This is a special edition of the TechSummit Rewind, focusing on Apple’s September 2016 press event.
iPhone 7/7 Plus
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Apple has officially announced the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. It features a design that’s very similar to the iPhone 6s with a rounded aluminum body. However, new this year is water resistance, a dual-camera system in the 7 Plus, stereo speakers, a darker black color scheme, and no headphone jack (Apple does include an adapter in the box).
Instead of the matte metal finish you’re used to, the Jet Black unit has a glossy, mirrored design. There’ll also be the standard black, gold, silver, and rose gold colors.
The home button has been redesigned to be force sensitive (a la the Force Touch trackpads from recent MacBooks). The iPhone 7 has also gained the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine haptic feedback system, which provides different vibration feedback for various alerts.
The iPhone 7’s camera has been upgraded with optical image stabilization and a brighter f/1.8 lens that lets in 50 percent more light than the iPhone 6S’ f/2.2 lens. According to Apple, the new 12-megapixel sensor is 60 percent faster and 30 percent more efficient. It’s coupled with a new image processing chip and quad-LED flash that produces 50 percent more light. According to Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller, the new processing engine leverages machine learning to provide “supercomputer performance.” The front camera has been bumped up to seven megapixels with automatic image stabilization for better selfies and video.
However, the iPhone 7 Plus’ dual-camera system steals the show in the camera department. According to Apple, it allows for true 2x optical zoom without loss of image quality. The standard lens is equivalent to 28mm for wide angle shots while the other has a 60mm equivalent lens. Switching between the two cameras is seamless in the camera app – tapping the 1x/2x button will switch the cameras. You can zoom up to 10x, but digital zoom will crop the photo beyond 2x. Apple has also developed a featue that uses both lenses to mimic a shallow depth of field that’ll come in a software update later this year.
The phones’ displays are 25 percent brighter, with a wider color gamut for better color reproduction and improved color management. Both include the same 3D Touch pressure-sensitive display that launched with the 6S.
There is no 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7, with a second built-in speaker taking its place for stereo sound. Apple’s EarPods will be included with a Lightning connector. Additionally, the company will include a Lightning-3.5mm adapter, so you can still use traditional headphones.
In addition, Apple has developed AirPods, a set of wireless earbuds designed for the iPhone 7. They don’t have a cable connecting the two earbuds, and work with a new Apple-developed wireless technology based on Bluetooth Low Energy that handles both audio and the wireless connection to your phone/Apple Watch. There are sensors to detect when they’re in your ears and “motion accelerometers” to activate Siri. According to Apple, the AirPods have five hours of battery life and come with a battery case that can give you 24 hours of total use. They will be available in late October for $159. Beats is also introducing a line of headphones making use of the wireless technology.
The iPhone 7 also comes with the new A10 Fusion processor that’s 40 percent faster than last year’s chip. It’s paired with a new GPU that’s 50 percent faster than what’s in the A9. According to Apple, the iPhone 7 will last two hours longer than the iPhone 6s, while the 7 Plus gains an hour on the 6s Plus.
The phone will be available for purchase Sept. 16. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will both start with 32GB of storage for $649 (as opposed with 16GB) going up to 256GB for $849. The 7 Plus is more expensive than its predecessor, starting at $769 for the 32GB version going up to $969 for the 256GB model.
Apple Watch Series 2
Apple Watch Series 2 is very similar to its predecessor, with a customizable square watchface mostly for telling the time and displaying notifications, a single-day battery life, and the digital crown for scrolling and zooming. However, the biggest changes are a new water-resistant shell, which makes the watch swimproof, and a GPS chip.
That built-in GPS allows for mapping to be done on its own without a phone.
Apple’s also updated the processor to the dual-core S2, and the display. Graphics performance has doubled thanks to a new GPU. The display is also 50 percent.
The casing hasn’t changed for the lower- and mid-tier versions, with an aluminum case in the cheapest version, and a stainless steel one in the mid-tier. However, Apple has dropped its gold Edition watch in favor of a white ceramic model.
The company has renewed its relationship with Nike for a special Nike+ Apple Watch, resembling an Apple-Nike FuelBand mashup with runners and workout junkies in mind.
The aluminum sport version and Nike+ edition will both start at $369. The previous generation, now rebranded as Series 1, will start at $269 with the S2 processor. WatchOS 3 will go live on Sept. 13. The new sport and stainless steel versions will start shipping on the 20th, according to Apple, while Apple Watch Nike+ will be available in late October.
Since launching last year, the Apple Watch line has become the No. 2 watch line by revenue, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, lagging behind only Rolex products.
Despite not getting an official mention during the keynote, the iPad lineup has been upgraded across the board. All standard iPads have their base storage doubled to 32GB, while maintaining their current pricing. The Pro also received several price cuts, with the 128GB model now costing you $50 less, and the 256GB model saving you $100.
The new pricing lineup is as follows:
- 9-inch iPad Pro: $799 (32GB WiFi-only), $899 (128GB WiFi-only), $999 (256GB WiFi-only), $1029 (128GB WiFi + Cellular), $1129 (256GB WiFi + Cellular)
- 7-inch iPad Pro: $599 (32GB WiFI-only), $699 (128GB WiFi-only), $799 (256GB WiFi-only), $729 (32GB WiFi + Cellular), $829 (128GB WiFi + Cellular), $929 (256GB WiFi + Cellular)
- iPad Air 2: $399 (32GB WiFi-only), $499 (128GB WiFi-only), $529 (32GB WiFi + Cellular), $629 (128GB WiFi + Cellular)
- iPad mini 4: $399 (32GB WiFi-only), $499 (128GB WiFi-only), $529 (32GB WiFi + Cellular), 128GB (WiFi + Cellular)
- iPad mini 2: $269 (32GB WiFi-only), $399 (32GB WiFi + Cellular)
Existing devices will be able to get iOS 10 on Sept. 13 for free on the following devices:
- iPhone 5 and newer
- iPod touch 6th gen
- iPad mini 2 and newer
- iPad 4th generation
- iPad Air and higher
- iPad Pro
Mac users can get their hands on macOS Sierra Sept. 20. All devices compatible with OS X El Capitan can redeem the free upgrade.
Apple Pay is coming to Japan starting in October.
Apple tweaked its payment technology to work with Sony’s FeliCa mobile payment technology, which is similar to NFC.
According to Cook, 17 million people now subscribe to Apple Music – up from 15 million in June.
Apple is adding real-time collaboration to its entire iWork suite, which will let users simultaneously work on presentations, documents, and spreadsheets.
Groups of users can add text, images, and animations in real time from their iPad, iPhone, or on the web. Public and private modes were also introduced.