After hitching a ride with James Corden and Pharrell for a preview of Carpool Karaoke (more on that below), Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage today at the highly anticipated press conference in San Francisco to unveil the iPhone 7 in the hopes of reversing a two-quarter slide of revenue for the first time in 13 years.
Apple’s need for smart new products to drive growth is urgent: July’s Apple shipments hit a new low with 40 million units shipped in Q2, the lowest since 2014. In addition, Apple was recently ordered by the European Commission to pay Ireland a $19 billion tax payment.
Now Apple is betting the iPhone 7 is the start of a fresh cycle. “We believe [this] news is one of the last pillars in the ‘gloom and doom’ cycle that has engulfed the Apple story since the end of 2015 and into this summer,” commented Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White to the Globe & Mail.
Similar in design to last year’s iPhone 6S and 2014’s iPhone 6, the critical distinction of the iPhone 7 is three-fold: it offers more storage, it’s water-resistant and (as rumored) doesn’t have a headphone jack, ending an era of the 3.5-millimetre headphone jack, replacing it with wireless Bluetooth-connected headphones or a wired option that shares the Apple Lightning connector port.
Users will need to buy a separate dongle to connect headphones but the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will ship with an adaptor in the box. Apple is also releasing new wireless earbuds, aka AirPods, for $159. (While some fret about losing the tiny earpieces, Apple’s Beats line of headphones is also going wireless.)
Other changes to iPhone 7 include color options “black” and “jet black,” more minimum storage space up to 32 GB from 16 GB in last year’s 6S model and a new dual camera system allows for true 2x optical zoom and improved battery life.
Available for purchase on September 16th, pre-orders start today at $269 for the refreshed Apple Watch Series 2. The iPhone 7’s new home button uses Apple’s Taptic Engine to click back at users with vibrations for notifications and buzzes for calls and text messages.
Cook was bullish about the Apple Watch and said, “Apple Watch has really changed what people expect from a watch. We became the number two watch brand in the world, despite only shipping 8 months in 2015.”
While Apple and Hermes also revealed new chic bands and colors for luxury lovers, fitness fanatics took note that Apple and Nike also revealed the Apple Watch Nike+ wearable (which recalls the Nike FuelBand) with a breathable band and software that delivers motivational phrases. Naturally, Apple played up the health benefits of Apple Watch 2:
Apple Watch Nike+ will sell for the same price as the regular Series 2 Watch, $369, but won’t be available until late October. The Apple Watch Series 2 will be available in aluminum and stainless steel with white ceramic, available for pre-order on September 9th.
On the gaming front, Pokémon Go is coming to Apple Watch and will display how far a player must walk to hatch an egg, number of experience points to reach the next level and other data related to a player’s fitness. John Hanke, CEO of Pokemon Go-maker Niantic, said Pokémon Go has been downloaded over 500 million times since its launch this summer with people walking more than 2.85830748 x 109 miles.
— App Store (@AppStore) September 7, 2016
Apple is partnering with Super Mario Bros. creator and video game design legend Shigeru Miyamoto on Nintendo’s first smartphone game, starring Mario and called Super Mario Run, which will be available in December.
Apple Music, the streaming service launched last June at Apple’s WWDC conference has grown to 17 million paying subscribers despite design and engineering issues in integrating Apple Music into the iTunes framework. Today’s redesign heralds a more accessible ecosystem including easier tab interfaces, song lyrics and a daily curated playlist in the “For You” tab.
Last First but not least, music fan Cook pulled up to the presser with The Late Late Show’s Corden for a bit of Carpool Karaoke with One Republic’s I Lived, joined by Pharrell for a slice of Sweet Home Alabama. Apple is creating a Carpool Karaoke series for Apple Music with a 16-episode order.
Catch all that? If not, watch Apple’s 107-second event recap: