Apple launch looming

Apple launch looming

Yes it is the end of August. That means September is looming and the next Apple event will be announced soon to showcase new iPhones and other Apple gizmoos.

What should we expect?

This year are forecasting a bumper crop of new devices – Including “Pro” iPhones, upgrades to iPads and its largest laptop in years.

iPhone

  • Apple is planning to launch three new iPhones, as it has done each year since 2017: “Pro” iPhone models to succeed the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max as well as a successor to the iPhone XR.
  • The main feature of the Pro iPhones will be a new camera system on the back with a third sensor for capturing ultra-wide-angle photos and videos. The extra camera will let users zoom out and capture a larger field of view. The sensors will capture three images simultaneously and use new artificial intelligence software to automatically correct the combined photo if, for example, a person is accidentally cut out of one of the shots. The new system will also take higher resolution pictures rivaling some traditional cameras. Photos taken in very low-light environments will improve, too. 
  • The high-end handsets will have significantly upgraded video recording capabilities, getting them closer to professional video cameras. Apple has developed a feature that allow users to retouch, apply effects, alter colors, reframe and crop video as it is being recorded live on the device. 

  • Another notable new feature: A reverse wireless charging system so that a user can power-up the latest AirPods in the optional wireless-charging case by leaving it on the back of the new Pro phones. This is similar to a capability that Samsung Electronics Co. rolled out for its Galaxy handsets earlier this year.
  • The high-end iPhones will look nearly identical to the current models from the front and feature the same size screens, but at least some colors on the back will have a matte finish versus the existing glossy look. The new models should hold up better when they’re dropped due to new shatter-resistance technology.  
  • The phones will include a new multi-angle Face ID sensor that captures a wider field of view so that users can unlock the handsets more easily – even when the devices are flat on a table.
  • Apple has dramatically enhanced water resistance for the new models, which could allow them to be submerged under water far longer than the 30-minute rating on the current iPhones. 
  • The new models will have updated OLED screens that lack the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch technology. Apple is replacing this with Haptic Touch, which essentially mirrors 3D Touch’s functionality with a long press, as it did with the iPhone XR last year. 
  • The iPhone XR’s successor will gain a second back camera for optical zoom, the ability to zoom in further without degrading quality, and enhanced portrait mode. Apple is also adding a new green version. 

  • All of the new iPhones will have faster A13 processors. There’s a new component in the chip, known internally as the “AMX” or “matrix” co-processor, to handle some math-heavy tasks, so the main chip doesn’t have to. That may help with computer vision and augmented reality, which Apple is pushing a core feature of its mobile devices. 
  • None of the new models will include 5G, but next year’s will. They’ll also have rear-facing 3-D cameras that will boost augmented reality capabilities. 

iPad

  • After launching new mid-tier iPad Air and iPad mini models earlier this year, Apple is planning to refresh the iPad Pro and its low-end iPad for schools.
  • The 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros will get similar upgrades to the iPhones, gaining upgraded cameras and faster processors. Otherwise, the new iPads will look like the current versions. 
  • The low-end iPad’s screen will be 10.2-inches. That means Apple will likely no longer sell a new model with a 9.7-inch display, discontinuing the original display size after using it for nearly a decade. 

Apple Watch, HomePod and AirPods

  • After revamping the Apple Watch last year with a new design and bigger screens, this year’s changes will be more muted, focusing on the watchOS 6 software update, and new case finishes. References to new ceramic and titanium models have been found in an early version of iOS 13, Apple’s latest mobile operating system. 
  • Apple is working on new AirPods that are likely to be more expensive than the current $159 model. New features will include water resistance and noise cancellation with a launch planned by next year. Apple introduced a new version of the entry-level AirPods in March with hands-free Siri support and longer battery life.
  • Apple is also working on a cheaper HomePod for as early as next year. The current $300 model hasn’t sold very well. The new model is likely to have two tweeters, down from seven in the current HomePod. 

Apple MAC

  • Apple is planning a revamped MacBook Pro with a screen over 16-inches diagonally. The bezels on the new laptop will be slimmer so the overall size of the laptop will be close to the current 15-inch models.
  • The new laptop would mark Apple’s largest since the 17-inch MacBook Pro was discontinued in 2012. It’s part of an effort by Apple to retain and woo professional computer users. 
  • Apple is also launching the previously announced Mac Pro and 32-inch XDR Pro Display later this year. 

iOS 13

At WWDC Apple announced a barrel full of new features in iOS 13, and further features have been discovered as users get to grips with the beta. Here, we’ve broken them down by headline feature or first-party app.

Performance

Craig Federighi, SVP of Software Engineering, said on stage that iOS 13 will bring:

  • 30% faster Face ID unlock
  • 50% smaller app download sizes
  • 60% smaller app update sizes
  • 2x faster app launches

Take these numbers with a pinch of salt as they will be rounded, and the speed claims will apply to specific models of iPhone – whichever are most favourable to the numbers. But all devices will benefit from some performance improvements.

Dark Mode

The showiest new feature in iOS 13 is a system-wide Dark Mode, something that isn’t ubiquitous on Android phones. Apple showed how it works across the operating system and throughout its first party apps – Messages, Photos, Mail – they all take in a dark theme to give a unified black look to your iPhone.

It’s a small thing, but it will make your phone feel like new for a while. And if you have an iPhone with an OLED display (iPhone X, XS or XS Max) it’ll actively save you battery life, as OLEDs work by lighting up pixels. Dark parts of display mean less energy used. Hooray!

Dark Mode won’t automatically work with third-party apps: it’ll be up to developers to build in compatibility. You can be pretty sure that absolutely all the major players will do this, however, so fear not.

Security & privacy

A great new feature is developers’ ability to build in a Sign in with Apple option into their apps, much like you can currently do to sign into services with Google or Facebook.

When built in, even if you’re using a service for the first time, you’ll be able to confirm your ID with Face ID or Touch ID to sign in with a new account using just your Apple credentials.

The winning feature here is the option whether or not to share your email address with the app – you can select no, and Apple will create a unique random email address assigned to you to cover it. It’s positively privacy minded, and great news for you.

Since the announcements in June, Apple has added another headline privacy-focused feature to iOS 13’s armoury: VoIP calls from apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp will be restricted in the way they can run in the background to prevent them from collecting user data without reason or permission.

Keyboard

The Apple default keyboard now supports swipe typing. About time, too!

Safari

Safari will get small updates to include quick options to change text size and adjust preferences for specific websites.

Music

Real-time lyric playback for supported tracks is now built into Music, whether you’re using Apple Music streaming or playing from your downloaded library.

Mail

Apple’s email app now supports rich fonts. Which is nice.

Notes

Notes will get a lot more useful in iOS 13 with a better interface and options. Where it has been feature-light it will get a great Gallery view and proper folder system with tagging to help you archive better.

Reminders

The Reminders app has been rightly given some love. We’ve found its interface confusing and unhelpful, so Apple has given it a full overhaul with smart lists, a better layout and organisation options, plus people tagging which syncs with Messages for collaboration.

Maps

Apple had a PR disaster when it launched its terrible v1 of Maps, so it’s good to see it seemingly get even better in iOS 13. Apple claimed its cars have driven four million miles to collect better road, terrain and building data.

You will also get things like favourites and collections to group routes and frequently used searches, while Lookaround is an Apple version of Google’s Street View.

Messages

As well as getting a lick of dark paint with the rest of the Apple apps, Messages got an update to include something a bit more fun (or annoying, depending on your opinion) in Memoji and Animoji integration.

You can add your Memoji or Animoji to your contact card and see your contacts’ better in the app.

Memoji stickers will let you send Bitmoji-esque stickers of your face to anyone with Messages, but Apple says it will work with third party messaging apps like WhatsApp. It also said these stickers will work across all iOS devices with an A9 chip or later (iPhone 6s and above).

Camera

A small update to portrait lighting will give more granular control to existing presets, while adding a new one to let you get better results, we hope – portrait lighting has not been great since its introduction on the iPhone 7 Plus.

Photos

The Photos app will let you easier edit your snaps within the app. As well as saturation, brightness and contrasts, Apple says it’ll be adding more to tweak your photos without having to use third party apps like Snapseed or VSCO.

A big woop went up in the keynote when Apple confirmed you’ll be able to rotate video, a problem you probably don’t realise you have quite often. You will also be able to apply filters and effects to videos in iOS for the first time.

You’ll also be able to view photos by year, month or day, all with better auto play and presentation to bring your photos to life within the app, as well as supposedly surface memories better.

Location

Locations services will be more granular as they are in Android. You will be able to share location just once if you want, and the app will have to ask you for permission to share every time after – with the option to deny, of course.

It’ll also build in background tracking alerts and apparently apply better Wi-Fi and Bluetooth protections for location sharing, but Apple didn’t specify in the keynote how this works.

AirPods

A couple of new features will come to AirPods if you upgrade to iOS 13. Siri will read you incoming messages and, with Announce Messages, let you reply without using any trigger words. This cool feature will be available for third party messaging apps too.

You’ll also be able to share audio between iOS 13 devices with a tap, playing audio to two pairs of AirPods.

Finally, iOS 13 on iPhone will let you HandOff audio to your HomePod and vice versa. This will work for all audio including phone calls.

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