Apple Keynote Sep 2018

Apple unveiled the new Iphones & Apple watch yesterday in a rather dull event. As everyone, who follows tech sites, knows most of the product information had been leaked. Given that even the names of the products were revealed(leaked) just an hour or two before the keynote, one was all set to expect the banal announcements with the usual superlatives (“The best Iphone, we have ever made”, “The Best Camera in the Smartphone” , etc). One cannot blame Apple, a company once known for its secrecy, entirely for these leaks. They could at least ensure that they protect information from their end like the product name leaks from Site Map & photos of actual products, leaked on the day when event invitations were sent. However, being an Apple fan, I still expected Apple to utter the now famous “One More Thing” and blow me away with something unexpected. But, it was not the case.

By this time most fan followers & haters would have known what was announced yesterday. So I am not going to go over the details. I will give my take on the announcements. Let me start with boring(expensive) stuffs.

The 3 new IPhones. As came to know from the innumerable leaks, 2 OLED Phones (iPhone XS & iPhone XS MAX) & one LCD (iPhone XR) phone were revealed. I should say Apple had the audacity to price the large-sized phone at $1099(Pre Tax) and as the site show, the 512GB configuration of the phone costs a whooping $1449 or 1659 Euros in Belgium.

What do you get for this price? A larger 6.5″ display, the latest processor A12 Bionic, improved cameras, faster Face ID recognition, faster secure enclave &  120 Hz display (not Pro-Motion – Tx MKBHD for ur PSA). 3D touch still stays in XS models (removed from XR). Apple showed some photos taken in the new phones. Sure, the photos looked stunning. Apple spoke about enhanced Image signal processor & the new capability to adjust the Depth of Field, after the photo is taken. Phil Schiller couldn’t contain his enthusiasm while announcing this effect. However, I learnt that this feature has been available for sometime in Samsung, LG phones. As a fan, I expect Apple to have done a better job than the rivals, as it usually does, when it follows the competition rather than coming up first with a feature. On a side note, Apple bragged about a photo, taken in iPhone, featuring in Time magazine’s cover.

Apple also spoke about the new chip A12 Bionic. They threw some statistics around, such as 5 trillion operations per second & 1 trillion operations every time a photo is taken. They also informed how faster this A12 Bionic Chip is compared to A11 Bionic.  These statistics mean little to a lay person, if they don’t tell us what it means to an everyday user. This is where company misses Steve Jobs, who used to explain Tech specs in layman’s terms, such as “1000 songs in your pocket”, when he introduced Ipod. Apple better take note of this. The funnier part to me was when Phil Schiller spoke about the improved battery life. How improved? 30 minutes in XS & 1 hour & 30 minutes for XS Max. 30 minutes extra battery life? Sure, in some cases an additional 30 minutes could mean a lot. But, wouldn’t it be better if we could get a phone that only needs charging once every 2 days. [My Iphone 8 (6 months old), with ordinary usage requires charging every night]

The entry-level Iphone XR priced at $749 comes with LCD. Apple have even come up with a new term for the display, “Liquid Retina – Introducing the most advanced LCD in the industry“. As mentioned earlier, in XR, 3D touch is gone & in comes Haptic Touch. Though XR has only one camera, the Iphone could still take photos with “Bokeh” effect. This was available in Google Pixel from last year. XR, as was the case with 5C, comes in multiple colors (, Yellow, White, Coral, Black, Blue). A12 Bionic powers this phone too. One another difference in XR when compared to XS is that, XR is IP67 rated were as the XS models are IP68 rated.

Apple decided to go with Face Id (IR camera, Dot projector, Flood illuminator) in all 3 phones, there by eliminating the Touch ID all together. Long time Apple observer Brian Tong says that Face Id is not as fast as Touch Id. The fact that Apple has gone with Face Id suggests, either people have overcome their grief about the “Notch” or Apple really doesn’t care about people’s grievances.

One feature that was leaked , as well as revealed was the introduction of dual sim. Apple went with E-sim in all the models in rest of the world & with a physical dual slim slot for China. DSDS (Dual Sim Dual Standby), as Apple calls the feature, is a welcome change, especially to people who live in countries where one network doesn’t satisfy all the needs and also to those who travel often.

Now let’s look at the other product announced during the Key Note. Apple Watch Series 4. The watch has a new edge to edge display with rounded corners. The watch now comes with 2 new case sizes, 40 mm & 44 mm as opposed to 38 mm & 42 mm in the previous Series 3. The larger case & edge to edge display provides Apple with additional real estate to introduce more complications in the watch face. There were new Watch Faces as well.

Apple says that the sound in Series 4 is 50% more than sound in Series 3. And to avoid noise, they have moved the mic to the space between the Digital Crown & the side button. The big red dot, which was there on the Digital crown in cellular models, is now replaced with a subtle red circle in the Digital Crown. This watch features new S4 chip, which, Apple claims, is faster than the previous generation chip (S3). The Watch has new watch faces, including 3 new Watch Faces for Breathing exercises.

The standout features in Apple Watch are the Fall deduction & the ability to take ECG. ECG feature is achieved by electrodes in the Digital Crown & the back crystal. This is a big thing for the average consumer. The ability to take ECG on our own, at anytime we want is a big leap. I was also impressed with Fall deduction capability. The watch deducts if you have fallen and when you are not responsive for 60 seconds, the watch sends messages to your emergency contacts & call 911. This is incredible. It will come handy to people who live alone or anyone who might fall, when alone (could be due to simple reasons or due to stroke or sudden loss of consciousness). But as with recent new announcements from Apple, these features will come with a software upgrade in Fall. Apple better stick to this promise.

I had a weird thought upon hearing this new health feature. People could become more hypochondriac due to the availability of such features. As they say, when you look for crimes, you find more crimes, I hope, this feature, doesn’t make people look for medical conditions which are not present really. 🙂

Another part of the keynote, which I think was good, is the presentation on Apple’s Commitment to sustainability. The presenter went on to mention how Apple helps to reduce tin mining & how they make conscious choice of making phones that last longer. This is an important step in helping the environment. The phones, which last longer, eliminate the need of buying a new phone every year. However, one must also instruct Apple to release a better phone every 2 years, instead of every year. If Apple can do that, then we can applaud Apple’s efforts towards sustainability.

The Apple GiveBack program, where users can return their Iphones either to get credits (if in usable condition) or to simply recycle. Recycling the phone helps apple recover as much materials as possible and reuse those. I think it was worth explaining to the users, so they are also made aware of the possibilities. Some might think that this presentation need not have been given such a duration (7-8 minutes) during product announcement, but to those consumers who care about the environment, this would have made Apple stay in their good books for even longer time. T

Few Disappointments:

No live demo of Apple Watch or Iphones  for the features. [3 App developers demoed their products].

Apple Watch presentation could have been little bit more enthusiastic. The Fall deduction feature was introduced in such a mundane tone that it did not draw any applause from the audience.

Home pod updates (multiple Timers, Find my Iphone, Identifying songs using lyrics) were rushed through by Tim Cook during the closing stages.

No updates on Airpods or Airpower

Important Dates

Iphone XS – Ordering starts on September 14th & Shipping starts on 21st

Iphone XR – Ordering starts on October 19th

IOS 12 – Release on 17th September

Mac OS Mojave – Release on 24th September

My Take : Apple events are no longer interesting as we get to know most of the information well before the announcements. This event was no exception, when it came to Iphones. Apple watch was the biggest attention grabber with its new looks & the new capabilities. If Apple could deliever the promised, exciting features of Fall Deduction and ECG  in time, I think Apple Watch will be a run away hit with the consumers. And needless to say, Apple will sell millions of Iphones even though the updates are incremental and the prices are expensive.

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