What was announced
The Apple Watch Series 4 will have a larger screen, in a shell that’s the same size edge-to-edge and slightly thinner on the wrist. As well as the standard speed bumps to the internal processors, the other major changes are to do with health monitoring: an ECG lets wearers measure their heart’s health using the device, while improved accelerometers can automatically call for help if the wearer has a nasty fall.
The new watches will be available for pre-order from Friday with prices starting at £399 ($399) for the normal version and £499 ($499) for the model with cellular connectivity. The older Series 3 gets a price cut to £279.
The iPhone X gets split into three devices: a direct sequel, the XS; a larger version, the XS Max; and a cheaper version with a worse screen and camera, the XR.
The XS is faster and better than its predecessor in all the normal ways. The XS Max is too, except it’s now got a 6.5 inch screen. And the XR, with an LCD screen (with slightly less impressive colour reproduction) is still the same on the inside, just without a telephoto lens on the back.
The XS and XS Max will be available for pre-order on Friday, shipping on the 21st. Prices start at £999 ($999) for the smaller version, and £1,099 ($1,099) for the larger version.
The XR won’t be available until October 26, and for pre-orders from the 19th, and will cost £749 ($749) and up.
And yup, that’s the end of the event. Tim Cook says goodbye, thanks the attendees, and “the people at Apple who made this magical day possible”.
Looks like we’re wrapping up, which means the thing that is notably missing, here, is AirPower, a wireless charging set-up that was announced this time last year and still hasn’t shipped. Seems like Apple’s going to try and pretend that delay hasn’t happened.
The Apple TV … doesn’t seem to be getting any hardware updates, just the previously announced software.
And the same is true for the Mac, which is getting macOS Mojave in two weeks.
Finally, a “few more updates” from Tim Cook.
The HomePod now has the ability to be paired to form stereo sound (which was supposed to be available at launch, but whatever), as well a few features that were announced back at WWDC in June.
On to the all-important prices.
The iPhone XS starts from $999 for a 64GB device.
The iPhone XS Max starts from $1099 for a 64GB device. Those are pre-orderable on Friday, and shipping on September 21.
The iPhone XR starts from $749 for a 64GB device – a price cut on the introductory price of the iPhone 8. It’s available to order on Oct 19, and shipping Oct 26. I wonder if that’s to prevent cannibalisation of the gotta-have-it-now crowd?
Price cuts downrange bring the iPhone 7 to $449 and iPhone 8 to $599.
UK prices are TBC. The phones will be carried by all the major carries, including EE, Three, O2 and Vodafone, although only EE and Vodafone seem to be fully supporting features like the cellular Apple Watch and the dual sim support.
Anyway, on to the final iPhone: the bright, multicoloured iPhone XR. Made from aluminium and glass, and with an iPhone X-style edge-to-edge screen, it’s halfway between the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.
The display is LCD, and Schiller calls it the “most advanced LCD ever in a smartphone”. It’s branded as the “Liquid Retina” display (the iPhone XS is a “super retina”, if you’re keeping track), and measures 6.1 inches edge to edge.
But the phone doesn’t have 3D Touch, the pressure-sensitive feature found in every previous iPhone since the 5S. Instead, it’s got “haptic touch”, which basically means it will click if you hold your finger on a button for a while.
Inside is the same chip as in the iPhones XS: the A12. And the front camera is also the same.
As well as the screen, the other major cost-saving is the rear camera: just one, this time, the 12MP wide-angle camera. But the phone doesn’t need the telephoto lens for the fancy new features, because it can fake them made using just AI.
Battery life is “an hour and a half longer than the iPhone 8 Plus”. Is that longer or shorter than the iPhone XS? Give us actual numbers, Apple, don’t make me dig out your press releases from last year and do arithmetic. I’m liveblogging, here.
Apple’s SVP Lisa Jackson (re)announces that Apple is run on 100% renewable energy, and declares that Apple’s next goal is to use 100% recyclable materials. The company’s not there yet, but the XS includes some changes to push that way, like using tin in the logic board, and recycled plastic in the speaker enclosure.
Have another spec-heavy slide:
On battery, the XS has a 30 minute lead on the X, and the XS Max – with the largest battery ever on an iPhone – gets you 90 minutes more.
The iPhones XS are also shipping with dual sim support, through something called “dual sim dual standby”. It doesn’t work with two real Sim cards, though – just with Apple’s eSim support for the second Sim. Except in China, where it does.
In the UK, it’s supported by EE and Vodafone.
For video, the camera can now record stereo sound, and takes very high-quality low-light footage. But no video stabilisation – looks like the opening video of the event was just shot by someone with a very steady hand.
Even neater: you can now adjust the depth of field of an image after the fact. Schiller calls is a “new era of photography” and, while it’s not just Apple making these advances (shout out to Google), it’s incredibly impressive.
Phil Schiller returns, to talk about the iPhone XS’s camera.
It’s a 12MP wide-angle camera, and a 12MP telephoto camera, with an “improved True Tone flash”. On the front is a new 7MP sensor.
“But increasingly what makes photos possible are the chip and the software that runs on it,” says Schiller. The A12 Bionic has a newer fancy image signal processor, and brings the AI chip in as well, pulling face detection and “facial landmarking” into the mix. The camera can do a trillion operations per photo, apparently.
One feature that enables is “smart HDR”, which brings a few photos of different exposure together. The way it does that is constantly shoot a four-frame buffer, with different exposures, so that the second you hit the shutter lens, it’s already got all the information it needs for a full HDR image. Neat!
We’ve had a game, we’ve had an AR app, so now, another games developer, talking about an AR game. It’s arcade classic Galaga, in AR form.
You point at flying bugs with your phone and then shoot them. It looks … banal. But it might be fun to play with kids, or if everyone involved is very drunk?
Next up, a developer and a basketball player. I imagine the tall guy is the basketball player.
They’re talking about an AR app called Homecourt. The app recognises a basketball court automatically, and can use AI to track shot attempts and successes. It tracks six metrics for every shot the player takes, including leg angle, shot speed and jump height.
It looks quite cool! This feels like the sort of thing that you used to only see on professional broadcasts, but now can be done automatically in real-time.