhones fail in the past, so this is a welcome improvement although I’m sure it will take some getting used to.

The speaker on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is now in stereo and can be twice as loud thanks to the speaker in the earpiece gaining new capabilities. If you watch shows or movies on your phone, this is great. If you ride public transit, I’m sorry for your loss.

One of the most important upgrades I’ve saved for last, and this has carried over to every other iOS device Apple sells, is that the 16GB models are finally dead. You cannot buy an iPhone with too little storage. The only options are 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB. These upgrades still cost too much at $100 for each storage bump, but I felt a small pain whenever a friend or family member bought a 16GB iPhone or iPad. It would have been nice if the base model were 64GB, that’s what I have in my current iPhone 6 Plus, it’s plenty, but 32GB goes a long way to making things better. It should have happened way sooner.

My biggest disappointment with these phones is that the design is largely unchanged from the past two years of iPhone. It’s becoming difficult to differentiate one rounded rectangle with a screen from another, and although Apple has replaced one color (Space Gray) with two others (Jet Black and a matte Black), I wish there were more physical improvements. The rumor mill says that these big design changes are coming next year, which will be the tenth anniversary of the first iPhone.

Would I buy these?

I like these improvements, but my initial plan was to keep using my iPhone 6 Plus until at least next year. It does what I need it to, in general, and these feel like a second “s year” for the iPhone. However, the resale value of that iPhone 6 Plus became almost nothing after this year’s lot were announced. Then along came T-Mobile with a deal to get people locked into two years of service. In exchange for trading in their iPhone 6 and 6s’, people could receive a severely discounted iPhone 7 or 7 Plus. It’s like if you were driving an older Honda and the gas station offered you an almost free new model if you keep buying their gas.

One of the reasons I love the iPhone is that I don’t usually have to deal with a carrier and their terrible service policies and retail stores directly. Attempting to upgrade my iPhone through this T-Mobile deal has proven why I hate doing business with cell phone carriers.

T-Mobile screwed up so badly they had to completely cancel the upgrade order I put in on the first day the phone became available and I’m still not sure if a phone is actually going to come in the mail and if they will actually honor their deal.

I would still recommend that most people save up and buy their phone outright from Apple in order to not have to deal with these carriers directly. Carriers are all scum.

Carrier issues aside, these new iPhones 7 are otherwise fine upgrades if you aren’t going to be very upset about the loss of the headphone jack and I would recommend upgrading to anyone on an iPhone 5 or older device. If you have an iPhone 6 or 6s, you probably shouldn’t do what I did unless you get that good of an upgrade deal. Next year’s iPhone may be an amazing improvement in appearance when this year’s was more about functional improvements to an existing design that is good.