Apple unveils new iPhone, updated Apple Watch

Brian Hayes

Apple announced a handful of new and revamped products Wednesday morning in San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

The new lineup includes the new Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, an updated Apple Watch and wireless headphones.

The event felt more like an extravagant award ceremony, complete with a celebrity cameos, than a press conference. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, opened by singing carpool karaoke with talk show host James Corden and musician Pharrel Williams.

Cook quickly transitioned into the facts. Apple Music has 17 million subscribers. The pay service, which allows users access to 30 million songs and exclusive music, celebrated its anniversary on June 30, 2015.

Apple’s mild-mannered CEO also praised the app stores success early in the event. Cook said 140 billion – with a “b” – apps have been downloaded since the app store was introduced in 2008.

The App store’s success has also pushed the iPhone and vice versa. “[iPhone] is the most popular gaming device in the world” according to Cook. The app store has made twice as much global revenue compared to its closest competition.

With the iPhone being the most popular gaming platform in the world it was no surprise — OK, it was quite the surprise — when Cook brought the father of Super Mario to the stage.  Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of everyone’s favorite plumper, with the help of a translator, announced that Mario will be coming the IOS platform in time for the holiday season. Tim cook was “honored” that Miyamoto decided to bring Mario to IOS first.

No price point for the new game, “Super Mario Run,” was announced but Miyamoto made it clear that it would be a set price. One price to play as much as you like. No pay-to-play, which has been the popular business model for mobile gaming in recent years.

With the media and crowd all feeling reminiscent of their childhoods, Cook took the opportunity to announce Apple’s contribution to “ConnectED,” a national initiative from the government and leading tech companies to bring technology to underserved schools.

Cook said Apple would support 114 schools. 4500 teachers will receive Mac computers and iPads, 50,000 students will receive iPads.

Switching gears Cook brought out yet another guest speaker, Jeff Williams, Apple COO, to announce the new Apple Watch.

The new Apple Watch, at first glance, has minimal aesthetic difference from the original apple watch. But internally with will have a new operating system dubbed, WatchOS 3. The original Apple watch — now called the apple watch series 1 — is only 18 months into its lifecycle.

The Series 2 Apple Watch, as it’s called, will have some measurable internal differences, the least of which is new S2 dual core processor and new graphics processing unit(GPU), which will allow the series 2 to render 60 frames a second.

On top of improved chips, the series 2 Apple Watch, now boast waterproof up to 50 meters. No more worrying about forgetting to take your Apple watch off before going for a swim. The display is also much improved; it is twice as bright as the previous model.

“It makes all the difference when you’re outside in the bright sun,” Williams said.

The Apple Watch Series 2 is set to receive a premium Nike-branded plus model which will cater to the runner with a unique breathable band and watch faces to make view workout statistics easier.

Preorders for the Apple Watch will start this Friday, with a starting price of $369. The Nike plus version won’t be available until late October, at the same price point.

A familiar device gets a facelift

The iPhone 7, the star of the show, upstaged all the guest speakers and celebrities. With the announcement of 1 billion iPhones sold and a brief overview to the tweaks in the new iOS 10, Phil Schiller, vice president of worldwide market at Apple, took the stage to detail what is new in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus: simply, everything.

In addition to the silver, gold and rose gold, the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will come in jet black and matte black. The jet-black is a high gloss finish with a stainless steel Apple logo, reminiscent of the older model iPhones, except shinier. The matte black will presumably take the spot of the current space grey.

The external design stays relatively unchanged in the iPhone 7. The antenna will now be fully integrated and it will feature a slightly protruding camera port that is machined into the body of the phone. The body will also be water and dust resistant, rated to IP67 standard.

The iPhone 7 Plus get extra special treatment when it comes to the camera. It will feature two-camera lens: a wide angle — like that on the iPhone 7 — and a telephoto camera.

Ian Spalter, head of Instagram, came out in a colorful shirt to demonstrate the wide, dynamic range of the new smartphone’s camera.

Joe Schiller took the stage back and quickly switched the attention from the optical prowess of the new iPhone to the audio.  It will have, for the first time, full stereo sound. This will make it much easier to share annoying YouTube videos with colleagues and peers.

This transitioned nicely into the controversy at hand: the headphone jack. Apple’s newest iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will not have a headphone jack. It will have just the lightning charging port. It will, however, ship with lightning connected headphones and a lightning-to-headphone-jack adapter. 

In an attempt to deal the deathblow to the headphones of old, Apple unveiled the Airpots, a wireless set of headphones with five hours battery life and carry case that doubles as a charger.

The media reeling from being bombarded with tech jargon and announcements, Tim Cook took the stage one last time. He shared some seemingly heartfelt sentiments about the power of music, one of the key ideals of the brand, and then introduced SIA to the stage for one of her trademark bizarre performances.