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!


Loving the New MacBook Pro

I have been through a few Apple laptops families over the years. I started with a black PowerBook G3 in the mid-90s and then moved to a titanium PowerBook G4. I didn't move to an iBook, even when they became sleeker with the white plastic design, but instead stuck with PowerBook and MacBook Pro until the MacBook Air emerged. This finally encouraged me away from the top-of-the-line models, as the slim and yet powerful MacBook Air offered me the flexibility of a thin laptop, but with enough power to drive an external display and complete all the tasks I needed. I generally boosted the processor, such as the i7 in my last model, so the size, weight and engine matched my needs.

However this October, Apple launched the new range of MacBook Pro and I was left with a choice. The MacBook Air family looks dated with no Retina display, so my choice this year was a new sleek and thin MacBook or to jump back up to the top of the line MacBook Pro. I decided on a 13" MacBook Pro for two reasons- the screen size (13" vs the MacBook's 12") and the new TouchBar technology.

After one week of use, I have no regrets. The display is crystal-clear and it is only after you have worked for a while with these displays that you realise you can't go back. Like the iPhone and iPad Pro, the text is smooth, images are clean and elegant on this screen. I also enjoy the extra space compared to my old MacBook Air's 11" screen.

But the real headline here is the TouchBar. Part of this is its existence, and part is its use. The existence of the TouchBar just makes the laptop feel new and feel more sophisticated compared to the MacBook Air and the previous MacBook Pro. It is a whole new way to interact with the laptop and that makes it look and feel like a new generation and not just a minor upgrade. Along with the black trim and thin bezel around the display, the TouchBar makes the MacBook Pro look new and fresh, and the MacBook Air by comparison looks "old" and quite outdated.

In use, it is smart and intuitive, even if it is a work-in-progress. For example in Mail, the Touch Bar offers suggestions on where you would like to file emails. If you select an email in your inbox, it knows which mailbox you normally place emails from that person, and files the message in one tap. The change, after years of dragging and dropping emails, is astonishing. I still only use about 30% of the buttons in the TouchBar and it may be that over time I customise them more, but what I do use I love and it makes a difference to my speed. This is especially true with the Touch ID sensor at the end of the TouchBar: unlocking the Mac and using my 1Password app is so much quicker.

I am also positive on the ports and possibly even hostile to all of the noise over Apple's move. The ports make complete sense. Four USB-C ports, no longer requiring me to look at the end of the cable to ensure I am about to plug it in the right way, just shows how bad the old USB standard was. USB-C is the way forward and we jut need to get on board. Yes I have bought a few adaptors, but so far I have used a USB-C to USB adapter twice for about ten minutes, used to plug in a USB stick and back up my iPhone.

About the only thing I don't like is the USB power adapter. It seems to have had less thought put into it. It is a shame it is so big and the USB-C cable which runs from the adapter to the laptop is thick and slightly clumsy. But overall, this is a minor concern.

If you are ready to move into the future of Mac laptops, dive in. If you love your current (and old) peripherals, the move will be more painful and expensive. But in the end I recommend this laptop as it is a clear break from the past and a beautifully designed Mac.

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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