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What to expect from Apple's September 10 “By Innovation Only” event – Ars Technica, Ars Technica

What to expect from Apple's September 10 “By Innovation Only” event – Ars Technica, Ars Technica


    

      It’s that time again –

             

New iPhones and an Apple Watch are almost certain, but there could be more.

      

          –

  

        

Stylized Apple logo.

Enlarge/This image accompanied invitations Apple sent to the press for the September (event.)

At 10 am Pacific on September 10, Apple will host its annual iPhone event in the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California. We’re expecting new iPhones and a new Apple Watch to be sure, and as has been the case for recent Apple launches, there have been reliable leaks of details about both.

With the event less than a week away, let’s look at what we know so far — what will be different about the new iPhones? What features are coming to the Apple Watch? And will Apple actually deliver a “one more thing” announcement on top of the usual this time?

We’re doubtful aboutreallybig surprises at this point. The days of surprising revelations seem to be over; the company has settled into a fairly predictable product-release schedule, and most major details about new products — be they hardware or software — tend to show up in reports in tech and business publications around the Web.

That said, sifting through all thebadreports to find the reliable ones can be a real task. So can framing each report in terms of how likely it is to come to pass. That’s what we’ve tried to do here. Let’s start with the iPhone.

Once again, three new iPhones

The new iPhones are all about the cameras. But let’s start with the names. A Bloombergreportciting sources familiar with Apple’s plans says that three iPhones will again launch. They’ll be direct successors to each of the 2018 phones —The iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR.

The two high-end phones — follow-ups to the XS and XS Max — will carry the “Pro” label, a la the iPad Pro or MacBook Pro. We expect the sizes and basic form factors to stay pretty close to the same, so “iPhone Pro” and “iPhone Pro Max” wouldn’t be surprising. Not as much is known about the name of the XR replacement, but iPhone 11 is certainly possible. One other possibility — and this is pure speculation based on past Apple naming conventions — is that the company might simply rebrand that model as the “iPhone.”

Above all else, the upgrades this year are about cameras. The flagship feature, probably exclusive to the iPhone Pro models, will be greatly improved optical zoom and low-light photography, as well as the capability to take much wider-angle photos. Video recording is also likely to improve.

Apple will introduce a completely different camera array on the back, and this will probably represent the biggest change to the devices’ appearance apart from the logo change we’ll get into momentarily. That means a triple-camera lens system for the Pro models and a dual-camera system for the cheaper model. It will be the first time every iPhone Apple introduces in a given year will come with optical zoom, and it seems possible that Apple will include an OLED in all three models for the first time, not just the two flagships.

Below: The iPhone XS Max from our (review) last year. Expect a very different camera array and a differently positioned logo. But the 2019 iPhone flagship will otherwise be similar.

      

      

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                          The iPhone XS Max.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          The back of the iPhone XS Max.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          The bottom of the iPhone XS Max.

                                                        

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                          The top of the iPhone XS Max.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          Another view of the iPhone XS Max.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          The rear camera system on the iPhone XS Max.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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You can also expect this year set of announcements to herald the death of 3D Touch, a power-user feature that Apple introduced in earlier iPhones to allow for nuanced, contextual behaviors beyond a simple tap. Many users aren’t even aware of some of the powerful things you can do with 3D Touch, and Apple already dropped it from the iPad Air this year and the iPhone XR before that. In its place is Haptic Touch, a technique that is a little less efficient for some use cases in that it involves holding down a UI element for a period of time.

Other planned improvements include a wider-angle Face ID camera for easier facial authentication, better water resistance, a faster A 13 processor, and the ability to wirelessly charge AirPods directly from your phone — something Samsung already introduced with much fanfare in its phones.

Don’t expect 5G in Apple’s iPhones this year; Qualcomm’s current 5G modems aren’t ready for iPhone primetime, and Apple ultimately wants to make its own. But 5G will likely be the headlining feature in 2020 ‘s iPhones.

This last bit hardly counts as a major feature, but it is a departure from convention: several alleged leaks from the supply line and the iPhone case ecosystem, collected and shared by9to5Mac, indicate that Apple may move the location of the Apple logo on the back of the iPhone this year. Since the very first iPhone, the logo has been centered in the top half of the phone’s back. Many in those two communities (the supply line and case-makers) are moving forward with either the knowledge or the assumption that Apple will move it to theverycenter of the back — that is , not just centered horizontally but vertically as well.

Apple Watch series 5 — or something, anyway

Little is known about what Apple has planned for this year Apple Watch, but that might be because the company doesn’t have much planned at all. Don’t worry — watchOS 6, which will launch alongside any new Watch, is a major upgrade. But in terms of hardware, all we know so far is that Apple’s own software beta releasesincludeimages that indicate the Watch will be offered in titanium and ceramic materials, which are not currently offered.

Below: Images of the Apple Watch series 4 from ourreviewlast year. A new Watch is not likely to be radically different.

      

      

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                          A 40 mm Apple Watch Series 4 with the new Infograph Modular watch face.

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          The digital crown now has an electrode on its flat edge.

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          The mic was moved, and the speaker has been improved so sound coming from the Watch is louder and clearer.

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          The new Infograph watch face holds up to eight complications.

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          The underside now has an electrode circle for measuring ECG readings, in addition to the optical heart-rate monitor.

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          A 40 mm Series 4 next to a (mm Series 3.)                                                         

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          The screen area is about 30% larger on the Series 4.

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          The backs on both Watches are quite different thanks to the inclusion of the electrodes on the Series 4.

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          Even the red LTE dot on the Series 3 is gone now, replaced by a thin red circle.

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          A side-by-side comparison shows the slight updates to the UI in watchOS 5 — rounder, bigger graphics that use more of that extra screen space.

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          The bezels are clearly defined when using some watch faces like the new vapor face.

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          All old bands will work on Series 4 Watches – 38 mm bands fit on 40 mm devices, and 42 mm bands fit on 44 mm devices.

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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                          The Series 4 has the same estimated battery life as the Series 3 (up to 18 hours).

                                                            

                                                  Valentina Palladino

                                      

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It’s even possible that Apple will not actually position this as an Apple Watch series 5. It may instead keep the series 4 nomenclature and simply offer these new materials as options for the existing Watch. For better or worse, this is one of the big mysteries of this year event. We’ll have to wait and see.

iOS 13, macOS Catalina, watchOS 6 — all the OSes

While Apple already detailed its slate of operating system updates earlier this year, the company will announce launch dates for many, if not all, of them at the September 10 event. Historically, iOS and watchOS updates have typically gone out to the public within a week or so of the event, with macOS following only a few days later.

We won’t get into too much detail about these new releases here. We already covered them when they were first announced at Apple’s developer conference in June — and we’ll have reviews for both iOS 13 and macOS Catalina not too long after they launch to the public.

But the short version is that iOS 13 brings a Mojave-like Dark Mode to iOS devices, as well as a new branch of iOS called iPadOS with new power-user features for Apple’s tablets. Catalina’s flagship feature will beCatalyst — the introduction of iPad apps to the Mac. Catalina will also include some major new changes to which apps will run on macOS and under what conditions: 32 – bit apps will be deprecated completely, and app- signing processes for third-party developers will be a focus. Finally, watchOS 6 will bring an on-Watch App Store, menstrual-cycle tracking, and activity trends for following fitness outcomes over time.

Maybe : Apple TV 4K

Thisrumorjust broke Wednesday: Apple may be close to releasing a refresh of its Apple TV 4K streaming media box for the home theater. The updated version would have either Apple’s A 12 or A 12 X CPU — the same included in the 2018 iPhones or in the 2018 iPad Pro, in the case of the A 12 X. The A (X) or even the A 12) would dovetail nicely with Apple’s plans to launchApple Arcade, its games subscription service.

Below: Photos of the Apple TV 4K from our2017 review

      

      

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                          The Apple TV 4K and the Apple TV side by side. Can you tell the difference?

                                                        

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                          From the bottom, you can see the Apple TV 4K has ventilation, where its predecessor does not.

                                                        

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                          The Apple TV 4K (left) removes the USB-C port.

                                                        

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                          The Apple TV 4K and the Apple TV with their remotes.

                                                        

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In fact, we don’t see much need for improvement regarding performance as it pertains to any other function of the Apple TV 4K besides games; the current model performs admirably with all of its supported streaming content, and its user interface is generally quite zippy. But if the focus is on games, then Apple needs to replace the current remote, which has proven unpopular with many users and a serious limitation to the complexity of games viable on the platform.

The Apple TV 4K does support more traditional wireless gaming controllers from third parties like SteelSeries, but we foundwhen interviewing developersthat not including an optimal gaming controller right in the box is one of the main reasons the Apple TV 4K hasn’t taken off as a gaming device.

Below: Photos of the Apple TV 4K’s remote from our (review.)

      

      

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                          The Apple TV 4K remote keeps the same touch-oriented design, with a white border around the menu button to help you stay oriented.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          The back of the Apple TV 4K remote.

                                                        

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                          The side of the Apple TV 4K remote.

                                                        

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                          The top of the Apple TV 4K remote.

                                                        

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                          The bottom of the Apple TV 4K remote; it charges with an included cable.

                                                        

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The leak didn’t give a timeline, so even if it’s real, this product might come later. But given that the Apple TV 4K shares a lot in common with the iPhone in terms of both CPU architecture and operating system (the Apple TV’s tvOS is based on the iPhone’s iOS), and considering that the current Apple TV model wasannouncedat the iPhone event in 2017, it wouldn’t be out of left field for Apple to reveal the new streaming box at Tuesday’s event.

Probably not just yet: New iPads, AirPods, or Macs

There have been a plethora of reliable reports about Apple’s future Mac and iPad plans, including the imminent arrival of a 16 – inch MacBook Pro that would be the first to make major design changes to the current Apple laptop lineup; internals refreshes for the iMac, Mac mini, and MacBook Air lines; the already-announced Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR; and refreshed iPad Pros and entry-level iPads.

Below: Photos of the new Mac Pro from our hands-onearlier this year.

      

      

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                          This is the new Mac Pro.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          And here’s a rear view.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          Let’s zoom in to see some of the ports in this configuration.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          There’s more to see at the bottom.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          On top, you’ll notice a couple more ports, a power button, and this handle. When you grab it, you can twist and pull the entire cover off in one motion for 360 – degree access to the internals.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          This is what the frame looks like with nothing in it.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          These stands can optionally be replaced with wheels.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          The cheese-grater design serves a cooling function, but it’s also a deliberate nod to the past.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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                          OK, from this angle, it really does look like an ultra-shiny cheese grater.

                                                            

                                                  Samuel Axon

                                      

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While some of these products are surely not far around the corner, we don’t expect Apple to announce them next week. The company has established a fairly predictable cadence in recent years, and in that cadence, the focus of the September event is iPhones. Apple will likely release minor refreshes to the Mac lineup (CPU bumps and the like) without event fanfare, and major updates like the rumored 16 – inch MacBook Pro redesign will probably come in another event held in October. We’ll explore those products more in the coming weeks.

Apple is also working on new AirPods that would feature noise cancelling and water resistance, according to multiple reports from multiple sources, including the aforementioned Bloomberg article. But it’s likely they won’t be ready to ship this September, and they might even slip into next year. Still, the AirPods could at least be revealed next week rather than in an October event if Apple feels they are ready to showcase.

                                 

                  

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