Apple Announces iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Most people were expecting an iPhone 7S, but instead we got a phone worthy of the name iPhone 8 and Its stablemate the iPhone 8 Plus. Depending on whether there is an iPhone 9 next year, this could be the end of the road for the traditional iPhone with a LCD screen and a circular home button; The future has already arrived in the form of the iPhone X. Either way, this is a major update that should be overshadowed by no other device.

Proven Design with New Tricks

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus continue the design lineage that started with the iPhone 6-series. They feature the same 4.7″ and 5.5″ screen sizes and have roughly the same dimensions. That doesn’t mean its been 4 years of the same. In fact, the leap from the iPhone 7 to the 8 might be the biggest of them all, especially in the design. The 8 introduces a whole new element to the equation: glass. Not only does Apple claim it to be the most durable glass to see a smartphone, it features a 7-step coloring process to match the aluminum sides. If not for the glossy reflective nature of the glass, you can barely tell where the metal ends and the glass begins.

Enter The Wireless Charging Age

That glass back wasn’t just a design element, it has a reason. The iPhone 7 began the step towards a totally wireless iPhone by cutting the headphone jack. The iPhone 8 takes the next step by adding wireless charging standard Qi. If that name sounds familiar, its the one used by Samsung and most other device makers. Its also the technology used, albeit in a modified form, in the Apple Watch. Since it is a mature ecosystem, that means there are plenty of wireless chargers out there you and buy right now.

There is one question question though about Apple’s implementation: how much power can it deliver. In the latest spec of Qi, fast charging can deliver up to 15w. However the two products from Belkin and Mophie Apple mentions support an earlier 7.5 revision. With Apple not providing the version used, we’ll have to find out how fast the iPhone 8 can actually charge. Either way, its more than the 5w provided by the Apple Wall Charger.

Apple Goes Bionic and Delivers Its First In-House GPU

As customary, the iPhone 8 has a brand new SoC, in this case its the A11 Bionic. Following on from the A10 Fusion which featured 2 High Performance and 2 efficiency cores, the A11 doubles the amount of efficiency cores for a 6-core design. Apple claims a 25% boost for the high performance cores and 70% for the efficiencies. What’s more, all 6-cores can be used in tandem for maximum performance. For the first time, the graphics chip is also an Apple product rather than a PowerVR design. Apple claims The new triple-core chip is 30% more powerful than the graphics on the A10.

Camera System and AR

At first glance there isn’t much difference between the camera specs of the iPhone 8 series compared to the iPhone 7. Specs can be a bit deceiving. The sensors are larger and feature a new image processor. The cameras also offer enhanced video performance for 4K Video at 60FPS and 1080 slow-motion at 240FPS. With the 8 Plus there’s a new Portrait Lighting Effect that uses both the telephoto and wide-angle cameras in combination with the signal processor and AR technology to be able to manipulate lighting and background effects in a portrait.

Pricing and Availability.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus come in three colors and two storage options. The iPhone 8 will come with 64GB for $699 and 256GB for $849. The 8 Plus is $100 more in the same two capacity for $799 and $949 respectively. Both will come in your choice of Space Gray with Black Front, Silver With White Front, and Gold with White Front. If you’re a fan of Rose Gold, Red, Gloss Black or any of the other myriad of color options the iPhone 7s came in, you’re out of luck.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus Will launch September 22nd on nearly all carriers and for the first time, it looks like the SIM-free unlocked version will be available at launch.

Apple Re-envisions The iPhone with the iPhone X

In any other year, the iPhone 8-series would have been an exceptional upgrade. However, unless there is an iPhone 9 next year, its the end of the road for the traditional iPhone. We know this because Because the iPhone’s replacement has already been announced: The iPhone X Like with Mac OS X, the iPhone X is familiar but at the same time a very different cat then what came before it.

Design

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was an Android phone. Gone is the circular home button that has defined iPhones for over a decade and the clearly defined bezel. In fact, there is so little bezel, that the top camera system actually cuts into the camera system. Some are calling them dog ears and for the lack of a better term, I’ll use that. The screen seems to be fairly flat with all the tapering going on in the sides. Honestly, I reminds me a lot of the original iPhone with the stainless steel band surrounding it.

Super Retina HD: OLED the Apple Way

The screen is 5.8″ 2436 x 1125, the biggest screen ever put on an iPhone. Yet its dimensions are 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm with a weight of 174g. That’s ever so slightly larger than than the 4.7″ LCD iPhones. Yes I did say LCD iPhone for a reason. The iPhone X is build around an OLED screen. What’s more, Apple has claimed to have solved a lot of OLED’s issues to create a display that that combines the contrast benefits of OLED with the brightness and color accuracy associated with an LCD. With a million to one contrast ratio, true tone technology, and color gamut Apple is claiming, this could be one hell of a display. Especially since it supports HDR in both HDR 10 and Dolby Vision. One thing to mention though, landscape content is edge to edge, so there is actually a piece missing for the camera cutout.

True Depth

The base technology is largely the same as the iPhone 8. It has the A11 Bionic and the internal GPU, the rear cameras are 12mp though the telephoto gains OIS as well. It also has the Qi wireless charging technology and the fast charging Lightning Port. We’ll focus on what’s different. First off, it gains a dedicated machine learning chip called the neural engine. The neural engine is there for the True Depth camera array and True Depth is nothing sort of astounding. This is clearly what Apple was after when it bought PrimeSense, the company behind the Xbox 360’s Kinect in 2013. It combines a 7mp front camera capable of 1080 video with a IR camera, flood illuminator, and a dot projector. The most basic application of this system is Apple’s new biometric identification system called FaceID. The True Depth array maps your face and the neural engine determines its you. It doesn’t until your looking at it and then its seamless. There is no accidental unlocking like on previous biometric system TouchID. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this technology adapted to all iOS devices and Macs in the not too distant future. It seems like a much more robust system than Windows Hello. The other use for the camera system and neural engine is of course ARKit which Apple is using for a portrait mode which enables depth of field for selfies. It also enables AR Emoji Apple is calling Animoji.

The UI is quite different without the Home Button. Having used the virtual buttons on several Android devices, they never really worked right. Thankfully Apple did not choose to go that direction. Instead they rethought how the iPhone could work. A swipe from the button is the new Home Button with a swipe up and pause for multi-tasking. Control center has been moved to the top right while notifications are activated from the top left. Siri has been moved to holding the side button and like the Apple Watch, Apple Pay is now a double tap from the side. Its also motions you already know, so the learning curve should be less.

Pricing and Availability

The iPhone X comes in a 64GB variant for $999 and a 256GB version for $1149. Preorders start October 27th with Deliveries starting November 3rd. You have two color options: Silver and Space Gray.

Apple Introduces Apple TV 4K and iTunes UHD Content

If you were looking for Apple to announce a competitor to the Fire TV or higher end Rokus, they not what was announced. In both feature set and price, the Apple TV 4K is such closer to the Nvidia Shield. Its powered by the A10X Fusion chip from the latest version of the iPad Pro. This gives it the power not only to power your TV with a 4K signal, but to offer truly console quality performance as well. With a HDMI 2.0a port, that signal is not only the full 60 frames per second, but offers both HDR10 and dolby vision as well. As far how it looks and works, if you’re familiar with the Apple TV 4, you’re familiar with the 4K. Its just better.

iTunes 4K HDR

As reported by multiple sources the past few months, Apple did indeed work out a deal to offer 4K content through iTunes at the same price as current HD content. Atypically for deals with the movie industry, this deal actually gets better. Any content you previously purchased in HD that’s available in 4K will be upgraded free of charge. All in all, this part of the media transition to 4K went about as well as good be imagined for the consumer.

The TV App Upgraded

One of the best upgrades to tvOS (and iOS) has been the TV app. This puts all your content, save a few holdouts, in an easily accessible place. In the past it has all been on-demand content like your iTunes library and content from available apps. This expands in two key features with tvOS 4: Live Sports and News. You can truly see where Apple is going with this as a single place for all live and on-demand content no matter where you get it.

Pricing

As I alluded to, the price is high. Its slotted above the the Apple TV 4 which receives no price cut whatsoever. Under the new pricing, you get an Apple TV 4 32GB for $149, a 32GB Apple TV 4K for $179, and a 64GB 4K for $199. If you were hoping for a true replacement for the Apple TV 3, it appears that device will never come. Users looking to replace those devices will either have to pay a substantially higher price for a 4/4K or move to a competing device.

Apple Introduces Apple Watch Series 3

With the third generation of Apple Watch, the Series 3, the Apple Watch has finally fully come of age. Its faster, its finally got an barometric altimeter to measure altitude, and Siri can finally talk back, giving you the same experience as on other devices. But there was one more thing it needed to be a fully independent device: cellular connectivity. Yeah, its got versions with that too.

In terms of style, its undeniably an Apple Watch and almost the exact size as the Series 2 it replaces. If you wanted a radical overhaul, this isn’t your Apple Watch. If you’re upgrading from a previous Apple Watch, your collection of bands will still work. Given the huge third party accessory market out there, this isn’t a bad thing. Plus, the technology isn’t there yet for radical changes.

Powering the new Apple Watch is the S3 system on chip. Like the S2, this is a dual-core design. Its beefy up to 70% more powerful than the original. This not only makes it more responsive, it allows the extra functionality like the Siri-voice. The S3 isn’t the only new Apple chip inside, its also got a W2 wireless chip. The new chip is both faster and more efficient than the combo wi-fi and bluetooth chip in previous Apple Watches.

But that isn’t the radio you’re interested in, is it? You want the model with the Red button on the digital crown, the cellular model. Its here and its actually pretty ingenious. First off, the the cellular antennas are built into the screen. It makes sense from a practical sense as its a big glass part, but tis difficult to pull off from a technology standpoint. Second, the Apple watch manages its own wireless usage and picks what is most energy efficient. If its connected to your iPhone, its using bluetooth, if its by itself in the house its using Wi-Fi, if you’re out on the run it then switches to cellular. It makes the most of the limited battery capacity of the device t give a constant experience whether connected or not. The S3 offers up LTE and UMTS radios; No EV-DO for CDMA providers. There doesn’t appear to be a GSM voice radio, so I would assume all the calls are IP based.

watchOS Improvements

watchOS is receiving a couple enhancements as well. First, the heart rate sensor app is getting a lot more data and a new notification for times when your heart rate shoots up when inactive. There’s also some new workout modes and GymKit syncing with exercise equipment. The Apple Watch also gets full access to Apple Music.

Pricing:

The Series 3 GPS models start at $329 for the 38mm aluminum models. This actually represents a $40 price cut compared to the Series 2. It’ll come in Silver, Grey, and Gold. As with the phones, the Rose Gold has been put to pasture. You get your options for the sport band and a new sport loop which has replaced the woven nylon as the alternative band. The Cellular models will start at $399 for the 38mm models and $429 for cellular. There’s also Stainless Steel and Ceramic versions, but these are only offered in Cellular. The Nike and Hermès editions return. Last year’s budget Series one is back and has been given a price cut to $249.

WWDC 2017: The Hardware Barrage of iMacs, MacBooks, iPads, and HomePods

WWDC 2017: The Hardware Barrage of iMacs, MacBooks, iPads, and HomePods

Make no mistake, WWDC is Apple’s developers conference. Its primary mission is announcing what’s coming next to Apple’s operating system line up. That said, hardware is not out of the question. This year’s keynote had an unusually large amount of hardware across 5 different product categories. Three of those were completely new or radically redesigned. With as Mac focused as it was, we’ll start there.

MacBook


The big redesign updates to Apple’s notebook range happened in 2015 and 2016. 2017 is spec upgrade to Intel’s latest 7th Generation Kaby Lake Core CPUs. The 12-inch MacBook remains the only Mac in Apple’s lineup to use USB-C only instead of USB-C + Thunderbolt 3. Its price also remains the same. However, its specs are now worthy of its price tag with a very useable 8GB of memory and a 256GB hard drive. Unlike the 11” MacBook Air, this can be your everyday computer.

The low end model comes with 256GB of SSD storage and a 1.2ghz dual core Core m3 for $1299 while the high end model has a 1.3ghz Core i5, and 512GB of storage. Both have 8GB of Low Profile DDR3 memory and Intel HD 615 Graphics. Both models are now shipping.

MacBook Pro


Like its little brother, the 13 and 15 inch MacBook Pros got an upgrade to Kaby Lake. With the exception of a new 13” 128GB model to effectively replace the low end 13” MacBook Air, there is not a whole lot different from the 2016 models except for CPUs and graphics. Same configurations, same price points, same storage options, same upper limit of 16GB DDR3. For 2017 the 13” models come with Iris Plus 640 and 650 integrated graphics while the 15” models get your choice of a 2GB AMD Radeon Pro 555 or 4GB Radeon Pro 560.

The Non-Touch Bar 13” has a 2.3ghz Dual Core i5 CPU and gives you your choice of 128GB of storage for $1299 or $256 for $1499. The Touch Bar 13” comes with 3.1ghz Core i5 in $1799 for 256gb or $1999 for 512GB. The 15” model comes in at $2399 for a 2.8ghz Quad core i7, 256GB of storage, and the 2GB Radeon Pro 555. The higher end model comes with a 2.9ghz CPU, the Pro 560, and 512GB of storage. Addition options are available BTO. They ship today.

iMac


All ranges of the iMac got their first big update in quite a while. Like the MacBooks, they get Kaby Lake, albeit of the desktop variety. They come in 3 Different models: 21.5” Full HD, 21.5” 4K, and 27” 5k. All models of the iMac have been upgraded with modern I/O. No matter what model you choose, you get 4 USB 3.1 Type-A connectors and two Thunderbolt 3 ports as well as a SDXC slot, Gigabit ether, and the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. With the exception of the Full HD model which has the Intel Iris Plus 640, all iMacs for 2017 come with dedicated Radeon Pro 500-series graphics. The 21.5” 4K model gives you the choose of the Radeon Pro 555 or 560; the 27” 5K offers the Radeon Pro 570, 575, and 580. The displays are 43% brighter than previous models and display up to 1 billion colors.

The new iMacs are shipping now. The Full HD model starts at a very affordable $1099 while $200 more gets you the entry level 4k iMac. The 27” 5K starts at $1799, BTO options give you up to 32GB of storage and 1TB of SSD storage or 2TB of fusion drive storage.

iMac Pro


If you want the Trash Can Mac Pro in an iMac, your wish has been granted in the iMac Pro. This Space Gray Beauty shares its screen and looks with the 27” 5k iMac, but that’s all it shares. Internally, its pure workstation. The iMac Pro gives you the option of 8, 10, or even 18-core Xeon CPUs. Ram has a very tower-like 128GB maximum of 2666mhz DDR4 error correcting memory. Storage is all SSD with up to 4TB. Graphics are provided by workstation class Radeon Vega-series chips with up to 16GB of video memory. While the normal iMac had 2 Thunderbolt Ports, the Pro doubles it to 4. Those four can drive up to two additional 5K displays in addition to its own. To top it off, the iMac Pro comes standard with 10 gig-E ethernet.

In short, this is not an iMac pretending to be a workstation. Quite the opposite, its a workstation trying to pose as an iMac. When shipping it also has a workstation level starting price: $4999. It’ll come in December. Make no mistake, this is the fastest and most advanced computer Apple has ever made.

iPad Pro


The iMac Pro wasn’t the only Pro model Apple’s introduce today. The iPad Pro got an update as well. Both models were upgraded with the 6-Core A10X fusion system on chip with 12-core GPU and high end displays with ProMotion technology for an an active refresh rate up to 120hz. the iPad Pro comes in two sizes: the 12.9” starting at a familiar $799 and a 10.5” model replacing the 9.7” for $649. The larger display on the smaller model allows for a full size on screen keyboard and distances itself from the consumer model. Like pretty much everything else, you can get your hands on them now.

HomePod


Rumors of Apple’s competitor to the Amazon Echo and Google Home proved to be true in the form of the Apple HomePod. As expected, the HomePod is based around Apple Music, Siri, and HomeKit functionality.

In both price and feature set, this a more high end device. The HomePod features a 7 tweeter array with custom woofer for 360° sound. For listening, there is a similar array of 6 microphones. Apple is targeting at those who want the high end sound of a Sonos system with the functionality of an Echo. Basically if you’ve used one of those or Siri at all, you know how to use a HomePod, the big difference is security. Apple doesn’t monetize data, so they submit yours anonymously.

To accomplish this, its smart. Really smart. HomePod is able to sense the room and its position in it then modify its sound output to give optimal sound for the room. Its even able to work with other HomePods to optimize sound. To achieve this, its based around the same A8 chip that you find in older iPhones and the AppleTV.

I hinted at a premium price, I wasn’t joking. At $349, its double of the price of an Echo. It’ll ship in December.

WWDC 2017: iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and other Software News

Today was Apple’s annual WWDC conference. As expected they had some major… and minor news for their big 4 platforms: macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS. Let’s take a look at what was announced.

macOS 10.13 High Sierra

Yes, I’m going go get this out front: yes, Apple made a weed joke about macOS High Sierra being full baked. Its not only mildly funny, its also accurate. Like Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion before it, High Sierra’s major changes are under the hood where the end user doesn’t seem them. There are big changes to the file system, graphics, and more.

APFS

High Sierra marks the end of the line for the Hierarchical File System (HFS). It was introduced back in 1985 with the Mac System 2.1. It has been upgraded in the form of HFS+ and has held up surprisingly compared to its contemporary FAT. That said, it wasn’t designed for modern flash based storage. It first saw the light of data with iOS 10 and now is the standard file system for the Mac. I won’t go into the nuts and bolts as file systems aren’t sexy to the end user, but it will be a beneficial change that will hopefully underpin Apple for the next 22 years.

H.265 HEVC

Video files are huge. Not just in terms of popularity, but in terms of file size. H.265 uses compression technology that shrinks down file size by up to 40%. For the end user, that means that streaming 4K uses less bandwidth and less of your data cap for both mobile and broadband connection. It also means that downloaded movies will use up significantly less storage space. Essentially HVEC brings 4K to the masses. Expect to hear more in the next few months.

Metal 2 and VR

Apple’s history with graphics technology has been less than stellar. OpenGL was routinely years behind and poorly implemented. As a result, the Mac suffered on gaming and other graphics intensive programs. Metal was a major step in the right direction. The developers who ported their apps to it say major performance gains over OpenGL. However, too few took advantage. Apple is going all in with Metal 2 and making improvements and optimizations that will improve speed and hopefully make Metal the graphics system for developers going forward.

Metal 2 coincides with the addition of system-level hardware support for two types devices users have been asking for. First, High Sierra will officially support external graphics solutions via Thunderbolt 3. There are no shortage of manufacturers out there making PCIe to Thunderbolt boxes out there and they allow any Mac with Thunderbolt 3 access to even Nvidia and AMD’s most high graphics cards. Also announced was support for VR. Valve SteamVR and HTC Vive are specifically mentioned and VR development tools are coming as well. Apple is also adding a patch to FCPX for VR video output.

Apple is also launching a developer Kit for external graphics which includes a PCI-E chassis and Radeon RX 580 8GB card as well as a USB-C hub for $599. Considering the price of both external enclosures and the RX580 cards, That’s actually a pretty competitive price for what you get.

Everything Else

The system apps are getting some minor changes as well. The biggest and probably most welcome is with the Photos apps which allows editing apps like Pixelmator or Photoshop to launch within Photos and work with your library, There are also minor updates to Safari, Mail, iCloud Drive, and more.

Availability:

Look, we aren’t even going to talk pricing here because you know damn well its a free upgrade. The final version will ship this fall with the public beta launching later in June.

Source: [Apple}(https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2017/06/macos-high-sierra-delivers-advanced-technologies-for-storage-video-and-graphics/)

iOS 11

iOS is now Apple’s most popular and flagship product. Its also the one with the most growth opportunity as mobile’s not as mature a market as computers. Apple has continued to drop a wealth of new features with iOS 11.

The iPad

There has been talk that the last few years have been iPhone-centric when it comes to the iPad and there is some truth to that. For 2017, the iPac is back in force. The Dock and app switcher have been redesigned to make them more powerful and a lot more like macOS and there’s a new files app that combines iCloud Drive as well as DropBox and other cloud platforms into a system level storage apparatus. Files that were once locked down by iOS are now wide open while still being safe. The Apple Pencil app is now full baked into the OS and Notes are usable from the lock screen. This makes the iPad the paper notebook replacement it was meant to be.

Control Center and Lock Screen

iOS 10 introduced a new 3-pane lock screen giving you Home and Music access without ever having to get into your phone. iOS 11 brings this back to a single pane, but keeps the expanded functionality. It uses 3D Touch to allow users to expand what each pane grouping can do beyond basic controls.. 3D Touch is limited to the 6S and 7-series devices so, for owners of the 6, 5S, and SE, there may be a degraded capability depending on how they handle it. On iPads, they use the expanded screen real estate to get the full functionality.

Notifications and the lock screen are now one and the same and you get the same exact functionality here, complete with widget and camera access no matter if you device is locked or not.

Camera

The biggest changes in Camera with iOS 11 are in file formats. Video now uses the HEVC that was talked about on the Mac. There is a still picture counterpart called the High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF). The question with HEIF and HVEC is compatibility with other platforms and services as well as older devices. Live photos get an upgrade allowing for. Loop and Bounce effects to create GIF-like images. You’re also able to now choose any frame within the live photo as the still picture . Lastly, there is a new form of automatic movies called Memories created from similar content on your phone.

ARKit

Just as VR is being integrated into the Mac, ARKit brings system level Augmented reality onto iOS allowing full access to hardware. This allows developers to make a far better AR experience than iOS currently enjoys.

##Siri
Siri was the original system level personal assistant and it keeps a major update for Apple’s platforms this time around. The voices have been overhauled for a more natural and less robotic tone. Like Cortana and Alex, the new Siri employs machine learning to tailor responses based on usage. Unlike the competition, Apple has no design to monetize this and keeps your results secure on device. SiriKit expands the tasks that Siri can perform. The Machine Learning that powers the new Siri is also available to developers in the form of CoreML.

Home and Music.

Home Automation and Music may seem like strange bedfellows, but in iOS 11 they are very much intertwined. Airplay2 integrates into HomeKit and the Home app giving you multi-room audio with Siri support. HomeKit also adds additional device types and functions to the mix and makes it easier for developers to integrate existing devices and get them certified.

Apple Music has new social media functions allowing people to share music. There’s also a new API called MusicKit allow the full power of Apple music in third party applications. There would no longer need any reader to go outside of your workout app or game to access your full AppleMusic catalog. This basically replaces an older and more limited iTunes integration.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay expands person to person in iOS 11. If you want to know how this works, use Vemo or Square Cash because its pretty much the same thing. In fact, the name of the place you receive is called your “Apple Pay Cash Account”, You can use funds added to this account for payment or you can send it back to your bank account. There’s even a Messages widget that automatically determines if you need to pay someone and suggests itself. There is also Siri support.

Do Not Disturb While Driving

This might not be the most popular feature in iOS 11, but I would argue its the most necessary. DND while Driving detects while your in a car through several methods and shuts down your notifications while you drive. The screen even goes black and gives you the option to send an auto message to tell your contacts that you’ll text them back. If you are a passenger, there is a button to say I’m not driving, but please take a hint and don’t use this while driving you’ll be putting somebody else’s life at risk.

App Store and Others

The App Store gets a major makeover based on the design of Apple Music. Apps and Games are now separate panes and its easier to get to in-app purchases for Apps your already have. The App Store for Messages as also had a redesign.

Rounding things out are indoor maps for major shopping centers, airports, and lane guidance. Apple News is now personalized using machine learning. There has also been updates to the keyboard

Availability

As with macOS High Sierra, iOS 11 will be free and ship this fall. There is also a public beta coming at the end of the month.

Source: Apple

watchOS 4

watchOS 4 continues to refine and enhance the Core functions of the Apple Watch. This year’s improvements make it an ever increasingly useful accessory to your iPhone.

Fitness and Health

The biggest improvements in watchOS 4 have to do with health and fitness. Chiefly is communication with outside devices. Introduced with the new OS is GymKit which uses the NFC to pair and provide two-way communication with exercise equipment computers. The equipment gets your Apple Watches’s sensors and the Watch gets the data from the equipment allowing for a single dataset. Apple already has support from several major exercise equipment companies. There is also enhanced compatibility with connected health devices, like continuous glucose meters.

The Workout and Activity apps have received upgrades to better switch between workouts on a single session. The Activity App also has personalized goal messages very reminiscent of the fitness app Human.

Watch Faces and Siri

The biggest news about watch faces is what watchOS still does not have: any ability to add third-party faces. For a device that is supposed to be highly personalized, the lack of a FaceKit seems out of place. If you want something different, you’re stuck with Nike or Hermes editions.

For the faces that we actually have to choose from, there are three new types. The most interesting one is the proactive Siri Face that uses the same machine learning as on iOS 11 to constantly update you with relevant data. You automatically get reminds, calendar events, location/ time specific items like boarding passes, traffic info, or HomeKit scenes. If that’s not your scenes, there are Toy Story themed character faces in the form of Woody, Buzz, and Jessie. There’s also a colorful kaleidoscope face. All faces get new access to complications for Now Playing and Apple News

Availability

watchOS 4 comes will come out later in 2011. Unlike iOS and macOS, there will not be a public beta.

Source: Apple

tvOS

There is a reason tvOS is last. It was basically a giant IOU. Apple announced two things: That Amazon was thankfully and finally releasing their Prime Video platform on tv and that sometime later, presumably in the fall, they would be talking about tvOS. That would presumably come with new hardware. Until then, it’s business as usual.

Apple Introduces Red iPhone, New iPad, and Clip Video App

Apple Introduces Red iPhone, New iPad, and Clip Video App

There has been a rumor going round the last few days that Apple would do a soft update of some products today. That rumor turned out true, though not entirely in the same scope rumored. Instead of a massively updated iPad Pro line, Apple went a bit more mainstream with a new color to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, a new low end iPad, and a new social media app called clips. Let’s take a look.

(PRODUCT) RED iPhone 7 & 7 Plus

Apple has had a long relationship supporting the retail initiative to support HIV/ AIDS research and care. That relationship has involved iPods, cases, headphones, and accessories is now going to the iPhone in the form of special edition (PRODUCT) RED iPhone 7s and 7 Pluses. The special edition (PRODUCT) RED version represents the 6th color choice available for the iPhone 7 series joining Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, Matte Black, and Jet Back.

The new phones will be available both online and in stores starting on March 24th starting at $749 for the 4.7” iPhone and $869 for the 5.5” iPhone 7 Plus in 128 and 256GB variants. There will not be an entry level 32GB version in (PRODUCT) RED.

Also getting a bit of love is Apple’s smallest and most affordable iPhone, the iPhone SE. While its not getting a replacement, the SE has had its storage doubled from 16 to 32GB in the entry level and from 64gb to 128gb in the next step up. Prices stay the same starting at $399 starting on March 24.

iPad

While we were expecting iPad Pro updates, Apple went in the other direction and made the 9.7” model more affordable. The new model is simply called iPad. It feature the A9 SoC from the iPhone 6 Plus and is a replacement in the lineup for the A8X powered iPad Air 2. The new iPad is lightly thicker featuring the 7.5mm thickness of the original iPad Air rather than the 6.1mm of the iPad Air 2 and 9.7” iPad Pro. That doesn’t mean the new iPad in losing any features as it still has Touch ID, 8MM rear and 1.2mp front cameras, and stereo speakers.

The iPad will ship on February 24th in Space Gray, Silver, and Gold. It will come in 32 and 128GB versions. Pricing may be the new iPad’s killer feature starting at $329, $70 less than the Air 2, for Wi-Fi and $459 for cellular. The 128GB models add $100 to both of those prices.

Clips

The Most surprising announcement was an app called Clips. Clips is Apple’s take on the multi-clip videos that have become popular on Snapchat and Instagram, only platform agnostic. What makes Clips unique is that the app can add captions and titles in realtime using only their voice. Clips of courses also features the filters and animations that have made these videos popular.

Clips will be a free download from the iOS Apple Store in April and be compatible with iPhones, iPods, and iPads using the 64-bit A7 SoC and later.

Apple allows you to share clips privately with your friends messages or post the finished product to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or Vimeo.

Source: Apple 1, 2, 3

Apple Releases iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2

Its been a year since the iPhone was last updated and considerably more than that for the Apple Watch. Both have been highly anticipated and speculated about and for the most part the rumor mill was correct. Apple released a pair of new iPhones: the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and a pair of series of new Apple watches: Series one and two. For an even that wasn’t expected to have, much we got a lot. And these “boring” products are nothing of the sort.

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iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus mark one of the largest leaps forward of any iPhone I’ve seen and I’ve seen them all. Anyone who says this was lackluster must have been watching something else. Yes, there is some carryover from the 6 and 6S lines. The new phones are roughly the same size as their predecessors, have the same screen sizes, and the same screen resolutions. That’s pretty much where the similarities end. Every other component has been upgraded and in some cases, drastically so.

What’s Old is New

The “same resolution screen” now has a cinema type P3 Wide color gamut and is 25% brighter. As someone who has owned the iPhone 6 Plus for almost two years, that’s improving on an already fantastic screen. The Touch ID button is no more, its been replaced with a version of the Taptic Engine that was introduced with the Apple Watch and then migrated to the MacBook line. It does a fantastic job of simulating a click depression on a flat surface. Also, did I mention it also meets the same IP67 rating as the Apple Watch for both dust and water protection. If it starts to rain or you hit by a wave on a boat ride, you no longer have to worry about your iPhone. For Japanese customers, there’s also an update to the NFC system for Apple Pay. The newest iPhones are compatible with Japan’s widely used FeliCa standard. It also means that Apple Pay will be coming to Japan.

Faster With Better Battery Life

Every iteration of the iPhone has been faster than the last and the iPhone 7 is no exception. The A10 is so much of an upgrade, it even has a codename: fusion. The A10 Fusion is Apple’s first quad-core CPU, but in a high-low configuration that ARM and Qualcomm have used in their chips. The A10’s primary cores are for anything CPU intensive. For menial tasks, like email, the chip also has a pair of efficient cores. In all, this adds two hours to the iPhone 7 and one hour for the iPhone 6 Plus over the preceding models. The A10 also includes a 6-core CPU. All in all, you have a chip that is impressively both twice as fast as 2014’s A8 equipped iPhone 6, but also less power hungry. The LTE chip has been upgraded to support 18 different FDD LTE bands and another 4 of the TDD variety. If there is another LTE band out there in use that the new iPhones don’t support, you’d be hard pressed to find it.

Audio

Audio has been upgraded, but also with a subtraction. The rumors are true, the 3.5mm analog audio jack has been removed. Let’s be honest, Apple is not the first to do this, Lenovo did it with its newest Moto series phones earlier this year. They won’t be the last to do so either. The analog output’s place place is a second speaker that not only allows stereo sound, but also louder sound than any previous iPhone. To replace the 3.5mm jack, apple has three solutions, two of which are in box. First, there is a new generation of EarPods which use the Lightning connector’s digital audio capability. If there is any controversy with this move, it’s that Apple is is still using its own Lightning connector over the similar USB Type-C. The second solution is a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter. The third option, and what people are increasingly choosing is Bluetooth. There Apple made a splash.

AirPods

Announced right along side the iPhone 7 was the AirPods In-Ear Headphones. These are the most Apple headphones you will ever find. They are over-engineered in a wonderful way. The AirPods are packed with technology. Rather than being connected by any chords, the right and left AirPods are their own separate, but connected entities that resemble a matching pair of in-ear headsets. Rather then buttons, each AirPod has a pair of IR sensors and accelerometer to detect that you’re wearing them and activating beam forming mics when you’re talking. Setup is a breeze. Rather than the standard Bluetooth pairing, the custom W1 wireless chip will connect with your iCloud account and automatically connect the AirPods too all your devices, not the just once and then switch between them. If that wasn’t enough, the AirPod’s case is also their charger. At $150, they might not be cheap, but they are very, very Apple.

Apple’s subsidiary Beats also got in on that W1 chip announcing the BeatsX earphones, Powerbeats 3 Wireless, and Solo 3 Wireless. All these 3 will take the easy connect of the AirPods and bring it to those who want a more traditional form factor.

Cameras

There was one aspect of the iPhone 7 series series that you may think I was forgetting. Au Contraire, I was saving the cameras for last. The new front camera is 7mp with an improved color gamut. Out back is where its at though. The iPhone 7 gains optical image stabilization, and a new six-element f/1.8 28mm wide angle lens. The new camera sensor is bigger and there’s an all new dedicated Image Signal Processor in the A10 Fusion. The flash has gone from Dual-LED to a Quad-LED that is 50% brighter. While this is a definite upgrade, the real winner is the camera on the 7 Plus. The larger iPhone gains a second 12mp telephoto camera to go with the wide angle. The two are used in tandem combined with the ISP to create a 2x optical zoom effect. It can also do digital zoom up to 10x. What’s more, Apple is working on a software update to create a Depth of Field Boca effect.

Pricing and Availability

Both models are available for pre-order this Friday September 9th with release in Tier 1 countries on September 15th. Available colors include Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, Black Replacing Space Grey, and a Jet Black. Storage is doubled at all price points with storage now available as 32, 128, or 256GB. The iPhone 7 keeps the same $649, $749, ad $849 price points at the iPhone 6 and 6S before it, while the iPhone 7 Plus gets a modest $10 Price increase to $769, $869, and $969.

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Apple Watch

The Apple Watch family got its first major upgrades in both price and features. While keeping the same form factor, the Apple Watch got both cheaper and more advanced models while adding and updating some third party partnerships.

Apple Watch Series 1

If there is one aspect where the original Apple watch and its S1 system on chip failed, it was in power. The chip didn’t have the muscle it needed to run watchOS 1.0 or 2.0 and the platform suffered. While there are tricks to remedy this in watchOS 3.0, its still clear that the watch need more power.

More power is exactly what it gets in the Series 1. They are exactly the same as the original Apple Watch Sport, but with the new dual core S1P giving it a bit 50% more juice. Price points are also more friendly, starting at just $269 for the 38mm version and $299 for the 42mm. Its available in the original Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, and Space Grey finishes.

Series 2

Where the Series 2 Apple Watch may look the same, its completely different and better inside. The new screen is twice as bright as the original for better performance in sunlight. The Series 2 also back the faster S2 chip. Where it really differs is in two features. First, its now rated for 50m dive performance instead of being just water resistant. As part of the water proofing, the redesigned speaker spits out water. For those who want to use their watch while leaving their iPhone at home, the Series two also includes a GPS chip.

Pricing for Series 2 is $100 more expensive than the Series 1 starting at $369 for the regular models, and $1249 for the new Apple Watch Edition in a new ultra-hard white ceramic that replaces the gold plated models.

The new Apple Watch Hermes has also been updated for Series 2 with new custom faces, new and updated bands, and in new colors. Hermes Apple Watches start at $1149 for kits and $339 for the new Single Tour Band.

Nike+

While Apple partnered with Hermes for fashion, they are also partnering with Nike for Fitness. The Apple Watch Nike+ is based on the Series 2 aluminum models in Black and Flat Silver. The watches come with perforated watch bands in two-tone colors. The Nike edition also includes the Nike+ Run Club app pre-installed and exclusive fitness-oriented watch faces.

The Apple Watch Nike+ is exactly the same price as the normal Series two at $369 for 38mm and $399 for 42mm.

Operating Systems Release

Apple also announced the release dates for its OS updates. iOS 10 and watchOS 3 are coming September 15th. macOS 10.12 Sierra will launch a week later on September 20th.

Nokia is Dead. Long Live Nokia!

It’s been an interesting 7 days when it comes to Nokia’s phone legacy. Last Wednesday, the 18th, Nokia announced it was going to license its name and IP to a new company called HMD to make Android phones together with Microsoft giving a similar deal for feature phones. Microsoft also announced they were selling the logistics side of the Nokia feature phone business to HMD’s manufacturing partner Foxconn. Then today, came the bad news that everybody saw coming. Microsoft is putting an end to the Lumia Windows Phone division it bought from Nokia just a couple of years back. We’ll talk about that first.

Under Nokia, the Lumia line was one of the most regarded lines of cell phones out there. Those who had one loved them and the there was a lot to love about Windows phone 7, 8, and 10. However, they never gained commercial success and Nokia agreed to sell its phone business to Microsoft for just over $7 billion in September of 2013. It only got worse from there with Windows Phone effectively a non-player. In 2015, Microsoft cut 7,800 jobs mostly related to the former Nokia properties and took a $7.6 billion write-off. Now they’re going for the rest. With another 1,800 jobs lost, 1,350 of those in Finland, and another write-off at just shy of $1 billion. It was Steve Ballmer’s last major move as CEO and to say it backfired is putting it mildly.

However, as I said in the opening paragraph, Nokia’s phone legacy doesn’t end with the death of the Lumia line. HMD will be designing phones and tablets under the Nokia name. Like Blackberry’s rebirth, the new Nokia’s will be powered by Android. The phones themselves will built by Foxconn. Nokia will not own a stake in HMD, but will has a presence in the company to ensure the devices coming out of the new venture reflect the Nokia brand.

There is no firm timeline when we will see the first HMD-designed Nokia device or whether they plan to enter the North American market. What is known that that Nokia branded phones will go on. At least for now.

source: Nokia, The Verge

Apple Refreshes Retina MacBook

Last year, Apple announced the 12″ Retina MacBook ultraportable. Today, the machine got its first update. There’s a lot of things you’d expect and others that are a little surprising. Let’s take a look at what the 2016 model brings.

The 12″ is based around a 2304 x 1440 Retina display. This doesn’t change neither does the casing itself the difference is what’s inside. The Broadwell Core-M has been traded out for its updated Skylake Core M3 counterparts. The new CPUs share the same clock speed, but are a bit more powerful. According to Apple, the new Intel Integrated HD 515 graphics are a not insignificant 25% more powerful than the HD 5300 of last year. The chips are also more efficient offering an additional hour of run time now between 10 and 11 hours. The flash storage has been upgraded to a faster PCI-E standard and system memory is now 1866mhz.

For I/O, you still have two options: a 3.5mm headphones jack and a one-size fits all USB 3.1 Type-C jack. Many, including myself expected this port to be upgraded to Thunderbolt 3 with Skylake. That will presumably happen with updated MacBook Pros later this year. However, given the tasks this Core M-powered machine is expected to perform, one could argue that Type-C was good enough.

Pricing and configurations for the 2016 MacBook are the same as the 2015 models starting at $1299 for the base model. You can still order your MacBook in silver, space gray, and gold with fan favorite Rose Gold adding the fray for 2016. The MacBook’s predecessor, the MacBook Air also received a minor refresh with all 13″ models now coming standard with 8GB of memory.

Source: Apple