As rumoured, Apple today announced two new iPhones, a top-of-the-line 5S and a 'cheap' (always a relative term as far as Apple is concerned ... as you'll know if you have rich relatives) 5C.
On the one hand, the 5S offers advanced new features that will please iPhone fans and raise the bar for the competition. Revolutionary? Maybe not. Pleasing? Definitely.
On the other, a more affordable iPhone should deliver new fans into Apple's ecosystem, supported by a new free iWork for iOS that adds in iPhoto and iMovie to Numbers, Pages and Keynote once iOS 7 ships on September 18. All the components of iWork have, till now, cost NZ$12 each. Also, the new AirDrop feature will make transferring files between iOS devices, and to and from Macs, much easier, effectively knocking many of the heretofore flourishing alternative apps out of the market.
I doubt the top-line 5S will upset the tyre kickers too much. It really is an advanced iPhone and has the first ever 64-bit processor (the A7) in a smartphone, and even the much-speculated-upon fingerprint touch ID on the home button. The A7 has a unique three-core GPU configuration, and custom-tuned ARM architecture. It includes 2x general-purpose registers, 2x floating-point registers, and includes over 1 billion transistors on a 102mm2 die size.
The 5S, which will be available in black, silver (or what Apple calls 'space grey') and yes, even gold models, contains a new 64-bit A7 chip which Apple claims is 40 times faster than the original iPhone.
The 5S also introduces a new motion co-processor the M7, which continually measures personal motion data, with accelerometer, gyroscope and compass support. This works with the new CoreMotion API to identify user movements, optimising their experience based on contextual awareness. Nike is already in the process of creating a new app to showcase these features called Nike+ Move that uses the M7 chip and the phone GPS to track your physical activities.
If your thought it was creepy that spy agencies could potentially track your calls, texts, emails and where you've been, potentially if this data was hacked, agencies could also see how much you were exerting yourself in a given space. Hopefully, Apple's security is still top class, but the NSA seems to be able to do secret deals with anyone to access their data, and NZ's newly more powerful GCSB has access to certain services of the NSA, so ... I dunno, vote for Kim DotCom?
The iPhone 5S also has a new camera system with a dual LED 'true tone' flash, a new, five-element F2.2 aperture lens designed by Apple with a sensor with a 15 per cent larger active area, auto stabilisation, and bigger 1.5 micron pixels. The camera also includes a new burst mode that will continuously take photos a rate of 10fps, plus a 120fps slow-mo mode.
Apple has engineered the forthcoming iOS 7 to take full advantage of the advanced 64-bit technologies the iPhone 5S contains, including its native 64-bit kernel, libraries and drivers.
This iDevice operating system will be a free update available from this 18th of September. iOS 7 will have a new way to find apps based on your current location, called Popular Apps Near Me, and iOS 7 will automatically keep your apps up to date (phew!). More than 50 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store so far, across 23 categories.
All the built-in Apple apps have been re-engineered for the iPhone 5S' 64-bit architecture, and iOS 7 will provide a developer transition with Xcode support and the ability to run both 32-bit and 64-bit apps.
iOS 7, which Apple notes has over 200 new features along with a new look and feel, also integrates with the iPhone 5S Touch ID sensor and will take full advantage of the new iSight camera sensor to enable new features like automatic image stabilisation, Burst Mode and Slo-Mo video with 120 fps. Combined with the new Camera App in iOS 7, iPhone 5S provides up to two-times faster auto-focus, faster photo capture and better dynamic range.
The iPhone 5C, which is essentially an iPhone 5 with a larger battery in a hardened polycarbonate case, will ship in green, yellow, blue, white and pink models. It has the iPhone 5's 4-inch retina display, 8MP camera and A6 processor, and in the US will sell on a 2-year contract for US$99 for the 16GB, and US$199 for the 32GB.
Off-contract and NZ prices and availability have yet to be announced. But it also adds a new HD front-side camera the iPhone 5 doesn't have, and both cameras will take full advantage of the new iOS 7 Apple Camera app.
The plastic iPhones might look a little garish at first sight, but iOS 7 is designed to complement the new exterior colours of the iPhone 5C, with matching wallpapers and translucency to carry the colour through the entire experience.
Apple's iDevices have been slipping in sales since alternatives have been making ever bigger market impacts, but it's still a massive platform for Apple, with the 700 millionth iOS device to be delivered in October.
The iPhone 5 has had the most successful first year of any iPhone so far.
As for disappointments, well, what about us? The iPhone 5S will be available from September 20 in the US, Australia, China, Canada, Germany, France, Singapore, the UK ... and in Japan. No mention of New Zealand yet, but Apple announced it's rolling out the new iPhones to 100 countries and 270 carriers by December - and hopefully we will get it sooner than December thanks to being administered directly from Australia.
Apple had not released NZ-specific press releases while I was working on this post.
In other disappointments, we know that new AirPort Expresses are coming with the later - ac wi-fi chips, and that the rest of the Mac line will get the Haswell processor, and that the new Mac Pro is still most imminent. I expect (or at least hope) these will arrive by the end of October. Apple was pretty clear that today's event was iPhone focussed - and it truly was.