It’s September and that means a new school year and new Apple products. For all those who’ve been holding out for years to upgrade their phones, it may just be time to toss those relics in the trash and get to the nearest Apple Store (or website because you know, it’s 2016). Even for those who just got the iPhone 6S (like myself), this year’s announcement may have you scouring the internet for trade-in options. But, there was more to this year’s September event than just new phones.
For most of the Apple Announcement events that have taken place over the last few years, it’s become a familiar process where Tim Cook walks out on stage at the beginning and gets to business. This year, we were treated to a bit of a change as Cook had some help getting to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Cook was chauffeured by none other than James Corden and treated to a quick round of Carpool Karaoke. They covered One Republic before being joined by Pharrell to sing a few versus of Sweet Home Alabama.
Once Cook arrived in the theatre, everyone was primed and ready for the event. Would the rumours be true? Did the leaks and inside sources get it right? What magical device would we be putting our paycheques aside for next?
5 Big Announcements at the 2016 September Apple Event:
Super Mario Brothers on iOS
Finally, Nintendo is officially letting us have Mario on our phones (and not through some jail-broken emulator). Nintendo was the first big announcement of the day with introduction of their new game, Super Mario Run. This game is a dash-style one where your character is continuously running across the screen as you collect coins and avoid pitfalls and bad guys. This game will also include a “battle mode” called Toad Rally in which you choose a local or global competitor and try and beat their high score. With the coins you collect, you can use them to expand and customize your Mushroom Kingdom. This will be a pay once game which means no in-app purchases. It may not quite be the actual Super Mario Brothers game we were hoping for but it will surely tide you over in the meantime. No price or release date has been announced but it’s expected to be available some time before the end of 2016.
Software always seems to take a back seat at Apple’s announcements when they occur later in the year. We had already been introduced to Apple’s biggest iOS release ever with iOS10 and the latest macOS, Sierra, so we knew the bulk of the features that would come with the update. What we didn’t know was the exact when of it. While we were only told that iOS10 would officially arrive September 13th with some exciting changes like 3rd party Siri access, improved Maps, and the massive (and fun) changes to Messages, there was no mention of when Sierra would hit the general population. A little digging on the website and I found that you can upgrade to Sierra on September 20th.
Most importantly, a Pokémon Go watch app was announced which will make catching all the Pokémon a lot easier and more integrated into your everyday life. You’ll be able to swipe at Pokéstops, see nearby Pokémon, hatch eggs, track your progress and even get notifications when a Pokémon is ready for capturing. This welcome addition will help reduce battery life drain and definitely help my experience level go up. Gotta catch ‘em all!
Also getting updates in the next few weeks will be:
- Apple’s own suite of products under the banner of iWork which will get the addition of real-time collaboration with other users
- AppleMusic with a design overhaul
- The addition of Japan to the countries in which ApplePay is available
AppleWatch Series 2
Tim Cook told the crowd that with the introduction of the AppleWatch, Apple has become the 2nd highest selling watch brand after Rolex and the top selling smartwatch. AppleWatch version 2, or AppleWatch Series 2 as it’s officially called, looks similar in design from the outside but has undergone a complete re-engineering under the hood. The Series 2 is dust proof and water proof (up to 50m), has a dual core processor, a brighter display, and even a built-in GPS radio for phone-free exercise. There’s a new material option (a white pearl-like ceramic) and even a special NikePlus version which comes in 4 different colours (which I looove the look of).
Series 2 starts at $359 CAD while Series 1 will stick around but will see a price drop. The new watch will be available September 16th. I’m currently an AppleWatch Series 1 owner, but I’m thinking it might be time to upgrade.
As expected, we’ll be seeing new cases and charging docs in new colours and materials. What was hinted at from many inside sources and was finally revealed today was the launch of a brand new Apple Product. With the changes in the newest iPhone (see below for more), Apple has launched its own wireless earphones called AirPods.
The AirPods look familiar to the wired version that ships with all iPhones but without the actual wires. These earphones are designed to sit in your ear but allow the freedom to move around without getting tangled up in the cords. They’re equipped with a brand new W1 chip to allow each pod to last up to 5 hours of use on a single charge. The charging case that comes with them holds up to 24 hours’ worth of charges and allows for Siri access. Apple AirPods have sensors to detect when they’re in your ears so when you remove them, the sound stops automatically. They can even be used with one AirPod at a time. These will ship in late October for $219 CAD. As someone who has recently started using wireless ear buds, I can assure you this is definitely something to consider.
Obviously this is what we all came for – The annual announcement of Apple’s latest version of the iPhone. While we all knew it was coming, today was the day that put the design speculation to rest. Officially called the iPhone 7, the new phone comes in two sizes, the iPhone 7 (4.7” screen) and the iPhone 7 Plus (5.5” screen) as did the previous iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. The silver, gold, and rose gold colours are back but this time the space grey has been replaced by a 2 black styles. One is a matte black while the other is a glossy black known as “Jet Black”.
Aside from the new colour options, some other noticeable changes include a stainless steel apple logo, new antenna placement, dust and water resistance (IP7 compliant), stereo speakers, upgraded screen, and improved LTE. There’s a new upgraded chip, the A10 Fusion which means better performance and battery life (1-2 hours) from the 6S and we say goodbye to the Home button as we know it. The new version isn’t a press down kind of button but rather, it functions similarly to the trackpad on a mac which is force sensitive and has a taptic engine. It will also be customizable for different apps.
Also going the way of the Home button is the headphone jack. That little round 3.5mm hole is no more. This is the beginning of Apple’s push to wireless/Bluetooth options (which led to the AirPods above). You can still use wired headphones but now you’ll either have to use the lightning port ones that come with the phone or make use of the (also included) adaptor for those that are determined to keep their old earphones. There will certainly be complaints about this but it’s a move that makes sense. Changing the home button and removing the headphone jack mean more room for new technologies.
Speaking of which, the cameras on this new phone definitely came to play and are a good enough reason on their own to get the latest Apple offering. There’s a new quad-LED True Tone flash for starters. This new camera also features optical image stabilization in both models, a larger aperture 6 element lens with a 12MP Apple-designed image processing sensor. If you thought that was great, the 7 Plus model comes equipped with two of those! That’s 2 12MP cameras built into one. You get both wide-angle and telephoto lenses that will allow for better all-around quality photos as well as a new depth effect which make help bridge the gap between a phone camera and DSLR.
Storage sizes have changed with the 16GB one no longer being offered. Instead, we get 32GB, 128GB and the new 256GB. Prices start at $899 CAD for the iPhone 7 base model and $1049 for the 7 Plus. Pre-order begins September 9th (this Friday!) and ships September 16th. UK and China have been added to the upgrade program eligibility (when is Canada getting it?!?). I was originally going to wait for next year’s model but now I’m wondering how much I can sell my iPhone 6S Plus for.
Written by Kevin Joseph