In what could best be described as the tech equivalent to Christmas, Apple recently held its Fall Keynote at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium to announce what is in store for owners of the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.
The conference kicked off with news about Apple Music. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that since the service’s launch last year, 17 million paid subscribers have joined. During this part of the show, a video of Cook participating in a Carpool Karaoke sketch in CBS’s Late Late Show with James Corden was shown, followed by an announcement that Apple TV exclusive episodes of the show would be coming soon.
This segment concluded with the announcement of music acts that would be performing at the 10th annual Apple Music Festival in London, including celebrities like Elton John and Chance the Rapper, among others.
In regard to the iOS platform, Cook announced that the App Store had recently hit its 140 billionth download. In recent conferences, Apple usually saved its bombshell announcement for the very end, one example being U2’s highly criticized launch of their latest studio album in 2014.
However, in this year’s conference, it happened right in the middle of the show, when Cook introduced Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto to the stage. The last few months have seen Nintendo make an enormous leap into mobile gaming with the wildly popular Pokemon Go app. On the heels of its success, Miyamoto announced Nintendo’s follow-up project, this time starring its venerable mascot, Mario. The game, titled Super Mario Run, will be a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer, in the vein of New Super Mario Bros.
This time around, it is an auto-running platformer where the player simply controls Mario’s jumping abilities, similar to Ubisoft’s acclaimed Rayman Jungle Run and Fiesta Run apps. The game, which is slated to be released later this December, caused an upsurge in Nintendo’s stock that was greater than Pokemon Go’s release. The upsurge could be attributed to the fact that unlike Pokemon Go, which was created by an outside developer under license by Nintendo, Super Mario Run will be developed in-house by Nintendo itself.
The next part of the show was dedicated to the Apple Watch, specifically the second generation of the series, which is slated for release in mid-September. Aside from announcing that it has a faster core processor and GPU, in addition to a display that is touted as being twice as good as the original, this new model is now completely water resistant, in order to accommodate those who participate in aquatic sports.
In an effort to maintain the accessory’s reputation as a health device, Apple announced new partnerships with Nike for the Apple Watch Series 2. Before moving on, Cook dropped a surprise announcement for Apple Watch users—a port of Pokemon Go will be arriving for Apple Watch.
If there was a pinnacle highlight for any Fall Keynote, it is without a doubt the announcement of the latest installment of the iPhone. In the case of the iPhone 7, a lot of speculation was attached to it in the weeks leading up to the conference.
In what would turn out to be a bombshell announcement for the new phone, Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive announced that the headphone jack that defined Apple devices for over 15 years would be removed.
This was a rumor that started at the beginning of the year, and has been met with vastly negative reactions. While Apple has offered a wired headphone adapter that plugs into the Lightning port, the move remains highly questioned and unpopular.
This move could also be construed as Apple trying to force people to adapt to Bluetooth wireless headphones, specifically a new series of Apple-branded earbuds announced alongside the iPhone 7, known as AirPods.
In addition to the usual upgraded screen and camera, Apple announced that the new phone is now completely water resistant, a first for an Apple phone. Water resistance does not equate to the phone being totally waterproof and users should still use caution while using their phone around bodies of water. The phone is technically capable of working 3.3 feet underwater for up to 30 minutes, though longer dips in the ocean and pool would be ill-advised.
Apple is currently taking pre-orders for the phone, which comes in storage capacities of 32 GB, 128 GB and the new 256 GB. The iPhone 7 is being released on Sept. 16.
While it might have confirmed certain rumors that left a sour taste with some fans, the latest Apple Fall Keynote left behind more pleasant surprises that tilt the scale in favor of the company. With a hot new mobile game, upgrades to the Apple Watch and added water resistance to the new iPhone, Apple will be the company to watch in the coming months.