Ten years after the release of its first iPhone, Apple executives took the stage Tuesday morning at the brand new Steve Jobs Theater — at the spaceship-like headquarters in its new Apple Park — to unveil the latest updates to the tech giant’s line of signature products.
After a series of recent leaks which seemed to signal much of what Apple had intended to reveal, the company got down to business with its latest high-profile event from Cupertino, Calif., announcing three new iPhones, Apple Watch and Apple TV.
It's a big day at Apple! We are honored and thrilled to host our first keynote at the Steve Jobs Theater this morning. pic.twitter.com/gyiqPJB46y
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) September 12, 2017
“One of the ways that I believe that people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something great, and to put it out,” said Steve Jobs in a voiceover to open the event.
“It was only fitting that Steve should open his theater,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said as he took the stage. “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think of him. It has taken some time, but we can now reflect on him with joy instead of sadness.”
Cook called the Jobs Theater the most state-of-the-art, purpose-built theater ever. He said Apple Park was converted from a “sea of asphalt” and now features over 9,000 trees, powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
Before anyone could discuss physical products, where to get your hands on them seemed like a fitting introduction. Angela Ahrendts, Apple SVP of Retail, showed off concepts for Apple Town Square, the company’s reimagining for how Apple Stores will be designed. Among other things, Ahrendts discussed changes coming to the Apple flagship in Manhattan as well as a new store on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.
Now check out the products:
Cook called the iconic smartphone so “magical” a device that its users forget that it’s a piece of hardware. The iPhone is “far more intelligent and far more personal than ever before,” he said.
Apple’s Phil Schiller discussed the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus:
- All new design with glass in front and back. Comes in silver, space grey and a new gold finish.
- 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch Retina HD displays.
- A11 Bionic chip is “most powerful and smartest chip ever in a smartphone.” Two performance cores are 25 percent faster than A10 and four high-efficiency cores are 70 percent faster than A10.
- 12 megapixel sensor on the camera with deeper pixels and new color filter. Last year’s Portrait Mode photo technique is also improved with Portrait Lighting. It reads the contour of the lighting on a subject’s face, using real-time analysis to adjust that lighting. The beta release will ship with iPhone 8 Plus.
- 1080p / 240 fps improvement to slow-motion video.
- The hardware and software will greatly integrate ARKit augmented reality technology. Schiller showed off apps using the AR tech, including one which featured a live baseball game with player information laid over the top of what the camera was seeing.
- Wireless charging thanks to the phone’s glass back. It will use the qi wireless charging standard.
- iPhone 8 starts at $699 and iPhone 8 Plus $799. Preorder starts Friday and it will be available Sept. 22.
Cook said the premium iPhone X — not the letter but the number 10 — “will set the path for technology for the next decade.”
- Available in space grey and silver.
- Super retina display.
- No more home button. Tap the screen to wake the phone. Swipe up to get to home screen.
- Your phone now recognizes more than just your touch. Unlocking comes via Face ID via a TrueDepth camera system at the top of the display. Multiple neural networks were created from billions of images for face recognition.
- Face data is protected by a secure enclave and on-device processing.
- The chances that a random person could unlock your phone without your face are 1 in 1 million, Schiller said.
- Face ID will work with Apple Pay and third party apps.
- Emojis will also get more emotional with Animojis, controlled by a user’s face.
- The TrueDepth camera will also allow Portrait-style selfies — a big change for what are normally lower quality front-facing cameras.
- Battery life lasts two more hours than iPhone 7.
- The price will start at $999 and be available for preorder Oct. 27, and begin shipping on Nov. 3.
“If you were wondering what humanity would do when given access to the most advanced facial recognition ever, you now have your answer,” said Craig Federichi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, as he animated a poop emoji.
An optional new wireless charging mat called AirPower, coming next year, will allow users to charge an iPhone, Watch and AirPods all at the same time from the same device.
Cook called Apple Watch the No. 1 watch in the world before pressing play on a video montage than showcased testimonials from Watch wearers.
Apple’s Jeff Williams ran through a series of improvements from Watch OS 4, including app enhancements for fitness and health monitoring. It will be available to all users on Sept. 19.
- Apple Watch Series 3 has LTE cellular connectivity built in. “Now you have the freedom to go anywhere,” Williams said.
- Even better, the new Watch will allow music to be streamed straight to your AirPods, without having to have your iPhone with you.
- Siri will also be able to speak out loud, not just text, on the new Watch, which is also 50 percent more power efficient. It’s all packed into a case that is the same size as Watch 2.
- The display serves as the antennae on the Watch.
- The Series 3 price will be $329 and $399 with cellular. Orders begin Sept. 15, and availability will be Sept. 22.
Apple’s Eddy Cue showed off the new 4K HDR version of Apple’s streaming set-top box.
“Apple was the last vendor to add 4K to their streamer and the company says it was waiting for the intersection of 4K, HDR10 and Dolby Vision content,” Patrick Moorhead, a Principal Analyst at boutique tech analyst firm Moor Insights & Strategy, told GeekWire. “This is fair, as the new Apple TV is the only streamer that will ship with this capability which supports both standards now. I believe this new Apple TV will result in the biggest Apple TV upgrade cycle the company has ever had as it removed the objection of not having 4K.”
- A10X chip that is in iPad Pro makes the new Apple TV much faster.
- The 4K movies will be the same price as HD movies in iTunes. If you purchased a title in HD, it will be updated at no charge.
- The device will now support 4K content from Amazon Video.
- Live sports is coming to the TV app later this year. Scores and time remaining in games will help viewers decide whether to jump around to different events.
- The new Apple TV starts $179 and preorder is Sept. 15. It ships on Sept. 22.
It has been 10 years since Apple released the original iPhone, upending the smartphone industry with its iconic design and usability. The company continues to sell tens of millions of iPhones each quarter, but the growth has been tapering off in recent years. In the most recent quarter, iPhone sales were up 2 percent to 41 million units.
The edge-to-edge display is the current hot trend in smartphone design, maximizing the screen size and minimizing the overall hardware size. Samsung, which is the worldwide leader in smartphone market share, released the new Galaxy S8 and recently unveiled the new Galaxy Note 8 with a similarly designed display.
The minimal bezels are also a key design element for augmented reality apps, allowing the phone to overlay the real world with 3D objects and other digital artifacts. Apple is focusing on augmented reality with its ARKit developer tool and built-in augmented reality features in iOS 11.