Event Update: iPhone 8, iPhone X, Watch 3 & Apple TV

Apple held an event this evening to launch a number of new products. Here is a quick update on what was announced:

iPhone:
The biggest news came with the iPhone. There will be two new ranges of iPhone-


iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus:
These new models will be the successors to the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. The main changes are the better camera, faster A11 chip and more storage included, starting at 64GB. The iPhone 8 can also be charged wirelessly- where you can place the phone on a mat-type device and it charges through the back of the phone. The new retina displays are "true-tone", which means they adjust depending on the light, which should help to make them easier to read in the sun!
Other changes include the new glass-back design and a new gold colour.

Overall the iPhone 8 is a steady, yearly improvement over the 7, if not revolutionary. The main selling points are the better camera and the extra speed.
Prices start at €829 / $699 (|iPhone 8) or €939 / $799 (iPhone 8 Plus)

iPhone X:
The very revolutionary iPhone X (“ten”) comes on the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone. This is a very different design, with the screen almost covering the entire front surface of the phone. There is no home button either, and the device unlocks using the new Face ID, which will scan the contours of your face when you look at it. According to Apple, Touch ID (fingerprint) has unique security of 1 in 50,000 people, whereas Face ID is at 1 in 1,000,000. Face ID projects 30,000 dots onto the surface of your face to ensure a high level of security and accuracy.

The facial recognition technology also extends to emojis! You can make a facial expression and turn it into your own emoji, called an animoji!
The new OLED screen is what Apple calls Super Retina, with better colours and more pixels per inch, making it the highest resolution screen Apple have produced.
The camera is also improved, with portrait mode photos available on both the front and rear cameras.The camera is also Augmented-Reality-ready, something Apple has bene pushing for new games and apps.
Overall a very new look for an iPhone and, combined with Face ID, it has many cutting-edge technologies packed in here.
Prices start at €1179 / $999 (this phone is not intended to be cheap- this is the flagship model)

Apple Watch:
The big change to this year’s Apple Watch Series 3 is a version which comes with a mobile/cellular chip, meaning you could take a Watch out and still get calls, texts, use Maps and Siri. Apple announced that you can use Apple Music on the cellular Watch, so combined with Bluetooth headphones, the Watch will be a streaming music device. Great for people who like to go for long walks, run or cycle. No need to take your iPhone out to play music!

Only catch- the cellular version will not launch in Ireland just yet. Apple are likely to have to agree deals with local mobile companies, so expect this to arrive in the next few months. Adding your Watch to your data package is likely to add around €10 / $10 extra per month to your bill.




Apple TV:
With what may seem to be a minor change to the Apple TV lineup, Apple announced the new Apple TV 4K, which can play high quality 4K movies. If you have a 4K TV this is big news as the quality will be quite dramatic. But you will need a 4K TV to get the most out of this.

Apple have got the major studios on board and they will be selling and renting 4K movies. Amazon Prime is also coming to the Apple TV in the next few weeks.


Software:
A couple of dates for the diary:
September 19th: iOS 11 will be released for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch
September 25th: macOS High Sierra will be released for the Mac
Both are free downloads- please backup your data first!


Apple Event- What Happened Last Week...

The Apple press event last week brought in new products, a new version of iOS and watchOS, plus some interesting headphone news...

iPhone 7:
The new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were announced:

- iPhone 7 (smaller 4.7” screen)
- iPhone 7 Plus (larger 5.5” screen)
Photos: The iPhone 7 comes with a new A10 chip for faster speed and graphics but the big news is the new internal cameras. The standard 7 comes with a new camera capable of capturing a wider range of colours, plus a new LED flash, meaning that low-light photos are much clearer than in previous iPhones. The new 7 Plus (big iPhone) comes with a zoom lens. Although a small zoom amount compared to pro-cameras (2x optical or 10x digital), it is the first iPhone to come with any real zoom feature. Even the front camera, used mostly for FaceTime (and selfies!!), goes up to a 7 megapixel resolution (previously 5).

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Here Comes the Autumn... What's Next for Apple?

As the Autumn approaches (sorry, "Fall") Apple will be readying a number of changes to their product lineup. Here is what I expect to see and what I hope to see...

Expectations:

The new iPhone will arrive in September and will come with a few usual changes. Thinner design, new Ax chip inside which will be faster than the 6S, better graphics, improved camera. There has been a bit of talk about a new dual lens camera, and this certainly fits into the usual iterative updates. One question- will Apple continue to update the iPhone SE separately to the main iPhone lines? Looks likely this year as the SE is too new for a refresh in September.

The big question is the headphone socket and whether Apple will go for a lightening connection for wired EarBuds or opt for some sort of wireless option? My own view here is that this will come down to usability. Not only does the ease of connection matter, in other words how the Bluetooth or other wireless technology works, but also the battery life of any wireless EarBuds. I suspect we will see lightening EarBuds shipping as the standard and possibly new wireless versions as an optional extra. But let's hope that if Apple do go for wirelessly versions, they have got something better than the current Bluetooth technology, which is at best fiddly and normally frustrating to use.

It is possible that we will see changes to the iPad, especially as we approach Christmas. The iPad would be a good seller during the holidays and the iPad Pro (12" model) could see changes so it has the newer TrueTone display. The smaller 9" iPad Pro is less likely to change as it is less than a year old. It is also possible that Apple will leave the iPad out, given that the Pro has been changed in the last 12 months, and make any changes in the new year.

We will definitely see three updated operating systems- the new macOS Sierra to replace OS X El Capitan, the next version of the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch operating system, iOS 10 and watchOS 3.0. This was set out in June at WWDC and it is likely to ship (for free) in October.

It also seems to be time for new Apple Watch models. Apple launched the first Watch almost 18 months ago. As we approach the Christmas buying season it seems logical that there will be new Watch models; I have always maintained that the Watch is the new iPod, for music and fitness. Maybe it is also time to streamline the range from three to two families of Watch?

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Apple's March Press Event: The Highlights

Today Apple held a press event which saw the release of a new iPhone, iPad and more. Here is a summary of the details:

- Tim Cook started by talking about Apple's 40th birthday on April 1st, and discussed the ongoing security case in the US

- Lisa Jackson talked about Apple and the environment, and their ambition to use 100% renewable energy. To date 93% of worldwide facilities run on renewables and 100% in the US (people may question the purpose of this presentation but this is a big aspect of the Apple brand)

- Jeff Williams presented update on HealthKit, used in the iPhone, iPod and Apple Watch. He showed how medical research can be improved by HealthKit due to the large number of participants. He also announced CareKit, which helps to monitor patients, especially those recovering from treatments/operations

- Tim Cook reported that Apple Watch is the top selling smartwatch, and introduced new woven bands, plus new sports bands. There are also new black Milanese Loop and new leather bands

- The price of the Apple Watch also dropped to $299

- On Apple TV, from today you will be able to organise apps into folders, enter text through dictation and view Live Photos

- Greg Joswiak introduced the new low end 4" iPhone- the iPhone SE. It comes with the A9 chip, 12MP camera, ApplePay, better battery life, Live Photos. It is twice as fast as the 5s.

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Update on Apple Press Event- iOS 9 & OS X El Capitan

Apart from new devices, Apple also announced the dates for the release of their two main operating systems-

- iOS 9 for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch- to be released this Wednesday (September 16th)
- OS X El Capitan for Macs- to be released on September 30th
(for Apple Watch users, they also announced Watch OS 2.0, to be released on Wednesday)
Here is a quick rundown of the highlights:

iOS 9:

iOS 9 is the new operating system for your iPhone and iPad. Here are some of the new features announced.

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The Future of iBooks

As a children's book author, I have been considering Apple's future options for iBooks and whether they would venture into the world of Windows or Android.  After all, iTunes runs on Windows PC and Apple Music will be available on Android this Autumn, so why not iBooks on other non-Apple platforms?

But when I look closer at Apple's use of iBooks, I don't see this happening. Books is an interesting side-show for Apple and it fits nicely into content-consumption on the iPad and iPhone but it's not a core business. The iBooks Store arrived with the iPad, as Apple touted the virtues of books on the iPad for consumers and in education. But it is not central to Apple's business and so does not receive the attention that say the iTunes and Apple Music stores receive.

Anyone who has interacted with the iBooks team will also know that the number of people behind iBooks is relatively small. The changes in the iBooks Store over the years have been gradual but not revolutionary.  

Instead, Apple see the iBooks app as an important piece inside iOS and OS X. The benefits of the iBooks app come as part of the operating system and the user experience on an iPad, iPhone or (recently) Mac, and launching a parallel experience for Windows and Android is not something Apple will do.  iBooks is key to iOS/OS X, which in turn is part of the user experience on an Apple device.  The message is- if you want to experience the iBooks app, buy an iPad, iPhone or Mac!

Adding iBooks to the Mac was a nice extra but it is a different experience to using it on an iPad and iPhone. iBooks is most at home on iOS and especially on the iPad, then possibly on an iPhone 6 Plus, with other platforms such as the Mac coming at the end. Putting it onto Windows or Android is a further step away from Apple's central aim here. 

In the end, while I would like to see iBooks extended out beyond iOS and OS X, I can't see it happening. With my author hat on, it would be great to reach new audiences. But as a long-time Apple observer, it goes against Apple's aims for iBooks, which is to draw more people to buy the iPad and other hardware devices.

[Note- at time of publication, the iBooks Author page still has not been updated to show that iBooks Author books can be read on an iPhone: https://www.apple.com/ibooks-author/]

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