A Condensed Overview of Apple's September 2016 Product Annoncements
At Apple's iPhone 7 unveiling in San Francisco on Wednesday, the tech powerhouse revealed a host of new and updated hardware and software, including a new type of headphone jack and souped-up camera. Here's a rundown of the biggest announcements. It feels the same, with tweaks (and a funky home button)
The iPhone 7 seems like a bunch of upgrades -- some of which iPhone users have wanted for a while.
Did we mention no headphone jack? Yes, it's weird. Also, the home button being a solid-state Force Touch-like panel means it doesn't quite have the same feel.
Jet black, Apple's new glossy black color iPhone, looks beautiful. It turns the iPhone into a slim black obelisk. But it is smudge and greasy finger streak magnet. Imagine a phone with finger art all over it.
Here are the most important things you need to know about the iPhone 7:
The iPhone 7 feels pretty much the same as the iPhone 6S, with the same 4.7-inch screen. Apple says the "HD Retina display" is 25 percent brighter than last year's model. It includes the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch layer that buzzes slightly when you press and hold the screen.
Static home button: The home button is now solid state, which means you can't physically press or click it in -- kind of like the Motorola Moto Z and OnePlus 3. It's pressure-sensitive, including "taptic feedback", which just means that apps can give you three levels of pressure and haptic feedback, like a light or strong buzz. It doesn't feel like a button and definitely takes getting used to, but so far it seems to get the job done.
As expected, iPhone is removing the standard analog headphone jack and forcing headphones to use its "Lightning" connector, which plugs into the phone's charging port. The iPhone 7 will come with an adapter so older earphones can still be used. But Apple is pushing Apple AirPods, which CEO Tim Cook says are a "breakthrough design," wireless headphones that sync across all Apple devices and respond to touch that can access Siri. The AirPods are shipping in late October and cost $160.
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
Apple's new iPhone is getting a faster processor, an updated home button and water and dust protection. Apple says the iPhone 7's home button is now force sensitive. It will provide "haptic" feedback — that "pushing back" feeling — when you press it, but the button itself doesn't move. It's similar to what Apple has done with a trackpad in a slimmer MacBook model last year. The iPhone 7 will have stereo speakers for the first time, with twice the volume of iPhone 6S speakers. The phone's battery life is improved, too; Apple estimates that the new iPhones will have one or two hours of additional battery life over last year's models.
Other camera improvements include a new flash with four LEDs rather than two for greater brightness. As with previous models, the flash will adjust its color to match ambient light. High-end photographers can get images in RAW format, which allows for more versatile editing, matching what many leading cameras now have.
The iPhone 7 Plus will have two lenses to boost the zoom capabilities of the camera. The camera can now zoom in twice as much without losing sharpness. Both cameras take 12 megapixel photos. The two lenses will also sense depth and allow users to blur backgrounds in images, mimicking an effect that typically requires changing the lens aperture in stand-alone cameras. That feature won't be out until later this year.
Other smartphone makers such as LG and Motorola are also starting to offer models with dual lenses to improve picture quality. The difference is the wide angle on LG G5 has lower resolution with 8 megapixels.
Price and Storage
The iPhone 7 will start at $899 CDN ($650 USD), the same as the 6S it replaces. The larger Plus model is increasing to $1049 CDN ($770 USD). They come in silver, gold, rose gold, black and the new jet-black finish. Storage has been doubled, so Apple joins rival phone makers in making the starter model 32 gigabytes, rather than 16 gigabytes before. Apple is doubling storage in higher-priced models, too — to 128 and 256 gigabytes.
The new phones will ship Sept. 16 in Canada and the US. Older iPhones will get price reductions, and last year's models are also getting double the storage.
The latest software update, available on Tuesday, will add more intelligence to Apple services like Maps, Photos, the iPhone keyboard and Siri, the voice-activated digital assistant. There's a new Home app to control appliances. In a big change for Apple, the company is also opening Siri and its iMessage service to work with apps created by independent developers.
Apple is also allowing developers to build apps for iMessage, although the options so far appear to mostly involve sending payments or ordering food. It's also adding bigger emoji and other visual effects for iMessage, including what it calls "Invisible Ink," which blurs an image in a message until a recipient swipes a finger across the screen. Apple announced many of the features in June.
A Pokemon Go app is coming to Apple Watch. The app lets you collect items from Pokestops, hatch eggs and alert you to nearby Pokemon (you still need your phone to catch actual Pokemon). It will be shipping before the end of the year.
Super Mario Run on iPhone
"Super Mario Run" arrives this December, and it's only coming to Apple's iPhone and iPad to start (it's heading to Android at some point).
Nintendo debuted a new Super Mario game for iOS called Super Mario Run. It's the first iOS game featuring Nintendo's Mario characters. Nintendo has long resisted bringing Mario to mobile phones, relying on it instead to sell its hand-held DS gaming systems. The new game, which can be played one handed, will be released in time for the holidays. The game will have a fixed price which is being kept under wraps for now. The news sent Nintendo shares soaring on Wednesday.
Nintendo isn't "late" to the mobile game market as much as it has tried to ignore the world of mobile gaming for the past decade. Which is why Nintendo's move to mobile is so huge. It's no surprise that Nintendo's stock shop up by nearly 30% in wake of the announcement.
That Apple got Super Mario — the Mickey Mouse of gaming — to the iPhone first is a coup of gigantic proportions. But it also makes a lot of sense. "Super Mario Run" arrives this December 2016 on both iPhone and iPad. It's headed to Android at some point after that.
Apple Pay will come to Japan in October with a new wireless technology called Felica to be included in iPhones and Apple Watches there. Apple Pay will also come to New Zealand in October and Russia in the fall.
In the U.S. and elsewhere, mobile payments use a wireless technology called NFC. A transit feature in Apple Maps will also launch in Japan.
Collaborate In Real-Time with Apple iWork on Steroids
Apple iWork suite of software, including word processing, processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs, will include real-time collaboration features for the first time. It's something Google and Microsoft already offer in some form. Although Apple's iWork package allows syncing through iCloud, it's has been primarily for one person to work on documents at a time. The software is available for iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, with a web version for Windows users.