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!


Using the New Apple AirPods

I have been using the new Apple AirPods for a while now and they are one of those Apple inventions which moves things forward. They have many pros and cons, but from the start you can't fail to be impressed by their design. From the easy method of pairing them to your iPhone, by simply opening the lid, to the simplicity and lack of buttons, the AirPods are beautiful to look at and have a quality feel.

Firstly, what works well. The design of the AirPods is amazing. The small case, which reminds us of a dental floss or a tac-tic box, is a small battery-charging device which makes a huge difference to the Bluetooth experience. In the past, when I used Beats Bluetooth headphones, they would run out of battery or I would realise that I had forgetten to charge them in advance. With the Apple AirPods case, once the buds are placed back in, they are changed from the cases's internal battery. So far since getting my AirPods, I have never run out of battery. Being free of wires is also great as I always found cables hanging from my ears to be uncomfortable and awkward.

When in place in my ears, the AirPods are comfortable. They are not as heavy as they might seem, and a good balance between being light enough to wear on long walks and heavy enough to stay in place. They are smooth and comfortable and the sound quality is good (although I'm not sure I would be the best expert in assessing sound quality).

One concern is the fit. I had issues with Apple headsets in the past, as the wired versions which came with new iPhones and iPods never fitted my ears. The AirPods are different and do fit well. But I have dropped one of them on two occasions. I do feel a little nervous walking near drains and grates on the road or when walking over a bridge, as a dropped AirPod may not be retrievable!

In terms of the drawbacks, the functionality of the AirPods is limited. They play audio from my Watch or iPhone and they do this very well. However I haven't used Siri that often and it is disappointing that I must to use Siri to play/pause tracks. I would prefer a few shortcuts, such as the ability to use taps to control my music.Yes I can ask Siri to "play" or "pause", but speaking instructions out loud is not always convenient. Siri does work well- it recognises my instructions and is an impressive technology. But I still don't like having to talk and speak in public when a series of taps would be far more subtle. Maybe Apple will expand the use of taps, such as a double-tap on the left AirPod to play/pause and a double tap on the right AirPod for Siri? Changing the volume level is also messy, and it is far simpler to take the iPhone out of my pocket and use the volume buttons on the side. In terms of the taps, I almost always mis-tap when walking, and have to give it a second go until Siri kicks in.

But overall the AirPods are one of the most impressive products from Apple in years. They are a classy product, simple to use and good value for Bluetooth headphones. They feel good, sound good and with some limitations, are a pleasure to use. Being able to load music on my Apple Watch and then walk with just the Watch and AirPods is a very stripped down way to use technology and I feel a sign of the future from Apple.

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- New Devices:

Apple held a press event last week to introduce a number of new gadgets- here is a quick summary of what they announced:


iPhone 6s and 6s Plus:
The new iPhones come in the same shape and form as the previous iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. These models are aimed at people who are still using an iPhone 5s or earlier. Most users sign up for a two year contract and this is why iPhone 5s (or earlier) users are the target as they are now coming off those contracts. iPhone 6 users will only find marginal differences to lure them away from their current phone.
The main changes in the iPhone 6s models are as follows –
- comes with a brand-new A9 processor meaning that it is a lot faster (up to 70%) than last year's iPhones
- new 3D Touch technology which means if you press slightly harder on the screen it will bring up a pop-up menu with some different options to choose from. This is a great way to access features inside an application without having to tap through a number of screens.
- there are a number of improvements to the camera including an upgrade to a 12-megapixel sensor
- new colour- rose gold!
- faster WiFi.

Note:
- The storage options remain the same – 16, 64 and 128 GB. very few people should consider a 16 GB model as this is too small for most users.
- the new iPhones are available to order in the US and UK, but not in Ireland for another few weeks.
- in the US, Apple have launched an upgrade program in their Retail Stores. This means you can pay a monthly fee and always be on the newest iPhone- it costs around $40 per month and users get to upgrade each year to the latest equivalent model. It also comes with AppleCare+ and so gives a complete solution in a monthly fee:

iPad Pro:
The iPad Pro will be available later this year, starting in the US in November. This is a new model of iPad which is placed at the top end of the range, and will be useful for certain people who need larger screen space. The new screen is almost 13” and gives almost the same space as two iPad Airs. This is unlikely to become the mainstream model of iPad, but instead a device which will be used by professionals who need multiple applications and lots of space.

The iPad Pro can also be used with a new stylus (Apple Pencil) which will be helpful to designers and artists. The other accessory introduced is a keyboard which is built into a screen cover. This will make the iPad Pro a strong alternative to a laptop.

Apple seem to be aiming this iPad at the enterprise market. The iPad Air and iPad mini models are still available and remain unchanged.

Apple TV:
The new Apple TV opens up a whole range of new features, most notably apps and games. There will be an App Store available on the Apple TV where developers can sell a range of new apps. The look and design of the Apple TV interface has also been updated.
This positions the Apple TV as a living room multimedia device and not just for TV/Films and Music. The new remote control also acts as a game console controller.

Siri (voice-recognition) is built-in so you can ask your Apple TV questions, such as for movie suggestions, information about who stars in the film you’re watching or command it to open an app for you.
The new Apple TV will go on sale later this year.

Two other snippets:
- iOS 9 will be released this Wednesday, and will be available as a free download on your iPad and iPhone:
- the next version of OS X, "El Capitan", will be released on September 30th:

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