Kicking off with a cameo from talk show host James Corden and Pharrell driving Tim Cook to the event, Apple took a straightforward approach to promo’ing its new show: Carpool Karaoke. Cook segued nicely from Corden’s car to the main stage and detailed Apple Music’s new look and its 17 million users.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system has been in beta for the past couple of months; it’s bringing a ton of new features for enriching iMessage, improving Maps and making Siri more useful with extension support. iOS 10 will arrive on September 13; here’s a roundup of everything new to look forward to.
The streaming service got a major redesign in iOS 10, and a sorely-needed one at that. Aside from bold new aesthetics, the personalized playlist generator called Discovery Mix could make for an easier transition from Spotify, if you’re in love with the latter’s Discover Weekly playlist (I am).
You’ll also see lyric integration and a simplified interface that looks, well, a lot like Apple News.
Mario is coming to iOS!
Mario is coming to the app store! Drop everything. #AppleEvent
— Bryan 👾 Clark (@bryanclark) September 7, 2016
Mobile gaming never seemed complete without Mario on the iPhone or a non-emulated Android device. Today, Nintendo creator Shigeru Miyamoto announced Super Mario Run – an endless runner that fully supports one-handed play. Miyamoto mused that the one-handed play was so that you could “hold on in the subway, eat a cheeseburger, or an apple.”
Super Mario Run will be available at a “fixed price” and it’ll release this holiday season. Miyamoto said the decision to offer a fixed price was so that you could enjoy the game without worrying about in-app purchases.
You’ll get some cool new teaser stickers for the game featuring Mario’s mug when iOS 10 drops on September 13.
Education and iWork
Cook took the stage to talk about some of Apple’s education initiatives, such as the ConnectED grant. ConnectED aims to deliver 50,000 iPads to students and 4,500 Macs to teachers.
Next Cook invited Susan Prescott, VP of worldwide apps, to the stage to detail what’s coming in the oft-forgotten iWork.
All the iWork apps — Pages, Notes, and Keynote — now offer real-time collaboration between colleagues. Prescott demo’ed the new feature on stage by editing a Keynote presentation with five contributors. The live contribution was underwhelming, and it essentially welcomed Apple to 2006 — or Google Drive.
The Apple Watch just got faster, thinner and altogether more exciting. The ‘Apple Watch Series 2‘ — or Apple Watch S2 — has a better processor, brighter display (1,000 nits — same as a Galaxy Note 7), and it’s now waterproof-ish.
Possibly past the heyday of the app, bit still exciting, Pokémon Go is coming to the Apple Watch. Niantic CEO John Hanke took to the stage to announce the Pokémon Go Plus — a tool that offers heads-up gameplay — and the port of the game to WatchOS. We’ll see that later this year.
After criticism mounted that the first watch wasn’t waterproof — like Sony and Samsung offerings — Apple met the call and ‘swim-proofed’ the second iteration of its smart watch — the ‘Apple Watch Series 2.’ The original watch offered IPX7 water resistance — meaning it was okay to shower with, but you should probably leave it out of the pool. The new one actually ejects water out of the speaker grill and is submergible to 50 meters. It even offers pool-based workouts with lap count, distance and calorie burn.
Another common gripe was the lack of a GPS chip. Apple previously required the watch be tethered to an iPhone to use its GPS. Now, it’s loosened its reliance on the iPhone and baked in GPS capability. The move is a good one, as fitness is undoubtedly a pillar of the Apple Watch and the smartphone requirement makes it a much less attractive option than other wearables from Samsung or even Fitbit.
Apple again partnered with Nike to announce ‘Apple Watch Nike+,’ a special edition built just for runners. The Apple Watch Nike+ is available in four cool colors and is designed to get you out the door with a simple prompt — ‘Are we running today?’ The device starts with an invitation ‘Are We Running Today?’ designed to get you off the couch. It also has social features that let you know when your friends are exercising and how much they’re kicking your Cheeto-eating ass while you bing-watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
That’s not the only special edition watch, either. Apple also announced a new ceramic finish. The white pearlescent finish is completely ceramic and pairs nicely with a number of existing bands.
The watch body also lost some weight, all while gaining some additional juice in the form of battery power. While unavoidably chunky due to all the hardware crammed into a rather small watch, the new iteration will be slightly thinner with a battery that’s 36 percent larger than the original. This is a good thing, as the GPS will undoubtedly put the squeeze on battery life.
The Series 2 will be available to pre-order September 9 with a release date a week later (September 16). Both the S2 and the Nike+ series will run $369, with the latter coming in late October.
WatchOS 3 releases to the public on September 13.
We’ll also get a re-imagined first-gen Apple Watch — now called the ‘Series 1’ — with an upgraded dual-core processor (same as the S2) for $269. That one will also drop on September 16, with pre-orders open on September 9.
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
The headliner of this Apple event is undoubtedly the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Gone are the 16 GB version (👍) and the headphone jack (👎) but a handful of new features and five color options should help ease the pain.
The biggest news is probably the ‘water resistant’ coating. Apple added IP67 water resistance to the iPhone — a feature similar to the original Apple Watch. It’s not completely waterproof, but it could prove a life saver after a quick soaking. To assist in the waterproofing (in part, at least), Apple removed the physical home button to a completely flush “button” that offers haptic feedback, mimicking the clicking sensation much like the touchpad of newer MacBook and MacBook Pro models — the feature addition that took the spot of the missing headphone jack.
Color options now include two different shades of black (‘jet’ and ‘black’ — creative, right?) as well as the current rose gold, gold and silver. Space gray is no longer of this world.
As for storage, the entry-level storage option is now 32GB with options to upgrade to 128GB or the new 256GB option if you’re willing to fork over the money. The base model starts at the same price as the 6s/6s Plus — $649 for the 7 and $769 for the 7 Plus.
The camera system utilizes ‘Lytro-like’ features that allow you to refocus a shot after the photo has been taken, thanks to two separate 12-megapixel lenses. The two cameras offer smartphone photographers the option to create their own bokeh-filled images, something that was only available on higher-end cameras — or mimicked rather badly on a handful of smartphones.
The Plus also gets a four-LED array that provides better color accuracy when using flash. The 7 lacks these features, but offers the still-amazing 12-megapixel camera from the 6s, with a few iterative upgrades.
The front-facing camera gets a bump from 5MP to 7MP, better color capture and auto-image stabilization.
AV is nothing if you improve the V (video) without the A (audio). The new iPhone will feature dual speakers that create stereo sound — at least in landscape mode (although they work fine in portrait). The speakers are located at the top and bottom and aside from creating stereo sound, they’re also significantly louder.
Both get a spec bump to the ‘A10 Fusion’ processor clocked at 2.4 and 2.45GHZ (7 and 7 Plus, respectively) as well as an additional GB of RAM in the Plus model (bringing it to 3GB). The processor also jumps to four cores, and adds a six-core graphics chip. The A10 is 120x faster than the original iPhone, while the graphics chip is 240x more powerful.
The 7 and 7 Plus are said to both offer the best battery life of any iPhone. You’ll get a reported two additional hours of use in the iPhone 7 Plus and an additional hour in the 7.
Pre-orders start Friday, September 9. They’ll ship September 16. The stellar new iOS 10 will release September 13.
Apple’s new EarPods are chock full of options, as long as ‘chock full’ in this case means wired or wireless. The new EarPod is completely redesigned to actually fit in the ear, rather than nestled neatly between your earlobe and the ear canal. The redesign is a necessary one, as Apple’s new headphones offer completely wireless playback through Bluetooth.
The EarPods can also be plugged in, although not in the headphone jack — that’s gone. Now, you’ll have to plugin via the Lightning port, which doubles as the port used to sync the phone to a desktop or charge it. Gone are the days of multi-tasking, as Apple shifts to a one port to rule them all approach that it previously made with its Macbook and USB-C connection.
We’ll also see a trio of new Beats offerings later this year.
Follow our coverage of Apple’s iPhone 7 keynote and find the latest stories about it here.