Back to school! Just like every year, kids of all ages shook the sand from their feet and took their seats in classrooms or lecture halls. And just like every year, tech journalists and developers made their way back to Apple Park and took their seats in the Steve Jobs Theater for the annual September Keynote. Tim Cook, Johnny Ive, Phil Schiller – and their famous remote control – once again took the stage to present the newest members of the Apple crew.
Following April’s WWDC showcasing the latest software releases, let’s see what these familiar faces have in store for the upcoming year!
When your watch bends over backwards to tell you more than the time
And what a watch! The Cupertino company reminded us that the Apple Watch is the world’s best selling watch – without giving a number to back up this claim. Plainly called Series 4, the new watch gives its owners a bigger screen (30% more display) while remaining the same size. This was achieved by reducing edge space and rounding corners. The watch is thinner than before and more subtly worn. It also boasts new health-related features. Its new sensors (gyroscope and accelerometer) detect falls, and the watch can initiate an emergency call if its wearer does not move for one minute after falling (thanks to its heart rate monitor!).
Jonathan Ive and his teams analysed and tested several ways of falling to ensure that the Apple Watch sensors can accurately detect the motions that happen during a fall.
The newest version of the gadget includes a digital sensor that can complete a full ECG and save it in the Health app. How long until we can get a diagnosis right from the watch? It should be noted that this feature is only available in the American market at time of publication.
Thanks to its impressive new S4 chip, the Series 4 is twice as fast as its predecessor in the Series 3. Let’s hope that this added power won’t decrease an already too-short battery life – a smartwatch downside that continues to amuse analog watch die-hards!
There couldn’t be a new watch without a new operating system! During the Keynote, Apple unveiled its WatchOS 5. This version uses the Series 4’s big screen to display up to 8 complications – customisable little widgets that show more and more information simultaneously (text or images). On one single screen, wearers can view workout session results, or flight information, as well as the time. Conveniently, third-party apps can also use this extra space.
iPhone: S or R, but good things always come in threes!
Sir Jonathan Paul Ive – the designer behind Macintosh and iPod – then handed things over to the leader of Apple, Mr. Cook himself. The presentation began with a reminder of the famous smartphone’s global success, noting that the company has recorded a 98% satisfaction rate for its iPhone X.
Following a short video, Phil Schiller continued the festivities with the iPhone XS. Don’t let its name fool you – it’s no tiny phone, it’s an even faster and more powerful device! With Apple’s new bionic A12 chip – twice as fast as its predecessor – the phone will use its 6.9 billion transistors to complete some 5,000 billion (yep, you read that right) operations per second.
The A12’s 6-core CPU and quad-core GPU, along with its machine learning and deep learning processors, will bring the device to life and offer a faster and more seamless experience. This will improve its customisation, as it will be able to predict user behavior.
These impressive capabilities will reveal their full potential when using apps (faster launch time) and when taking pictures or selfies (automatic focus, more responsive animojis).
But this technology goes even further, as it will also power the new iPhone XS Max! This iPhone on steroids stands out due to its huge 6.5 inch OLED screen, boasting an impressive 2,688 x 1,242 pixels in the same format as iPhone 6, 7, and 8 Plus. Because nothing comes for free, this costs an extra $100 (for the same storage space) to enjoy this bigger model once it is available.
But the show must go on… And how! Next up, Phil Schiller revealed not 1, not 2, but 6 new coloured iPhones!
Following in the footsteps of the late iPhone 5C, the iPhone XR is available in six colours (black, white, red, blue, orange, and yellow) and designed for Apple fans looking for a slight improvement on the iPhone X, but without the hefty price tag. Well, with a less hefty price tag… This is still Apple, after all! The iPhone XR’s screen has a slightly lower resolution at 1,792 x 828 pixels, haptic touch (à la Apple Watch) instead of the other models’ 3D touch, and a single-lens rear camera.
iOS 12: new capabilities, even on older phones
During this year’s keynote, Apple also highlighted the newest update for its smartphone and tablet OS, which will integrate machine learning and augmented reality. With ARKit2 and Core ML, app publishers can create more immersive experiences than ever before, from simple measuring tools to multiplayer augmented reality. With iOS 12, Siri is smarter than ever before: learning from your requests, habits, and app data, Apple’s personal assistant pushes relevant information and updates.
iOS 12 is available on 26 devices, from the iPhone 5S through the latest XS, XS Max, and XR.
So what did we learn from this keynote? Though the iPhone X and iPhone SE have been replaced by three newer models, the smartphone range seems to have lost its focus as it still includes the aging iPhones 7 and 8. For the first time ever, Apple gives the choice among 5 devices. Ranging from $749 to $1,449, there’s sure to be something for “everyone”. Could the Cupertino company be positioning itself as a serious competitor to mid-range and high-end Android smartphone manufacturers? Stay tuned!
That’s all for this Keynote. If you want to watch the whole thing, check out Apple’s site.
Photos from : Le Keynote by Mac Génération
Translated from french to english by Niam Cloughley