You were probably doing the same thing as I was yesterday morning at 3am. Sitting at my desk with my iPad on one side and my computer in front of me ready to take notes on every new piece of information that was delivered during the annual Apple ‘Special Event.’

Since 2011, Apple has held a ‘Special Event’ in September where the latest iPhone is announced after a number of strategic leaks and rumours are circulated to build excitement for the latest product. In typical Apple style, their non-advertising approach to marketing works. I was up at 3am and as soon as the event finished I was writing this article!

Not surprisingly, most of the rumours that have been circulated over the last few weeks were correct. After an opening to an event that was worthy of an opening scene of a Mission Impossible movie (complete with MI theme music) Tim Cook (Apple CEO) was delivered a high security package containing…the clicker! He walked on stage at the Steve Jobs Theater (excuse the American spelling) to rapturous applause. Every statement and announcement is followed by rapturous applause and a few “yehs” and “woohoos” to the point that I am convinced they have professionals at the event specifically to make these sounds.

Before the actual product announcements, there was some self-congratulations from Tim. The Apple stores across the world are currently at the stage where 500 million people come through the doors each year and Apple is about to hit the milestone of 2 billion iOS devices (iPod; iPhone; iPad) across the world. These are staggering numbers that are hard to comprehend.

When it came time to announce products, the Apple Watch Series 4 was the first one to hit the screen. The Apple Watch is now the number one selling watch in the world. From any company in any category. Not bad for a product that didn’t exist until three years ago. The new Series 4 has a display that is pushed closer to the edge to give a larger screen (over 30 per cent larger) without an increase in physical size and the unit itself has been made thinner. Many minor improvements have been made. The speaker is 50 per cent louder. The digital crown has haptic feedback. There is a faster processor. There were also two major enhancements. The watch now has the ability to perform an electrocardiogram (ECG). It wasn’t that long ago that wearable fitness companies said that a watch could never deliver heart rates without a chest band. Now we have a complete ECG. The additional processing power allows a better accelerometer which allows the watch to detect a fall. If the watch detects a fall and then no activity for one minute, a call to emergency services is automatically triggered. The Apple Watch Series 4 will be available from 21 September.

The announcement that everyone waits on is the latest iPhone – or increasingly we are seeing multiple announcements. Yesterday we saw three new iPhones announced. The iPhone Xs which is the same basic shape as the current iPhone X with a 5.8 inch OLED screen. The iPhone Xs Max is the latest entrant in the “mine is bigger than yours” smartphone war. This boasts a massive 6.5 inch OLED edge to edge screen (noting the new Samsung Note has a 6.4 inch screen). A new iPhone XR was also introduced with a 6.1 inch LCD screen. This is the ‘budget’ version of the newest range of iPhones.

The Xs has had an improvement in dust and water resistance to IP68 which is a rating of 2m of water for 30 minutes. An improved processor (with 6.9 billion transistors) will deliver faster performance and the phones will now come in three memory sizes: 64GB; 256GB and a massive 512GB. That is a lot of cute photos of your cat. An additional colour has been added so it is now available in three colours. The rumoured dual-SIM was also delivered – ish… The software on the phone has the ability to have one physical SIM and then a second eSIM. That relies on the carrier supporting the eSIM and at the moment the Australian carriers don’t support an eSIM on your phone (although they do offer eSIM support for the Watch). The iPhone XR is the same form factor but with a 6.1 inch LCD display. Forever gone is the home button and all three phones now use Face ID. The XR ships in 6 colours and three memory sizes (64GB; 128GB and 256GB). The Xs models will theoretically ship from 21 September with the XR available from 26 October.

That was it for hardware announcements. A quick mention of refinements for HomePod; TV OS; Mac OS and Tim walked off into the wing – his work finished for the morning while people plan when they will start queuing outside Apple stores to be the first!

Mathew Dickerson

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