This year’s Apple event in San Francisco held on September 7—possibly a coy nod to the launch of the iPhone 7—was full of software updates, guest appearances, and even musical performances (Sia really knows how to bring it to a room packed with programming nerds, doesn’t she?), but the biggest highlights were of course, the gadgets. Oh, and the gaming!
Because the Apple product pipeline is leakier than… something that’s very leaky, tech nerds already had a good sense of what was coming today, but there were still plenty of surprises. One of the most exciting of which was a strong emphasis on gaming with things like Pokémon Go for the new “Series 2” Apple Watch and—drum roll on the backs of a bunch of Koopa Troopas—the launch of Nintendo’s Super Mario Run, which will be available in the iOS App store before it’s available anywhere else.
Here’s a quick look—that’s a relative term, since there were a lot of new products and software—at everything that Apple CEO Tim Cook and Co. revealed today:
Gaming: Cook invited none other than Shigeru Miyamoto—the mastermind behind legendary video games like The Legend of Zelda, Mario, and pretty much everything else great from Nintendo—onto stage to introduce Super Mario Run, a new “one-handed game” that will be available in the iOS App Store in the upcoming 2016 holiday season. “Miyamoto-San” revealed that the game will be playable with one hand—that way you can eat a hamburger, or if you’re in America, eat a very large hamburger—with your free hand. Super Mario Run will also include a battle mode called “Toad Rally,” where you can compete with friends or players around the world to expand and customize your own mushroom kingdom. Perhaps the best part, aside from the free-hand action and the worldwide competition, is the fact that the game will have one set price, which means none of that pay-to-play stuff that plagues so many other mobile games.
Mario wasn’t the only big gaming name to appear on stage however. It was also announced that Pokémon Go—you know that little AR game that has about 500 million players—will also be coming to the new Apple Watch. And if there’s any message the folks at Niantic seem to have for us, it’s that we really need to be exercising more. The game integrated into the watch will encourage players to do a lot of walking in order to find and hatch Pokémon, and will also include a calorie counter so you can see how many Pokémon you need to catch in order to burn off the burger you were eating while you were playing Super Mario Run. But Pokémon Go wasn’t the biggest reveal for the Apple Watch, as a totally new generation of the device was also announced.
“Series 2” Apple Watch:
The new “Series 2” Apple Watch looks exactly like the first generation, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts—in this case a new GPU and a new processor that will allow the Apple Watch to run 50% faster than the first generation. The new generation of Apple Watches will also come with built-in GPS, so that that feature can be decoupled from the phone.
Aside from faster hardware, built-in GPS, and a new super-bright display—in fact the brightest display Apple has ever shipped—the overall emphasis with the Apple Watch was on activity. Cook and Co. referred to the watch as “the ultimate device for a happy life,” and emphasized features including the new Apple Watch being “swim proof” up to 50 meters (the first generation was only “splash proof”), as well a new app called “Breathe” that reminds you to, you guessed it, breathe. Apple has also teamed up with Nike for the “Apple Watch Nike Plus,” which will be perfect for any fitness geeks—it will literally remind *cough* guilt *cough* you into running almost every day.
The Series 2 Apple Watch will also come with an updated operating system, OS 3, which provides new messaging features like scribble—writing with your finger on a tiny screen, yay!—as well as new designs including a white ceramic that is supposedly four times stronger than its metallic brethren.
The Series 2 Apple Watch will cost $369.00, although if that’s a bit too rich for your wrist, you’ll still be able to buy the “Series 1” Apple Watch (with the 2’s new processor) for $269.00.
And of course, the pièce de résistance—
The iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus:
As Cook pointed out during his address, the iPhone is the “industry gold standard” for phones, having sold an eye(phone)-popping 1 billion units since its launch. And of course, the 7 and 7 Plus are, according to Apple, the best models yet.
One of Apple’s team noted that there will be essentially ten big improvements to the iPhone 7 over the 6 and 6s, including (deep breath here, hopefully there’s an app for that soon): a new super-sleek design, a “solid state” home button, a new enclosure that’s water and dust resistant, updated 12 megapixel camera for the 7 and a dual 12 megapixel camera for the 7 Plus, new retina display screen, stereo speakers, significantly increased processor and GPU performance, and—everybody get their pitchforks out!—no headphone jack.
The lack of a headphone jack is without a doubt the biggest change with the new iPhone, and also the one that has been most reviled by potential consumers. The Apple presenters said they got rid of the “old” jack because of one word: “courage.” They also said that they believe the future for phones is wireless, so on top of dropping the headphone jack, they also announced a totally new product: wireless cans called “Airpods.”
The Airpods, which look like upside-down musical half notes, will be totally wireless, and will have roughly 5 hours of play time. They’ll also come with a little nifty case that can hold 24 hours of charge (to recharge them), which can itself be plugged into a wall outlet in order to be charged.
Along with the Airpods, Apple also showed off some wireless cans that will be coming from Beats, including some more “affordable options” (when the Airpods go on sale, they’ll go for just north of $150.00).
Apple didn’t completely shrug off the wireless haters however, as they’ll also be including with the 7’s with converters so that your “old” headphones can plug into the lightning port. The new iPhones will also come with wired lightning-port earphones because… wireless? Courage?
Even though the lack of jack may be infuriating for some, the new cameras are definitely a welcome update. On the 7, there will be a 12 megapixel camera, with a wider lens (allowing for 50% more light), a new stabilizer, “true tone flash” for better low-light photography, a 7 megapixel front-facing camera—because selfies!—as well as some hardware that will help to clean up the pictures in real-time by executing billions of adjustments in a fraction of a second. The 7 Plus—which will have the larger 5.5 inch display—will get dual 12 megapixel cameras, each complimenting different depths of field.
iOS 10 will also be coming to the new iPhones, and will feature everything from new effects and stickers for messaging to totally revamped maps to better AI for Siri.
The iPhone 7/7 Plus range will come in Jet Black, Black, Gold, Silver, and of course, Rose Gold. Pricing for the 7’s will remain the same as the 6 and 6s range, at $649.00 and $749.000 for the 7 and 7 Plus respectively. This is impressive considering that Apple is going to be doubling the storage options for these devices, which will now be 32 gigs, 128 gigs, and 256 gigs.
Orders for the new iPhones will start on September 9th, and Apple plans to start shipping them on September 16th. iOS 10 will be launched on September 13th.
Apple also announced updates to things like the App Store, ConnectED, iWork and Apple Music—which will supposedly be getting a totally revamped user interface, likely similar to Spotify’s—but it seems like nothing game changing was presented in those areas; except for making slideshows in real-time—who wasn’t totally psyched for that?!
Or maybe you were actually totally psyched for updates to iWork? Or maybe the new iPhone 7? Or the Apple Watch? Or maybe you’re out of slack for Apple now that they’ve removed that headphone jack? Let us know about all of your thoughts on these announcements in the comments below!
We talk more about Apple’s Nintendo team-up on Nerdist News!