By Slacker @MacJim (James Ormiston)
The following is a personal take on what was announced during the Apple iPhone keynote, one that is not a full microscopic rundown of all that was covered as there was simply too much to do full justice to…
I watched the latest keynote from Apple where they were constantly ’thrilled’, ’excited’, or both at every item announced. We soon discovered what the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and Pro Max will be like: not that we didn’t know already. Due to leaked images on the internet, I was left feeling a little underwhelmed by it all!
Read on to see what I made of the event’s major announcements.
First, we got Arcade where they began with Frogger, a game from the distant past of PC gaming. To be fair, this is a much-changed version bringing it up to date for today’s gamers and could very well be entertaining and challenging too, but it looked a little busy compared to the original game… sometimes its best to keep it simple and original.
The games previewed looked pretty impressive with all the amazing graphics, but I can’t help feel that Apple is trying to be a bit too “Disney”. Where is the equivalent of the Medal of Honor, or Battlefield games that could lure gamers away from their PS4, PC and Xbox? Presumably this is not aimed at them; it seems more family-oriented, which is no bad thing and at around £5 a month, shouldn’t break the bank. What is good is there’s no in-app purchases to scare parents away, especially when we’ve all read the horror stories of parents finding huge charges on their account due to junior buying up all the extra cruft offered during a game. But will it manage to hold onto them after the first ‘toe in the water’ trial period?
Next came Apple TV+, a challenge to the Amazon Prime, Netflix, CBS All Access and Disney+ offerings. Again, the price is an interesting one where Apple has undercut them all; but Apple has a problem when it comes to content as their competitors, in the main, have much larger catalogues of programmes available to the viewers for a little bit more of their hard earned cash. Apple has brand new shows such as See, The News, Dickenson, For all Mankind and… Oprah too (well, we’ve seen her before but you get what I mean) and all for around £5, but can they keep churning out shows, in the hope that they will catch the interest of all, like Netflix does?
The problem will not only be with the content available out of the gate, but additionally, what Apple can produce over the months and years that follow the launch. Already, we’ve seen Apple ditch brand new shows before they even appeared on screen for one reason or another. The question one has to ask is can they continue to do that and still keep the support of the Hollywood studios and stars. Netflix is already finding out how hard it is getting as competition hots up and with so much content belonging to Disney and CBS, that will now be shown exclusively though those competitor’s channels. Many potential customers will not be able to afford the cost of having access to each and every streaming service, and will have to choose what fits their needs… I should know, being a Star Trek fan I watch most of the Star Trek shows (including Star Trek Discovery) through Netflix. But the split has begun, with the new Star Trek Picard show being an Amazon Prime only show. As a result I could be paying for Netflix and Amazon Prime when these are aired, but only subscribing when they are available to watch. Do I want to add to the cost of an Apple TV+ subscription to the above? I don’t know. How much longer will those providers allow us to chop and change before they force you to choose one over the others?
This iPad announcement was an odd one as Apple seems to be chucking out iPads here and iPads there, as they go along. This seemed like an afterthought as they didn’t spend a lot of time or effort talking about all the features of this new device. In size it fits in between the Mini and the Air and starts at £349 compared to the Air starting at £479. If you have an older 9” iPad, Mini or an original iPad Air, it could be a nice upgrade for you but I’d spend a few more pounds and buy the iPad Air, as you’d be getting a more powerful device. The Air is an A12 powered device with a 10.5” screen, compare that with the new iPad’s A10 and 10.2” screen, you would find it hard to notice the difference but you do get twice the storage with the Air; 32Gb for the iPad and 64Gb for the Air.
What truly bugs me with this iPad, as with the Mini and Air models, is with Apple’s instance of having the stereo speakers on the bottom, when held in portrait mode. I cannot understand why Apple keeps putting the speakers there as you’re most likely to turn the iPad to landscape mode to watch a movie or TV show, even the iPhones have stereo speakers top and bottom. As it stands, all the sound comes from the left or right, depending on which way you orientate the iPad. We have ears on either side of our heads and hear in stereo so why have the speakers on one side? I’m not asking for them to have the iPad Pros quad speakers built in, but at least have them so that it will let you hear music and movies as intended; left and right channels. What I take from this is it’s a stocking filler before the next generation iPad Pro’s are announced in October… time will tell.
Here we were treated to the next edition in the form of the Series 5, with it’s always on display and options of aluminium (starting at £399), titanium (around £799) and ceramic (Watch Edition starting around £1,299) models. These are products that you’ll either want; or not, depending on your needs, how deep your pockets are, and the type of work you do. In my case I couldn’t justify one as I’d destroy it due to the dust, chemicals and hammering it would have to endure. If you feel the starting price is beyond your reach you’ll be glad to know Apple has kept the Series 3 Watch available as an alternative to the new all singing, all dancing new models with prices starting at £199. A much better buy if you’re unsure whether an Apple Watch is for you. The Series 5 is certainly worth upgrading to if you have a Series Zero, 1, 2 and maybe even 3, but if you have the series 4 then it might wise to hold off until next year, as that model is still a very relevant and worthy product.
iPhones: 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max
By this point, many were starting to wonder if Tim Cook would get around to announcing the iPhone 11 at all! But, finally, that time came.
The 11 is a very fine improvement over the Xr with its twin lens cameras and extra power under the hood, and the price drop too suggested Apple has finally realised they had got it wrong with the Xr, Xs and Xs Max of last year. However the ‘piece de resistance’ was in the announcement of the 11 Pro and 11 Pro max. The new iPhone 11 Pro models are a real step up from what has come before and a much better upgrade than last year’s Xs models.
Three cameras, an ultra-wide (13mm), wide (26mm) and telephoto (52mm) lens that work together in real time, for video and photography. They power to spare in the form of the Bionic A13 chip, allowing you to zoom in and out to capture images, stills and video, in a way not previously available on an iPhone. Plus, each lens and sensor is calibrated to make it all seamless and colour accurate. Night mode and 4K video, a much better display, the Super Retina XDR (OLED) and a body sealed from dust and water with tougher glass, in addition to the internals, make this a real upgrade from any other iPhone… especially when you look at the price. This is a phone that does justify the price: these are real powerhouses of mobile phones.
You really do need to watch the keynote to hear and see all the features that Apple has crammed into these new iPhones. The list is very long.
We can see why they ranked the announcements in the way they did. It was a slow but steady build-up to the ‘piece de resistance’ which was the iPhone 11 Pro. Even leaving out the usual updates they normally begin an Apple keynote with.
In the end, the only thing that took my attention were the new iPhones; I’m unlikely to upgrade as I have a perfectly good iPhone Xr but that doesn’t stop me lusting over the 11Pro! The iPhone Xr has proven to be a run away success for Apple but much of that is down to the overpricing of the X, Xs and Xs Max. That pricing along with some heavy discounting from Apple on Xr is the real reason why I bought the Xr.