As expected, today’s Apple Special Event focused almost entirely on the new iPhone 5 designs, but that’s not to say there were no surprises.
Tim Cook took the stage first to show some pride in the fifth annual iTunes Festival which will be taking place over the course of 30 nights at the Roundhouse in London. Over 20 million people applied for tickets and this year’s shows will be livestreaming to more than 100 countries. Many of the events will be available afterwards on demand in iTunes.
Following the iTunes Festival pitch, we got the obligatory retail status. There is a new Stanford Apple store just around the bend from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters and all attendees of the Special Event were encouraged to “stop on by” after the event. On a larger scale, more than five million customers in the past nine years have visited Apple’s brick and mortar location. That equates to an astounding 2,000 customers per day.
Craig Federight then took the spotlight to give us another overview of iOS 7 highlighting many of the features introduced at WWDC:
- Control Center – allows you to handle many common tasks (such as toggling WiFi, or controlling music) without having to change apps. Simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen and make the changes you need.
- Multitasking – Using “intelligent scheduling” and “opportunistic updates” to make sure background applications have the latest data for when you usually check those apps. As part of this, the App switcher has a whole new look, showing not only the app icons, but a screenshot as well.
- Safari – iOS’s built-in web browser got a number of updates, as well. These ranged from a more “full screen” view, to a unified search bar, to a completely different way to organize your tabbed windows.
- Air Drop – Mountain Lion’s most underutilized peer-to-peer file transfer technology has made it to your iDevice. Now, you can simply connect to another iOS7 device on the same network, and transfer photos and other compatible files over.
- Camera – Those who use the iPhone’s built in camera can now simply swipe between photo, video and panoramic camera modes, as well as a “square” camera mode which I assume is convenient for Instagram junkies. Also in the Instagram vein is the ability now to add filters directly to the photos from within the camera app itself.
- Photos – This updated app now allows you to organize your iDevice’s photos by time and place (from the embedded GPS data), add filters – like in the camera app – and share your photos.
- Siri – Apple’s voice-activated has a few graphical tweaks, more natural-sounding voices (both male and female), more options for phone control (“turn on Bluetooth” or “play my last voicemail”), and integration of Twitter, Wikipedia and Bing.
- iOS in the Car – starting with 2014 model years, many auto manufacturers are going integrate iOS unctions into the onboard in-dash screen. When controlled by Siri, this allows you to get information hands-free.
- App Store – In addition to the existing ways of finding new apps, you can also search by age range and by “local popularity” based on your current location. If you’re in a mall, the more popular apps may have to do with shopping. Art apps may show in a museum. More importantly, you no longer have to worry about updating your apps manually; all your updates are now handled automatically.
- Music Player – While some tweaks were made to the interface here and there, the main new aspect was the addition of iTunes Radio, which, for lack of a better description, seems to be similar to Pandora, but integrated more into the iTunes Music Store.
The new information is that iOS 7 will be released on September 18th and will be a free download.
iOS 7 Compatibility:
- iPhone 4 or later
- iPad 2 or later
- iPad mini
- iPad touch 5th generation
Tim Cook then re-claimed the stage to give a brief overview of iWork for mobile devices. It really seems that a push is being made to sway the idea that iDevices are for content consumption only and that content creation is easier than ever on the mobile platform. And with that thought, Tim announced that the full iWork suite (Keynote, Pages, Numbers, iPhoto, & iMovie) will be available for free on all new iOS devices.
Goodbye, iPhone 5
In a surprise move, the iPhone 5 is being retired today after being touted as “instantly the most loved iPhone ever” and will be replaced by two new models: the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S. So those of you who were hoping to get the iPhone 5 as the free with two-year contract phone, I’m sorry to report that the 8GB iPhone 4S is still going to fill that position. Phil Schiller then came out to present the two models to the world.
iPhone 5c – What Does the “c” Stand For?
Whether the “c” stands for Color, Classic, Cool, Continuous, Cheap, Curved, Classy, or some other magical adjective the fact remains that Apple stepped up their game a bit from the iPhone 5 for their lower price point model. The iPhone 5c is made of durable polycarbonate and has a seamless design. it comes in five colors: green, white, blue, pink, and yellow and Apple has designed silicone rubber cases in the same shades (plus a black one) so you can mix and match to your heart’s content. Oh, and iOS 7 was designed with these same colors in mind, so not only is the phone design seamless, but the iOS experience will feel seamless as well.
Inside features a steel-reinforced frame, Bluetooth 4.0, a 4″ Retina display (that’s right – no reduction in screen quality for the less expensive model), and the same powerful A6 chip as its predecessor.
Pricing and Availability:
- 16GB – $99 (with 2-year contract)
- 32GB – $199 (with 2-year contract)
- Cases – $29 each
- Available for pre-order on September 13th
iPhone 5S – The Most Forward-Thinking Phone Anyone’s Ever Made
The iPhone 5S introduces a new color palette as well, but here we’re talking metals. The iPhone 5S shares the same physical design as the iPhone 5 but comes in Silver with a white screen bezel, Gold also with a white screen bezel, and what Apple is calling “Space Gray” that features the black screen bezel. All in all – very elegant looking and definitely worth protecting with a NuGuard KX iPhone case.
And that’s just the outward appearance. Inside packs the brand-new A7 chip, the first ever 64-bit processor in a mobile phone. Apple promises it is up to two times faster than the iPhone 5 and 40 times faster than the original iPhone. The phone also features Open GL|ES version 3.0 for 56 times the graphics performance of the original iPhone. A quick demo of Infinity Blade 3 (also available on launch day) showed off the new power of the iPhone 5S. Definitely drool-worthy for iDevice gamers.
But Apple didn’t stop there. There’s also another part that has been added – the M7 motion co-processor for the accelerator, gyroscope and compass. So now, these processor-intensive functions are moved off the main processor and onto a separate chip.
SLR-Level Camera Features
The camera got a huge upgrade too. A five element, Apple-designed lens with f2.2 aperture replaces the previous iSight camera and a new true tone flash means you don’t need to be a professional photographer to take professional-grade images. The flash features two separate elements, one warm and one cool. Between the two elements, there are over 1000 different tones that the flash can assume giving you the perfect light for any situation. The Camera app got several upgrades itself to take advantage of the added technology such as dynamic local tone mapping for the new flash, Continuous burst mode with real-time analysis to provide you the best option in a series of photos, Auto image stabilization, slow motion video, and more.
Since many find it more of a hassle than a help, about half of iPhone users never even set a passcode to protect their phones. Well, Apple is making it so much simpler now with a new Home Button featuring Touch ID. The home button itself reads your fingerprint at a 500 ppi resolution that scans subepidermal skin layers to unlock your phone. And before the conspiracy theorists among you start plotting, Apple has assured that your fingerprint information is not stored on Apple’s servers or iCloud, other software programs do not have access to that information either. It is all kept on the phone itself. And yes, it can recognize multiple fingerprints if you want to give access to anyone else specifically.
Pricing and Availability:
- 16GB – $199 (with 2-year contract)
- 32GB – $299 (with 2-year contract)
- 64GB – $399 (with 2-year contract)
- Available for pre-order on September 20th
Tim Cook then took the stage to present the recap, show off the new Apple ads, and introduce Elvis Costello to the stage for a quick musical set. Again, there was no “One More Thing” announcement. So, was there anything you were hoping for that wasn’t announced? Are you lining up already to get your new iPhone ASAP? Tell us in the comments!