As part of the announcement of the new iPhone 7 models today, Apple also unveiled AirPods, a new set of Apple wireless earbuds. Featuring a new Apple-designed W1 chip for low-power Bluetooth-based communications, the AirPods pair seamlessly with an iPhone, sharing pairing information via iCloud with other devices such as iPads and Macs. AirPods include motion accelerometers for touch-sensitivity and Siri activation, voice accelerometers to recognize vibrations to determine the source of a user’s voice, and beam-forming mics to reduce external noise. Optical sensors detect when one or both AirPods are in your ears, automatically pausing playback when they’re removed, or switching to monaural audio when you’re using only one AirPod. The AirPods will provide 5 hours of battery life on a single charge, and come with a battery storage case that provides an additional 24 hours of battery life; 15 minutes of charging in the case will add an extra 3 hours of listening time, and the case and AirPods can be charged simultaneously via an included Lightning-to-USB cable. AirPods will be compatible with iPhone 5 and later models, iPad mini 2 and later, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, and the sixth-generation iPod touch. They’re expected to be available in late October for $159.
Today’s introduction of Apple’s new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus has already led a number of companies to reveal cases for the upcoming devices. With the basic form factor of the new phones staying the same as the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, many casemakers have simply tweaked the shape of the camera cutout in their existing offerings. Ballistic has updated its Jewel ($30), Urbanite ($40), Tough Jacket ($35), and Tough Jacket Maxx ($50) offerings, pictured above, to fit the new cameras, and all are available starting today.
Today at its event, Apple unveiled the highly anticipated iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, focused primarily on an enhanced design aesthetic, water and dust resistance and some significant camera improvements. Both of the iPhone 7 models now come in a new jet black glossy finish and black finish, in addition to the more standard silver, gold, and rose gold options, and also now feature IP67 water and dust resistance. A new taptic, force-sensitive Home button replaces the prior mechanical button, allowing real-time haptic feedback in both built-in and third-party apps for things like quick actions, messages, and notifications.
Apple today announced the release of the next-generation Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Series 2. Key features of the new model include swimproof water resistance of up to 50 meters, along with a faster dual-core CPU, a GPU with twice the performance of the prior model, and a new second-generation display that is twice as bright. The Series 2 model will also feature a built-in GPS so that workouts can be tracked without needing an iPhone in tow, with a fast start so users don’t need to wait for a GPS fix, and route map and GPS-accurate pace and distance. Developers will also be able to access the built-in GPS via watchOS 3 APIs. The Apple Watch Series 2 adds a new white ceramic model with a casing that is four times harder than stainless steel, while other body and wrist band options remain much the same as the first Apple Watch, now known as Apple Watch Series 1.
During today’s fall Apple Event, CEO Tim Cook provided an update on the state of the App Store, highlighting that the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are now the most popular gaming devices in the world, and he used the opportunity to segue into an announcement that Nintendo will finally be bringing the venerable Mario to the iPhone. Cook handed over the stage to the “father of Mario,” Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, to expand on the announcement, revealing a brand new mobile-optimized game, “Super Mario Run,” that will be coming to the iPhone. It’s designed exclusively for mobile, one-handed play.
Follow @iLounge on Twitter during Apple’s event today for up-to-the-second coverage of everything new about the iPhone 7, Apple Watch 2, and any other surprises Apple has in store. After the event ends we’ll have all the details here, so check back regularly throughout the day for an in-depth look. Apple’s special event starts at 10 a.m. Pacific time (1 p.m. EST), and will be streaming live on Apple’s website and on Apple TV’s Special Events channel.
Apple has asked manufacturing partner Foxconn to look into the possibility of making iPhones in India within the next two or three years, The Economic Times of India reports. Sources with knowledge of the matter said Apple began the inquiry after Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue during a meeting earlier this year. The new report seems to corroborate earlier reports that Foxconn’s $10 billion facility in the Indian state of Maharashtra will focus on iPhone production. That plant should be up and running within 18 months, and Apple recently opened a development office for its Maps app in Hyderabad as well, doubling down on its commitment to India as it moves to open retail stores in the country. Apple is likely to gain a three-year exemption to open its stores without meeting requirements that it obtain 30 percent of its product materials locally, but will need to come into compliance with those regulations after that period expires.
Well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a note to investors about Apple’s rumored wireless “AirPods” ahead of the company’s iPhone event tomorrow, saying he expects Apple to have “its own-designed Bluetooth-like communication chip and launch own-brand Bluetooth headphones targeting the high-end market.” In a statement that echoes previous reports, Kuo said Apple’s own custom chip may deviate from Bluetooth specifications, providing the company with its own proprietary low-power wireless communications for home and auto accessories beyond headphones.
Apple is now offering a $99 gift card that will give users a full year of Apple music, shaving $20 off the total annual cost of a single subscription for those willing to commit to the full year. So far the option hasn’t popped up on Apple’s website, in iOS or in iTunes, but Walmart, Best Buy, and PayPal are all offering either cards or online codes for the annual subscription. There is also a three-month subscription available for $30, but that option provides no savings over the usual $10-a-month cost.
Wireless headphone maker Bragi has introduced a new set of Bluetooth earbuds, called The Headphone, ahead of Apple’s announcement that it’s doing away with the headphone jack in the iPhone 7. The new offering is a stripped-down version of the company’s Dash headphones, ditching the built-in storage and fitness sensors to get the price down to $149. The Bluetooth 4.0 earbuds boast a 6-hour battery life (up to 250 hours in standby mode) and a charge time of less than 2 hours. Three buttons on the side of one earbud give users the option to skip tracks, take calls, and deliver voice commands through the built-in headset microphone. Small, medium and large FitTips provide options to find a comfortable fit and passive noise isolation technology can be turned on to keep distracting noise out. Bragi says The Headphone will start shipping in November, and customers can currently pre-order at a reduced $119 presale price.
In a weekend update to investors, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the iPhone 7 will feature much faster processor speeds, waterproofing and new glossy “piano black” and “dark black” colors, among other upgrades. The two new black color options are said to be replacing space gray alongside Apple’s existing gold, rose gold and silver iPhone colors. Previous SIM tray leaks seemed to show a glossy black color and alleged product tags posted on Twitter support the claim that both black options will be offered.
Happy Labor Day from iLounge! Our staff is off today, but we’ll return to our normal posting schedule on Tuesday. And of course, be sure to check back in on Wednesday for all the newest product release details from Apple’s event. Now would be a good time to catch up on our most recent reviews, which can be found here. Have a great day!
Apple is moving ahead with some more of the App Store changes promised back in June, with an email sent to developers today announcing new auto-renewable subscription capabilities and advising that they can now begin getting their apps and games ready for the new subscription model. As Apple’s developer page on Offering Subscriptions explains, auto-renewable subscriptions can now be offered on all Apple platforms and in all app categories, including games, to provide users with access to content or services on an ongoing basis, and automatically renew until a user chooses to cancel. Developers will be able to allow users to sign up for subscriptions with free trial periods, subject to the normal subscription durations, and will also be able to offer upgrades, downgrades, and crossgrades to subscriptions, all controlled via Apple’s in-app purchase APIs.
Ireland’s cabinet has agreed that it will join Apple in an appeal against the European Commission’s €13 billion (~ $14.5b USD) demand for back taxes from the company, Reuters reports. Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan has been on the record since the EU began investigating Apple’s Irish tax affairs in 2014 in stating that the government would fight any adverse ruling in order to protect Ireland’s interests in attracting large multinational companies to the country. Although the cabinet ministers have agreed to join in the appeal, Ireland’s minority government is currently supported by independents who have concerns about multinationals tax policies being reviewed to ensure foreign companies are “seen to be paying their fair share.” However, the main opposition party also favors a legal challenge, suggesting that the government should have no problem winning parliamentary support to move forward with the appeal. The cabinet is expected to ask parliament to endorse the legal challenge next Wednesday.
In addition to unveiling next-generation iPhones, it appears that Apple will also unveil new Beats products at next week’s event, according to an email received from the Beats PR team by iGeneration. Although the announcement merely says “a selection of new Beats by Dre products will be unveiled” without going into specifics, considering that the iPhone 7 is expected to omit the headphone jack in favor of the Lightning port, it seems likely that new Lightning-equipped headphones and possibly even wireless headphones will make their debut.
BMW will be the first auto manufacturer to sell CarPlay as a separate option on its vehicles rather than including it in a package. Unlike other manufacturers, who either include CarPlay as a standard feature or bundle it into a package, BMW will be offering it as a standalone $300 option throughout its entire model line, even up to the top end. Even customers buying the $138,000 Alpina B7 xDrive will need to spend the extra $300 to add the CarPlay option, regardless of any other packages included in the bundle. By comparison, Porsche offers CarPlay as part of its Porsche Connect package which also provides smartphone vehicle control and monitoring, and Volkswagen provides CarPlay either as part of its Connectivity Package on lower models, which also includes Android Auto and other enhanced media features, or as a standard feature on its higher models. Ford, Mercedes, Honda, and Audi all offer CarPlay in similar manners. Despite the additional charge, however, the report notes that CarPlay will likely still be factory-installed in many vehicles available at dealerships and the price already included in the invoice for buyers driving a BMW off the lot. [via TechCrunch]
In an email sent to registered developers, Apple today announced that as of Sept. 7 it will begin “an ongoing process of evaluating apps” and removing any apps that “no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines, or are outdated” with a goal of improving the quality of apps in the App Store and making it easier for users to find apps which meet their needs. The announcement notes that the review will cut across all categories on the App Store, and developers of apps that don’t meet the criteria will be contacted to be given a 30-day window to make any necessary changes in order for their app to remain on the App Store. Apps that are completely non-functional — that is, those that crash on launch — will be removed immediately. Apps that are removed will only be taken down from the App Store’s catalog, and users who have already downloaded a removed app will be able to continue using it and even take advantage of in-app purchases.
A new set of exclusive photos posted by Byte show key components which allegedly come from the upcoming second-generation Apple Watch. The most notable components reveal that the new LCD and touch screen digitizer will be thinner than in the prior generation Apple Watch, with a smaller front bezel and an additional chipset — which may point to a thinner overall Apple Watch. The battery on the new model will also apparently come in at a 1.28 WH of power, an increase of 0.3 WH from the first-generation Apple Watch, although the battery in the new model will be thicker. A new Force Touch gasket is also shown, which uses a new layout and also includes an additional chipset.
Logitech has announced Circle Safe, a new subscription-based video storage plan for its Logi Circle camera that allows users to keep and replay video footage beyond the default 24 hours. Priced at $10/month or $100/year, Circle Safe allows users to keep up to 31 days of video footage in their Logitech Circle account, along with the ability to create custom time-lapse Day Briefs covering a specific time frame, rather than an entire day’s worth of footage. All Logi Circle users can take advantage of a 31-day free trial for Circle Safe, and plans are available at discounted rates for a limited time. Users can sign up through the updated Logi Circle app.
A new report from Re/code reveals that after Apple CEO Steve Jobs turned over the reigns of the company, he planned to remain with Apple working on his own secret pet project to reinvent television. Walt Mossberg explains how Jobs called him on the night that he formally handed over the Chief Executive role to Tim Cook and shared his TV ambitions, telling Mossberg, “I think we figured out a way to do it, and it’s going to be fantastic.” Although Jobs invited Mossberg to come and see what he was working on, the untimely demise of the former CEO only two months later meant that much of his vision never came to fruition. The report notes that “Mossberg believes (Jobs) was talking about an integrated set.” Of course, Apple has yet to introduce its own TV set, and rumors on that front died down some time ago.