A few thoughts on Apple’s iPhone, Apple TV, and Apple Watch

Before I get to my thoughts on Apple’s newest products announced this morning, I have to talk about the new Apple Park. It’s not very often I am in awe of something, but I’ll tell you, Apple Park is breathtaking.

As I strolled up the walkway towards Steve Jobs Theater, the main ring of Apple Park came into view on my right side—it was spectacular. I’ve seen the pictures and drone footage before, but nothing really prepares you to see it in person.

I felt the same way about Steve Jobs Theater. It’s magnificent in its simplicity and it met every expectation I had when I saw it for the first time.

Okay, let’s get to a few points about the products.

iPhone 8/iPhone X

  • I mentioned on Twitter that I’d be completely happy if the new iPhones added True Tone to their displays. Today, the iPhone 8 and iPhone X have True Tone. This is the technology that allows you to see the screen better in direct sunlight.

  • Portrait Lighting is going to be huge. This gives the average user so much control over how their portraits look, even after the picture has been shot.

  • Wireless charging is another great feature to have on every device. It was interesting that during the presentation they said you could top up your charge whenever you want. I remember years ago they recommended not doing that because a battery only had so many charging cycles before it would give out. I just got into the habit of running my battery low before charging.

  • I wonder if the AirPower mat is something they added to the keynote late, just to have something that wasn’t spoiled by the leaks. It’s interesting that they announced it today but it’s not shipping until next year.

  • Face ID is better than I gave it credit for. I should have known Apple would work out all of the major problems we would have before releasing it.

  • Face ID uses a “TrueDepth camera system made up of a dot projector, infrared camera and flood illuminator.” That’s just incredible. In the demo, it unlocked immediately.

  • The fact it adapts to your physical changes over time is amazing to me.

  • “Face ID only unlocks iPhone X when customers look at it and is designed to prevent spoofing by photos or masks.” Apple went so far as to have masks made to make sure Face ID can’t be fooled. I can’t wait to try this out.

  • Animoji is probably the funniest thing I’ve seen Apple release in a long time. If you’re in my contact list, be prepared!

Apple TV 4K

  • Having an Apple TV with 4K is great. Having it with 4K and HDR is amazing.

  • The main question I had with Apple TV 4K was about content and how Apple would provide content for the system. It’s great to have the hardware, but if you can’t watch anything on it, what’s the point.

  • Apple is going to automatically upgrade HD content you purchased to 4K HDR versions when they become available.

  • They are also working with Amazon and Netflix to bring 4K versions of their programming to Apple TV. Bring on the content.

Apple Watch Series 3

  • Apple Watch is truly an amazing product and one of my favorites.

  • I currently have a playlist of songs on my watch I use with my AirPods when I walk but now I’ll be able to stream Apple Music using the new cellular Apple Watch.

A couple of facts I found interesting about Apple Watch:

  • It is now the most used heart rate monitor in the world.

  • 97% customer satisfaction rating.

  • 50% year-over-year growth

  • What Apple continues to do for people’s health in Apple Watch is inspiring. “Customers can also choose to receive a notification when their heart rate is elevated above a specific threshold while inactive.” Yes please.

These are things that caught my attention while listening to the presentation at Steve Jobs Theater and during my time in the hands-on area afterwards. Of course, each of these devices is faster and more powerful than the previous generation, which makes it better for us to use on a daily basis.

Apple continues to make products that help us live better lives. Whether that’s being more productive, having a bit more fun, communicating, or helping us keep track of our health. This was a good day for Apple and its customers.

  • komocode

    I wouldn’t pay $5/mo for cellular service to my watch though. Maybe $1-$2.

    • rick gregory

      You’d spend $400 on a Watch and bicker over $3/month? Seriously??

      • komocode

        Because I’ll never need it.

        • rick gregory

          That makes zero sense.

          • komocode

            I’ll never need cellular service to my Apple Watch because I’ll have my phone with me 99% of the time. The 1% of the time is when the phone battery is dead. Therefore, $1-$2/month is the most I’d pay for a backup plan incase of an emergency.

            This makes sense.

          • Are there features on the Series 3 GPS+Cellular that the Series 3 GPS-only one doesn’t have? If you are almost never going to use the Cellular, probably best to save the extra $70 in purchase price and go GPS-only.

          • komocode

            already decided on non-cellular version. just found out it’s $10/mo for the cellular service.

          • Kip Beatty

            Yeah, the cellular version isn’t for everyone, that’s okay. I could probably skip it too, but my wife has wanted that from day one (gym, hikes, long shifts as hospital, etc.) as it’s a pain for her to have the iPhone Plus on her always.

            She’l go cellular, I’ll stick with Series 2 for now.

    • susankappelstein

      Did they say $5 at the event? I haven’t seen prices anywhere. Perhaps some carriers will be more aggressive than others.

    • mau47

      Its $10 on AT&T and Verizon. No prices on Sprint or T-Mobile. I am out on the LTE model. I was willing to go to $5.

      • agreed. adding $120 to the watch’s price every single year is absurd. the carrier networks are scamming us the same way they did with SMS for so long.

    • i read the greedy carriers are going to charge $10 a month. nope.

  • rick gregory

    I don’t know what the reaction there was but I was underwhelmed and annoyed. Underwhelmed because there was nothing really new that we didn’t expect. That didn’t bother me – I assumed relatively incremental upgrades and that’s what I got. I have an original Watch and while the Series 3 looks like a worth upgrade from that, it’s not $400 worth it to me. It will be to others and will bring in people who were waiting for cellular though. This was the best of the product announcements.

    The rest, combined with how they talked about it, was annoying. “A new era in TV… 4K! HDR!” Look, that’s welcome and all but it’s been available in other products for 1-2 years. This ATV is a catchup, not a revolution. “The future of smartphones!!!” Um… again, not the first edge to edge display and while the X looks nice… it’s not $1000 nice. Also, stop making a big deal about the fracking emojis. I’m not a 14 year old kid. Then ‘Wireless Charging! Revolution….” No, it’s been around for, again, years.

    Look, I’m glad they did all of that, but positioning it as new and amazing was tone-deaf. Doing it, bragging on it then ending with the Gretzky quote? Tim, you just presented products that most had existing features. The entire thing skated to where the puck is. Not where it will be.

    • lkalliance

      I upvoted your comment once only because I can’t do it twice.

    • lkalliance

      Apple’s hyperbolic lingo has often gotten on my nerves. I don’t expect Apple to come up with a generation-defining product every year or two years or five years or more. One a decade is a perfectly awesome record. And iteration in between is tremendous: as universe-denting as the first iPhone was, we are now miles ahead of that. Hundreds of miles.

      But stop calling them ground-breaking or world changing. Call them what they are: wonderful improvements to a wonderful product, making it even better and more powerful. That’s what they are, and that’s awesome!

      • Herding_sheep

        I agree, don’t get me wrong. But it’s always easy to say that from the outside. It’s a lot harder being the person or organization under the microscope, having to live up to unrealistic expectations, following in the footsteps of an historic genius. They’re expected to dazzle every few months, while at the same time being told a narrative that they’re washed up has-beens without Steve Jobs.

        I think Apple and Tim Cook have held their composure and mostly tuned out all of that noise remarkably well. They seem pretty focused on their own ambitions, and not too focused on the nonsense.

        Tim Cook could have very well tried to take Apple and rip it apart in his own image. Instead he names the theater after Jobs and spent a good amount of time this morning dedicating it to him.

        But let’s also not forget that hyping up existing technology as their own breakthrough is not new behavior for Apple. They’ve done it plenty in the past. Maybe a little less hyperbolic, but also the mainstream tech market back then was much slower and more incompetent, making it easier for Apple to appear like the first-mover.

    • lkalliance

      I think perhaps it’s a matter of use (or, arguably, of age)…but I haven’t been drawn in by any new feature of the iPhone since the 5S. That was a big two-shot explosion: 64-bit chip, and TouchID. Perhaps I’m too old to appreciate the new stuff since then. But that was, what, 2013? Nothing since then has made me sit up and go, “Wow! That would improve my use of the phone a lot!”

      Of all the things I’ve ever heard rumored in the last couple of years, the one thing that I’ve heard that made me reach for my wallet (or, my phone, since I think Apple accepts Apple Pay) is passive blood glucose monitoring on the watch. That would make a huge difference in my life.

      • rick gregory

        I have a 6S Plus. I like the larger screen since I read on it and check things like Apple News, the NYT app etc. The extra screen space is good. The X brings that screen (more or less) to a smaller form factor which is nice. But I imagine the X form will be standard next year and I can wait 12 more months.

        • lkalliance

          I haven’t yet made the leap to the larger screen, though I imagine at some point it may be inevitable. It will be interesting to see if the form factor does filter down to the 8/S line for next year, and at what price.

    • yeah? who else is doing TrueTone display? dot mapping face recognition? blazing fast multicore chips? virtual lighting? etc etc… It’s just bullshit to claim an edge to edge scamsung is the same as an iphone x. they don’t even have 3D touch.

      it’s also bullshit to complain about no surprises when you read leak details. what did you think would happen?

      • rick gregory

        Did I claim the Samsung was the same? No. Settle down and post rationally, btw or you just go on the block list.

        If you actually bothered to read my post you’ll see that I said we got mostly what we expect and that’s fine. Since you seem to not be able to actually react rationally, I’ll say it for you again… The event was fine. It delivered mostly what we expected… but the tone wanted us to believe that all of these things were revolutionary and THEY AREN’T. In the case of Qi wireless charging and 4k HDR, they’re catching up to existing things. Before you rage at me (again) that’s FINE… but don’t position your release of 4K HDR as heralding some new era of TV when it’s common and exists out there already. Don’t tell mw that you’re skating to the puck when much of what you release is either catch up or a more or less natural evolution.

        Truetone? Nice. But we could see that coming ever since the iPad Pro. Face ID? Technically impressive but I had no issue with Touch ID. Lack of bezels? again, not the first. The X isn’t some revolution in smartphones and only a fool would believe it is. It’s the current state of the art but it does not fundamentally change smartphones.

        Want to discuss? Great, let’s do that. But be civil or I’ll just block you and not even waste my time. Can’t be civil? That’s your issue, not mine.

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      • James Hughes

        “Underwhelmed because there was nothing really new that we didn’t expect”

        “it’s also bullshit to complain about no surprises when you read leak details. what did you think would happen?”

        You said it for me.

  • lkalliance

    Tin foil hat time! It’s not that I don’t trust Apple itself, and not that I’m not pretty confident in their ability to keep our phones secure, but if some bad actor were to figure out a way to do it, the iPhone now has a microphone that is designed to always listen (“Hey, Siri!”) and a camera that is designed to operate even if the phone is locked (FaceID).

    • Well, the infrared parts, at least, so maybe not so bad unless people want to watch your dot-face. 🙂

      • lkalliance

        Lol. Might be more attractive that way. 🙂

    • scraping the bottom of the barrel, i see.

      • lkalliance

        Oh thank goodness. For a while there I thought I might not be noticed by mdelvecchio, the King of Tact.

    • If some bad actor had a way to gain control of the microphone they could turn it on themselves.

      • lkalliance

        Good point. But wouldn’t a mic that was designed to be always-on under some conditions have a larger attack surface?

        See that, I dropped an industry term, “attack surface.” That exhausts my expertise, lol!

        • Apple’s sandboxing is really, really good. (sandboxing means restricting apps to their own ‘sandbox’ from which they can’t escape). Unless you specifically gave permission to use the microphone they’re simply not going to be able to. And if somehow they can manage to break through, the mic being on or off will not be a hurdle.

  • Eric Alba

    Jim, maybe the AirPower mat announcement is a call out to hardware (Qi) partners to help adopt it as the standard for multiple Qi chargers with intelligent power management (think of a multiple USB port charger with Qualcomm ‘Quick Charge’ but for Qi).

    PS quote during event: “We hope people love it, that it encourages others to create more advanced solutions based on technology like this. We’re going to be working with the Chief Standards team to incorporate these benefits into the future of the standards.”

  • timo

    Well, the infrared parts, at least, so maybe not so bad unless people want to watch your dot-face. 🙂

  • Kip Beatty

    I’m sorry, but the iPhone 8 is an utter disappointment, changing the back from aluminium to glass to enable wireless charging doesn’t alter the fact that it’s an “S” update at best. Have any of you had any issues, even slight ones, with the speed of the iPhone 7/7 Plus? I sure haven’t as apps haven’t begun to tap all that power and it’s still significantly faster than even Samsung’s latest. I’m positive the A11 is a truly remarkable chip, but it alone does not compel an upgrade from an already class leading chip.

    Better cameras? We’ll see. I like the new lighting feature to be sure, but that’s not due to the camera system which remains completely unchanged. They claim an improved ISP, and I believe them, but my many years in photography have shown that ISP improvements alone don’t make a drastic difference to the photos. Going from a Canon Digic 6+ to a Digic 7, for example, brings very marginal improvements without other changes to the camera.

    So what else did the iPhone 8 bring for the full number jump from 7 to 8? Inductive charging like the Apple Watch. Okay, thats fine, but not really a big deal to me as dropping it on a dock at bedtime wasn’t any kind of hassle for me. (That said, it was my wife’s number one requested feature so I realize I may be in the minority on this one.)

    Did they decrease the bezel size at all? Nope. Change the form factor at all? Nope, same as iPhone 6. Save the back becoming glass. I’m sorry, but in 2017 having a 5.5″ screen in a phone body as large as the iPhone 8 Plus is ludicrous. The competition is way ahead of Apple on this with their standard phones. No need to jump to the crown jewel to get it.

    I think the X looks fantastic, “small notch” and all, and I can’t wait to get my hands on one. However, that doesn’t excuse making such a lame upgrade with a number jumped iPhone 8. Hell, Phi Schiller seemed bored out of his mind reading specs. Thank God for Craig who always brings fun and energy to the Apple keynotes.

    Oh, and tip of the hat to Jeff’s small rogue moment during the Apple Watch segment. He captured, just for a moment, the genuine excitement and wonder Steve so naturally brought to these events.

    As for the AppleTV? Welcome to the party Apple, you’re a good year late. That said, it is a very nice touch that all of our purchased movies will automatically upgrade to 4K HDR. Kudos on that.

    • You’re a photographer and you don’t even mention the dual lens and the 3D face mapping during portraits?

      • Juil

        He was talking about the iPhone 8

        • Right you are. So no 3D mapping, but still the ability to view the screen in direct sunlight, and still the amazing 4K video at 60fps. Nobody else does that in the industry. It’s only found in high end professional gear.

  • Jacob Kohler

    I haven’t yet made the leap to the larger screen, though I imagine at some point it may be inevitable. It will be interesting to see if the form factor does filter down to the 8/S line for next year, and at what price.

  • Caleb Hightower
    • Stunningly beautiful theater.
    • Touching tribute and intro. I was rather farklempt.
    • Nice to see Ahrendts on stage. Those stores are truly sensational.
    • Apple Watch, impressive progress.
    • Eddy’s finally got his 4K sports on ATV, good for him, he scored, sorta.
    • iPhone 8/8+, meh, like the new color.
    • iPhone X, FaceID better be worth it.

    I guess, possibly, we can now all look forward to an October announcement, maybe, hopefully.

    And just in case any you guys at Apple are reading this and dry on new ideas for MacOS, a system-wide dark UI option would be enthusiastically welcome and appreciated.

    R.I.P. iPhone 9

  • DonnyMD

    Great year for Apple and iMac Pro and Homepod to go still. Phone looks gorgeous first real bezel less phone I’ve seen that actually reaches all four corners of the front of the phone. So happy Apple didn’t curve the display or do any gimmicks with the screen just like curved TVs our smartphone displays will always be better completely flat. Face unlocking actually done correctly, and love they went to stainless steel, the phone will feel so good/ dense in the hand, give it that super premium feel compared to aluminum. What a great year for products only thing I can complain and maybe not really complain but we need the USB C/Thunderbolt future to come faster

  • John Kordyback

    The watch looks great – have an original and will probably upgrade. Looking forward to ditching my phone for hikes and bike rides. Also like the looks for the Sports Loop.

    I switch between my Sony a6000 and iPhone Plus as my primary cameras. Dual 12 megapixel lenses and iOS 11 looks really cool but I’ll wait a year before upgrading my 7+.

    I travel across the Canada-US border a lot. I doubt Telus or Bell will have a decent US plan for the watch. Maybe using T-Mobile will give me cross border love?

  • Hardik Panjwani

    Given the removal of the home screen button and edge to edge screen, it would have been so much better to simply call this version of the device iPhone Infinity.

    That way the phones with the home button just stick to regular naming iPhone 8, iPhone 9, … year after year while the top end of the line gets a special name that can be reused every year.

    AirPower is also a missed opportunity, something more fun like Apple Juice would have been so much better. Just the thing for our age that likes names like Boaty McBoatface. 😎😎😎😎😎

  • franksspam

    “Wireless charging is another great feature to have on every device. It was interesting that during the presentation they said you could top up your charge whenever you want. I remember years ago they recommended not doing that because a battery only had so many charging cycles before it would give out. I just got into the habit of running my battery low before charging.”

    I think this may have been a misunderstanding. I don’t recall Apple ever saying this. In fact, their devices count “charging cycles” as 100% of discharge and charge capacity. So, if you drain your battery to 50% and then charge it to 100%, your device counts this at 1/2 of a “charging cycle”. It continues to add these up over time. You can check this in the System Profiler on your Mac. For example, I have had my 13″ MacBook Pro for over 2 years and my “Cycle Count” is currently 78. I have definitely had it disconnected from power way more than 78 times in the past 910 days. However, during that time, I have only completely drained the battery a handful of times.

  • Heos Phorus

    i think it‘s telling, that nearly the only positive thing jim writes about the iphone x is that it got the same truetone display as the ipad pro/iphone 8. sure, he talks about faceID working immediately, but we all saw that it didn‘t (and that‘s not counting the bad luck at the beginning of the demo, which might also be a sign that apple maybe did not work out all the major problems). oh, and then there‘s the animojis, which again in theory is nice tech, but in reality they look at least as creepy as the animated emojis in watchOS 1did (i believe they were since tucked away behind the regular emojis to die a quiet death).

    all in all, it was even more hype than substance than usually. imho they should have held back the X until they‘d be able to hide the camera cutout better and named the 8 7s instead.

    the LTE & Barometer watch is cool, apart from the red „look, i‘m the new model“-crown. as a series 1 owner i‘m still going to wait for a redesign that is bound to have a few more sensors and expanded cellular functionality (i’d be surprised if the software in series 3 will allow something like spotify streaming on the watch alone). as someone to whom the sensor bump on the watch doesn’t feel too good, i wouldn’t be happy about a slighly more pronounced one – even it’s just „two sheets of paper“. that’s not nothing. it was kind of cringeworthy to watch when they talked about what a great achievement it was that he watch had not gotten any bigger – except for the footnote 15 seconds later that it had. still for somebody who doesn‘t own an apple watch yet, it should be the most attractive model to date.

    atv4 is a nice evolution but it still got odd proportions and the graphics on the presented game looked like it was running on a nintendo gamecube with some added particle effects (looks like particles come cheap on the powerVR gpu). but that was to be expected from a “4 times faster“ gpu pushing around four times as many pixels.

    unfortunately, yesterdays presentation followed a trend with apple‘s presentations lately. slightly underhelming but oversold, not-so-stellar aesthetical design, more hardware models and higher prices.

    on the software front they‘re still going strong with arkit, ios 11 on ipad and now machine learning, but the hardware has seen more focused times imho.

  • Mo

    Some nice product announcements that both help and hinder choosing a replacement phone for my smarter half.

    I suppose I shouldn’t have hoped there’d be mention of Macs in any form.

    • John Kordyback

      Nope. The major iPhone events tend to be mobile only (phones, watches, etc). I’m wondering when the iMac Pros will emerge from Geonosis.

      • Mo

        [walk of shame]