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Waterproof iPhone 7, Watch, no headphone jack: Apple event takeaways

Apple didn’t just introduced the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, but also launched Airpods — wireless earphones — and the Apple Watch Series 2.

tech Updated: Sep 08, 2016 09:54 IST
Along with the new iPhone, Apple also brought in an updated Apple Watch Series 2 and new wireless earphones called Airpods.
Along with the new iPhone, Apple also brought in an updated Apple Watch Series 2 and new wireless earphones called Airpods.(Apple)

Apple didn’t just introduce its next generation of iPhones, but also launched Airpods — wireless earphones — and the Apple Watch Series 2.

Starting at a price of Rs 60,000 (for 32 GB internal storage), the iPhone 7 will be available in India from October 7 with the better battery life, stereo speakers and processing speeds.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Apple’s new iPhone is getting a faster processor, an updated home button and water and dust protection. Apple says the iPhone 7’s home button is now force sensitive. It will provide “haptic” feedback -- that “pushing back” feeling -- when you press it, but the button itself doesn’t move. It’s similar to what Apple has done with a trackpad in a slimmer MacBook model last year. The iPhone 7 will have stereo speakers for the first time, with twice the volume of iPhone 6S speakers. The phone’s battery life is improved, too; Apple estimates that the new iPhones will have one or two hours of additional battery life over last year’s models.

The iPhone 7 will be available in a new glossy black body that is water and dust resistant.

Camera

Both the iPhones come equipped with a new flash with four LEDs rather than two for greater brightness. As with previous models, the flash will adjust its colour to match ambient light. High-end photographers can get images in RAW format, which allows for more versatile editing, matching what many leading cameras now have.

It also comes with Optical Image Stabilisation for less blurry pictures.

The iPhone 7 Plus will have two lenses to boost the zoom capabilities of the camera. The camera can now zoom in twice as much without losing sharpness. Both cameras take 12 megapixel photos. The two lenses will also sense depth and allow users to blur backgrounds in images, mimicking an effect that typically requires changing the lens aperture in stand-alone cameras. That feature won’t be out until later this year.

Other smartphone makers such as LG and Motorola are also starting to offer models with dual lenses to improve picture quality. The difference is the wide angle on LG G5 has lower resolution with 8 megapixels

Even the selfie camera on the front has been upgraded to 7 megapixels for better low-light photography.

AirPods

The bigger announcement though was the (expected) demise of the 3.5 mm jack -- the circular slot through which one plugs in their earphones. Instead, Lightning EarPods were introduced -- wireless head phones that snugly sit in your ears without the tangle of wires. For those wishing to stick to the old school tech, Apple threw in a convertor that connects the normal earphones to the lightening port.

The AirPods will seamlessly communicate with all Apple devices including the iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, Macbook and others. The AirPods also let you summon Siri by tapping on them. Packaged in a charging case, the innovation is priced at Rs 5,400, and will ship in late October.

Read | Goodbye, headphone jack. Apple’s move to usher in voice-driven world

Storage

Storage has been doubled, so Apple joins rival phone makers in making the starter model 32 gigabytes, rather than 16 gigabytes before. Apple is doubling storage in higher-priced models, too, to 128 and 256 gigabytes.

Older iPhones will get price reductions, and last year’s models are also getting double the storage.

Apple Watch

Apple introduced a “swim-proof” watch, the Apple Watch Series 2. With more fitness and health capabilities, it can survive up to 50 metres under water. It also has a built-in GPS that helps users track their workout progress without an iPhone. Besides the big updates, the display has been made brighter and a dual-core processor has been added to make it run faster.

The price of Watch Series one has been slashed to Rs 23,900, while the new Series 2 will retail for Rs 32,900 and range up to Rs 1,10,900 for the ceramic version. Apple also introduced a Nike+ version of the Watch at Rs 32,900 that focuses on runners. It comes in four colours.

Read | Apple launches new Watch series at Rs 32,900, updates first watch

Existing watches can get new operating software on September 13. In addition, there’s a new Apple Watch Nike Plus, a Nike-branded Apple Watch in four colors that’s designed for runners.

Battery life, which has been a weak spot of the watch, was not mentioned.

Apple is phasing out smartwatch models made with 18-karat gold. The Series 2 watches will use ceramic instead of gold for the luxury “Edition” version.

Upgraded operating systems

Besides new hardware announcements, Apple also announced the launch of the iOS 10 for iPhone users and the Watch OS 3.0 release is slotted for this month.

The latest software update, available on Tuesday, will add more intelligence to Apple services like Maps, Photos, the iPhone keyboard and Siri, the voice-activated digital assistant. There’s a new Home app to control appliances. In a big change for Apple, the company is also opening Siri and its iMessage service to work with apps created by independent developers.

Apple is also allowing developers to build apps for iMessage, although the options so far appear to mostly involve sending payments or ordering food. It’s also adding bigger emoji and other visual effects for iMessage, including what it calls “Invisible Ink,” which blurs an image in a message until a recipient swipes a finger across the screen. Apple announced many of the features in June.

Mario Run and Pokemon Go

Apple seems to be aggressively pursuing its prospects in the gaming industry by bringing Mario to the iPhone -- set for this December -- and Pokemon Go to the Apple Watch. Even the new A10 Fusion processor in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus claims to bring console level gaming to the smartphone.

The Pokemon Go app lets you collect items from Pokestops, hatch eggs and alert you to nearby Pokemon. You will still need your phone to catch actual Pokemon though.

Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the puppet-inspired Super Mario, gave a demonstration of the game at the company’s annual iPhone release event on Wednesday.

iWork in real time

Apple iWork suite of software, including word processing, processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs, will include real-time collaboration features for the first time. It’s something Google and Microsoft already offer in some form. Although Apple’s iWork package allows syncing through iCloud, it’s has been primarily for one person to work on documents at a time. The software is available for iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, with a web version for Windows users.

(With inputs from AP)

Also read | Apple’s iPhone 7, starting at Rs 60,000, to hit Indian shores on October 7