Apple’s iPhone anniversary event recap

profile picture

David Tech Lead

15 Sep 2017  ·  5 min read

Another September, another highly anticipated Apple event. And as this year’s event marked the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, there was no way Apple could resist doing something special. Let’s recap the most important announcements...

For starters, this was the very first Apple event hosted in the brand new Apple campus, in a room called the Steve Jobs Auditorium, as a tribute to the man who gave us the original iPhone.

Unfortunately, most of the news was already leaked days in advance — the days where these keynotes blow us away with shocking surprises seem to be behind us. That being said, let’s recap the main announcements!

Retail therapy

The event started, as always, with an update on retail. But this time around, rather than bragging about sales numbers or a few new store locations, we got a look at Apple’s vision for the Apple Stores of the future.

Rather than just being a place to shop, Apple wants the Stores (in major cities) to be a gathering place for its community members, a place where like-minded people can talk, learn and share. Cool. And if they happen to buy a $1000 iPhone in the process, that’s just the cherry on top…

Watch out, iPhone away

The first new product announcement of the evening was the third generation Apple Watch, appropriately named Series 3. In addition to the expected improved performance, the main addition to the Series 3 is a model with GPS and a model with GPS + Cellular.

The Apple Watch is now free from the chains that used to bind it!

With the Cellular model, you can now make calls, get directions or stream music without being near your iPhone. This does require support from phone operators, which means that the Series 3 Watch with Cellular will only be rolled out in select countries — and no, Belgium isn’t one of them yet.

As a side effect, this means that there is no more option for a stainless steel Apple Watch in Belgium anymore, as that material is reserved for the GPS + Cellular model.

The Series 3 Apple Watch

The second new product is a successor to the 4th generation Apple TV, this time with support for 4K. Dubbed the Apple TV 4K (if the name works, why should it be original, right?), the new device will support 4K video and HDR, which dramatically improves a screen’s colours and contrast.

Obviously you need to have a 4K television and 4K content to get the benefits from this device. As a nice gesture, iTunes will now offer 4K movies for the same price as the usual Full HD quality, and users can download the 4K version of movies they already bought for free.

That other iPhone

With all the talk of the futuristic iPhone X (more on that later), one would almost forget that Apple announced two other new iPhones as well, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. And honestly, no one could blame you.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are beautiful devices, but they are perhaps the most predictable addition to the iPhone line-up in recent years.

They look almost identical to their predecessors, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, sporting the classic look the iPhone has had since 2014. The only way you can visually tell the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 apart is that the latter has a glass back, rather than an aluminium one.

The iPhone 8

Feature-wise they have everything you’d expect from an S-year iPhone. It comes with the same feature set as the previous generation, but with a new chip, doubled performance, and a better camera, while maintaining identical battery life.

The two biggest improvements are wireless charging and the True Tone display, which adapts the colour temperature on the display based on the lighting around you. We’re glad to see the latter on the iPhones, because we appreciated it tremendously on the iPad Pro as well.

All of these products will be available September 22nd.

Who needs nine?

And finally, with a proud “One more thing”, Tim Cook announced the star of the show, proclaimed as the future of the smartphone, the iPhone X (pronounced iPhone 10).

The iPhone X is the most drastic redesign the iPhone has seen since … well, ever. It features an all glass front and back, surrounded by a silver or space grey stainless steel band.

The device also has wireless charging, dual 12 MP cameras and the same chip found in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

The iPhone 8

But who are we kidding, the main feature of the iPhone X is of course the display — it’s hard to miss. While the iPhone X is roughly the same dimensions as the iPhone 8, the entire front side of the device is the display, allowing for a 5.8” screen, which is larger than the one found on the iPhone 8 Plus.

To fit in this edge-to-edge OLED display, the home button had to go and the front camera and speaker had to be crammed into a small indentation in the top of the display. Because the indentation in the top of the display is the most noticeable new shape (for better or worse), you’d almost fail to notice that the iPhone X also has rounded corners in the display, another first.

With the home button (and its Touch ID) gone, Apple had to find a new way for users to unlock their phone and they found it with Face ID. The new TrueDepth front-facing camera can do more than make really good selfies. It accurately tracks up to 30.000 points on your face to unlock the phone, if it’s a match with the owner. It uses infrared sensors so it can be used in the dark, and machine learning will keep track of changes to your face, such as growing a beard, changing your hair or wearing glasses.

These changes will, of course, have a notable impact on the way we design apps for the iPhone. The fact that the device’s form factor had been so stable over the last few years was convenient — with the iPhone X, we’ll have to rethink things again! Check out this blogpost to see how we do it.

And other new features, like the front camera’s 3D tracking abilities and Apple’s interest in AR applications for the device, will prove an interesting challenge to implement in future projects. We can’t wait!