The Apple Watch Series 5 will go on sale this Friday, and the first reviews for the product are now being published. This year’s Watch update comes with a far shorter feature list than usual: it includes an always-on display, built-in compass, and expanded LTE bands that enable Emergency SOS even when traveling internationally. The prime focus of early reviews is, as expected, the Watch’s always-on display.
Today the first reviews for the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro dropped, and they should inspire excitement in anyone planning to pick up a new iPhone later this week. Apple’s claims for massive battery life increases on the Pro models seem to have proven true, Face ID is better than before, and each device is more durable than before too, but the cameras are where this year’s iPhones truly shine. In years past the iPhone was the undisputed camera king, and with the 11 and 11 Pro Apple is building a compelling case why that’s true once more.
Another year, another batch of Siri improvements aimed at enhancing what’s already there, but not radically transforming it. Siri in iOS 13 comes with a handful of changes, all of which are in line with the types of iteration we’re used to seeing for Apple’s intelligent assistant. Siri now offers suggested actions in more places and ways than before, its voice continues becoming more human, and perhaps this year’s biggest change is a new SiriKit domain for media, which should enable – after the necessary work by third-party developers – audio apps like Spotify, Overcast, and Audible to be controlled by voice the way Apple’s native Music, Podcasts, and Books apps can be.
Today on its YouTube channel, Apple published a new video highlighting some of the titles coming to Apple Arcade once it launches next Thursday alongside iOS 13.
The video spends nearly two minutes providing quick glimpses at a lot of Arcade titles, while lingering for extended periods over a handful of titles that haven’t been seen much before, such as Earth Night, Hot Lava, Skate City, and more.
The demos Apple shared on-stage at its September event received mixed responses, but I would expect a much more enthusiastic response to greet this video. Everything showcased looks fantastic, offering interesting stories, gameplay mechanics, and visuals. If Apple really does have 100+ games like this at or near launch, Arcade is going to quickly become a very compelling service.
Today Apple hosted its annual September event at Apple Park in Cupertino, unveiling new hardware for the fall and the launch details of its latest services. New iPhones were a large focus of the event, as always, with Apple debuting three flagship models: the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. All new models will be available for pre-order this Friday, September 13 starting at 5AM PDT, and will ship the following Friday, September 20.
The iPhone 11 is the successor to last year’s iPhone XR model, with a 6.1-inch LCD display, while the two Pro models succeed the iPhone XS and XS Max, retaining their 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch sizes in newly upgraded OLED screens. These names represent a shift in how Apple is positioning its different iPhone models. 2018’s iPhone XR model was presented by Apple as the lower cost sibling of the XS and XS Max flagships. The device’s high level of feature parity with the XS line meant it was actually the best option for the masses, but Apple’s naming and marketing failed to communicate that well. This year there’s no question: the iPhone 11 is the flagship iPhone, while the Pro and Pro Max exist as higher end options for customers who value the specific advantages they offer. Ultimately, however, all new models share far more similarities than differences.
Each new iPhone comes with a variety of improvements, such as the upgraded A13 Bionic chip, which enables significant battery improvements, plus there’s faster and easier to use Face ID, increased water resistance, spatial audio, and more. Over and above all these things, however, the clear emphasis for Apple this year was on cameras. Though the 11 Pro and Pro Max offer the greatest improvements, the standard 11 likewise seems poised to offer significant leaps forward in photo and video capabilities.
Today at the Steve Jobs Theater during a packed September event, Apple shared the launch details for its forthcoming video streaming service, Apple TV+. The paid subscription service will launch in over 100 countries on November 1, at a price of $4.99/month; a 7-day free trial period will be available to all users. Additionally, Apple is offering an entire year of free Apple TV+ service with the purchase of any iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, or iPod touch from today on.
On launch day, the selection of Apple Originals available on TV+ will be limited to the following:
- The Morning Show
- For All Mankind
- Snoopy in Space
- The Elephant Queen
- Unspecified Oprah Winfrey projects
Most of these are shows, while The Elephant Queen is a documentary. We’ve seen trailers for some titles before, but today Apple debuted the first trailer for See, the big-budget series starring Jason Momoa. Apple has also highlighted some of its other Originals in a press release, which it says will be added on a monthly basis. Other content includes the show “Servant” from M. Night Shyamalan and the award-winning film “Hala.”
With Apple’s shows, most series will debut three episodes at launch, with new episodes released weekly thereafter. However, some series will drop full seasons at once, following the Netflix-style binge model.
After launching, Apple TV+ will be available inside the TV app everywhere that app lives, including iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, Macs, and select third-party television sets and streaming sticks. Notably, Apple also announced today that you’ll be able to watch TV+ content on the web too, by visiting tv.apple.com. TV+ will be available as a channel inside the TV app, so just like with other channels such as HBO and CBS All-Access, you can easily subscribe with just a couple steps using your Apple ID, and you’ll receive all the playback benefits guaranteed for channels: no ads ever, offline downloads on iOS, Picture in Picture on supported devices, and you can share your subscription at no additional cost with your whole household through Family Sharing.
As part of the global launch for TV+, Apple Originals will be available dubbed and subtitled, according to Apple’s press release:
Audiences worldwide can enjoy Apple TV+ originals subtitled and/or dubbed in nearly 40 languages, including Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (SDH) or closed captions. Apple TV+ series and movies will also be available with audio descriptions in eight languages.
Apple TV+ first debuted at Apple’s services-oriented event this March, but aside from teasing some of its shows and stating that it would be accessible from the TV app, the company revealed few details about the service at that time. Six months later, our questions have finally been answered. As the streaming service market begins to heat up, with players like Disney+ and HBO Max launching soon, and incumbents such as Netflix ramping up their content budget, there will be no shortage of TV options for consumers. However, Apple hopes that its focus on quality over quantity – combined with the benefits of a unifying TV app – will make Apple TV+ stand out in the streaming wars. If it can build a reputation that matches its ambitions, with every show and movie earning critical acclaim, then the company has a shot. But only time will tell if such a bold feat can be accomplished.
Days away from Apple’s big September event, and likely just a week or two from iOS 13’s public release, this is often a quiet time for app releases. Generally that’s true for the summer as a whole, with developers heads-down working on big fall updates, but it’s especially the case the closer we get to Apple’s iPhone event. Today, however Bear has released the type of wide-ranging update that’s rare to see pre-OS launches. Bear 1.7 introduces a variety of big and small changes that improve many facets of the note-taking app. The update enables locking individual notes, or locking access to the app altogether, it brings two new themes and 33 new tagcons, there’s now emoji auto-complete, live note links, Apple Watch improvements, and more.
Apple’s Health app first debuted in 2014 as part of iOS 8. In the five years since its launch, Health has been one of the only iOS apps to receive redesigns every couple of years. The basic purpose of the app has remained the same through those changes, still serving as an aggregation tool for wellness data from sources like the Apple Watch to third-party apps and devices. However, Health’s regular reimagining serves as strong evidence that Apple has never quite felt content with how that original goal was being fulfilled.
It may be too early to cast judgment, but I have a strong suspicion that this year’s rebrand will stick. iOS 13’s Health app finally brings a design that feels intuitive and user-friendly, doing away with complication and creating a streamlined, inviting interface. Simultaneously, this year’s update adds compelling new features related to cycle tracking and hearing health that may hint at an evolving vision for the Health app’s future.
Following news earlier this summer that Apple was partnering with Best Buy for expanded repair service, today the company has announced another initiative to make device repairs more accessible:
“To better meet our customers’ needs, we’re making it easier for independent providers across the US to tap into the same resources as our Apple Authorized Service Provider network,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “When a repair is needed, a customer should have confidence the repair is done right. We believe the safest and most reliable repair is one handled by a trained technician using genuine parts that have been properly engineered and rigorously tested.”
Independent repair providers can join Apple’s new program at no cost, provided they have an Apple-certified technician on staff. Joining provides a variety of benefits:
Apple will provide more independent repair businesses — large or small — with the same genuine parts, tools, training, repair manuals and diagnostics as its Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs). The program is launching in the US with plans to expand to other countries.
Apple’s moves this summer to make authorized repairs more accessible from outside an Apple Store reflect the company’s struggles to keep up with accelerated repair demand from a growing user base. While repairs will likely always be a core element of Apple Stores, by pushing more people to third-party providers, Apple can perhaps make its retail locations less crowded and thus more pleasant to visit moving forward.